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Unfit for marriage; impotent spouses on trial in the Basque region of Spain, 1650-1750.


Unfit for marriage; impotent spouses on trial in the Basque region of Spain, 1650-1750.

Behrend-Martinez, Edward.

U. of Nevada Press


208 pages



The Basque series


An accusation of impotence was one of the few ways to shed an unwanted spouse in early modern Spain. However, according to the extensive study Behrend-Martinez (history, Appalachian State U.) has made of primary sources, the issue of impotence was in fact legally, spiritually, medically, socially and psychologically complex. Marriage and the families it created were at the core of societal stability, and those who wished to annul their marriages on the basis of impotence soon found their bodies and motivations under close scrutiny in court. Behrend-Martinez takes readers through cases and trends that expose the politics of property, gender and preference that informed early modern domestic life, and finds those accused and those accusing, including those who accused themselves, well understand the affect of what they were and were not doing.

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Publication:Reference & Research Book News
Article Type:Brief Article
Date:Aug 1, 2007
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