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.
These are caused both by the position of Gertrude as an "imperial jointress
" within the play, a queen whose legal status prevents Hamlet's succession, and by the play's open competition with Queen Elizabeth's boys' companies.
Her reading of the ambiguous means of succession in Denmark gives a privileged place to Gertrude, Claudius's `imperial jointress
': marrying her seems to be `the only empirically surefire way to acquire the throne' (p.
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
From the reference to the Queen as 'jointress' Dover Wilson infers that Gertrude had a life-interest in the crown, and it may be that Shakespeare had in mind how in earlier versions of the story Hamlet's father acquired the throne by marriage; but the rights he accords Gertrude as dowager he is content not to define.
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
. Economica 51:203 319-39.
Pausing at Claudius's familiar epithet for Gertrude, "imperial jointress
," Eggert explores the legal privileges conferred by, and the political implications of, jointure (by which a widow was entitled to the use of more than the customary one-third of her deceased husband's lands and income, and could be surer of holding onto it than she could a dower).
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.
Shakespeareans will remember how Jacques tells Touchstone that Sir Oliver Martext will marry him to Audry "as they join wainscot; then one of you will prove a shrunk panel, and like green timber warp, warp" (AYLI 3.3.86-89); and how Claudius informs his court, in a painstakingly articulated period, how Gertrude has become "th'imperial jointress
to this warlike state" Ham 1.2.9).