This is the first comprehensive account of women's legal and social positions in the west from classical antiquity right through to the early middle ages. The main focus of the book is on the late antique period, with constant reference to classical Roman law and the lives of women in theearly empire. The book goes on to follow women's history up to the seventh century, thus bridging the notorious gap of the 'dark ages'. Major themes include daughters' succession rights; the independence of married women; sexual relations outside marriage; divorce; remarriage; and the general legalcapacity of women. Antti Arjava argues that from the viewpoint of most women, late antiquity was not a period of radical change. In particular, the influence of Christianity has often been considerably exaggerated. It was only after the fall of the Western empire that a new legal system and a newsocial world emerged.