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This is an account of women's legal and social position in the West from classical antiquity right through to the early Middle ages. The main focus of the book is on the late antique period, with reference to classical Roman law and the lives of women in the early empire.
The book then goes on to follow women's history up to the seventh century. Themes include daughters' succession rights; the independence of married women; sexual relations outside marriage; divorce; remarriage; and the general legal capacity of women. Dr Arjava argues that from the viewpoint of most women, late antiquity was not a period of radical change. In particular, the influence of Christianity has often been considerably exaggerated.
It was only after the fall of the Western empire that a new legal system and a new social world emerged.