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  • Print publication year: 2006
  • Online publication date: March 2008

16 - Gender and the legal order in Imperial Russia

from Part IV - Russian Society, Law and Economy
This chapter explores a single but significant dimension of women's experience in Imperial Russia: the transformation of their legal status from the Petrine reforms to the eve of the 1917 Revolution. It investigates the origins of competing definitions of gender in the realms of property, family and criminal law. The pre-Petrine law of property was characterised by unequal inheritance for sons and daughters and limitations on women's use and control of landed estates. For all that Muscovite law codes allowed women a surprising degree of independence in matters judicial, elite Russian women shared many legal disabilities with their European counterparts. Criminal law, as well as the law of property, made few concessions to female weakness in the eighteenth century. Indeed, in cases of adultery or spousal murder, the law displayed far less leniency for women than for men.
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The Cambridge History of Russia
  • Online ISBN: 9781139055437
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