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Rethinking East-Central Europe: family systems and co-residence in the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth

Volume 1: Contexts and analyses – Volume 2: Data quality assessments, documentation, and bibliography


Mikołaj Szołtysek

This book reconstructs fundamental aspects of family organization across historical Poland-Lithuania, one of the largest political entities in early modern Europe. Using a plethora of quantitative measurements and demographic microsimulation, the author captures and elucidates the complex patterns of leaving home and life-cycle service, marriage and household formation, along with domestic group structures and living arrangements among different subpopulations of Poland-Lithuania, highlighting a variety of ways in which these patterns were nested in their respective local and regional contexts. By showing that at the end of the 18 th century at least three distinct family systems existed in the Polish-Lithuanian territories, Szołtysek challenges a number of orthodoxies in the ‘master narratives’ on the European geography of family forms of F. Le Play, J. Hajnal, P. Laslett, and their followers. Volume two of the book contains an extensive bibliography along with a thorough archival documentation of the census-like microdata used in the book, and provides detailed information on their quality and further technicalities pertaining to data analysis.
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9. Where to live? Household formation and postmarital residence


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9.  Where to live? Household formation and postmarital residence

‘A serf, having no property other than the clothes he acquired while in servitude, is usually forced to take over a holding just after his marriage’ (‘Monitor’ 1767, central Poland; quoted from Baranowski et al. 1953, 180).

‘During his lifetime, the father is the one who controls everything and manages the household, and the sons, even if they already have their own families, remain subject to him and are required to work on the jointly owned land’ (Jeleńska 1891, 299 [on the Mozyr district in Polessya]).

9.1  Introduction

If marital timing has well-established consequences for subsequent life-course and family relationships (Ch. 8), then the most important question in this context concerns the relationship of marital timing with entry into headship. This relationship is the subject matter of the present chapter. After some methodological and theoretical considerations, we begin by looking at the underlying principles of the interconnection between the entry into marriage and the entry into headship as seen through qualitative sources, to subsequently establish the measures of headship and the age at becoming household head through the quantitative analysis of the Polish-Lithuanian listings. The core of the chapter tackles the problem of the ‘marriage-headship’ nexus, which is disentangled in several steps: by measuring the time between the marriage and the assumption of the headship, by looking at the residential circumstances of young married men, by making allowances...

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