Separate beds - interwoven property. Regulation of separation consequences since the 16th century

The research project asks questions about the separation and divorce consequences of failed marriages between the 16th and 19th centuries. The civil courts in the archduchy of Austria below the Enns will be the focus of investigation. Building on the research findings from two FWF-funded projects, we are interested in the regulations for the time in which the spouses were allowed to live separate – for a limited or unlimited time period - from each other. How was the mutual property divided or, respectively, the maintenance payments determined? Who had custody over the sons or daughters, and until what age? Going beyond the jurisdiction handed down in the marriage proceedings, we ask about the consequences of a divorce in everyday life. This will include questions about how the separated and respectively divorced persons made their living and how they arranged their social relations under normative conditions that criminalized all forms of corporal intimacy outside wedlock. Apart from that, we will focus on the social positions of the spouses and the power relations within the marriage, and analyze how they are reflected in the negotiations of the consequences of the separation or divorce.

To find answers to our research questions we can build on already digitalized and partially transcribed sources which were either produced during the marriage proceedings or submitted to the court. Apart from a close reading of the already available sources, the material will be expanded by registers from the church, marriage contracts, wills and probate proceedings. Apart from that, the research team can draw on two data bases (one for the litigations, one for the persons), which will be supplemented systematically. Thanks to the possibility of selective requests both databases can be used for quantitative and qualitative analyses. For the analysis and interpretation, we will combine discursive and praxeological approaches. The research results will be updated at regular intervals on the web portal, therefore the project progress can be followed publicly.