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Written at the end of the colonial period by one of the most powerful colonial magistrates in the Audiencia (high court) of Charcas, this letter could serve as a manual for virtuous conduct by women. Juan José Segovia gave his daughter a highly detailed body of precepts about the proper hierarchy between husband and wife and about a woman’s honorable behavior in the private and public spheres. The father’s advice was to obey the explicit and implicit rules of what we could call colonial patriarchy. These rules stipulated modesty with grace, but also allowed the discretion to negotiate certain terms of the marital relationship. Upon marriage, a young woman was no longer subject to the patriarchal power of the father over his children, instead coming under the patriarchal power of her husband. This power was enshrined in law as patria potestad, a principle that carried over from the colonial period into the republican legal code.

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