October 21st, 2013

[ANON POST] Widow's Inheritance in Late Roman Empire

In the Roman Empire, can a widow inherit the entire estate?

In this novel, I have a foreigner (i.e. not a Roman citizen) of means living near Arles, in Gaul (now France). It is 304 AD, just before the accession of Emperor Constantine. He has lots of money and bought an estate, and is now producing olive oil, grapes, and horses in a minor way. (The analogy would be the rich sheik from Saudi Arabia buying a nice condo in New York City, entering somewhat into the activities of the Big Apple but not becoming a citizen.)
Would he be able to write a will, decreeing what he would like done with this estate? (If he has holdings elsewhere I assume they would not be subject to Roman law.)
He would I assume get Roman lawyers and officials to help with this, so that it'll be valid? Do these things get filed with the government in town? Surely they don't do the English-country-house mystery thing and have the document in a safe in the library. Who are these people?
What he (which is to say I, the author) needs to have in this will is, if he is married at the time of his death then all the property/money goes to his wife. If he is NOT married, then all the property, including all the slaves, is to be sold up or liquidated and the funds thus accrued given to some cause or another, probably a temple. Does this sound doable? Would it be a temple?

I have googled around using terms like 'Roman empire inheritance law' and gotten to pages and pages of Latin legal terms that I need a law degree to parse. This may actually not be an answerable question, and if so I am just going to go with it. (If nobody knows, then I can do what I like, right?)

Acute Mental Illness Brought On By A Traumatic Event

I have a character, I'll call her Elena for now, who I need to develop an acute mental break after witnessing one of her good friends being abducted for the slave trade and nearly being taken herself. The story roughly takes place in 16th century Poland and she's about 18 years old.

I tried to do research on if and how a traumatic event could bring on mental illness and if the illness would need to be predisposed for such a thing to happen. Not that it would necessarily be known that other members in her family had also suffered from mental illness, as she lives alone with her parents, and both are of sound mind.

The trajectory I was looking at would be for her to be catatonic immediately following the event and then from there to have hallucinations, flashbacks, triggers that set her off, and nonsensical talking, with some periods of normalcy where she can mostly act like her old self (possibly through repressed memories) before regressing again. So she can have good or bad days, depending. She's not violent but she feels threatened she'll try to escape or go catatonic again.

Not sure if this factors in, but originally her personality was very sweet, caring, sensitive, forgiving, and she believed in nonviolence. I still would like a hint of this to shine through.

I've turned up quite a lot on PTSD and schizophrenia, but I didn't know if there were any other illnesses that might be a better fit? From the symptom lists I've looked at, it seems like she would have several attributes from both disorders, but I would like to be as consistent as possible.

Searches included: mental illness through trauma, PTSD, PTSD symptoms, schizophrenia, traumatic grief, and survivors guilt

Thanks in advance for any help or insight!