This important work operates on the borders where social, political, and legal history meet, and it makes meaningful contributions to each field. Constructed around the intertwined issues of illegitimacy and inheritance, Lewin explores a wide range of issues of interest to historians. Unusual in today’s publishing environment, this is a two-volume work. The first focuses on the colonial period, and the second deals with the 1822– 47 period, with an epilogue that tantalizingly incorporates changes made regarding illegitimacy and inheritance law during the republic, including the 1988 constitution.

While the work makes very good use of the newest secondary sources, its most important contribution is a close reading of secular and ecclesiastical documentation, especially the works of legal experts of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries and the parliamentary debates of the 1820s through the 1840s. It is the close reading of this very complex material that provides the backbone of...

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