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Extra resources for Agrarian Studies: Synthetic Work at the Cutting Edge
In all three stories their sisters reconnect them to the world of families through manipulation of the rules of property devolution and marriage. Sisters perform symbolic transfers of property, undertake vows of silence, and marry to eﬀect the salvation of their brothers from military servitude. Such acts seem to reﬂect some of the shifts seen in peasant marriage and devolutionary behavior in response to the extremes of the Frederician military system. Although these women become heroines through their acts of self-sacriﬁce and renunciation, so constructing their acts blurs the source of their own victimization and reveals a tension between the value of loyalty to parents and lineage and that of loyalty to siblings.
25. Taylor and Rebel, ‘‘Hessian Peasant Women,’’ p. 365. , p. 360. Jack Goody, The Development of the Family and Marriage in Europe (Cambridge, England, 1983), p. 136. The head was the most ancient common ancestor, and digits of hands and feet were the most recent generation. Sabean, The Power in the Blood, pp. 140–43. David Warren Sabean, ‘‘Aspects of Kinship Behavior and Property in Rural Western Europe before 1800,’’ in Jack Goody, Jean Thirsk, and E. P. , Family and Inheritance: Rural Society in Western Europe, 1200–1800 (Cambridge, England, 1976), p.
This conﬂict of interest is structural in the predominantly patrilineal and patrilocal inheritance and marriage practices of most Hessian regions. To increase portions of sons is to decrease that of daughters and their children, and vice versa. 39 In these stories, the children, but mostly the sisters and mothers-in-law, bear the burden of such tensions—again a structural necessity because brothers in the militarized Hessian context needed protection more immediately than their potential nieces or nephews.