coolchicksfromhistory:

Sophia Brahe (1556-1643)
Art by Carolyn Bernhard (website, tumblr)
Tycho Brahe was one of the most important astronomers of the sixteenth century.  The last major astronomer to work without the aid of a telescope, Tycho built his own instruments to track the movements of celestial bodies.  His work paved the way for Johannes Kepler’s laws of planetary motion.
Tycho’s younger sister Sophia assisted him in his scientific observations.  Their family was part of Denmark’s high nobility and although the Brahe children were well educated, their parents did not consider science an appropriate field for people of rank.  Nevertheless, Sophia taught herself astronomy and as a teenager helped her brother observe a lunar eclipse.  Throughout their lives, Tycho and Sophia maintained a close correspondence. 
Sophia also studied alchemy, horticulture, and chemistry, but her most lasting individual work is her genealogy of Danish noble families.  Published in 1626, it remains an important source for Danish historians today.  

coolchicksfromhistory:

Sophia Brahe (1556-1643)

Art by Carolyn Bernhard (website, tumblr)

Tycho Brahe was one of the most important astronomers of the sixteenth century.  The last major astronomer to work without the aid of a telescope, Tycho built his own instruments to track the movements of celestial bodies.  His work paved the way for Johannes Kepler’s laws of planetary motion.

Tycho’s younger sister Sophia assisted him in his scientific observations.  Their family was part of Denmark’s high nobility and although the Brahe children were well educated, their parents did not consider science an appropriate field for people of rank.  Nevertheless, Sophia taught herself astronomy and as a teenager helped her brother observe a lunar eclipse.  Throughout their lives, Tycho and Sophia maintained a close correspondence. 

Sophia also studied alchemy, horticulture, and chemistry, but her most lasting individual work is her genealogy of Danish noble families.  Published in 1626, it remains an important source for Danish historians today.  

backfromthedeadred:

History Meme | Women (2/6) - Hildegard von Bingen

Saint Hildegard of Bingen, O.S.B. (1098 – 17 September 1179), also known as Saint Hildegard, and Sibyl of the Rhine, was a German feminist, writer, composer, philosopher, Christian mystic, Benedictine abbess, visionary, and polymath. Elected a magistra by her fellow nuns in 1136, she founded the monasteries of Rupertsberg in 1150 and Eibingen in 1165. One of her works as a composer, the Ordo Virtutum, is an early example of liturgical drama and arguably the oldest surviving morality play.

She wrote theological, botanical and medicinal texts, as well as letters, liturgical songs, and poems, while supervising brilliant miniature illuminations.

Although the history of her formal recognition as a saint is complicated, she has been recognized as a saint by parts of the Roman Catholic Church for centuries. On 7 October 2012, Pope Benedict XVI named her a Doctor of the Church. (x)

wifwolf:

Valentine’s day is boring. Instead, let’s celebrate the anniversary of Native Hawaiians killing the fuck outta douchebag English explorer Captain James Cook, on February 14, 1779.
anti-colonialism and indigenous resistance 8ever.

wifwolf:

Valentine’s day is boring. Instead, let’s celebrate the anniversary of Native Hawaiians killing the fuck outta douchebag English explorer Captain James Cook, on February 14, 1779.

anti-colonialism and indigenous resistance 8ever.

(via theirriandjhiquishow-deactivate)

thisblackwitch:

witchsistah:

ilnestjamaistroptard:

thefeministhub:

padaviya:

thechocolatebrigade:
This is a photo of the first Black girl to attend an all white school in the United States—Dorothy Counts—being jeered and taunted by her white, male peers. This photo encompasses a lot of things that I really hate: prejudice, ignorance, racism, sexism, inequality…

I’ve reblogged this photo a few times before but it always needs to be reblogged again.

This picture makes me really sad. I am unbelievably impressed with her bravery.

And how many of those White fucks got collective amnesia about how they behaved back then? Betcha they’d even deny that was them in this pic.

Hit the nail right on the head. These folks became people’s grandparents, parents, etc. They had siblings, they had lives, they didn’t step from a vacuum, they existed in the same world as everyone else does and prolly some then would even say, “I’m not a racist, she’s just not supposed to be here, y’know? Her school is somewhere else.” Every single person in this pic is a racist and a bigot but if you called them that - just like today - it you and not them who is being the problem.

thisblackwitch:

witchsistah:

ilnestjamaistroptard:

thefeministhub:

padaviya:

thechocolatebrigade:

This is a photo of the first Black girl to attend an all white school in the United States—Dorothy Counts—being jeered and taunted by her white, male peers. This photo encompasses a lot of things that I really hate: prejudice, ignorance, racism, sexism, inequality…

I’ve reblogged this photo a few times before but it always needs to be reblogged again.

This picture makes me really sad. I am unbelievably impressed with her bravery.

And how many of those White fucks got collective amnesia about how they behaved back then? Betcha they’d even deny that was them in this pic.

Hit the nail right on the head. These folks became people’s grandparents, parents, etc. They had siblings, they had lives, they didn’t step from a vacuum, they existed in the same world as everyone else does and prolly some then would even say, “I’m not a racist, she’s just not supposed to be here, y’know? Her school is somewhere else.” Every single person in this pic is a racist and a bigot but if you called them that - just like today - it you and not them who is being the problem.

(via witchsistah)

zuky:

knowledgeequalsblackpower:

Potato chip (or crisps) sales generate about $6 billion dollars in sales every year and is one of the world’s most popular snack foods.

As popular as it is today, one would think it was the brain child of some White man named “Lays” or something…. but this is not the case. 

As we’ve already discussed, African-Americans learned to preserve foods through the frying process from Native Americans. However, what led George (Speck) Crum, the son of a Native-American mother and African-American father, to invent the potato chip was not his heritage but an opportunity for revenge.

Born as George Speck in 1828…he adopted the professional name “Crum,” a name his father also used in his career as a jockey. In his early years, Crum worked as a trapper and a mountain guide in the Adirondacks before he realized his talents with food.

In the summer of 1853, Crum was working as a chef at the Moon Lake Lodge, an elegant resort in Saratoga Springs. As the story goes, Crum was cooking in the kitchen one day when a guest sent back the restaurant’s popular French-fried potatoes complaining that they were too thick. An angry Crum grabbed a new potato and sliced it spitefully thin, so thin that the guest would not be able to eat it with a fork. Fried in oil and salted, these crispy potato slices were sent out. And the guest loved them! Crum had stumbled upon what would become America’s favorite snack.

So, it was a complete accident. From then on, the chips, which Crum named “Saratoga Chips,” appeared on the Moon Lake Lodge’s menu as a house specialty.

In 1860 George Crum opened his own restaurant [“Crum’s House”] on Malta Avenue in Saratoga Lake featuring potato chips in baskets on each table. The restaurant was successful for 30 years, serving several rich and famous guests of Saratoga. Crum closed his establishment in 1890, and he died later in 1914 at the age of 86.

Of course, others would come along and realize the profitability of potato chips and the rest is [White] history…

(via The Free George, George Crum’s Memorial)

Thank you, George Crum.

(via howtobeterrell)

howtobeterrell:

SLAVE WHIPPING AS A BUSINESS.
Whipping was done at these markets, or trader’s yards, all the time. People who lived in the city of Richmond would send their slaves here for punishment. When any one wanted a slave whipped he would send a note to that effect with the servant to the trader. Any petty offense on the part of a slave was sufficient to subject the offender to this brutal treatment. Owners who affected culture and refinement preferred to send a servant to the yard for punishment to inflicting it themselves. It saved them trouble, they said, and possibly a slight wear and tear of feeling. For this service the owner was charged a certain sum for each slave, and the earnings of the traders from this source formed a very large part of the profits of his business.



The yard I was in had a regular whipping post to which they tied the slave, and gave him “nine-and-thirty,” as it was called, meaning thirty-nine lashes as hard as they could lay it on. Men were stripped of their shirts in preparation for the whipping, and women had to take off their dresses from the shoulders to the waist. These whippings were not so severe as when the slaves were stripped entirely of their clothes, as was generally the case on the plantations where slaves were owned by the dozen. I saw many cases of whipping while I was in the yard. Sometimes I was so frightened that I trembled violently, for I had never seen anything like it before. 

(via howtobeterrell)

tortillapower:

Fact: The invasion of the Americas was histories largest genocide and demographic devastation to date, killing over 90% of the original population.
Native genocide continues in certain parts of the southern hemisphere, where mining companies and government personal have been known to gun down communities.

tortillapower:

Fact: The invasion of the Americas was histories largest genocide and demographic devastation to date, killing over 90% of the original population.

Native genocide continues in certain parts of the southern hemisphere, where mining companies and government personal have been known to gun down communities.

(via witchsistah)

classicmenofcolor:

In 1915, the Biograph Company gave comedian Bert Williams authority to produce, write, direct, and star in two films for them (1915’s A Natural Born Gambler and 1916’s Fish)—making him the first African-American to 1. Have complete control over his films and 2. Produce his films for mainstream audiences.

(Source: , via applebutterbomb)

February 8, This Day in Black History

racismschool:

1944- Harry S. McAlphin is the first African American to receive credentials to attend White House press conference.

1985- Brenda Renee Pearson an official court reporter for the House of Representatives was the first black female to record the State of the Union message delivered by the president in the House chambers.

1986- Pre-med student Debi Thomas became the first African American to win the Women’s Singles of the U.S. National Figure Skating Championship competition.

Friday, February 8, 2013 — 148 notes
ancientpeoples:

Women of Ancient Babylon
The best known and most complete of the ancient pre-Roman law codes is that of Hammurabi, 1800 BC ruler of Babylon.  It was the Hammurabi Code that said that one who destroys the eye of another should have his own eye put out as punishment and one who murders should himself be put to death, thus giving rise to the expression “an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth”. 
It is unlikely that Hammurabi was a great jurist making up laws on the spot, but rather a pragmatist who sought to put in writing the judicial practices of his day.  Victims expected to be avenged; putting the penalties in writing acknowledged society’s interest in crime and punishment and sought to establish a maximum retribution.  All too often the victim or his family had gone beyond what the perpetrator or his family thought was appropriate and had begun an endless cycle of revenge.  Hammurabi felt that once the perpetrator had paid the price the incident should be considered closed.
    Elsewhere in this website I have stressed the need to look at the past through its own eyes and not through our own.  The following principles might well be questioned today but their validity in the Ancient World was regarded as self-evident:
Social order was more important than individual rights
Women’s sexuality should be sacrificed to ensure legitimacy
A family’s wealth should be administered by the husband/father
Women, especially widows and divorcees, needed society’s help
Keeping these axioms in mind will help us see Hammurabi’s Law Code in the same way the Babylonians saw it.  Numbers in brackets refer to the section numbers in the code.
    Perhaps the clearest example of the sacrifice of individual rights on the altar of social order is the provision that would spell death for the builder’s son if a new house collapsed and killed the owner’s son.  A wife may or may not have been considered property in the same way a son or daughter was, but her sexuality belonged exclusively to her husband, and any interference therewith had to be punished as much as any other serious theft. 
    Many in today’s world are worried that population growth will soon outstrip the resources of planet earth.  The reverse was true in the Ancient World where society needed more and more workers and families needed young people as a guarantee the old would not be left destitute and lonely.  People took pride in having a large number of offspring for they were living up to their social responsibilities and, of course, guaranteeing they would have someone to look after them in old age.
    Unwanted babies were exposed by many ancient societies.  Should the children of a slave or concubine be raised by their mother as a separate family or together with the other children of the father and his wife?  To the extent allowed by the laws of each society, fathers regularly had to decide whether to claim any newborn as his child.  At the head of the list of undesirable babies were those conceived as the result of a wife’s affair.  While motherhood was obvious, fatherhood was not.  The solution was to place severe restrictions on female sexuality.  The double standard would remain almost universal until the development of a reliable means of birth control in the second half of the Twentieth Century.
In the Industrial World it is possible for men or women to live on their own for a period of time between leaving their parents’ home and getting married.  That option does not exist in an agrarian society.  If people are going to live in family units anyway, perhaps it makes sense to have assets owned by the family, not the individual.  While Babylonia appears to have had no law against women owning property, they did not do so as a matter of course.  In the normal state of affairs, the husband or father was the custodian of the family assets.
The Ancient World knew perfectly well that all of this left women at a certain disadvantage.  The system worked very well in normal, happy marriages, but when disaster struck, whether it be death, desertion or divorce, it was usually the woman who paid the price.  We need to look at how the legal system attempted to redress this economic inequality.
Most women expected to marry and have a family.  A fair body of love poetry would suggest that girls did have some say, but marriage, at least in theory, was arranged by their fathers or brothers.  According to the Hammurabi Code a contract was necessary to make a marriage.  Based on the few that have survived, the contracts dealt mainly with what would happen if the marriage ended through death, divorce or desertion, but other clauses might exempt each from the other’s prenuptial debts or even require the bride to serve as servant to her mother-in-law.
The most important item to be negotiated was the size of the bride price. 
            We have seen that pre-literate societies used bride price to compensate the bride’s family for the loss of labor and Israelite society restricted it to a token amount as a symbol of engagement.  In Babylonia the bride price almost always became part of the dowry.  Depending on social status, the bride price could represent a significant transfer of wealth—-perhaps a house and several acres of land—- but at the bottom of the economic ladder it might have been little more than an item of furniture or some kitchen utensils.  Whatever it was it was, it became part of the new household’s assets and as such was administered by the husband, but legally it had to be kept separate for it was designed for the support of the wife and her children.  (151-152)
It frequently happened that the bride remained in her father’s house for as much as a year after the contract was signed.  If in the course of that time the groom changed his mind he did not have to marry her but he lost the full bride price. (159)   The bride’s father might also have changed his mind, in which case he would have been required to refund the purchase price in full (160). If a wife died before giving birth to a son the dowry, less the bride price, was returned immediately to her father’s house (163-164).  We will see later how the law strictly regulated the disposal of the dowry in other cases.  Daughters did not normally inherit anything from their father’s estate.  Instead they got a dowry that was intended to offer as much lifetime security for the bride as her family could afford.
At marriage a woman’s sexuality became the property of her husband.  Adultery was defined in Babylonia as elsewhere in the ancient world as a sexual relationship between a married woman and a man not her husband.  The marital status of the man was irrelevant.  Even the appearance or possibility of adultery was taken very seriously.  A wife caught in the act of adultery was to be tied to her lover and thrown into the water and drowned.   A husband could save his wife but then he had to save her lover as well.  (129) 
By its nature adultery is a secretive activity, yet the mere possibility of such a serious offence was disruptive of the social order.  If a woman’s husband accused her she may in the presence of a priest swear to her innocence and then return to her husband’s home.  If someone else accused her she would have to undergo an ordeal in which she would swear before the gods to her innocence and then jump into the river.  If she drowned it was a sign of guilt; if she survived it meant that the river spirits knew of her virtue and saved her.  (Note that this is the reverse of the medieval European ordeal.)  To the modern mind judgment was based on the woman’s ability to swim, but the ancient Babylonians were convinced of supernatural intervention.  Swearing innocence was not as easy as it sounds because most people were quite certain that the gods would punish anyone who lied in their names, but any wife willing to risk divine retribution was free to return to her home if her only accuser was a jealous husband.  If an outsider laid the charge the woman was likely to lose because few in Babylonia knew how to swim.  Whatever the justice of the verdict for the individual, the matter was settled and order was restored in the community. (131-132)
Although marriages were arranged by the parents, there is no reason to suppose that they did not involve considerable love, affection and mutual support.  Some relationships were bound to fail, however, and the code spelled out in considerable detail all of the options.  If he simply ran away and deserted her she was free to marry someone else; even if he returned later he could not reclaim her; nor could she opt to return to her first husband: the Code, not the woman, made the choice.  (136) 
A man could divorce his wife without giving a reason, but if she had borne him children there were some serious conditions:  she kept the children; she got the dowry; she also got the use of a field or property so she could raise her children. When her ex-husband died she got a portion of his estate equal to that given to each of her sons and was free to marry someone else. (137)  If a wife had no children she could be divorced by simply returning her dowry along with a sum equal to the purchase price.  If there was no purchase price he had to give her one mina of gold.  A shepherd could expect to take about six years to earn such a sum so in theory at least it could have been invested to go some way to maintain her. (137-140)
If the woman wanted out of the marriage or if the husband wished to avoid returning the dowry the courts had to be involved.  If she could demonstrate her innocence and his neglect she could take her dowry and children and return to her father’s house.  If it were established, however, that she was to blame and had neglected her house and husband, then he sent her away without dowry or children; if he wished, he could opt to keep her as a servant.  In serious cases the court might rule that she should be thrown in the water and drowned. (141-143) 
Throughout the Ancient World childlessness was considered to be a serious problem.  If a wife failed to bear children she might give her maidservant to her husband.  If the maidservant produced a baby it counted as the wife’s child.  If such a maidservant started to take on airs and act the equal of the wife she could not be sold but she would be kept strictly as a slave.  If neither wife nor maidservant produced a child a man was permitted a second wife but again she was not allowed to be equal in status to the first wife.  If his wife acquired a long-term illness he could take a second wife but he must continue to look after his first wife for as long as she lives.  She could take her dowry and return to her father’s house if she wanted to do so: the choice was hers. (144-149)
A wife’s dowry was administered by her husband as part of the family assets.  He had no say, however, in its ultimate disposal.  If she died childless, her dowry reverted back to her family—-her father, if he was alive, otherwise her brothers.  If she had sons, they would share it equally.  A man divided his estate among his sons after having provided a suitable dowry for each daughter and an appropriate bride price for each son.  If he died before arranging all of this his heirs were expected to do so before dividing the balance of the estate.  If a man had children by two wives, all of his sons shared his estate  equally; they got a portion of their birth mother’s dowry but nothing from their stepmother.  (166-167, 183-184)  Likewise a woman who had children by two husbands divided her dowry equally among her sons by both marriages. (173)
If in life the father acknowledged sons by a slave or concubine, they were entitled to share equally in his estate.  If he had not acknowledged them they had no right to inherit, but the slave or concubine and her children were freed on his death.  (170-171)
The marriage gift was property set aside at the time of the marriage for the support of the bride after the death of her husband.  If no such gift was made a widow was entitled to a share of her husband’s estate equal to that of a son.  She also had the right to remain in the family home for as long as she lived.  If she opted to remarry she would, of course, have to move and she would lose the marriage gift.  A widow with dependent children required judicial consent to remarry.  Her first husband’s assets were inventoried and kept in trust for his children.   (172, 177)
A father might have dedicated a daughter to serve a particular god as a nun.  Apparently some girls made this choice themselves as an alternative to an undesirable marriage.  The nun was still entitled to her share of her father’s property as a dowry even if she did not marry.  Unless he gave it to her outright it would be administered by her brothers on her behalf after their father died. (178-182)  If she became a hierodule (a lady of high standing in a temple) or a Marduk priestess her dowry was only a third of the normal size because such women had a number of tax advantages.
(Information from: womenintheancientworld.com)

ancientpeoples:

Women of Ancient Babylon

The best known and most complete of the ancient pre-Roman law codes is that of Hammurabi, 1800 BC ruler of Babylon.  It was the Hammurabi Code that said that one who destroys the eye of another should have his own eye put out as punishment and one who murders should himself be put to death, thus giving rise to the expression “an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth”. 

It is unlikely that Hammurabi was a great jurist making up laws on the spot, but rather a pragmatist who sought to put in writing the judicial practices of his day.  Victims expected to be avenged; putting the penalties in writing acknowledged society’s interest in crime and punishment and sought to establish a maximum retribution.  All too often the victim or his family had gone beyond what the perpetrator or his family thought was appropriate and had begun an endless cycle of revenge.  Hammurabi felt that once the perpetrator had paid the price the incident should be considered closed.

    Elsewhere in this website I have stressed the need to look at the past through its own eyes and not through our own.  The following principles might well be questioned today but their validity in the Ancient World was regarded as self-evident:

  1. Social order was more important than individual rights
  2. Women’s sexuality should be sacrificed to ensure legitimacy
  3. A family’s wealth should be administered by the husband/father
  4. Women, especially widows and divorcees, needed society’s help

Keeping these axioms in mind will help us see Hammurabi’s Law Code in the same way the Babylonians saw it.  Numbers in brackets refer to the section numbers in the code.

    Perhaps the clearest example of the sacrifice of individual rights on the altar of social order is the provision that would spell death for the builder’s son if a new house collapsed and killed the owner’s son.  A wife may or may not have been considered property in the same way a son or daughter was, but her sexuality belonged exclusively to her husband, and any interference therewith had to be punished as much as any other serious theft. 

    Many in today’s world are worried that population growth will soon outstrip the resources of planet earth.  The reverse was true in the Ancient World where society needed more and more workers and families needed young people as a guarantee the old would not be left destitute and lonely.  People took pride in having a large number of offspring for they were living up to their social responsibilities and, of course, guaranteeing they would have someone to look after them in old age.

    Unwanted babies were exposed by many ancient societies.  Should the children of a slave or concubine be raised by their mother as a separate family or together with the other children of the father and his wife?  To the extent allowed by the laws of each society, fathers regularly had to decide whether to claim any newborn as his child.  At the head of the list of undesirable babies were those conceived as the result of a wife’s affair.  While motherhood was obvious, fatherhood was not.  The solution was to place severe restrictions on female sexuality.  The double standard would remain almost universal until the development of a reliable means of birth control in the second half of the Twentieth Century.

In the Industrial World it is possible for men or women to live on their own for a period of time between leaving their parents’ home and getting married.  That option does not exist in an agrarian society.  If people are going to live in family units anyway, perhaps it makes sense to have assets owned by the family, not the individual.  While Babylonia appears to have had no law against women owning property, they did not do so as a matter of course.  In the normal state of affairs, the husband or father was the custodian of the family assets.

The Ancient World knew perfectly well that all of this left women at a certain disadvantage.  The system worked very well in normal, happy marriages, but when disaster struck, whether it be death, desertion or divorce, it was usually the woman who paid the price.  We need to look at how the legal system attempted to redress this economic inequality.

Most women expected to marry and have a family.  A fair body of love poetry would suggest that girls did have some say, but marriage, at least in theory, was arranged by their fathers or brothers.  According to the Hammurabi Code a contract was necessary to make a marriage.  Based on the few that have survived, the contracts dealt mainly with what would happen if the marriage ended through death, divorce or desertion, but other clauses might exempt each from the other’s prenuptial debts or even require the bride to serve as servant to her mother-in-law.

The most important item to be negotiated was the size of the bride price. 

            We have seen that pre-literate societies used bride price to compensate the bride’s family for the loss of labor and Israelite society restricted it to a token amount as a symbol of engagement.  In Babylonia the bride price almost always became part of the dowry.  Depending on social status, the bride price could represent a significant transfer of wealth—-perhaps a house and several acres of land—- but at the bottom of the economic ladder it might have been little more than an item of furniture or some kitchen utensils.  Whatever it was it was, it became part of the new household’s assets and as such was administered by the husband, but legally it had to be kept separate for it was designed for the support of the wife and her children.  (151-152)

It frequently happened that the bride remained in her father’s house for as much as a year after the contract was signed.  If in the course of that time the groom changed his mind he did not have to marry her but he lost the full bride price. (159)   The bride’s father might also have changed his mind, in which case he would have been required to refund the purchase price in full (160). If a wife died before giving birth to a son the dowry, less the bride price, was returned immediately to her father’s house (163-164).  We will see later how the law strictly regulated the disposal of the dowry in other cases.  Daughters did not normally inherit anything from their father’s estate.  Instead they got a dowry that was intended to offer as much lifetime security for the bride as her family could afford.

At marriage a woman’s sexuality became the property of her husband.  Adultery was defined in Babylonia as elsewhere in the ancient world as a sexual relationship between a married woman and a man not her husband.  The marital status of the man was irrelevant.  Even the appearance or possibility of adultery was taken very seriously.  A wife caught in the act of adultery was to be tied to her lover and thrown into the water and drowned.   A husband could save his wife but then he had to save her lover as well.  (129) 

By its nature adultery is a secretive activity, yet the mere possibility of such a serious offence was disruptive of the social order.  If a woman’s husband accused her she may in the presence of a priest swear to her innocence and then return to her husband’s home.  If someone else accused her she would have to undergo an ordeal in which she would swear before the gods to her innocence and then jump into the river.  If she drowned it was a sign of guilt; if she survived it meant that the river spirits knew of her virtue and saved her.  (Note that this is the reverse of the medieval European ordeal.)  To the modern mind judgment was based on the woman’s ability to swim, but the ancient Babylonians were convinced of supernatural intervention.  Swearing innocence was not as easy as it sounds because most people were quite certain that the gods would punish anyone who lied in their names, but any wife willing to risk divine retribution was free to return to her home if her only accuser was a jealous husband.  If an outsider laid the charge the woman was likely to lose because few in Babylonia knew how to swim.  Whatever the justice of the verdict for the individual, the matter was settled and order was restored in the community. (131-132)

Although marriages were arranged by the parents, there is no reason to suppose that they did not involve considerable love, affection and mutual support.  Some relationships were bound to fail, however, and the code spelled out in considerable detail all of the options.  If he simply ran away and deserted her she was free to marry someone else; even if he returned later he could not reclaim her; nor could she opt to return to her first husband: the Code, not the woman, made the choice.  (136) 

A man could divorce his wife without giving a reason, but if she had borne him children there were some serious conditions:  she kept the children; she got the dowry; she also got the use of a field or property so she could raise her children. When her ex-husband died she got a portion of his estate equal to that given to each of her sons and was free to marry someone else. (137)  If a wife had no children she could be divorced by simply returning her dowry along with a sum equal to the purchase price.  If there was no purchase price he had to give her one mina of gold.  A shepherd could expect to take about six years to earn such a sum so in theory at least it could have been invested to go some way to maintain her. (137-140)

If the woman wanted out of the marriage or if the husband wished to avoid returning the dowry the courts had to be involved.  If she could demonstrate her innocence and his neglect she could take her dowry and children and return to her father’s house.  If it were established, however, that she was to blame and had neglected her house and husband, then he sent her away without dowry or children; if he wished, he could opt to keep her as a servant.  In serious cases the court might rule that she should be thrown in the water and drowned. (141-143) 

Throughout the Ancient World childlessness was considered to be a serious problem.  If a wife failed to bear children she might give her maidservant to her husband.  If the maidservant produced a baby it counted as the wife’s child.  If such a maidservant started to take on airs and act the equal of the wife she could not be sold but she would be kept strictly as a slave.  If neither wife nor maidservant produced a child a man was permitted a second wife but again she was not allowed to be equal in status to the first wife.  If his wife acquired a long-term illness he could take a second wife but he must continue to look after his first wife for as long as she lives.  She could take her dowry and return to her father’s house if she wanted to do so: the choice was hers. (144-149)

A wife’s dowry was administered by her husband as part of the family assets.  He had no say, however, in its ultimate disposal.  If she died childless, her dowry reverted back to her family—-her father, if he was alive, otherwise her brothers.  If she had sons, they would share it equally.  A man divided his estate among his sons after having provided a suitable dowry for each daughter and an appropriate bride price for each son.  If he died before arranging all of this his heirs were expected to do so before dividing the balance of the estate.  If a man had children by two wives, all of his sons shared his estate  equally; they got a portion of their birth mother’s dowry but nothing from their stepmother.  (166-167, 183-184)  Likewise a woman who had children by two husbands divided her dowry equally among her sons by both marriages. (173)

If in life the father acknowledged sons by a slave or concubine, they were entitled to share equally in his estate.  If he had not acknowledged them they had no right to inherit, but the slave or concubine and her children were freed on his death.  (170-171)

The marriage gift was property set aside at the time of the marriage for the support of the bride after the death of her husband.  If no such gift was made a widow was entitled to a share of her husband’s estate equal to that of a son.  She also had the right to remain in the family home for as long as she lived.  If she opted to remarry she would, of course, have to move and she would lose the marriage gift.  A widow with dependent children required judicial consent to remarry.  Her first husband’s assets were inventoried and kept in trust for his children.   (172, 177)

A father might have dedicated a daughter to serve a particular god as a nun.  Apparently some girls made this choice themselves as an alternative to an undesirable marriage.  The nun was still entitled to her share of her father’s property as a dowry even if she did not marry.  Unless he gave it to her outright it would be administered by her brothers on her behalf after their father died. (178-182)  If she became a hierodule (a lady of high standing in a temple) or a Marduk priestess her dowry was only a third of the normal size because such women had a number of tax advantages.

(Information from: womenintheancientworld.com)

(via asianhistory)