Evdoxios Doxiadis

Fathers and married daughters in nineteenth-century Greece

  • Abstract

Informations and abstract

Keywords: Patria potestas, Married daughters, Nineteenth century Greece, Law and custom, Kinship ties.

This paper examines the role of fathers in the lives of married daughters in the first decades of the modern Greek state. The establishment of modern Greece radically transformed the legal landscape by creating a centralized uniform judicial system in place of the legal pluralism of Ottoman Greece. Earlier research has shown that in Ottoman Greece there was great diversity with respect to the relations of women and their kin following their marriage; in some regions such links were almost severed while in others women maintained close and intimate relations throughout their married lives. Such research is lacking with regards to the early decades of Modern Greece. While the structure of the Greek judicial system is becoming increasingly better known its effects on familiar relations has not yet been explored. With regards to the legal rights and obligations of parents and children in particular, the situation was complex since Greece failed to introduce a comprehensive civil code until the twentieth century. In its absence customary practices, legal scholars, and the courts strove to clarify relations within the family. My examination focuses on a few cases that appeared in front of the Appeals Court of Athens a generation after the formal establishment of the Modern Greek State. In these cases fathers sued their sons- in-law on behalf of their daughters usually in order to protect their dowry. I use these cases to discuss the role and rights of parents in the lives of their married offspring, as well as the rights of women in marriage and the changes the creation of Modern Greece brought upon pre-existing customs. I argue that for the nineteenth century at least, there appears a continua- tion of the practices seen in Ottoman and even Byzantine times although the ability of kin to become legally involved in the lives of married women became explicitly tied to the legal age of maturity limiting the scope of intervention.

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