Women and Authority in Early Modern Spain: The Peasants of Galicia

By Allyson M. Poska | Go to book overview

1
Women without Men

This has not been a land of men.
esto non ha sido terra de homes.1

The stories have a familiar ring to them. Women, old and young, tell of loved ones who had long since left them. Inés de Souto’s had left for Andalusia four months before and she had not heard from him.2 Dominga González’s husband had been gone for twenty years when she heard that he had died in a hospital in Seville.3 Sixty-year-old Ana Martinez’s husband had been gone for more than four decades. He had abandoned his bride after less than one year of marriage to seek a better life in Castile.4 These are only a few of the tens of thousands of life stories of peasant women whose lives were shaped by early modern Spanish migration. Inés, Dominga, and Ana are only unique in that, by dint of fortune, these snippets of their lives have survived in the archives. From the middle of the sixteenth century, innumerable other mothers, wives, and daughters from Spain’s north-western region of Galicia would tell similar tales of migration and often abandonment. By the middle of the eighteenth century, half of all the parishes in Galicia suffered from some dearth of men, and more than half of those had fewer than 90 men for every 100 women.5 In some

1 Lisón-Tolosana, Antropología cultural, 353.

2 Archivo Histórico Universidad de Santiago (AHUS), protocolo 5615, fo. 36 (1746).

3 Archivo Histórico Nacional (AHN), Sección Inquisición, legajo 2042, no. 72, fo. 1r–v (1633).

4 AHN, Sec. Inq., legajo 2042, no. 83, fos. 4v–10 (1642).

5 Isidro Dubert García, Historia de la familia en Galicia durante la época moderna, 1550–1830 (Estructura, modelos hereditarios y conflictividad) (A Coruña: Edicios do Castro, 1992), 19–20.

-22-

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Women and Authority in Early Modern Spain: The Peasants of Galicia
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Acknowledgements v
  • Contents vii
  • List of Maps and Illustration viii
  • A Note on Currency and Measures ix
  • Introduction- Gendering - Peasant Society 1
  • 1 - Women without Men 22
  • 2 - Single Women and Property 41
  • 3 - Sex and the Single Woman 75
  • 4 - ‘A Married Man Is a Woman’- Gender Tensions in Galician Marriages 112
  • 5 - Widowhood 163
  • 6 - Modelling Female Authority 193
  • 7 - Beyond Finisterre 228
  • Bibliography 247
  • Index 267
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