Jewish History

, Volume 16, Issue 1, pp 49–71 | Cite as

Splitting Heirs: Patterns of Inheritance among Barcelona's Jews

  • Elka Klein


In the later thirteenth century, patterns of inheritance shifted among Barcelonese Jews away from a preference for holding inherited land in common toward dividing the estate on the death of the testator. An early example of this practice is the Hebrew will of Astrug de Tolosa. By situating this will in the context of other Jewish wills from the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries, as well as comparing it to those of contemporary Christians, one may see how ideas about the family in this important Jewish community evolved. This article focuses on provisions for wives and daughters and the designation of heirs and concludes that Jews and Christians shared a view of dowry and inheritance as components of a single system for transferring property to the next generation. However, unlike Christians, Jews resisted favoring a single heir with the bulk of the estate. Examining the provisions of inheritance makes it possible to argue that despite differing legal frameworks, Jewish and Christian practice bespeak common cultural contexts – yet ones whose parallels were not always complete.


Cultural Context Legal Framework Jewish Community Single System Thirteenth Century 
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Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 2002

Authors and Affiliations

  • Elka Klein
    • 1
  1. 1.University of CincinnatiU.S.A

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