This thesis performs a detailed examination of spousal inheritance rights, the roots of which reach back to Roman law. The focus of analysis centres on examining how statutory spousal rights of inheritance have developed and changed over the course of various eras and reforms.Legal rights of inheritance for spouses were not provided for in Roman law. Even during the Middle Ages, a surviving spouse had no statutory right of inheritance, but merely rights to marital property. Compared to the Middle Ages, circumstances during the early Modern Era had not changed significantly. Nonetheless, claims to marital property supported the development of a growing number of approaches and concepts concerning spousal inheritance rights. Spouses were granted inheritance rights during the 18th century, subject to the requirement that there were no other living relatives. Similarly, the 1811 version of the Austrian Civil Code subsequently only provided for a usufruct right for the surviving spouse. A statutory right of spousal inheritance, as well as preferential legacies, were first introduced with the partial reform of 1914. Additional reforms to inheritance law, which included the introduction of a forced share for surviving spouses, were implemented in 1978. Further improvements were made as part of the 1989 Inheritance Law Amendment Act, which expanded preferential legacies to include a right of residence. Statutory inheritance law was most recently modified as part of the Family and Inheritance Law Amendment Act of 2004.The current state of the law in Austria as regards spousal inheritance rights is discussed in detail, followed by a comparison of the state of the law in Switzerland and Germany. The results of this analysis show that, in general, there are many similarities between the countries but also quite a few differences.In conclusion, it is to be noted that this thesis revealed a constant trend toward the improvement of spousal rights of inheritance.