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Marital Litigation in the Court of Requests 1542–1642

ISBN: 9780521800013 | 0521800013
Edition: 1st
Format: Hardcover
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Pub. Date: 1/5/2009

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Common law rules made litigation between husband and wife impossible in the 16/17th century, except in ecclesiastical courts. In practice, however, a few wives and husbands sued their spouses in courts of equity. This volume reproduces twenty such suits from the Court of Requests 'the poor man's Chancery' during the final century of its operation. These extraordinary cases involving separated couples provide a fascinating and often surprising view of the limits of married people's rights and options at a time when divorce in the modern sense was unavailable. The court's decrees and orders show how Masters, or judges, of Requests dealt with the question of married women's legal status and with claims for alimony (by men as well as women). Historians and literary scholars will appreciate the richness of detail of the written pleadings and depositions that document the variety of human failings that parties alleged had devastated their marriages.


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