At first glance, there is nothing unusual about the fact that, in 1790, a woman went to a magistrate in Mexico City to request money from her husband while their divorce case was pending. Everything about the lawsuit seems ordinary, even down to the litigant's name, Doña María García. Decades of historical scholarship on gender have familiarized us with women just like her, women who tactically employed the courts of the Spanish empire in the larger “contest” that made up gender relations in the era. Histories of women veritably brim with female litigants who used the justice system to win small victories in their battles for autonomy from marital obligations or to rein in philandering, shiftless, or abusive lovers.
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