Marriage divorce dating ownership of property renaissance
• Brutality: a husband's ownership of and legal dominance over his wife, which led to the belief that he could beat her with impunity.
If the couple parted (even when the split was caused by the husband's bad behaviour) the father automatically had custody and could if he chose prevent his ex from ever seeing her children again read more ... Their possessions - even their children - were his.Physical and emotional abuse by husbands was extremely common, perhaps proving the truth of the proverb 'Absolute power corrupts absolutely'.The law seems to have acted as some kind of invitation to men to do whatever they liked with their wives, and if women had happy and loving marriages they were considered lucky.It was almost impossible for a woman to leave her husband: he owned all her property and her earnings; he had the legal right to enforce her return if she left; worst of all, leaving meant losing her children forever.For these reasons only the most extreme circumstances would make a wife leave her husband.He concluded, 'until a woman who is a wife can say, at least at certain times, either "I wish to sleep alone" ...
she can never consider herself free'. The Matrimonial Causes Act 1884 reformed the law so that a refusal to restore conjugal rights no longer led to imprisonment but was deemed to be desertion, which was then grounds for divorce.
From 1853 they had to power to impose six-month sentences for 'aggravated assaults'. If a brutal husband said that he'd assaulted his wife because she had been drinking, mixing with immoral women, or merely suspected of adultery, a blind eye would be turned, because they felt that she had 'deserved it'.
Women received little justice though, as the very judges that heard their cases were themselves men with wives over whom by law and custom they had total control and ownership. Of course, middle and upper class men also abused the power they had over their wives, but their breeding and education meant that were more given to psychological threats and torture.
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Having taken all of her resources he then behaved as he pleased, spending her money on mistresses and prostituted women, using her money to support his illegitimate offspring, gambling and drinking her fortune away. She was legally entitled to a small amount for her own maintenance and that of any children (if he allowed her to have custody of them).