Page:The early history of the property of married women.djvu/24

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under purely Teutonic customs. It is very possible that the last stages of the process, which it is difficult to call anything but feudalisation, were more unfavourable to women than the earlier changes, which were exclusively due to the infusion of Germanic usage; but, at any rate, the place of women under the new system when fully organised was worse than it was under Roman law, and would have been very greatly worse but for the efforts of the Church. One standing monument of these efforts we have constantly before us in the promise of the husband in the Marriage service, "With all my worldly goods, I thee endow;" a formula which sometimes puzzles the English lawyer, from its want of correspondence with anything which he finds among the oldest rules of English law. The words have, indeed, been occasionally used in English legal treatises, as the text of a disquisition on the distinction between Roman dos, to which they are supposed to refer, and the doarium, which is the "dower" of lands known to English law. The fact is, however, that the tradition which the Church was carrying on was the general tradition of the Roman dos, the practical object being to secure for the wife a provision of which the husband could not wantonly deprive her, and which would remain to her after his death. The bodies of customary law which were built up over Europe were, in all matters of first principle, under ecclesiastical influences; but the particular applications of a principle once accepted were extremely various. The dower of lands in English law, of which hardly a shadow remains, but under which a wife surviving her husband took a third of the rents and profits of his estates for life, belonged to a class of institutions widely spread over Western Europe, very similar in general character, often designated as doarium, but differing considerably in detail. They unquestionably had their origin in the endeavours of the Church to revive the Roman institution of the compulsory dos, which, in this sense, produced the doarium, even though the latter may have had a partially Germanic origin, and even though it occasionally assume (as it unquestionably does) a shape very different from the original institution. I myself believe that another effect of this persistent preaching and encouragement is to be found in the strong feeling which is diffused through much of Europe, and specially through the Latinised societies, in favour of dotation, or portioning of daughters, a feeling which seldom fails to astonish a person acquainted with such a country as France by its