Dower  

From The Art and Popular Culture Encyclopedia

Jump to: navigation, search

Related e

Wikipedia
Wiktionary
Shop


Featured:

Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel
Enlarge
Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel

Dower is a provision accorded by law, but traditionally by a husband or his family, to a wife for her support in the event that she should become widowed. It was settled on the bride (being gifted into trust) by agreement at the time of the wedding, or as provided by law.

The dower grew out of the Germanic practice of bride price (Old English weotuma), which was given over to a bride's family well in advance for arranging the marriage, but during the early Middle Ages, was given directly to the bride instead. However, in popular parlance, the term may be used for a life interest in property settled by a husband on his wife at any time, not just at the wedding. The verb to dower is sometimes used.

In popular usage, the term dower may be confused with:

  • A dowager is a widow (who may receive her dower). The term is especially used of a noble or royal widow who no longer occupies the position she held during the marriage. For example, Queen Elizabeth was technically the dowager queen after the death of George VI (though she was referred to by the more informal title "Queen Mother"), and Princess Lilian was the Dowager Duchess of Halland in heraldic parlance. Such a dowager will receive the income from her dower property. (The term "Empress Dowager", in Chinese history, has a different meaning.)
  • Property brought to the marriage by the bride is called a dowry. But the word dower has been used since Chaucer (The Clerk's Tale) in the sense of dowry, and is recognized as a definition of dower in the Oxford English Dictionary.
  • Property made over to the bride's family at the time of the wedding is a bride price. This property does not pass to the bride herself.


See also




Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Dower" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

Personal tools