Separated and Divorced Wives in the Early Modern World
Revue (15 janv. 2022), avant le 30 juillet 2021

Revue Genealogy, special issue

Scholarship on the marital status of early modern women has proliferated over the last two decades. We now know much more about the experiences of single, married, and widowed women in the past and how marital status affected women’s social, economic, legal, and cultural identities. We know much less, however, about separated and divorced wives in the early modern period. In that era, divorce was frowned upon and also not available to women in many countries and under various religions and cultures. Thus, women whose marriages were irrevocably broken chose or were forced to live separately from their spouses without possibility of remarriage. Some separations were temporary and for economic reasons, others were long-term but informal decisions by either spouse to leave their marriage, and a third type were legally sanctioned and formal. Separation and divorce have so far been studied primarily within the context of single legal systems, nations, or cultures. Due to the existence of legal sources, we know the most about the process of legal separation rather than how women and men and their families experienced living separately.

This Special Issue seeks to focus on the separated or divorced wife and her experience of marital separation. What were the effects of marital separation (and divorce) on women and their families, including their children? What was a separated woman’s cultural and legal status? What were the economic effects of separation on women? Where did separated wives fit in a family lineage and in terms of inheritance? Answering such questions will be enriched by a comparative focus. How did Christian, Jewish, and Muslim women experience separation and divorce? Did separated women’s lives share similarities across region, culture, and religion, or were there distinct differences, with some societies treating separated wives and divorced women as social pariahs while others were more welcoming or tolerant of them? This Special Issue will hopefully begin to bring attention to a neglected group of early modern women and suggest ways that they can be studied comparatively.

Possible topics for papers include but are not limited to the following:

  • Legal separation;
  • Informal separation;
  • Cultural and religious norms for separated and divorced wives;
  • Spousal abandonment;
  • Marriage and migration;
  • Women’s experiences of marital separation;
  • Separation and divorce’s effects on family business;
  • Separation and divorce’s effects on the family and household;
  • Children of separated or divorced parents;
  • Separation and divorce’s effects on inheritance and family lineage;
  • Refuges or institutions for separated wives.

We request that, prior to submitting a manuscript, interested authors initially submit a proposed title and an abstract of 400-600 words summarizing their intended contribution. Please send it to the guest editor, Dr. Amy Froide ( or to the Genealogy editorial office ( Abstracts will be reviewed by the guest editor for the purposes of ensuring proper fit within the scope of the Special Issue. Full manuscripts will undergo double-blind peer-review.


Abstract submission deadline: 30 July 2021

Notification of abstract acceptance: 30 August 2021

Full manuscript deadline: 15 January 2022

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