Archives for posts with tag: inbreeding in europe series

in addition to being concerned about too much inbreeding and how that might hinder the building a christian society here on earth, thomas aquinas also worried about the effects of too much outbreeding.

from his Summa Theologica [pg. 2749]:

“The degrees within which consanguinity has been an impediment to marriage have varied according to various times…. [T]he Old Law permitted other degrees of consanguinity, in fact to a certain extent it commanded them, to wit that each man should take a wife from his kindred, in order to avoid confusion of inheritances: because at that time the Divine worship was handed down as the inheritance of the race. But afterwards more degrees were forbidden by the New Law which is the law of the spirit and of love, because the worship of God is no longer handed down and spread abroad by a carnal birth but by a spiritual grace: wherefore it was necessary that men should be yet more withdrawn from carnal things by devoting themselves to things spiritual, and that love should have a yet wider play. Hence in olden time marriage was forbidden even within the more remote degrees of consanguinity, in order that consanguinity and affinity might be the sources of a wider friendship; and this was reasonably extended to the seventh degree, both because beyond this it was difficult to have any recollection of the common stock, and because this was in keeping with the sevenfold grace of the Holy Ghost. Afterwards, however, towards these latter times the prohibition of the Church has been restricted to the fourth degree, because it became useless and dangerous to extend the prohibition to more remote degrees of consanguinity. Useless, because charity waxed cold in many hearts so that they had scarcely a greater bond of friendship with their more remote kindred than with strangers: and it was dangerous because through the prevalence of concupiscence and neglect men took no account of so numerous a kindred, and thus the prohibition of the more remote degrees became for many a snare leading to damnation.”

(^_^)

previously: st. augustine and st. thomas aquinas

(note: comments do not require an email. summa theologica)

from sam worby’s Law and Kinship in Thirteenth-Century England [pgs. 1-2 - link and emphases added by me]:

Charles Donahue Jr’s magisterial comparative study of marriage in England, France and Belgium has confirmed a remarkable pattern of family interaction for England. His thorough and statistical analysis of the surviving records of cases before the archbishop of York’s consistory court in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, and Ely consistory court between 1374 and 1381, incidentally seems to confirm that there was no clan or corporate kinship system operating in the areas covered, and, by inference, in England more widely (given the consistency of results between the two evidence sets). There was, he shows, even relatively low levels of parental involvement in marriage choice. Given the importance of marriage as a social institution and the potential consequences flowing from choice of partner — in property, alliance and social standing for example — it seems remarkable that an average of only 37 per cent of York cases showed evidence of parental involvement. While there was evidence for arranged marriages in the records of both courts, many couples appear to have acted independently. Whether this is qualified as ‘astonishingly’ or ‘unusually’ individualistic, the fact remains that many couples operated with relative freedom within the scope of the canon law marriage rules.

This individualistic pattern confirms a picture of family interaction for England found elsewhere, through evidence of marriage patterns, but also more broadly. From the Anglo-Norman nobility to later medieval peasants, the picture is of a limited family (although this book will not in fact focus on peasant kinship, but rather on kinship insofar as it was a general structure, transcending class and status). The extended kindred did not live together; the typical co-resident family appears to have been nuclear. There is evidence of kin interaction, particularly suggestive of closeness between siblings. There is a broad consensus about the narrowness of the operative kin group in England. It was rarely much larger than the immediate family, mostly the co-resident nuclear family, with some obligations and traceable contact extending out to cousins, and some closeness to siblings and occasionally to uncles and aunts. This pattern is unusual in comparison to other areas of Europe. It is suggestive to note that Franco-Belgian courts showed evidence for a higher level of family involvement in marriage arrangements. It is also striking to contrast the pattern of relatively informal clans able to act together in some European countries, such as Italy.

previously: english individualism and english individualism ii and invention of the modern world

(note: comments do not require an email. hi there!)

there are two broad groups of albanians, the gheg speakers in the north of the country (the blues on the map) and the tosk speakers in the south (the greens):

Dialects_of_the_Albanian_Language

today, the ghegs are more clannish/tribal than the tosks. there are historical (stemming from topographical) reasons for this (emphases and links added by me):

“The social structure of the country was, until the 1930s, basically tribal in the north and semifeudal in the central and southern regions. The highlanders of the north retained their medieval pattern of life until well into the twentieth century and were considered the last people in Europe to preserve tribal autonomy. In the central and southern regions, increasing contact with the outside world and invasions and occupations by foreign armies had gradually weakened tribal society.

“Traditionally there have been two major subcultures in the Albanian nation: the Gegs in the north and the Tosks in the south. The Gegs, partly Roman Catholic but mostly Muslim, lived until after World War II in a mountain society characterized by blood feuds and fierce clan and tribal loyalties. The Tosks, whose number included many Muslims as well as Orthodox Christians, were less culturally isolated mainly because of centuries of foreign influence. Because they had came under the rule of the Muslim landed aristocracy, the Tosks had apparently largely lost the spirit of individuality and independence that for centuries characterized the Gegs, especially in the highlands.

“Until the end of World War II, society in the north and, to a much lesser extent, in the south, was organized in terms of kinship and descent. The basic unit of society was the extended family, usually composed of a couple, their married sons, the wives and children of the sons, and any unmarried daughters. The extended family formed a single residential and economic entity held together by common ownership of means of production and common interest in the defense of the group. Such families often included scores of persons, and, as late as 1944, some encompassed as many as sixty to seventy persons living in a cluster of huts surrounding the father’s house.

Extended families were grouped into clans whose chiefs preserved patriarchal powers over the entire group. The clan chief arranged marriages, assigned tasks, settled disputes, and set the course to be followed concerning essential matters such as blood feuds and politics. Descent was traced from a common ancestor through the male line, and brides usually were chosen from outside the clan. Clans in turn were grouped into tribes.

“In the Tosk regions of the south, the extended family was also the most important social unit, although patriarchal authority had been diluted by the feudal conditions usually imposed by the Muslim bey….”
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here’s a really (REALLY) long excerpt from Poverty in Albania: A Qualitative Assessment with some notes of my own thrown in here and there. the excerpted bits are italicized while my comments are not. the quote from the book comes from pages 83-90. the book itself was published in 2002 and comprises the results of a series of surveys undertaken across albania by world bank researchers in the late 1990s and early 2000s (again, emphases and links added by me):

“Civil Society

“People in all the study sites generally want a capable government that solves problems and creates opportunities. A combination of factors — inadequate government presence, poor management of government functions, corruption, and lack of confidence that elections will change conditions — has created a vacuum of authority in parts of Albania. In certain rural locations, particularly in the north and east, there is no functioning government. In these areas, institutions such as extended families/clans are filling the gaps of authority…. Further, Albanians’ wariness of other groups in general — other families, ethnic groups, and religious groups — fragments civil society and confines non-governmental solutions to local areas….

“Filling the Vacuum

“Two forces are rising to fill the vacuum of government authority — the traditional fis structure, and the small, ad-hoc aid programs of foreign governments and private organizations in some eastern parts of the country….

“The fis is even more important for filling the power vacuum. An elder in Mirdita describes authority there: ‘I am elected elder of this village. The water resources are distributed according to the old traditions, based on the fis. Here things are settled based on the fis, not the state. My fis is composed of my uncle, first cousins, and also fourth cousins. When there is discord that involves injuries … it is not the state that gets involved to resolve the problem, but the wisest of the elderly men in the fis. We discuss how to resolve the problem and develop a consensus. Then we make the decision and the problem is resolved.’

“Re-emergence of the Fis and Canun

A fis is a group of people descended from the same great grandfather. This extended family is bound together tightly by tradition, culture, and a set of rules called the Canun, which were formalized by Lek Dukagjini in the 1400s. The Canun withered under Communism but has resumed governing importance in some areas. As Remzi, a fis elder in Kukes, explains, ‘The Canun is now starting to function because the government is weak … and the government’s laws are not being properly implemented by the state.’ Fis in some areas are now using the traditional Canun, or a modern variation of it, to govern themselves. As noted in the chapter on agriculture, issues of land reform, land use, irrigation water distribution, and other matters are being determined by the fis structure using the Canun as the basis for decisions….

Fis are found primarily in northern rural Albania (Kukes, Mirdita, and Shkordra), but they also exist in the highlands of Korca and among the Roma populations….

“Fis Governance

In each village, there may be as few as 3 or as many as 10 fis. As noted earlier, a fis is defined as a group of those people who descend directly from a common great grandfather. In practical terms, each fis comprises three to four generations. The number of people in each fis can range from fewer than 10 to more than 500 people. The selection of leaders within a fis varies, but there are some common practices. Each fis is led by a male who is elected by other males in the fis. Often the elected leader is the oldest active male, who is responsible for setting and enforcing standards of behavior. He usually does not make important decisions alone, but in consultation with other respected males in the fis, including brothers and sons, and extending to cousins….

**textbox**
“Relations Within and Among the Fis

‘When someone in our fis makes a mistake, even if he is 40 years old, the entire fis gets together and orders him not to commit further mistakes and put shame on us all. This is our way to preserve tradition. There are seven or eight fis in the village, and we are in competition with each other to be the best one. When one of us makes a mistake or commits a crime, the entire fis is humiliated and its reputation is hurt…. When I have disputes within the fis, I try to resolve them within the fis. But if I cannot do so, I sometimes will invite and elder from another fis to listen to our problems and provide mature judgement. And if we do not get a satisfying result from this, we address the problem to the committee of elders in the village.’ – Hamit, an elder in Shkodra
**close textbox**

“Where the government is totally absent, the committee of elders governs without a government institution by managing common work and the relationships among the various fis. In these situations, the committee of elders uses some version of the Canun to set rules and govern. According to Preng, and elder in Mirdita, ‘I am the elected leader of the fis…. Here, things are settled by the fis and we do not rely on the government. My fis is composed of my uncle, first cousins, and also fourth cousins. When there is a dispute that results in injury, it is not the government that gets involved but the elders who get together and decide the fee. A committee of elders, the wisest men from all the fis, discusses the problem and resolves it based on consensus. When the fee is paid, then the problem is considered resolved…. If the criminal has no money to pay the fee, then he is killed. The fee depends on the issue and how events happened….

“Applying the Canun

“The application of Canun varies by fis. A few apply the traditional Canun, even though they recognize its shortcomings. They feel that, despite the traditional Canun’s weaknesses, it is the best solution in the absence of government. In one area of Kukes, an elder describes the Canun as ‘unprincipled and not fair as the laws. It is very tough and incites disputes and revenge. For instance, according to the Canun, if someone hits you, then you have the right to kill him…. It has some very precise rules, though in today’s society it is hard to implement the rules…. For instance, the Canun does not allow my daughter to bring bread or coffee in the room when guests visit. Women must wear a scarf on their head. A stranger who is visiting your house must not shake hands with your wife or daughter.’ The Canun has returned to an extent that blood feuds have re-emerged. In some areas, such as Shkodra and northern Kukes, families reportedly are confined to their own homes to protect themselves during a feud. In these cases, friends and neighbors bring them food because the family cannot grow their own food or otherwise work while feuding.

“Despite the use of traditional Canun rules in some areas, most fis have adapted the Canun to better fit, in their view, the values of the modern era….

“Dispute Resolution and Other Functions

“… The need for such dispute resolution increased after 1990, due to new freedoms and disputes over property rights, just as the government’s ability to resolves such disputes began to decline…. According to an elder in Shkodra, ‘After 1990, conflict increased compared to the time of my father. The Communist regime caused many fights because it took land from its owners and distributed it equally to everybody, and encouraged people to construct houses on other people’s land….

albania’s committee of nationwide reconciliation estimates that there were ca. “10,000 murders for honour, blood feud and revenge between 1990 and 2009″ in the country, although it’s difficult to know for sure what the real numbers are. i think it’s safe to say A LOT, though. the albanian tradition of gjakmarrja is basically an eye-for-an-eye moral system in which honor is all-important — the honor of the extended family. albanians (and other groups in the balkans) have for centuries had purpose built boltholes to hide in when they and their families were the objects of a blood feud (check out the border reivers’ bastle houses, too):

i think the long history and current prevalence of blood feuds in albania and throughout the region illustrates that greying wanderer’s characterization of the balkans as “full of people who hate the people in the adjacent enclosed ancient valley” is not far off the mark.
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interestingly:

“Source of Power

The principle source of power for a fis is its moral standing among the other fis. An elder in Shkodra says, ‘Our moral force and authority derive from good behavior.’ This moral standing is built over generations. Fis that historically have been strong are more likely to enjoy power now. An elder in Shkodra says, ‘Blood is never forgotten. Mother and father have one name. Blood has one name. After 20 or 100 years, the blood of mothers and fathers is not forgotten.’

Moral standing is judged according to the behavior of the members of a fis. Living according to the laws set by the fis, working hard, being kind and gracious to both neighbors and strangers, showing generosity to others, and having a family that is free of conflict are some of the criteria by which fis judge each other. An elder in Shkodra explains, ‘A good man, according to the Canun, is one who works, is wise, is loved by everybody, who does not humiliate anyone, and who pulls his family together. A bad man is one who does the opposite. The good fis are polite, have culture, and use common sense. A bad fis is not able to run its own affairs properly, let alone enjoy proper relations with other fis.’ An elder in Kukes, who asserts that his family is the ‘best’ fis in the community, describes similar criteria for judging a fis there: ‘My grandfather was known as the representative of the best fis in the village. Now we have 20 families in the village and maybe someone from our fis has committed some wrongs, but we still enjoy the reputation of our generosity and hospitality. For instance, if I see a stranger passing by on the road, I invite him to visit my home and have coffee with us. I preserve the reputation of the fis. When I visit my neighbor, I make a contribution. When he visits me, he makes a contribution. When someone asks to marry my daughter who does not come from a well-respected fis, I do not permit my daughter to marry that person.’

so, unlike in western europe where a man is judged by his character and behavior alone, amongst albanians (and i’m guessing other balkan populations) one’s moral character is all wrapped up with that of one’s extended family. this is something we hear throughout muslim societies in the arab world and middle east as well (e.g. all the honor killings) — not surprising when they are very inbred, too.
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Marriages among members of the same fis are not permitted, even when the two people are seven or eight generations removed. Because one must marry someone from another fis, all marriages involve fis politics. Marriage is very important to determining the stature of a fis in the community. Much time is spent determining the suitability of various suitors, based on the reputation of the fis and the perceived behavior of the prospective bride and groom. Because the reputation of the fis is important to power relations in the community, a woman has little influence in selecting her husband. According to an elder in Kukes, ‘Couples are engaged not through love, but through a mediator….”

since the ban on marrying relations within the fis only applies to paternal relations, it could very well be that albanians frequently marry maternal relatives — close or distant maternal cousins. i haven’t seen any info on this either way for albanians, but another balkan group — bosnian muslims — actually have a preference for marrying in-laws which includes maternal relatives. some albanians are christians (orthodox and roman catholic), so presumably they more-or-less follow the christian ban on marrying close cousins — as a general rule, that is — although all sorts of europeans regularly work around this. there should be no such cousin-marriage ban amongst albanian muslisms.

in any case, albanians are marrying (especially traditionally) very endogamously since they normally marry someone from a fis in the village or, perhaps, a neighboring village.
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onwards:

“Wariness of Other Groups

“The re-emergence of the fis highlights the importance of family structures in addressing problems formerly handled by government. But the importance of family is not limited to northern districts and Korca. People throughout the country feel that family affiliations is an important factor in choosing their friends and neighbors. Ethnic and religious affiliation also affect relationships within and between communities. As a result, these groups tend to be wary of each other. Table 12 details people’s attitudes toward their neighbors. [click on table for LARGER view]:

About 77 percent of people prefer that their neighbors are members of the same fis or family, with 59 percent strongly preferring it. About 52 percent prefer that their neighbors share the same religion, while about 44 percent prefer that neighbors are of the same ethnicity. It appears that family affiliation is more important than religion or ethnicity in determining feels [sic] about neighbors.

The civil society that either shares space with government or fills a vacuum left by government comprises a series of groups that are wary of each other and sometimes conflict. Consequently, there are few informal institutions, organizations, and networks that cross large geographic areas. Those that do exist, such as the emigration networks into Greece and Italy, are based on single extended families or single local communities. So while informal institutions and organizations are significant assets, they may be limited in their capacity to address problems across different families, religions, and ethnicities.”

like other clannish/tribal societies, albania doesn’t manage to have a civil society. not in the sense that nw europeans have. clannishness and tribalism seem to go along with inbreeding — either consanguineous and/or endogamous mating patterns — and i think the causation goes from inbreeding -> clannishness/tribalism (although certainly being clannish probably encourages further inbreeding). and the underlying mechanism is, as steve sailer pointed out ages ago, somehow related to kin selection and inclusive fitness.

albanians seem to be some of the most inbred peoples in europe — looking at their genomes, they have the highest frequencies of within-country “blocks of ibd” (identity by descent) as compared to other europeans which suggests to me that they’ve been inbreeding for a long time, too. that, i think, is part of the reason for the high ibd rates amongst albanians. given their history, then, it shouldn’t be surprising that they still are very clannish/tribal and don’t manage to build a civil society.
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see also:
Albania: Blood Feuds — ‘Blood For Blood’ (Part 1)
Blood feuds still boiling in Albania – feuding taken to a new level when a 17 year old girl is killed.
Ancient blood feuds cast long shadow over hopes for a modern Albania
Peacemaker breaks the ancient grip of Albania’s blood feuds
No way out
The Forgiveness of Blood – movie.
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previously: balkan endogamy

(note: comments do not require an email. albanians.)

*update below*

unfortunately, i don’t have access to this article — The Formation and Stability of Marriage in Fourteenth-Century England: Evidence of an Ely Register — but goody refers to it in “The Development of the Family and Marriage in Europe.” on pg. 144 he says:

“[J]ust under 50 per cent of marriages were with people from outside the village [of ely] (as one might expect with the extent of the prohibitions)….”

the extent of the church’s prohibition against cousin marriages at this point in time — the second half of the fourteenth century (the author, sheehan, looked at church records from, iirc, the 1370s) — was out to sixth cousins. that definitely makes it difficult to find someone to marry, unless you can afford to pay the dispensation.

it would be nice to have a look at the original article one day to see if sheehan was able to be more specific than just “outside the village.” i’ll try to get my hands on the article at some point. (^_^)

it would also be nice to be able to compare this “just under 50 per cent” of medieval english folks marrying outside their village with the three-quarters of medieval rural northern italians from just about the same time period who were marrying outside of their parish. i wonder how comparable were a medieval english village and a medieval northern italian parish? similar in size or not?
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update 03/16: i thought of this late last night — kline cohn, the guy who studied the marriage patterns in medieval northern italy [starting on pg. 174], looked at both more urban (suburban villages surrounding florence) and more rural (way up in the mountains) places, so perhaps one should compare his urban figures with ely (and not the rural figures for italy).

he found that 32.16% of the suburbanites married within their parish versus the regional average of 24.54%. again, i don’t know how well a medieval italian parish compares with a medieval english town (ely) with a figure of just under 50%, so it’s difficult to compare the two directly. sure sounds like the northern italians were out-marrying more … maybe.

the rural figures for exogamous marriages in medieval northern italy are quite extraordinary. only 8.06% of marriages in the mountains were between members of the same village; in upland regions (i.e. between the lowland suburbs and the mountainous regions), just 16.81% of marriages were within the village.

previously: exogamous marriage in northern medieval italy

(note: comments do not require an email. i hope! ely cathedral.)

from a paper by manuel eisner entitled “Modernization, Self‐Control and Lethal Violence” about how the homicide rate has been steadily dropping in europe since at least the middle ages:

“[T]he data suggest that the secular trajectories of low homicide rates differ among large geographic areas. It appears that English homicide rates were already considerably lower in the late sixteenth century than during the late Middle Ages and that they declined continuously along a log-linear trend over several centuries. Extant estimates for the Netherlands and Belgium suggest a very similar structure trend in these areas. In the Scandinavian countries, the transistion to the decreasing trend occurs notably later, namely in the first decades after 1600. Despite huge gaps in the data, the German-speaking areas may also be assumed to have joined the declining trend from the early seventeenth century onwards. For Italy, however, all the available data indicate that acts of individual-level lethal violence remained very frequent until the early nineteenth century. It is not until the mid-nineteenth century that the rate begins to decline, but then very steeply.”

hmmmm. now where have i heard a pattern like this before? england, the netherlands, germans earliest in something … scandinavians later … italians last. (~_^)

let’s look at eisner’s charts first (logarithmic scales):

england

“In the thirteenth and fourteenth century, the mean of almost 40 different estimates lies around 24 homicides per 100,000. The average homicide rates are higher for the late fourteenth century than for the thirteenth century, but it seems impossible to say whether this is due to the difference of the sources used or reflects a real increase related to the social and economic crises in the late Middle Ages. When estimate start again after a gap of some 150 years, the average calculated homicide rates are considerably lower with typical values of between 3-9 per 100,000. From then onwards, the data for Kent line up with surprising precision along a straight line that implies a long-term declining trend for more than 350 years.” [pg. 622]

begium/netherlands

“When plotted on a graph, the respective secular trends are very similar to those found for England. During the fourteenth and early fifteenth centuries, counts of murder and manslaughter cases in cities like Antwerp, Leuwen, Utrecht or Amsterdam consistently result in estimated homicide rates of between 30 and 60 cases per 100,000. Spierenburg presents a series of estimates for Amsterdam between the sixteenth and the early nineteenth centuries based on autopsy reports. He finds somewhat lower levels of about 20 per 100,000 in sixteenth-century Amsterdam…. Seventeenth-century homicide rates in both Amsterdam and Brussels are considerably lower and range between four and 11 per 100,000.” [pg. 623]

germany/switzerland

“In total, I found more than 30 estimates referring to various cities in the thirteenth and fourteenth century. They range between approximately eight and 80 homicides per 100,000, with an overall mean of 35…. Schwerhoff and Eibach present homicide rates based on convictions in the city of Francfourt am Main between the sixteenth and the late eighteenth centuries. A cluster of estimates around 1600 yields an average homicide rate of about 10 per 100,000.” [pg. 625]

scandinavia

“[The figure] suggests first that homicide rates typically ranged from 10 to 60 cases per 100,000 between the mid-fifteenth and the mid-seventeenth centuries and that the average rate may have been at about 25. Strikingly, the Scandinavian evidence shows no sign of declining homicide rates until about 1600. Yet by 1740, when the first Swedish national vital statistics are available, homicide rates are already below 1 per 100,000. The data thus suggest a spectacular decline of lethal personal violence by a factor of at least 10:1 within a period of only 150 years.” [pg. 624]

(just how fast can selection for certain traits happen?)

italy

“The secular pattern in Italy … diverges decisively from the trend found for norther Europe. There exist isolated estimates for a number of Italian cities, such as Bologna, Florence, Mantova and Venice, whereby Florence shows the absolute highest homicide rate with 150 homicides per population of 100,000 in the fourteenth century. Blastenbrei provides homicide rates of 30 to 80 per 100,000 for Rome in the sixteenth century…. [T]he exant estimates do indicate that for a long period between the high Middle Ages and the seventeenth century in Italy, there was a slight decline in the frequency of homicides. However, Italy may be a particularly problematic case because of the vast differences between different areas. For example, Doneddu gives a homicide rate of 22 for late eighteenth-century Sardegna, while the data presented by Sardi for the duchy of Tuscany yield a rate of 4-5 per 100,000. Starting from 1881 … [t]he rate begins at about 8 per 100,000 and then — with the exception of higher rates during the final years of both world warsfalls steeply up to the mid 1960s.” [pgs. 626-27]

furthermore: “Durkheim showed that in the late nineteenth century an arc of high murder rates ranging from Ireland over Spain, Italy, Austria, and Hungary encircled a zone of low homicide rates.” [pg. 631]
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eisner comes a hair’s breadth away from a good sociobiological explanation for why all of this happened, but he missed it (prolly ’cause he’s a criminologist and not a biologist — not that there’s anything wrong with that!):

“[T]he work of Norbert Elias probably forms the most prominent theoretical framework discussed by those historians of crime who are interested in explaining this long-term trend. Elias’s well-known theoretical model of the ‘civilizing process’ embraces long-term social dynamics at a macro level as well as changes in typical psychological traits and the developments in characteristic modes of behaviour. In a nutshell, the theory of the civilizing process holds that over a period of several centuries a type of personality has come to prevail that is characterized by increasing affect control, decreasing impulsivity, and a rationalized manner of living — in brief: high levels of self-control. Higher levels of self-control imply, in turn, the gradual pacification of everyday interactions, which becomes manifest by lower levels of violent behaviour…. [pg. 619]

all of these traits, like impulse control (deferred gratification), are undoubtedly at least partly rooted in our natures. i think it’s likely that what happened over time in europe (and elsewhere?) is that greater impulse control, etc., etc., was selected for in the population — but i’m a reductionist (hey, i’m in good company!), so you knew i’d say that. (~_^)

eisner offers up one of the standard explanations for the decrease of violence over time and that’s the role of the state. the state took over as the executor of revenge (we call it justice now) so individuals/families no longer had to mete it out — AND the state really, really discouraged violence in general — if you were violent, you’d go to jail or maybe be executed. i think the idea that the state has played a big role in the reduction of violence over time makes a lot sense, ’cause these things that the state started doing sure sound like selection pressures — clearly the second one is especially if you execute violent criminals. you just take them and all their personality traits right out of the gene pool, no?

but eisner also mentions an idea of émile durkheim‘s related to the reduction of violence that’s right up my alley:

“Durkheim saw the decline of homicide rates as resulting from the liberation of the individual from collective bonds rather than as the consequence of the coercive potential of the state. High levels of lethal violence thus mirror the intensity of ‘collective emotions’, which bind the individuals to ‘groups of things that symbolically represent these groups’. Violence thus declines to the degree that the person becomes liberated from its sacred obligation to the group, and the rise of moral individualism….”

“This is in accordance with a society in which ‘honour’ constitutes highly important social capital of the male person as a representative of his group…. Such a theoretical framework may help to better understand why the secular decline in homicide rates primarily seems to have been due to a decrease in male-to-male fights. And it may also offer a point of departure for understanding the high violence rates in Italy, where a culture of honour persisted despite the early development of administrative and judicial structures in the city states.” [pg. 632]

yes! but, again, what’s missing is the biology of it.

the individual in (parts of) europe was liberated from the “collective bonds” because europeans started outbreeding in the early medieval period and, over the subsequent generations, the frequencies and perhaps even types of altruism genes changed in the populations. europeans quit behaving like inbred pashtuns who are always looking for revenge when their familiy’s honor is tainted because they (the europeans) were no longer inbred.

england, the netherlands, belgium, germany and switzerland saw the earliest reduction of violence because they were the european populations who started outbreeding the earliest (in some cases, as early as the 500s). the scandinavians — the swedes and the norwegians, anyway — probably didn’t start outbreeding until sometime after ca. 1000 a.d. when they converted to christianity. that could amount to nearly 500 years less outbreeding compared to the franks and the english, and their reduction in crime was a few hundred years later as well.

populations on the periphery — the irish, the spanish, the italians, the hungarians — all continued to be much more violent than “core” europe for a much longer time AND they also all kept inbreeding in one form or another longer than the germans or the english. and the italians? — differences between the north and south, again! — the south being more violent than the north.

i know, i know. i start to sound like a certain individual (won’t mention any names!) who has only one explanation for everything. i don’t think inbreeding/oubreeding and altruism explains everything. REALLY! but i do think it applies in this case. it’s not the entire explanation (i think the role of the state is important, too, for instance) — and there’s more to it than just how much inbreeding/outbreeding there is. like greying wanderer said:

“i think there’s likely to be a compounding effect too. as the clannishness recedes it becomes easier – and in fact neccessary as the only previous rule of law was clan vendetta – to institute a communal rule of law instead.”

absolutely! with all of the outbreeding, european societies became more “corporate” simply because the old extended-family/clan/tribal ties disappeared. everything had to be arranged differently. but europeans — northwestern europeans more than others — also just felt differently about the world and their place in it and their relationships with others than their ancestors had. ’cause they were different.
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h/t to halvorson for pointing out a post by agnostic on this paper from a couple of years ago @gnxp. thnx, halvorson!

(yes, i’ve got pinker’s new book sitting and waiting for me on my kindle. and i am planning on reading it. any day now…. (~_^) )

(note: comments do not require an email. justice?)

i have a somewhat extensive collection of articles/references related to consanguinity and/or inbreeding (yeah, i’m weird like that). i think pretty much all of them are in english (but now i’ve got a couple in french! thnx, m.g.!), but they include data from all over the world — mostly europe and muslim countries, though.

since a couple of folks out there seem to be catching the consanguinity bug (sorry!), i hate for you guys to have to reinvent the wheel and search for these articles all over again when i’ve already been there, done that. so, here’s a list of what i’ve got with links to where they are. i don’t have all the articles — sometimes (most of the time, it appears) i just have a reference with an abstract (*sigh*).

obviously, though, i haven’t found all there is to find, so feel free to do lots o’ googling, too! anyway — here’s my list for europe.

oh. first, have a look @consang.net. here’s their data page for europe [opens pdf] and here’s their bibliography.

now, my list of sources for consanguinity/inbreeding data for europe:

general
Geographic distribution of consanguinity in Europe [abstract] – pdf.

belgium
Évolution du taux de consanguinité en Belgique de 1918 à 1959 [whole article] – via m.g. (thnx, m.g.!)

finland
Inbreeding and genetic disease in Sottunga, Finland. [abstract]
Inbreeding in Finland [abstract]
Consanguinity avoidance and mate choice in Sottunga, Finland [abstract]

france
Fréquence et répartition des mariages consanguins en France [whole article] – via m.g. (thnx, m.g.!)
An Estimate of the Mutational Damage in Man from Data on Consanguineous Marriages [opens pdf] – note: i think this article might contain the same data as the one above — not sure though, haven’t looked at it closely.
Parental consanguinity as a cause of increased incidence of birth defects in a study of 131, 760 consecutive births [abstract] – i’m guessing this is about immigrant groups since the study is from the ’90s. don’t know for sure though.
Parental consanguinity as a cause for increased incidence of births defects in a study of 238,942 consecutive births [abstract] – again, immigrant groups? don’t know.
Trends in inbreeding, isonymy, and repeated pairs of surnames in the Valserine Valley, French Jura, 1763-1972. [abstract]
Social structure and consanguinity in a French mountain Population (1550-1849). [abstract]
Evolution of consanguinity in a French alpine valley: the Vallouise in the Brianfon region (17th-19th Centuries). [abstract]
Relationships between consanguinity and migration rate from surname distributions and isonymy in France. [abstract]

great britain
(i haven’t included recent immigrant groups here.)
Marriage patterns in two Wiltshire parishes 1754-1914: geographical mobility, consanguinity and illegitimacy [link to pdf file towards bottom of page]
A note on the frequency of consanguineous marriages in Reading, England in 1972/1973. [abstract]
Estimating inbreeding from the Faculty Office Registers, 1534-1540 [abstract]
Estimates of cousin marriage and mean inbreeding in the United Kingdom from ‘birth briefs’ [abstract]
Cousin Marriage in Victorian England [abstract]
Kinship, demographic, social, and geographic characteristics of mate choice in Sanday, Orkney Islands, Scotland [abstract]

hungary
The occurrence of consanguineous marriages in Hungary. [abstract]

iceland
An association between the kinship and fertility of human couples [opens pdf]

ireland
The importance of population fertility and consanguinity data being available in medico-social studies; some data on consanguineous marriages in Northern Ireland. [opens pdf]
Consanguinity in Ireland [abstract]
Genetic structure of the Ards Peninsula, Northern Ireland: evidence from civil registers of marriage 1840-1911. [abstract]

italy
(i haven’t included sardinia here.)
– the cavalli-sforza data.
Inbreeding secular changes in the Riomaggiore and Silla Valleys, Italy, from 1565 to 1980. [abstract]
Consanguineous marriages in the Upper Bologna Appennine (1565-1980). [abstract]
Surnames in Ferrara – distribution, isonymy and levels of inbreeding. [abstract]
Temporal trend in marital structure and isonymy in S Paolo Albanese, Italy. [abstract]
Marriage trends in the Italo-Greeks of Italy. [abstract]
Inbreeding coefficients from the surnames of grandparents of the schoolchildren in Albanian-speaking Italian villages. [abstract]
Repetition of the same pair of surnames in marriages in Albanian Italians, Greek Italians, and the Italian population of Campobasso Province. [abstract]
Changes over 100 years in degree of isolation of 21 parishes of the Lima Valley, Italy, assessed by surname isonymy. [abstract]
Endogamy and inbreeding since the 17th century in past malarial communities in the Province of Cosenza (Calabria, Southern Italy). [abstract]
Biodemographic study of a central Apennine area (Italy) in the 19th and 20th centuries – marriage seasonality and reproductive isolation. [abstract]
Culture and biology – surnames in evaluating genetic relationships among the ethnic minorities of Southern Italy and Sicily. [abstract]
Marriage behaviour in the Alpine Non Valley from 1825 to 1923. [abstract]
Isolation and marriage patterns in four South Tyrolean villages (Italy) during the nineteenth century. [abstract]

malta
Studies on Maltese Consanguinity [opens pdf]

norway
Inbreeding in Norway [abstract]
The relationship between inbreeding, migration and population density in Norway [abstract]
Inbreeding and schizophrenia. [abstract]
Population Structure in Norway: Inbreeding, distance and kinship [opens pdf]

portugal
Inbreeding Load, as Estimated with Sib Control, in a Portuguese Population [abstract]

slovakia
Genetic studies in Medzev, an isolate in south-eastern Slovakia – I – History, demography, marriage patterns [opens pdf]

spain
(i haven’t included the basques or gypsies here.)
Population structure in the Western Pyrenees – social class, migration and the frequency of consanguineous marriage, 1850 to 1910. [abstract]
Inbreeding and matrimonial structure in a Pyrenean community (Anso, Huesca, Spain), 1712-1982. [abstract]
Consanguinity in the Archbishopric of Toledo, Spain, 1900-79. I. Types of consanguineous mating in relation to premarital migration and its effects on inbreeding levels. [abstract]
Sex linked versus autosomal inbreeding coefficient in close consanguineous marriages in the Basque country and Castile (Spain) – genetic implications. [abstract]
Inbreeding patterns in the Gredos Mountain Range (Spain) [whole article, html]
Evolution of consanguinity in the Archbishopric of Santiago de Compostela (Spain) during 1900-1979. [abstract]
Multiple kinship in two Spanish regions – new model relating multiple and simple consanguinity. [abstract]
Evolution of consanguinity in the Bishopric of Lugo (Spain) from 1900 to 1979. [abstract]
Inbreeding in Gredos mountain range (Spain) – contribution of multiple consanguinity and intervalley variation [opens pdf]
Local differences in the Archbishopric of Santiago de Compostela (Galicia, Spain) in relation to the consanguinity structure, 1900-1979 [abstract]
Consanguinity in the Bishopric of Ourense (Galicia, Spain) from 1900 to 1979 [abstract]
Inbreeding coefficients and degree of consanguineous marriages in Spain – a review [abstract]
Inbreeding pattern and reproductive success in a rural community from Galicia (Spain). [abstract]
Inbreeding patterns in La Cabrera, Spain – dispensations, multiple consanguinity analysis, and isonymy [abstract]
Socioeconomic, demographic, and geographic variables affecting the diverse degrees of consanguineous marriages in Spain. [abstract]
Reproductive pattern in consanguineous and non-consanguineous marriages in la Cabrera, Spain [abstract]

sweden
The influence of past endogamy and consanguinity on genetic disorders in northern Sweden [opens pdf]
Genetical investigations in a North Swedish population – the offspring of first-cousin marriages [abstract]
The frequency of first cousin marriages in a South Swedish rural community [opens pdf]
The incidence of cousin marriages in a West Swedish rural community [opens pdf]

switzerland
Kin Marriages: Trends and Interpretations from the Swiss Example [chapter 11, pg. 211+] – i don’t think there’s any hard data (i.e. numbers) in this chapter, but there is a general discussion of the mating patterns in switzerland between 1300-1900.

i know i have a coupla more references around here somewhere — one for switzerland and one for austria (iirc) — they’re book chapters, so i don’t know where they are right now. will rifle through my files here to see if i can find them….

update 11/18: ok. i’ve added the link for switzerland, but i’ll be d*mned if i can find the reference that i’m thinking of for austria. if and when i do find it, i’ll add it to the list. giving up for this evening.

(note: comments do not require an email. bibliographobia.)

jayman said: “M.G., I noticed that your map [of consanguinity rates in twentieth century italy] correlates very well with my map of IQs in Italy here, right down to the large difference between Friuli and Sicily.”

yes, they do correlate well. here is jayman’s map of iqs in europe (click on images for LARGER view):

and, for good measure, here is the reluctant apostate’s map of pisa scores in italy (pisa scores being a good proxy for iq scores):

and here is m.g.’s map of the average consanguinity rates (first-cousin marriage rates) for italy from 1930-1964:

so, yeah — in general, higher consanguinity rates in southern italy + lower iq/pisa scores. meanwhile, lower consanguinity rates in northern italy + higher iq/pisa scores. coincidence? maybe. but, you know, inbreeding depression and lower iqs….

jayman also said: “I wonder what would happen if we made a map of historical consanguinity for Europe as a whole.”

yes, please! or how about … the WHOLE WORLD! that’s what i’m asking santa for christmas this year, anyway — historical consanguinity data for all human societies. (just drop it in my stocking, santa. doesn’t need to be wrapped or anything! i’ve been a really good girl this year — i promise! (~_^) )

the data for consanguinity rates in italy came from cavalli-sforza and co. they collected dispensation records from the catholic church in italy, i.e. permissions granted by the church to cousin couples that wished to marry. cavalli-sforza, et. al., published data going back to 1910 — but they collected data as far back as 1780, but that hasn’t been published as far as i know. (d*mn!)

theoretically, there should be such data for all catholic countries in europe (and elsewhere?) going back — i dunno — for as long as they’ve been keeping records. there seems to be some civil records from the medieval period for parts of italy, too. the protestant nations are trickier since in many it has been ok to marry a cousin, so there are no dispensation records. (d*mn!) some protestant nations did have some anti-cousin marriage laws, though, and also kept really good records — like the efficient swedes. the eastern orthodox church? i don’t really know, but my impression is (after reading about mating patterns in greece) that there aren’t much of any records there, but i could be wrong. i really don’t know.

for anyone who’s curious about mating patterns in europe, you might want to skim through my Inbreeding in Europe series of posts (see links in left-hand column down below ↓). i’ve got some data posted here and there for some countries. there’s also my big timeline of european mating patterns, but that’s (*ahem*) very much a “work in progress.”

footnote: note that there are objections to richard lynn’s iq data as well as to using pisa scores as a proxy for iq scores. see the discussions in this comments thread as well as this one, and italianthro’s blog in general.

(note: comments do not require an email. friûl lībar!)

in looking for an explanation for why democracy today works better in northern as opposed to southern italy, putnam, et. al., point to the long history of civic behavior in northern italy, stretching back to the middle ages, in contrast to the feudal system of southern italy which lasted really into the 1800s [pg. 130]:

“In the North the crucial social, political, and even religious allegiances and alignments were horizontal, while those in the South were vertical. Collaboration, mutual assistance, civic obligation, and even trust — not universal, of course, but extending further beyond the limits of kinship than anywhere else in Europe in this era — were the distinguishing features in the North. The chief virtue in the South, by contrast, was the imposition of hierarchy and order on latent anarchy.”

in other words, northern italy was full of republican communes, while the south was run from the top down by the monarch.

medieval communes were a type of corporate society, but you can’t have a corporate society if you have clans or tribes or any sort of extended families produced by extensive inbreeding. you need a good deal of outbreeding to get the republican communes that putnam talks about. you need to have a society full of individuals looking out for their own best interests, and those of their immediate family (wife, children), as opposed to a society of extended families or clans or tribes looking out for the interests of their whole group. then, because of the effects of inbreeding on the evolution of social behaviors, you get clan vs. clan, not individuals coming together in guilds to promote their profession or mutal aid societies.

so, what were the mating patterns of northern and southern italians during the medieval period?

i don’t have any info (yet) for southern italy, but samuel kline cohn, jr., in Marriage in the Mountains, 1348-1500 (pg. 174+), finds that the marriage system of the people in the areas surrounding florence was very exogamous in the late-fourteenth and fifteenth centuries — a full three-quarters of the people married outside their parish, and just about half married beyond the pieve, a secular district larger than, and encompassing, the parishes. to me, that sounds potentially more exogamous than nineteenth and twentieth century rural greece in which the people had a preference for marrying within their village or to someone in a neighboring village. it was certainly much more exogamous than marriage patterns in twentieth century sicily and other parts of southern italy.

kline cohn doesn’t examine cousin marriages, but i think it’s safe to say that marriages over greater geographic distances (his “cross-boundary marriages,” for instance) are prolly unlikely to represent any close inbreeding. his data, btw, relates mostly to peasants:

pg. 192:

“The marriage records for the mountains of the early Renaissance in the territory of Florence do not highlight isolated communities, hollows of cultural and biological endogamy. Rather, it was in the plains near the city that one-third of those sampled married within their own parish….

“When the second geographical rung is considered — that of the pieve or the newer secular districts — little difference appears between these three regions. But a glance at a map shows that such intermarriages in the mountains could cover considerably more distance than in the smaller pievi of the plains surrounding the city of Florence….”

so, that’s one example of quite exogamous marriage patterns in northern medieval italy.

previously: democracy in italy

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