Being without inheritance and being childless are two different issues: being childless is – casually put – a private ‘problem’, equally affecting all social groups in history and the present time, while not having to be a social problem in all of those groups. Furthermore, then as now, this problem can be corrected with the means of selected legal instruments. The meaning of ‘being without inheritance’ in Middle High German is twofold: without inheritance is someone who does not have anything to bequeath, or who does not have any relatives entitled to inherit. Being without inheritance is a logical consequence of being childless, but goes far beyond that, as not only children, but also any other relatives entitled to inherit are no longer alive. Other than childlessness, being without inheritance is a problem of far-ranging social, legal and political significance. This problem cannot be rectified, because being without inheritance as a legal figure is usually only noticed posthumously. The paper focuses on this juridical figure in an urban context.
Keywords Town Law; Inventories; Forced Sale; Heirless- and Namelessness
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