Archives for posts with tag: protestant reformation

i’m still on vacation**, so i’ll keep this short.

i’m a big daniel hannan fan! anybody who dislikes the e.u. is a-okay with me. (^_^) so over my r&r break here, i’ve been reading his latest (really great!) book: Inventing Freedom: How the English-Speaking Peoples Made the Modern World.

here’s a passage from the first chapter that had me (nearly) leaping out of my hammock [pgs. 32-33 - links added by me]:

“Think about the most famous apologia for democracy ever uttered. On November 19, 1863, at the Soldiers’ National Cemetery in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, President Abraham Lincoln, weak and lightheaded with an oncoming case of smallpox, made a speech that lasted for just over two minutes, and ended with his hope ‘that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom — and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.’

“Those words have been quoted ever since, as the supreme vindication of representative government. Indeed, they are often quoted as proof of American exceptionalism. But the words were not Lincoln’s. Most of his hearers would have recognized their source, as our generation does not. They came from the prologue to what was probably the earliest translation of the Holy Scriptures into the English language: ‘This Bible is for the government of the people, for the people and by the people.’ The author was the theologian John Wycliffe, sometimes called ‘the Morning Star of the Reformation.’ Astonishingly, the words had first appeared in 1384.”

1384?! that is fr*ckin’ amazing!

or it would be, were it true. unfortunately, it seems as though the wycliffe connection might be an urban (or academic maybe?) legend.

eugene volokh posted about this in 2009 (see also here – make sure to click on the “show more” link). read the entire post @the volokh conspiracy for all the details:

“[T]hree sources … say that they’ve read the whole General Prologue and can’t find anything remotely similar to the ‘government of the people …’ quote.”

those three sources refer back to early twentieth century historians checking into the question of whether or not wycliffe wrote this “government of the people” thing in the prologue to his bible, so there have been some doubts about the authenticity of this claim for some time.

i did find this reference interesting:

“‘The phrase “of the people, for the people and by the people” is not original with Lincoln. There is a tradition that the phrase, “The bible shall be for the government of the people, for the people and by the people,” appears in the preface of the Wyclif bible of 1384, or in the Hereford Bible, or in a pamphlet of the period treating that version. See Notes and Queries, Feb. 12, 1916, p. 127.’”

so maybe wycliffe (or someone else?) wrote the phrase in the fourteenth century in a pamphlet and not in the prologue to the bible. -?-

dunno. i’d really like the phrase to be from medieval england! but if it’s not, it’s not. *sigh*

anybody got a copy of the wycliffe bible at home? (^_^)

see also 150 years ago today, Abraham Lincoln praised ‘government of the people, by the people, for the people’ – but the words were not his

**not hbd chick

(note: comments do not require an email. wycliffe bible.)

one of the preeminent historians of medieval france was georges duby whose work was primarily focused on feudalism, but he also wrote quite a bit on medieval french family structures as well. his main research area was the mâconnais district of burgundy in central france, but he also dealt with other regions of france including the northeast which at one time was part of what was known as austrasia (see also here).

duby’s major finding related to the medieval french family was that, around ca. 1000, there was a titantic shift in family structures in northeastern and central france (and possibly other areas — i’m not sure) from kindreds to lineages, at least amongst the aristocracy, although obviously at some point the commoners followed suit — there are no kindreds in france today. here’s what he had to say about it in The Chivalrous Society [pgs. 146-147]:

“I want to conclude by drawing attention to a point which seems to me essential and by formulating in this connection a hypothesis for research. In this part of western Europe the genealogical recollections of men living at the end of the twelfth century seem, indeed, to reach back according to the rank which they held. At the level of the smaller knights, it goes back towards the mid-eleventh century, in castellan families to the region of the year 1000, in the families of counts as far as the beginning of the tenth century. These thresholds, beyond which the ancestral remembrance was lost, were the more remote the higher placed was the lineage in the political and social hierarchy. This need not surprise us. But it is interesting to observe that the three chronological points appear to be exactly those reached by the researches of present-day scholar trying to recontruct the real blood relationships of families. Moreover, researches cannot reach any point earlier than these. Thus in the society of the Mâconnais, I have been able to uncover kinships in the lineages of knights up to the first half of the eleventh century, the lineages of castellans to the end of the tenth century, and the lineages of counts down to about 920. Beyond these dates I have found it impossible to discover who was the father of the earliest known ancestor. The obstacle is not in the documentation which changes neither in nature nor quantity. We might therefore think this obstacle … resulted from the transformation of the very structure of kinship. Indications of patrilineal blood relationshps disappear from written sources at the very point at which research, going back in time, steps across these chronological thresholds. This reflects a lessening in the importance of these blood relationship in the family consciousness at these dates. In the documents at our disposal it appears as if, at different levels in the aristocracy, the kinship structure was gradually transformed between the beginning of the tenth century and the mid-eleventh century. Before those dates there was no lineage, nor awareness of genealogy properly speaking, and no coherent remembrance of ancestors. A member of the aristocracy considered his family, if I may use the phrase, a horizontal group, spread out in the present, with no precise or fixed limits…. At a later date an individual felt himself, on the contrary, to be part of a family group with a much more rigid structure, centred on agnatic consanguinity and its vertical links.

duby put this shift down to the effects of feudalism (and the related rise of primogeniture which, duby says, was connected to the changing agricultural production methods [see mitterauer]), and i’m sure he’s correct, but i also (of course) think that this shift was connected to changing mating patterns. feudalism can’t be the entire answer since, for example, the early medieval irish had a sort of feudalism — they had a fief system anyway (see Cattle Lords & Clansmen: The Social Structure of Early Ireland) — but unlike the burgundians, the irish hung on to their extended families/clans until very late (into the modern period). where the early irish differed from the burgundians and other germanic populations was that they 1) didn’t have manorialism (until much later when the normans partially introduced it) and 2) they kept on marrying close cousins right through the medieval period.

historians are in agreement that the earlier germanic populations — the franks and the visigoths, etc. — married close cousins to some degree or another in late antiquity/the early medieval period — enough that, for whatever reasons, the roman catholic church and tptb bothered to ban the practice/pass laws against it specifically beginning in the early medieval period. i don’t know whether or not the early medieval lex burgundionum had any regulations regarding cousin marriage, but the burgundians do seem to have converted to roman catholicism (from arianism) by about the year 500, so, like the franks, they may have been some of the earliest of the north europeans to start enjoying the church’s cousin marriage bans (not that the bans were necessarily well-enforced at this early point in time, but the push against cousin marriage had begun by then).

and don’t forget that along with this shift from kindreds to lineages, there was also a shift towards nuclear families.

i think that the broadening of the mating patterns in medieval france and other areas of nw europe (i.e. from close relatives to more distant ones, or even to unrelated individuals) resulted in the shrinking of the family structures (i.e. from broad kindreds to narrower lineages and nuclear families).

here is a little more on duby’s findings from frances and joseph gies’ Marriage and the Family in the Middle Ages [pgs. 124-26, 129 - kindle edition]:

“Around the millennium, by a mechanism that is not well understood, a profound change took place in family dynamics….

“The most significant discernible element in the change was a shift from partible to impartible inheritance. Among the minor nobility in the Mâcon region, the *frérèche*, the association of brothers in joint ownership, previously limited to a few families, became the rule. One son, not necessarily the eldest, was designated to succeed the father in managing the family estates and representing the family in the outside world. Marriage was restricted to this son and at most one other. Households were large. The typical household of the minor aristocracy of the time, as described by Duby, contained perhaps a dozen family members: parents, one brother with his wife and children, and brothers and sisters who remained unmarried, with some of the unmarried brothers often groomed to follow in the footsteps of an uncle who was a church official. The young men lived under the control of their parents, or, when the parents died, of the brother who became head of the family. The share of each in the enterprise was modest, but together they could afford to equip and maintain one or two of the brothers as knights.

“At the top of the hierarchy, and moving steadily down the social ladder in the eleventh century, a different form of impartible inheritance made its appearance, the succession of a single son, usually the eldest: primogeniture….

“The change in the shape of the family was signaled by an element that made its historic first appearance in the documents of the time: the surname or patronymic, passed down in the paternal line. This development was entirely original, bearing little resemblance either to the complex Roman system of nomenclature or to the naming system of the early Middle Ages, in which the individual was designated only by a first name chosen from a short family list….

“Deeds recorded in the Mâcon region before the year 1000 list no family surnames. In the next thirty-five years a few surnames appear, the number increasing throughout the eleventh century….

The progress of the family revolution varied from region to region with the political and economic situation. Local studies by different scholars disagree as to when it principally occurred, from the late ninth to the eleventh century. But an overwhelming consensus exists that sometime within this period a radical change took place in the structure and self-perception of noble families. Previously the fluid horizontal kindred was grouped around a member who held royal office. It practiced partible inheritance and gave equal weight to maternal and paternal forebears. It identified itself merely by distinctive family first names. Now the family assumed a vertical dimension, firmly seated on an estate, a patrimony which descended from father to one son and which gave the family its new, unique surname.”
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i think this shift from kindreds to lineages (and nuclear families) in burgundy — and further to the northeast in france, too, if i understand it correctly — is connected to the shifting mating patterns in this part of europe over the course of the medieval period.

kindreds and clans also disappeared from other parts of northwest europe to be replaced by nuclear families, but on a different timeline than central/northeastern france and on different trajectories, the latter thanks to differing economic/agricultural systems:

- independent nuclear families were well in place by the early 1300s in the east midlands in england. the anglo-saxons in england converted to christianity slightly later than the franks/burgundians, so they would’ve headed down the outbreeding road later than those groups. (the franks were even enforcing spiritual kinship marriage bans, i.e. kinship that came about via baptismal relationships between an individual and his godparents, by the 750s, so i’m sure they were concerned about actual relatedness, too, at that point — again, probably mainly amongst the aristocracy.)

- east anglia and (eastern?) kent had joint families (not, i imagine, unlike the *frérèche* of pre-1000 burgundy) in the 1300s, but nuclear families by sometime in the 1500-1800s. mating patterns may have remained close for longer in east anglia since it was a remote, swampy area — like frisia and dithmarsian, both areas which displayed strong “clannishness” until comparatively late — but i don’t know that for certain. i need to check on that.

- anglo-saxon/briton populations further away from southeastern/central england seem to have had strong extended familiy/”clannish” connections (even though they may have lived in nuclear family units) until much later, for instance into the 1600s. it may be that, because they were both 1) farther removed from southern areas of anglo-saxon-dominated england where cousin marriage bans were in place from comparatively early on (compared to, say, highland scotland or ireland anyway), and 2) living in upland areas (mountaineers tend to marry closely), these border populations practiced close cousin marriage for longer than other areas of england (they certainly seem to have done so up in cumbria). again, i need to find this out for sure.

- the irish barely gave up their extended families/clans even into the 1700-1800s. they seem to have continued to mate very closely up to at least the 1500s.

furthermore, i think that much of what we see in the reformation and the radical reformation is a set of reactions by northern europeans who were becoming more and more outbred over time and, so, more individualistic and more universalistic behaviors and sentiments were being selected for in these populations. but northern european populations were all over the place in terms of the timing and extent of that outbreeding and the trajectories that their family structures were on. these changes to family and social structures were probably all over and done with in northeastern/central france — and likely parts of the low countries — by the time of the reformation in europe, because, as we saw above, these processes had already begun in these areas by the eleventh century — because they had converted to christianity earlier than other north european groups AND because this is the area of europe where manorialism began.
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footnote: interestingly, in modern times burgundy is one of the regions of france with some of the lowest cousin marriage rates.
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previously: medieval germanic kindreds…and the ditmarsians and what about the franks?

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

first of all, let me apologize upfront for getting ahead of myself in this post. i wasn’t going to write this post until after i covered more thoroughly, and on an individual basis, the histories of the mating patterns/family types for each of the countries discussed in this post — as i did for ireland recently (4+ posts) — but i’m too impatient to wait for me to get that done! so you’ll just have to trust me for the meantime as i give you some abridged versions of the mating pattern histories for these european societies. i promise to cover them all in greater depth in the near future! (i’ve actually already looked at most of them to some degree or another in the “mating patterns in europe series” below ↓ in left-hand column.)

this post is about the radical reformation and its connections to the long-term mating patterns/family types of various european populations beginning in the medieval period. please keep in mind that i’m about to paint a picture in VERY broad strokes. this is an idea which will likely change, if not be debunked completely by me, myself, and/or someone(s) else out there.

to begin with, the reformation (primarily lutheranism) seems to have been a reaction on the part of the northern european outbreeding populations — which, thanks to intensive outbreeding and the new social structures/selection pressures which followed from that, were becoming more and more individualistic/universalistic over time — to the relatively more clannish/particularistic attitudes and behaviors of inbreeding southern europeans (italians, for example) that infused the roman catholic church of the day. (for more on individualism/universalism vs. clannishness/particularism see here and here and here.) the northern europeans — in this case the germans — wanted, amongst other things, to have a more personal interaction with god (i.e. reflecting their greater individualism, i think), and they were also reacting strongly (as good individualists/universalists do) to all of the corruption in the roman catholic church.

but this post isn’t about them. rather, it’s about the reactionaries to these reactionaries — mainly the calvinists (including the puritans) and the anabaptists, but also arminianism and (later) methodism and (even later, one my favorite groups) the unitarians. obviously this is not a comprehensive listing of all the radical reformers — like i said, broad strokes.
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let’s first remind ourselves about the general pattern of outbreeding (i.e. the avoidance of cousin marriage) in northwestern europe — where it started in the early medieval period and how it spread.

some of the earliest evidence for outbreeding/nuclear families (the two go together) in early medieval europe appears in the frankish kingdom of austrasia and, shortly afterwards, in the anglo-saxon kingdom of wessex (see map below). this is where medieval manorialism started (see mitterauer’s Why Europe?), and, as i’ve discussed previously (see also here), manorialism and outbreeding — not to mention late marriage — all went together as a package.

here’s a map that i made previously of the extent and spread of manorialism in medieval europe based on mitterauer’s book — i’ve indicated the core spots where manorialism started in green:

extent and spread of manorialism

for reasons that are not entirely clear to me, manorialism spread outwards from austrasia mainly to the east and southeast — not so much to the west or southwest. from mitterauer [pgs. 45-46 – links added by me]:

“The most significant expansion of the model agricultural system in the Frankish heartland between the Seine and the Rhine took place toward the east. Its diffusion embraced almost the whole of central Europe and large parts of eastern Europe. The German term for this, *Ostkolonisation* — the ‘colonization of the East’ (the *German* colonization of the East is what is understood here) — has suffered from the abuses of nationalist historiography; but if we leave these connotations aside, the word hits the nail on the head. This great colonizing process, which transmitted Frankish agricultural structures and their accompanying forms of lordship…”

AND mating patterns via the church and secular laws…

“…took off at the latest around the middle of the eighth century. Frankish majordomos or kings from the Carolingian house introduced manorial estates (*Villikation*) and the hide system (*Hufenverfassung*) throughout the royal estates east of the Rhine as well — in Mainfranken (now Middle Franconia), in Hessia, and in Thuringia. Research on German historical settlement refers to ‘Frankish state colonization’ in this context…. The eastern limit of the Caronlingian Empire was for a long time an important dividing line between the expanding Frankish agricultural system and eastern European agricultural structures…..”

AND an important dividing line between mating patterns/family types, i.e. there was more outbreeding for a longer period of time, and smaller nuclear families rather larger extended families, the farther WEST of that eastern limit of the carolingian empire that one went.

“When the push toward colonization continued with more force in the High Middle Ages, newer models of *Rentengrundherrschaft* predominated — but they were still founded on the hide system. This pattern was consequently established over a wide area: in the Baltic, in large parts of Poland, in Bohemia, Moravia and parts of Slovakia, in western Hungary, and in Slovenia. Colonization established a line stretching roughly from St. Petersburg to Trieste. We will come across this line again when studying European family systems and their diffusion. The sixteenth century witnessed the last great attempt to establish the hide system throughout an eastern European region when King Sigismund II of Poland tried it in the Lithuanian part of his empire in what is modern-day Belarus. The eastward expansion of Frankish agrarian reform therefore spanned at least eight centuries….

“The more ancient agrarian economic structures of the East and the newer structures of the West stood in especially strong contrast to each other in the areas annexed by the colonization of the East.”

the region that was austrasia is today comprised of: a bit of northeastern france, a bit of western germany, belgium, luxembourg, and the netherlands. this — along with wessex (and, probably, western kent) in southern england — is the area of northwestern europe where the medieval outbreeding project began, so this is the region of europe that we should expect to be the most individualistic/universalistic and that should have started to show those features the earliest.

and, indeed, by the 1300-1400s, cousin and other forms of close marriage were a non-issue in these regions of former austrasia as well as southern, and even central, england — they simply don’t appear in ecclesiastical court records. in the 1200s, the english were already very individualistic and busy in the early stages of inventing liberal democracy, while by the 1500s, places like amsterdam were reknowned for their religious and intellectual tolerance and were positively multi-cultural. this is all in stark contrast to peripheral europe — places like the highlands of scotland, ireland, the iberian peninsula, southern italy, greece and the balkans, and pretty much all of eastern europe east of the hajnal line — which were all very clannish places throughout the medieval period, and even later in many of those regions.
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so what does this have to do with the radical reformers? well, check out this map (taken from here. anthony suggested that i add the calvinists in england, i.e. the puritans+some others, to the map, so i did — based upoon hackett fischer’s Albion’s Seed, i added purple stripes [didn't know if it should be stripes or solid, so i just went for stripes] to east anglia and the wiltshire/somerset area.):

religious divisions of europe map + puritans

i know that there’s a lot going on on this map, but what strikes me is that, the less universalistic reformers — the calvinists and the anabaptists (some of whom formed very closed, non-universalistic groups like the amish and the mennonites) — are found in the border regions between or including both outbreeders and inbreeders — i.e. between the roman catholics and the lutherans (and, later, the anglicans).

- scotland: we find calvinists mostly in the scottish lowlands which is practically a dmz between the clannish highlanders & islanders and the clannish border reivers. throughout the medieval period in scotland, there was more feudalism/manorialism in lowland scotland than in the highland areas, which, being mountainous, were populated by pastoralists — and pastoralists/mountaineers tend to be inbreeders. so, given the presence of manorialism, outbreeding was probably encouraged at least somewhat in the lowlands. also, a good number of foreigners from the continent settled in the lowlands in the medieval period, some of whom had been outbreeders back from whence they came. from A History of Everyday Life in Medieval Scotland: 1000 to 1600 (the chapter entitled The Family):

“The Historiographer Royal, Chris Smout, has commented memorably that, ‘Highland society was based on kinship modified by feudalism, Lowland society on feudalism tempered by kinship’, although even this statement needs further refinement. There is the additional complication that, as late as the twelfth century, the kingdom of the Scots was an amalgam of several different peoples: by the reign of King David I (1124-53) the Picts may have been a distant memory but David and his successors regularly addressed the men of their realm as *Francis* (a description which included French, Normans and Bretons), *Anglis* and *Scottis*, and sometimes also as Cumbrians and Galwegians.”

so kinship was still important to the lowlanders — as is evidenced by lowland scottish clans — but they were less clannish than the highlanders.

- england: we’ve got calvinists (puritans) in east anglia and southwestern england (but not cornwall), pretty much bordering either side of wessex where manorialism was first founded in england and where, therefore, outbreeding is likely to have the longest history on the island. at least the wiltshire/somerset area bounds on the wessex area. we’ve also seen previously that east anglia (and eastern kent) never experienced manorialism AND had a tendency towards extended families, so this, too, was probably a region that didn’t experience as much outbreeding as south-central england did. the east anglians don’t sound at all as clannish as, say, the medieval or even early modern irish, but extended family ties lingered until quite late, so it may be that this region of england saw some sort of intermediary range of outbreeding. (further research is required!)

- northern france/belgium/the netherlands: according to my theory, this region shouldn’t have any calvinists or anabaptists (reactionary radical reformers) at all, since this is smack-dab in the middle of what was once austrasia. the thing is, though: frisia. the frisians along the coastal areas of the netherlands never experienced manorialism and, in fact, remained very clannish until very late — as a group, they were very independent-spirited (quite like, say, the scots-irish) and took pride in their “frisian freedom.” in fact, the entire coastline of northern europe from the netherlands to denmark was inhabited by group-oriented, likely inbreeding (although i don’t know that for sure — still need to find out) groups who lived in the swampy areas of the coast — from the frisians in the netherlands to the ditmarsians in northern germany. the east anglians can really be considered a part of these clannish coastal swamp dwellers, too. the (likely) close mating in these populations didn’t happen as a result of remote mountain dwelling, but, rather, from living in remote, inaccessible corners of these swamp lands. (did i mention that menno simons, the founder of the mennonites, was a frisian?)

- southern france: i don’t have a good idea at all of the historic mating patterns for southern france, but if the modern patterns are anything to go by (and they might not be), then greater numbers of close marriages are likely for southern france. this is also indicated by the topography (upland/mountainous) of the region. certainly the hotspots of calvinism in southern france seem to coincide with the mountainous areas. even the area northwest of tours, too. further research is required!

- switzerland: switzerland is more mountainous to the south than the north (although it’s pretty mountainous all over!). according to the map above, the calvinists were located solidly in the northern part of the country, and not really in the south. on the other hand, according to this other map, they were in the west and not in the east. not sure who to believe, so i need to do more reading on the reformation in switzerland. i can tell you, though, (and you’ll have to trust me on this for now), that historically there’s been more and closer inbreeding up in the mountain villages in switzerland rather than in the valleys. again, though, switzerland seems to be an example of the reactionary radical reformation happening in border areas between inbreeders and outbreeders — not sure which of the groups adopted calvinism, though! perhaps both. dunno.

- poland (belarus?) and — what is that? — hungary/romania?: these areas represent the frontier of the ostkolonisation that mitterauer described. this is at the edge of the hajnal line — the edge of the hard-core outbreeding project in europe (the eastern orthodox churches did discourage cousin marriage, but generally starting at a later date and, quite likely, not as strictly — the regulations in medieval russia, for example, flip-flopped several times). this is where western outbreeding and eastern inbreeding meet — and we find calvinism there.
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the calvinists and anabaptists (and others) were less universalistic radical reformers as compared to the lutherans. on the other hand, there were some radical reforemers who leaned towards greater universalism. not surprisingly, they turned up in the netherlands and england (and maybe some other places, too — poland, i think! — remember broad strokes — further research is required!):

- arminianism: arminianism seems to be a reaction to the sorts of ideas espoused by the calvinists who were, in turn, reacting to lutheranism (who were, in turn, reacting to roman catholicism!). i might be wrong since i don’t know a whole lot about arminianism, but it seems more individualistic/universalistic than calvinism since salvation is dependent upon the rational choice of men to believe in/follow god, whereas the calvinists have got this double predestination thing in which god really has a set plan for everybody beforehand. that does not seem universalistic to me at all — in fact, it seems quite closed — so, perhaps it’s not strange that calvinism appealed to somewhat inbred groups and/or groups found in inbreeding/outbreeding borderlands. jacobus arminius, btw, was from the place formerly known as austrasia.

arminianism influenced other reformationists/protestant groups such as:

- the baptists: baptists are very individualistic in that they believe in “soul competency,” i.e. that each and every individual is responsible for his own faith. the first baptist preacher was an englishman, john smyth, who happened to be residing in (tolerant) amsterdam at the time he developed his ideas/founded his church. smyth was from nottinghamshire in the east midlands.

- the methodists: arriving on the scene much later (the eighteenth century), the methodists are the quintessential individualists/universalists who are endlessly concerned about the commonweal and helping their fellow man. they’re into “unlimited atonement,” so in their view, everyone can be (is!) saved. jesus died for EVERYone. THAT is universal. the wesley family (the founder of methodism being john wesley) was originally from dorset — in the heart of wessex (see above).

and, my favorites…

- the unitarians: for whom, well, anything goes really! (~_^)
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that’s all i’ve got for you for now. i promise to go back and take a closer look at all these different populations — and i’ll try to find out if they’ve really been inbreeders or outbreeders like i’ve said (guessed!)! (^_^)

one final note — i think there’s a progression towards greater and greater universalism over time within christianity amongst the northwest europeans (the outbreeders) — not just in protestantism, but in roman catholicism, too — until eventually we wound up with simply humanism (not attached to a god at all) — and even movements for human rights to be extended to certain animals like chimpanzees, some of our closest relatives. apart from something like jainism, it starts to be hard to imagine a more universalistic belief system at all!
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footnote: for those of you interested in hbd blogging history, the germ of the idea for this post first came to my mind (accidentally, as is usually the case) in this comment back in march of this year. i’ve been ruminating on the idea ever since.

(note: comments do not require an email. moo! (^_^) )

well, i’m working on filling in the blanks for mating patterns amongst the germanics (and other european populations, too). it’s just a small gap from ca. 400 a.d. to … oh … 2011. (~_^) so, this is an ongoing project — i suggest you don’t hold your breath waiting for the final product.

the problem with the germanics and all the other protestant groups in europe is that, once they’d left the catholic church, no one kept any records of cousin marriages. dr*t! the catholic church kept records because cousin marriages were verboten; but as of the 1500s, cousin marriage was generally ok with protestant groups — not always, but generally — so they didn’t bother to record them anymore. at least that’s the picture i’ve gotten from what i’ve read so far, but see below.

the other major changes to marriages laws in the protestant churches were: 1) that the clergy no longer had to remain celibate (whew!), and 2) that persons wishing to marry also had to get permission from their parents. as of the twelfth century in the catholic church, permission to marry wasn’t required from anybody — just the consent of the two individuals marrying. the germanics changed that as of the 1500s.

now, from “Reordering marriage and society in Reformation Germany” [pgs. 85-86]:

“The canonical impediment system, harshly attacked from all sides, was the first part of the indissoluble definition to be put to the scriptural test. Most early Evangelicals initially proposed basing the entire marriage impediment system on Mosaic prohibitions, particularly Leviticus 18. The practical limitations of the relevant passages, however, and the need for extensive interpretation soon became apparent. Once again, reformers were presented with an opportunity — comparable with that of their twelfth-century predecessors — that might have resulted in a radical reformation of the entire marriage legal system; the fact that it did not is just one more sign of their conservatism.

“Rather, most theologians and jurists chose to treat impediments as ‘indifferent’ matters, rejecting only those restrictions explicitly in conflict with Scripture and otherwise rely on the discretion of the pastor or secular authority involved. Like their canonical predecessors, all the reformers accepted Leviticus’s second-degree [uncle-niece, first cousins] prohibition as absolute and indispensable. Many (including Luther, Melanchthon, and Osiander) also favored maintenance of the canonical third-degree [second cousins] limitation, while others, most notably Brenz and Calvin, even proposed keeping the traditional fourth-degree [third cousins] prohibition. Similarly, on the subject of affinity [in-laws] restrictions, few Protestant leaders eliminated all traditional impediments, and none but Luther mentioned reform of ‘public honesty’ and ‘illegitimate affinity….’

Forbidden degrees of consanguinity had in fact already returned to the fourth degree [third cousins] in the 1533 diet of the Swiss Confederation (Zurich, Bern, Basel, Schaffenhaussen, and Saint Gallen participating), with many other cities and principalities following suit. Kohler attributes the Confederation’s return to canonical consanguinity standards in 1533 to immediate Catholic political pressure, but throughout the rest of the century in Protestant Germany the unmistakable trend remained a return to the previous canonical standards. Some Protestant marriage codes, such as those of Zurich and Strasbourg, maintained the forbidden degree of consanguinity at the third [second cousins] or even second level [uncle-niece, first cousins], and eliminated affinity [in-laws] prohibitions altogether. Others, most notably Geneva and the Duchy of Wurttemberg, never deviated from the Canon law definition of either in the first place (at the urging of Calvin and Brenz, respectively). By the end of the sixteenth century, the only canonical impediments unanimously rejected by Protestant jurists and marriage codes were those of spiritual affinity [godparents] and public honesty (both simultaneously redefined by the Council of Trent and frequently dispensed in Catholic areas). Impediments of affinity [in-laws] in general were limited to the second degree [uncle-niece, first cousins-in-law] and consanguinity to the third [second cousins-in-law], with the remainder of pre-Reformation restrictions (condition, person, etc.) preserved intact.”

so, neither the germans nor the swiss really started inbreeding more immediately after the reformation. it seems that, generally, they kept on marrying beyond second cousins.

at some point those regulations were relaxed, but i don’t yet know when that happened. stay tuned!

as an aside, here’s a little note about the difficulties with the celibacy regulations before the reformation [pg. 35]:

“More sympathetic observers, usually clerics themselves, recounted the trials and tribulations of celibate life that led to such abuses. In ‘The Lamentations of seven pious but disconsolate priests whom no one can comfort’ (1521), one unhappy cleric relates his own unsuccessful attempts to conquer the sexual urge, resulting in masturbation, wet dreams, lechery (including an affair with the wife of a friend), and eventually a concubine who bears him seventeen children in twenty years. Though tolerated by his bishop (because of the ‘whore tax’) and his parishoners (‘like stableboys accustomed to dung’), the pastor himself is continuously tormented by his own conscience, regretting the moral harm done his flock almost as much as that done his own soul:

“‘Thus am I entagled: on the one hand, I cannot live without a wife; on the other, I am not permitted a wife. Thus, I am forced to live a publicly disgraceful life, to the shame of my soul and honor and to the damnation of many who have taken offense at me [i.e., who refuse to receive sacraments from his hands]. How shall I preach about chastity and promiscuity, adultery, and knavish behavior, when my whore goes to church and about the streets and my bastards sit before my eyes? How shall I read the Mass under such circumstance?’”

poor guy, but … SEVENTEEN CHILDREN?! whoa.

edit: boilerplate and boilerplate 2.0

previously: whatever happened to european tribes? and inbreeding amongst germanic tribes and more on inbreeding in germanic tribes and what about the franks? and early medieval germans … again!

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

sixteenth century germany!:

“For most polemicists, the only possible motivation of ecclesiastical authorities in creating and maintaining such a system [in which minors could marry without their parents' permission] was sheer avarice. In addition to charging for the various dispensations (most commonly for cases of third- or fourth-degree consanguinity), bishops and officials made money from all related marital litigation, such as dissolution and separation cases. Outraged by such abuses, reformers attacked both the law and its enforcement with a brutality rivaled only by related anticlerical tracts on concubinage and simony. Luther castigated Church legal authorities as ‘[sellers] of vulvas and genitals — merchandise indeed most worthy of such merchants, grown altogether filthy and obscene through greed and godlessness.’ As far as he could see, the only purpose of creating the ‘snares’ of impediments was to ‘catch’ money — sentiments echoed by Johann Brenz: ‘Perhaps [the pope] had his eye on money and filling the coffers, and for that reason forbade certain degrees, so that they could be dissolved again if one had the money.’”

previously: guess when and where!

(note: comments do not require an email. or an indulgence.)

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