Roman law allo­wed a cou­ple the free­dom to make gifts to each other before mar­riage ; after the mar­riage, it was no lon­ger allo­wed. That was based on the ethos of the Romans, who were incli­ned to mar­riage only for rea­sons of fru­ga­lity, sim­pli­city and modesty, but could allow them­sel­ves to be indu­ced by domes­tic duties, kind­nes­ses, and the content­ment of an entire life.

The law of the Visigoths1 limi­ted the hus­band’s gift to the woman he was to marry to the tenth part of his pos­ses­sions, and he could give her nothing in the first year of his mar­riage. That again came from the coun­try’s ethos. The legis­la­tors wan­ted to put an end to the kind of Spanish osten­ta­tion moti­va­ted solely to show exces­sive libe­ra­li­ties with a gran­diose act.

The Romans, through their laws, ended some disad­van­ta­ges of the world’s most dura­ble domi­nion, which is that of vir­tue ; the Spanish, through theirs, wan­ted to pre­vent the ill effects of the world’s most fra­gile tyranny, which is that of beauty.

Book III, tit. i, §5.