A return to patriarchy? Independent women in the Dutch Republic
In this article, we aim to show that – in contrast to what some recent historical studies suppose – there was no ‘return to patriarchy’ in the early modern Northern Netherlands. Instead, the freedom and possibilities of Dutch women increased remarkably in the sixteenth through eigtheenth century, with regard to their position in marriage and marital law, their legal status in general, and their activities in the labour market and in the financial market. Although the Protestant values and church law may in theory have been less favourable to women, we argue that exactly the less restrictive legal practice was decisive in creating social and economic opportunities for women, who could profit from and contribute to Dutch early capitalist institutions.