Marital Conflict, Ethnicity, and Legal Hybridity in Postconquest Quebec

Marital Conflict, Ethnicity, and Legal Hybridity in Postconquest Quebec

Marital Conflict, Ethnicity, and Legal Hybridity in Postconquest Quebec

Marital Conflict, Ethnicity, and Legal Hybridity in Postconquest Quebecs

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Référence bibliographique [19472]

Journal of Family History, vol. 41, no 4, p. 430-450.

Fiche synthèse

1. Objectifs


Intentions :
«This article analyzes the terrain of marital conflict to show how the plurality of legal regimes that existed after the British conquest was employed by women to further their interests. By using the lens of marital conflict, we wish to demonstrate the ways in which French customary law was subtly transformed and subverted by the incremental infiltration of English cultural and political values which sought to reaffirm the preeminence of patriarchal power in the household and the wider polity, giving particularly attention to the importance of the 1802 master and servant laws, a central pillar of the counterrevolution in this colonial society.» (p. 431)

Questions/Hypothèses :
«Given the ethnic and legal plurality of Quebec, one of the central questions of this article is how did women navigate the legal options available to them? Did they utilize both systems of law or did their cultural origins dictate the choice of either the French or English system?» (p. 432)

2. Méthode


Échantillon/Matériau :
Les auteurs utilisent plusieurs journaux et documents judiciaires de l’époque faisant partie des corpus disponibles aux Bibliothèque et Archives nationales du Québec de la ville de Montréal et de Québec.

Type de traitement des données :
Analyse de contenu
Réflexion critique

3. Résumé


Research shows that «[t]he small number of separation suits in Quebec are in no way indicative of marital harmony in the colony, but what they do show is that, despite the existence of this provision in French customary law that had the potential to benefit married women, in practice this right was rarely pursued by dissatisfied wives, thus calling into question the potential of legal structures to shape the behavior of ordinary married couples. In colonial sites which remained under French jurisdiction, such as St. Domingue, wives had considerably more latitude to renegotiate the terms of marriage […]. By contrast, in colonies such as Quebec, where there was a dual system of law in which the criminal courts followed English practice and the civil courts remained governed by the Coutume de Paris, the outcomes for women were less favorable, not least because notions of patriarchal government derived from the English common law, but progressively infused French civil law. Coupled with a greater propensity for men to challenge their wives’ requests for a separation, these two factors explain the decline in separations after the beginning of the nineteenth century.» (p. 444)