Montesquieu
 

VII.15 On dowries and nuptial advantages in various constitutions

Dowries should be consi­de­ra­ble in monar­chies so that hus­bands may main­tain their rank and cus­to­mary luxury. They should be modest in repu­blics, where luxury must not pre­vail1 ; they should be next to nothing in des­po­tic sta­tes, where women are more or less sla­ves.

The com­mu­nal estate bet­ween hus­band and wife intro­du­ced by French laws is enti­rely sui­ta­ble in monar­chi­cal govern­ment, because it invol­ves women in domes­tic mat­ters, and recalls them as if des­pite them­sel­ves to the mana­ge­ment of their hou­se­holds. It is less sui­ta­ble in a repu­blic, where women have more vir­tue. It would be absurd in des­po­tic sta­tes, where women are almost always them­sel­ves part of the mas­ter’s pro­perty.

As women by their sta­tus are rather incli­ned to marry, the gains acqui­si­tions the law gives them on their hus­bands’ hol­dings are not nee­ded. But they would be most per­ni­cious in a repu­blic, because their pri­vate wealth pro­du­ces luxury. In des­po­tic sta­tes, nup­tial acqui­si­tions should be their sub­sis­tence, and nothing more.

Marseille was the wisest of the republics of its time ; dowries could not exceed a hundred crowns in silver and five in raiment, says Strabo (book IV).