The early modern dowry letter constituted a panoramic vision of the material and consumer life of a woman upon entering into marriage. It also contained a subjugating discourse that converted her into a possession belonging to her husband. At the same time, these letters publically exposed her material potency within the home. Correspondence couples exchanged after settling into conjugal life, particularly when considerable distance separated the couple, subsequently reveals women’s authority and domain over matrimonial materiality and suggests that husbands relied upon it to a significant degree, such that, once separated from their wives, men’s quality of life significantly worsened despite sustaining the means to generate income. This article approaches the subject of material possession as a source of power and authority exercised by women of varying backgrounds over men in the early-modern Spanish world and uncovers a number of archival sources located in Mexico and Spain.


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pp. 35-55
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