It is not often realized that women held a high place in southern European societies in the 10th and 11th centuries. As a wife, the woman was protected by the setting up of a dowry or decorum. Admittedly, the purpose of this was to protect her against the risk of desertion, but in reality its function in the social and family life of the time was much more important. The decorum was the wife’s right to receive a tenth of all her husband’s property. The wife had the right to withhold consent, in all transactions the husband would make. And more than just a right: the documents show that she enjoyed a real power of decision, equal to that of her husband: In no case do the documents indicate any degree of difference in the legal status of husband and wife.
The wife shared in the management of her husband’s personal property, but the opposite was not always tree. Women seemed perfectly prepared to defend their own inheritance against husbands who tried to ex
A. higher than that of her husband
B. lower than that of her husband
C. the same as that of her husband
D. higher than that of a single woman