gave security to women who held real and personal estates by means of future equitable interests not recognised at the common law, granted protection to the estate of the jointress
and accorded a right to separated or divorced women to take a share of their husband's estate commensurate with the portion which they brought into marriage.
Understanding what Claudius meant by referring to Gertrude as the "imperial jointress
of our estate" could actually shed some light on Hamlet's attitude to his mother.
Therefore our sometime sister, now our queen, Th'imperial jointress
to this warlike state, Have we, as 'twere with a defeated joy, With mirth in funeral and with dirge in marriage, In equal scale weighing delight and dole, Taken to wife.
9 as 'Th' imperial jointress
to this warlike state'; Jenkins has pointed out that
Therefore our sometime sister, now our queen, Th' imperial jointress
of this warlike state, Have we as 'twere with a defeated joy, With one auspicious and one dropping eye, With mirth in funeral and with dirge in marriage, In equal scale weighing delight and dole, Taken to wife.
Wolfe (1984) A More General Approach to Fertility Determination in a Developing Country: The Importance of Biological Supply Consideration, Endogenous Tastes, and Unperceived Jointress
Thus, rather than Claudius it is Gertrude as jointress
who has "popp'd in between th'election" and Hamlet's hopes, obstructing and complicating the succession, which can no longer be the "closed, well-knit, concise" compact of male-male inheritance but has been put "out of joint" for Hamlet by the woman who is not only his mother but who, "conjunctive to [his uncle's] life and soul," has in effect conferred the state of Denmark upon him by bringing him her jointure in marriage.
And all three early texts include evocations of empire in Aeneas's tale to Dido, Julius Caesar and Brutus, Marcellus and Nero, even if the less certain "Claudius" is described as the consort of an imperial jointress
and as pirate or cutpurse of empire and the rule only in Q2 and F.