Pozůstalostní agenda v osvícenském zákonodárství 1740-1790
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Probate Acts within the Enlightened Legislature 1740-1790
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In the Habsburg monarchy, the practice of compiling probate acts became prevalent during the period of enlightened absolutism. Previously, the individual components of the probate documentation – such as inventories or wills – had usually existed separately, or had been contained in land registers or municipal records. This paper deals with the changes in probate proceedings that took place as a result of legislative changes introduced during the period between 1740 and 1790 – examining the specific laws which influenced the form and content of the source material. The probate acts included not only inventories and wills, but also a range of other documents produced as part of the probate proceedings. Taken as a whole, probate acts represent an excellent source of data for research into economic and social history, cultural history, the history of everyday life, the family, the life cycle and the social aspects of demographic development. Historiographers in the Czech Republic and abroad have achieved quite strong results by using probate acts as a source of information on cultural history, especially concerning possessions used in everyday life. This research has focused primarily on inventories of property from the early modern period, though some work has also been based on 19th-century sources. Some economic historians have drawn extensively on inventories as a source of information on pauperization as it affected the population, while social historians have used wills to shed light on questions related to the systems, practice and consequences of inheritance. To date, little attention has been paid to probate acts compiled from the 1780s onwards in the Habsburg monarchy. Where such acts have been examined, they have been used in a similar manner to that described above – i.e. mainly for research into the cultural aspects of everyday life. However, these acts consisted of more than just wills and inventories. They also incorporated documents containing personal details of the deceased and his/her family (or heirs), as well as records of probate proceedings including detailed listings of assets and liabilities and detailed descriptions of the allocation of property to heirs. This is the view of probate acts taken by the present study, which presents the results of detailed research into enlightened legislature affecting all component parts of the probate acts with regard to various groupings within the estates society. The author takes into account all legislation which affected probate proceedings in any way. Naturally, the study focuses to a large extent on legislation governing inheritance proceedings; nevertheless, the author deals with probate proceedings in the wider sense, not restricting his focus solely to questions of inheritance.
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