Charles G. Nelson
Professor, German Russian and Asian Languages and Literatures

Madeline H. Caviness
Mary Richardson Professor, Art and Art History

Group IV: Limitations on inheritance rights of unmarried daughters
Landrecht I, 5, 2

Oldenburg 9v

Dresden 5v

Wolfenbüttel 11v

The law states that an unmarried daughter living in the house of her parents does not share her [presumably deceased] mother's dowry with a married daughter. But she must share with her married sister any other inheritance. This is emphatically shown in picture at the foot of the verso, where the unwed daughter with loose hair is sharing an elaborate Doppelbecher (double-covered jar), a metonymy for the inheritance.

She stands between her married sister and her gerade, shears (a metonymy for the gerade), a brush, a chest. We see her as a partial and fleeting owner, immediately having to relinquish some of her inheritance. This limiting action follows on equivocations about the ability of the handicapped to inherit: The feeble-minded and dwarves, and even cripples, could not acquire a fief by inheritance. The fact that the heirs must take them into their care is stated but not shown; we see only a cripple and a leper with his bell and begging bowl. Looking at these deviants (registers 2 and 3) on the same page as the unmarried daughter, some kind of affinity is suggested. Layered between them are the sons who have unequivocal rights of inheritance from their father (registers 4 and 5).

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