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Interrogation of a Suspected Rioter (June 1795)

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The police interrogated those accused of participating in the May 1795 riots. This interrogation gives a good idea of the police’s concerns.

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Islamic Empire: Official Document, Jewish Marriage Contract

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Within the context of patriarchal societies, women are dependent upon their male relatives to look out for their best interests. In both Jewish and Muslim marriages, contracts have traditionally been drawn up, illustrating that a marriage is as much a familial contract as a union between two people. In Fatimid Cairo, Jewish families took great pains to draw up ketubbot, or marriage contracts,... Read More »

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José Antonio Juárez, "Petition for Permission to Marry," May 15th, 1830, Children and Youth in History.

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Children frequently turned to the courts in seeking greater independence from their parents, especially in matters related to marriage choice. Dozens of petitions asking the state for permission to marry were filed at a time when the state was attempting to socialize young people as citizens of the new nation-state and patriarchy was in decline.

In this document, José Antonio Juárez... Read More »

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Legal and Political Status of the Infant

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This Qin-dynasty legal text (c. 217 BCE), written on bamboo strips, was excavated in China in 1975. According to Qin law, men guilty of killing children born to them were punished by becoming wall builders; the equivalent punishment for women was servitude as grain pounders. Next to the death sentence, these were most drastic forms of penal servitude. In addition, those found guilty were... Read More »

Lithuanian Communist Party Declares Independence

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In this proclamation, the political leaders of the Lithuanian national movement made a formal break with the Soviet Communist Party, and by implication with the Soviet government itself. Published as the last of the East European communist governments was coming to an end, thus marking the breakdown of the Iron Curtain, the first Soviet republics were beginning to assert their independence... Read More »

Louis XV Asks the Parlements to Desist (1770)

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The extended legal confrontation between the Parlement of Brittany and Louis XV lasted from 1765 to 1770 over the right of the central administration to govern directly in a province that had always had substantial autonomy. Supported by the other regional Parlements and by many commentators in the contemporary press, the judges defended their predominance in local matters and by implication,... Read More »

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MOBILIZATION FOR WAR (5 JULY 1792)

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Although a small minority in the Legislative Assembly when it convened in September 1791, the Girondins succeeded in passing a resolution in favor of war with "the King of Bohemia and Hungary," meaning the Habsburg Empire in April 1792. Citing the Pillnitz Declaration and Louis’s continued resistance to war to their advantage, throughout the first half of 1791, Jacques–Pierre Brissot and his... Read More »

National Assembly Debate on Clubs (20 September 1791)

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The "Champ de Mars Massacre" inaugurated a brief period of political repression directed at the popular movement and dramatized the growing tension between the claims of political activism and the desire of moderates to bring the Revolution to an orderly close. This issue was foremost in the minds of the representatives in the very last days of the Constituent Assembly, as they debated a... Read More »

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National Security Archive: Sources on Europe

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These materials help students discover that history does not follow a predetermined course, but is the result of decisions, any one of which could drastically alter history’s outcome.
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National Security Archive: Sources on Latin America

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The documents on the website provide students the opportunity to construct their own historical interpretations.

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