Generational conflict in revolutionary France: widows, inheritance practices, and the "victory" of sons

Abstract : "Although the language of individualism permeated the legal and political systems created during the French Revolution, kinship and friendship networks continued to determine access to positions of power, and the self-interested individual never had much resonance beyond the realm of discourse. Adult sons nonetheless found that they held new legal and symbolic power, which changed the nature of their relationships with preceding generations. Revolutionary transformations in family law and later under Napoléon Bonaparte did not address the situation of widows, but the combination of other laws with the rhetoric of the all-powerful male individual separate from the responsibilities of lineage limited widows' ability to defend their rights. Two cases where adult sons entered into conflict with their widowed mothers illustrate the significance of these changes. These cases shed light on some unexplored consequences of the revolution for the family, revealing how the younger generation benefited relative to their elders. The French case in turn relates to other parts of the globe as the Napoleonic Code, which helped to enshrine this new system, served as a model for legal codes throughout Latin America and in the French Empire"
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https://halshs.archives-ouvertes.fr/halshs-00821127
Contributor : Anne Verjus <>
Submitted on : Tuesday, May 7, 2013 - 3:39:58 PM
Last modification on : Thursday, February 7, 2019 - 2:40:50 PM

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  • HAL Id : halshs-00821127, version 1

Citation

Denise Zara Davidson, Anne Verjus. Generational conflict in revolutionary France: widows, inheritance practices, and the "victory" of sons. William and Mary quarterly, JSTOR, 2013, 3rd ser. 70 (2), pp.399-424. ⟨halshs-00821127⟩

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