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Frères et sœurs du Moyen Âge à nos jours / Brothers and Sisters from the Middle Ages to the Present


Edited By Fabrice Boudjaaba, Christine Dousset and Sylvie Mouysset

Les fratries ont-elles une histoire ? Longtemps oubliées par l’historiographie, elles suscitent aujourd’hui un intérêt grandissant chez les historiens, dont témoigne cet ouvrage collectif riche d’une trentaine de contributions issues de deux colloques internationaux. Mal connus, frères et sœurs tiennent pourtant une place centrale au sein des relations familiales. En privilégiant la longue durée et un vaste ensemble géographique, de l’Amérique du Nord à l’Europe, les éditeurs du volume ont voulu saisir leur histoire en confrontant des systèmes de parenté différents et en perpétuelle transformation. Définir et mesurer les fratries, les analyser comme une ressource en associant stratégies collectives et trajectoires individuelles, vivre et représenter la fraternité enfin : autant de pistes suivies par les auteurs attentifs à ne pas oublier les sœurs. Grâce à la variété des études rassemblées ici, écrire l’histoire du lien fraternel offre l’opportunité de renouveler l’approche de l’évolution des systèmes de parenté en même temps que celle des relations familiales.

Do brotherhood and sisterhood have a history? They have long been forgotten by historiography but now are benefitting from a growing interest from historians. This collective work, with thirty contributions from historians from different countries, testifies to this new interest. Although badly known, brothers and sisters occupy a central place in family relations. By emphasizing the long term and a large geographical area, from North America to Europe, the editors of this volume wish to seize their history by confronting different systems of kinship that are constantly evolving. To define and measure sibling relationships, to analyze them as a resource through the association of collective strategies and individual trajectories, to live and represent brother and sisterhood: these are the paths followed by the authors who have been careful not to forget sisters. Thanks to the variety of the studies assembled here, writing the history of fraternal relations offers the opportunity to renew approaches to the evolution of both kinship and family relations.

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Siblings, Family Strategies and Access to Resources in Catalonia (eighteenth-nineteenth centuries). Peasants, Honourable Citizens, Merchants and Indianos




By the Middle Ages Catalonia had developed a single-heir system in which the first-born male son inherited the family’s entire capital and remained in the parental home that had been passed down from generation to generation. He cared for his parents and assumed the obligation of placing his siblings in as good a position as possible when they left the parental home, the brothers in search of a trade and the sisters to marry. The siblings received their legítima (rightful inheritance), which was set at a quarter of the family’s assets shared between all of them, including the heir. However, families usually paid the children “according to the possibilities of the house”, which meant that the amount paid was more a decision taken by the head of the family rather than a calculation based on real values3.

Documents show that the male children (cabalers) received their legítima when they left home or married, whereas the daughters (cabaleres) ← 325 | 326 → received it in the form of a dowry when they contracted marriage. In all cases, the children signed a document in which they acknowledged “to have been well paid” and renounced any possibility of claiming any sum from the heir. However they remained linked to the house unless they took from it “els drets de casa” (the house rights), a symbolic amount that, if withdrawn, indicated that the sibling broke off totally his relationship with the house of origin. Thus,...

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