early medieval germans … again!

meanwhile, back with our friends the late-antiquity/early medieval germans…

i just got through reading mayke de jong’s “An Unsolved Riddle: Early Medieval Incest Legislation”, which is in “Franks and Alamanni in the Merovingian period: an ethnographic perspective”, with my never-ending quest to answer these questions in mind: how inbred (or not) were the pre-christian germanic tribes, and what brought about the incest-avoidance obsession of the germans in the medieval period.

on the first question, de jong thinks that the pre-christian germanic tribes were probably not that inbred. they likely married distant cousins, but not so much closer relatives. i don’t really buy her argument. de jong describes how she thinks (from looking at some of the germanic laws) that the germanic tribes viewed kinship out to the fourth- and fifth-cousin as sort-of the limits of kinship (see quotes below). that’s interesting. that maybe would give an indication of the extent of germanic tribes as the germans, themselves, saw it. fifth-cousins — part of the tribe; beyond that — not part of the tribe. but this kinship limitation doesn’t, to my mind, give any indication as to which cousins the germans had been marrying before they converted to christianity.

i think ausenda and goody both make very sound arguments that the earliest of the early medieval laws specifically banned close-cousin marriage precisely because the germanic tribes had been, to some extent or another, marrying their close cousins. so, i still think close-cousin marriage amongst the pre-christian germanic tribes was quite likely.

with regard to the second question, de jong doesn’t put much stock in goody’s argument that the church tried to limit cousin-marriage (and other things related to mating) because it wanted to limit the number of heirs people could produce so that the church would benefit by receiving more legacies. she thinks that the church had more ideological notions in mind regarding the ‘pollution’ of the body and the soul — and even the community (see her chapter for details). (although st. thomas aquinas offered some more practical reasons to ban close-relative marriage.)

in addition, she thinks a lot of the push for control of cousin marriage came from the germanics, themselves — or at least that it was influenced by germanic society. she points out that most of the early medieval laws on cousin marriage — especially the earliest ones again — came from germanic regions, not from back in rome. de jong feels that the germans were really enthusiastic about following and implementing — and getting right — the new church’s rules because they were new converts and, therefore, really eager. sounds possible. whatever the germans’ reason(s), i think she is right that it was not only the church, but also tptb in germanic society that pushed for these bans.

but, only so far. de jong points out something interesting and that is that after a few centuries of bickering back-and-forth, the limit on cousin-marriage was finally set in the 1200s at fourth cousins — in other words, right at the pre-christian germanic limit on kinship.

here are some quotes from de jong:

pg. 108

“The first far-reaching decrees against incest stem from early sixth-century Gaul and Spain, and were as much a matter of kings as of clerics. In other words, the chronology and geography of incest legislation puts us firmly within the domain of the Germanic sucessor-kingdoms….”

pgs. 118-20

“Anti-incest legislation undoubtedly was an ecclesiastical priority. To a large extent, Christianization in the Frankish kingdoms can be measured by the expansion of marital impediments. But this is not the same as saying that extreme exogamy was exclusively the concern of churchmen, be they self-interested, confused or otherwise. After all, legislation against incest developed within Germanic kingdoms; unlike their Roman predecessors, Frankish rulers were in the vanguard of the battle. Moreover, the pollution-ridden type of Christianity receptive to extreme incest prohibitions was very different from its Roman counterpart. However much Augustine wrote about the inherent dangers of sexuality, the conviction that kin-marriage had to be destroyed root and branch was alien to late antiquity Christianity. It belonged to the more literal-minded religion of the post-Roman world, in which rulers increasingly presented themselves as the guardians of the New Israel….

“This much is certain: ‘the Church’ cannot be credited with the sole responsibility for change. Extensive incest prohibitions can only originate and exist in societies in which kinship networks were both extensive and vitally important. This was not the case in Roman society; by the time Christianity entered Roman society, the traditional Roman familia — which had not been determined by biological criteria anyway — had dwindled into non-existence. The basic unit of society was the married couple and their children, so often depicted together on funerary monuments. The role of the family within the successor-kingdoms was of a different nature, however. Without necessarily returning to antiquated notions of the extended family operating at all times as a unified group, one cannot deny that large groups of cognate kin surface in Germanic legislation. This happened only in specific contexts: to wash their hands of responsibility for their kinsman’s crimes, as in the chrenechruda of the Pactus legis Salicae (58.3), or to claim allodial succession, as in the equally famous de allodibus of Ripuarian law (Lex Ribvaria 57.3) [sixth century laws – hbdchick]. In such cases, the limits of kinship hovered between the third and the fifth generatio/geniculum. This coincides with the limits of forbidden kindred as defined by eighth-century capitularies; it was also the border zone in which battles over incest were fought…. There seems no reason, therfore, to credit early medieval ‘Germanic’ societies with endogamous leanings, as Goody and others have done. Noisy quarrels over the limits of kin-marriage have obscured the fact that they stretched quite far to all concerned, in spite of differences of opinion….”

just a note — when de jong uses the word “endogamy” here, she’s referring to really close-cousin marriage, like first- or second-cousin marriage — and when she uses “exogamy,” she’s referring to more distant cousin-marriages. confused me for a while.

“As we have seen, Goody postulated a connection between Germanic endogamy and the wish to keep property ‘within the family’; such strategies supposedly clashed head-on with ecclesiastical designs on lay property. But what if in fact a great number of paternal and maternal kinsmen had a right to inherit, as was the case in Frankish inheritance law? This would seem to render endogamy superfluous, certainly as a strategy to preserve familial property. Inheritance rules allowing allodia to be handed on to the fifth ‘geniculum’ provided plenty of opportunity to inherit ‘within the family’, without any need to resort to close kin-marriage. On the contrary, the inheritance strategies of the Germanic leges reveal a broad conception of kindred, encompassing close and distant kin. From some one could inherit, from others not; if they were too close, one could not marry them, but if they were sufficiently distant, marriage might be both possible and profitable (although not necessarily from an economic point of view)….

Recent research concerning aristocratic marriages in tenth and eleventh-century France reveals an interesting pattern: while prohibitions up to the third or fourth generation tended to be obeyed, alliances between families were nonetheless cemented by kin-marriages, albeit distant ones, repeating themselves in long-term cycles. Regine Le Jan has observed similar strategies of ‘exogamous’ kin-marriages within the Frankish aristocracy. Early medieval kinship was bilateral and based on ‘generalized exchange’, which implied an exogamy which allows for a rapid integration of different elites…. The ecclesiastical offensive against ‘incest’ was not so much directed against close-kin marriages, as against tendencies to strengthen fluid cognate kin groups by marrying affines or distant kin. Hence, Merovingian councils concentrated on affinal and spiritual kinship, while Carolingian churchmen cast their net even wider…. By the ninth century, a marriage in the third generation had become scandalous, but the fourth generation remained a viable option, along with a whole range of more distant kin. This pattern persisted well into the tenth and eleventh centuries.

“Early medieval legistlation was therefore not a matter of the Church pitting its outrageous demands against ‘Germanic’ endogamy. The clergy was part of a society in which the elite practiced exogamy, while alliances within fluid kinship groups were cemented by marriages to distant kin. Ecclesiastical legislation went ‘to the limits of kinship’ precisely because it originated in this context of exogamy…. Marriage in the fourth generation and onwards remained a bone of contention, however, with the clergy holding on to the demand that the seventh generation be observed, and the aristocracy clinging to their exogamous kin-marriages. The struggle continued until the Fourth Lateran Council (1215), when a stalemate was finally reached: from then on, forbidden kindred only included the fourth generation.”

previously: whatever happened to european tribes? and inbreeding amongst germanic tribes and more on inbreeding in germanic tribes

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tribes and types of cousin marriages ii

in the previous post on tribes and types of cousin marriages, i posted a couple of graphics illustrating father’s brother’s daughter (fbd) marriage and mother’s brother’s daughter (mbd) marriage, showing how fbd marriage is a closed system while mbd marriage enables alliances with other lineages/clans.

here now are the last two forms of cousin marriage: father’s sister’s daughter (fzd) marriage and mother’s sister’s daughter (mzd) marriage. they’re not very different from the other two — fbd and fzd marriage are both closed systems, and mbd and mzd marriage both enable alliances with other lineages/clans — it’s just that the connections are slightly different, i.e. ego marries the daughter of his one of his aunts (fzd & mzd) versus his one of his uncles (fbd & mbd).

note that the coefficients of relatedness in cousin marriage are highest for mzd marriage; next highest for mbd marriage; and lowest for both fbd and fzd, which are the same (if i’ve done my maths right!). mbd marriage is the most common form of cousin marriage around the world; fbd marriage is the most common in arab countries and places like iran, afghanistan and pakistan.

here we go. father’s sister’s daughter (fzd) marriage over several generations (triangles are boys, circles are girls. compare with fbd marriage):

and mother’s sister’s daughter (mzd) marriage over several generations (compare with mbd marriage):

the thing with either mbd or mzd marriage is that the bride is always being brought in from an outside lineage or clan. fbd and fzd marriage is diametrically the opposite — the bride is from the same patrilineage as ego.

also, in mbd and mzd marriage, in each generation a bride can be brought in from a different lineage or clan, so ego’s lineage can build up many alliances with many other lineages/clans over time. some societies apparently have, traditionally, had arrangements in which several lineages would swap brides over several generations in a cyclical system, thus building up extended familial connections and, therefore, alliances. i imagine that very large tribes could be built up this way, whereas the fbd/fzd system results in segmented lineages, i.e. clans and sub-clans and sub-sub-clans that always seem to be squabbling.

previously: tribes and types of cousin-marriage and genealogical terminology and what is a tribe?

(note: comments do not require an email. happy hour, anybody? (^_^) )

jewish endogamy on mallorca

not that there’s anything wrong with that (~_^):

“Spain: Mallorca Chuetas Now Considered ‘Real Jews'”

“The word ‘chueta’ comes from ‘juet’, or Jewish. Majorca’s Jews are called ‘chuetas’; they are an ethnic minority, mostly converted Catholics, persecuted during the Inquisition and now, after generations of repression and social isolation, they have been recognised by Jewish authorities. ‘El Pais’ reports that they have been designated as ‘authentic Jews’ by senior Israeli Rabbi Nissim Karelitz.

“They are the descendants of 37 Jews killed in Majorca on May 6, 1691 during the Inquisition for Crypto-Judaism and of part of the Jews who converted to Catholicism, who passed on the collective conscience of their roots. It is estimated that there are currently 18,000 inhabitants on the Balearic island who still carry the surnames of Jewish converted or persecuted families….

“Stigmatised and segregated throughout history, up until the first half of the 20th century they practised strict endogamy (marriage between members of the same clan), to preserve their race…. [U]ntil the end of the ‘seventies, they practised endogamy, as a way of showing solidarity and conserving their identity.”

see also xueta on wiki-p.

(note: comments do not require an email. i never expected the you-know-what!)

tribes and types of cousin-marriage

over here i suggested that it’s not really correct to just talk about “tribes” since they probably have different characteristics depending upon the mating systems found within them. arab tribes, for instance, seem rather different in nature from indian (the ones in india) tribes. sure, they’re all inbreeding and so they’re rather hostile to outsiders, but arab tribes are more like afghani tribes than they are like indian (the ones in india) tribes.

most peoples, even the ones who practice some form of cousin marriage, feel that father’s brother’s daughter’s marriage (fbd marriage, or patrilateral parallel cousin marriage) is incestuous. this is despite the fact that the family members in an fbd marriage actually seem to share the least amount of genes (alleles) in common compared to all the other forms of cousin marriage (edit: that is, compared to the maternal forms of cousin marriage). so why the almost global opposition to fbd marriage?

greying wanderer linked to a site here which explain how mother’s brother’s daughter marriage (mbd marriage, or matrilateral cross-cousin marriage) enables a broad range of alliances between different lineages, or even clans, because each generation marries “out” of its lineage.

i always need a picture painted for me, so here we go. here’s what a couple of generations of fbd marriage looks like:

and here’s a couple of generations of mbd marriage:

see how in mbd marriage, women are always being brought into a patrilineage from another lineage. in fbd marriage, the whole system sort-of doubles back on iself every other generation. fbd marriage is a pretty closed system, whereas mbd marriage enables alliances with other groups.

mbd marriage was, apparently, the common or preferred form of cousin marriage in china back in the day. if wikipedia is to be believed, cousin marriage has not been so prevelant in china — or, at least, not so encouraged — for the last half century or so. cousin marriage is actually now illegal according to china’s 1981 marriage law. (have tptb in china been reading thomas acquinas?)

i think different tribes are different partly because of the mating patterns found in whatever given societies you’re looking at. that’s my theory and i’m sticking to it! (for now.)

previously: genealogical terminology and what is a tribe? and mother’s brother’s daughter marriage and father’s brother’s daughter marriage

update 07/15: see also tribes and types of cousin marriages ii

(note: comments do not require an email. an antarctic tribe.)

medieval military organization

chapter 4 of mitterauer’s “Why Europe?” is very heavy on medieval military organization. v e r y. to the point where i nearly dozed off a few times last night trying to get through it. (i finally just gave up.)

so it’s prolly REALLY GOOD re. war thingies! i think a few of you guys who are into all that stuff (he talks about roman and medieval cavalry a LOT) might like it. (~_^)

and so my next question naturally is…

…what sort of selection pressures for, say, behavioral traits and iq existed under the manoralism system in medieval europe versus the earlier tribal system? (obviously these are pretty broad categories that changed in nature quite a bit over time and between places, but still….) i’m thinking along the lines of “The 10,000 Year Explosion” in which (duh!) human evolution is ongoing and, like in the case of ashkenazi jews in europe, what happened during the medieval period was obviously important.

so, what happened to the germanic peoples during the middle ages evolutionarily speaking? anything? nothing? a lot?

in a tribal system, you’d think that within any given clan or tribe, most or all of the members would be kinda-sorta taken care of since everyone is family. you’d think that a lot of the members, therefore, would be able to leave at least some descendants behind. obviously, the chief of a clan might be able to leave behind the mostest descendants of all, but might it be that in a tribal system, more of the members might be reproductively successful than maybe…

…in the manoralism system, where the extended family system is gone and we’re left with pretty much just nuclear families operating in a corporate sort of world. in the manor system, there were different classes of peasants/laborers from free tenants to slaves (again, depending on when and where you’re talking about). but, clearly, those more able to succeed under the manor system prolly left behind more descendants than some others (’cause they were more fit to that environment, no?). so, those able to work their way up to and maintain the status of peasant or free tenant presumably were the most successful reproductively (after the lords, of course).

given that these peasants had to work their own land as well as do a lot of work on the manor — and given that many of them settled and opened up new territories in eastern europe (in which to farm the new grains with the new techniques) — what traits might have served the successful ones well?

obviously, you couldn’t be too dumb. maybe even practical, 3-d rotation intelligence would be good to have for engineering drainage systems and the like. i’d say that personality traits like hard-working and industriousness would also be selected for. i guess that might sorta be conscientiousness in a way, but not exactly. law abiding? conformity? i.e. not rocking the manoralism boat too much?

i also think in this new, non-tribal corporate world, whatever “genes for reciprocal altruism” might exist would prolly be selected for at greater rates than in a tribal society ’cause in the latter, kin selection altruism should be enough to keep things ticking along amicably. but not in a society where people are not so closely related.

anything else? any of this sound completely far out?

previously: medieval manoralism and genetic relatedness and more on inbreeding in germanic tribes and loosening of genetic ties in europe started before christianity?

(note: comments do not require an email. the peasants are revolting!)

medieval manoralism and genetic relatedness

been reading michael mitterauer’s “Why Europe?: The Medieval Origins of Its Special Path” — really interesting stuff! i quoted mitterauer at length here on the shifts in kinship terms across medieval europe and how they mirrored the loosening of genetic ties brought about by the church and tptb’s new regulations on marriage.

anyway, so i’ve been learning all about manoralism, at least carolingian style. mitterauer explains (nice and clearly for those of us who don’t know nothin’ about the medieval period) all about the medieval agricultural revolution — how rye and oats were the latest, trendy crops (in northern europe); the importance of the new three-field system; how crucial the heavy moldboard plow was; and how nobody could do without the new-fangled grist mills — which were mostly owned by rich people or monks.

in case you don’t already know, manoralism was your basic economic unit in feudalistic europe (prolly inherited kinda-sorta from the romans) wherein dependant people (like peasants or even serfs) were tied to, you guessed it, a manor (owned by a lord or attached to a monastery) and owed a certain amount of labor to the manor in return for protection and some farmland of their own and the use of those mills, amongst other things.

from how mitterauer describes it, the system sounded fairly flexible — at least in different places at different points in time. i mean, it sounds like peasants weren’t 100% stuck on whatever farm they grew up on. in fact, rather the opposite — in looking at some manorial censuses, mitterauer works out that most households did not consist of large, extended families but, rather, parents and children — and while the eldest son might “inherit” his father’s farm (or the right to work it), other children would move on elsewhere.

mitterauer makes the argument that the development of the manor system started with the franks. here he quotes another researcher in the field:

“This type of agricultural reform [manorial village, field, and technical agrarian structures associated with this concept] was first put in motion in Austrasia around the middle of the seventh century, or somewhat earlier, under the Pippins, the majordomos of the Merovingians.”

from austrasia (<< sounds like a name orwell made up), the manor system and feudalism first spread throughout the northern germanic populations and later, starting in the 12th century, the germanic peoples brought the system with them as they migrated eastwards.

the key to making the manor system possible at all, though, according to mitterauer, was the breaking down of extended families and clans and tribes. his third chapter is entitled: “The Conjugal Family and Bilateral Kinship: Social Flexibility through Looser Ties of Descent.” looser ties of descent. exactly!

it simply would not have been possible to run a medieval manorial system over a large area (like the carolingian empire) with a bunch of quarreling, inbred tribes. along with all the revolutionary agrarian structures, a new social structure was needed — and that was put into place, i think, kind-of accidentally at first by the church (i.e. not with a planned manorial system in mind), but then it was expanded upon further when it proved to work in ways that benefitted tptb (including the church).

a ban on second-cousin marriage was instituted by the church in the sixth century. by the end of that century, the regulations were firmly enforced amongst the franks. the franks got going with manoralism in the mid-seventh cenutry. if we take the start of the cousin-marriage ban as, say, 550 a.d. to the start of manoralism as, say, 650 a.d. that gives us 100 years. counting a generation as being 16 years in length — that gives us 6.25 generations of mating patterns designed to loosen the ties between extended family members. i’m not sure if this is enough generations or not, but it sounds like a pretty good start to me.

as the system proved successful for the lords and the church (and, prolly, a lot of the peasants, too), the bans on cousin marriage were extended to third cousins and, eventually, in the eleventh century to sixth cousins. by the twelfth century, the franks were hittin’ the road for central europe.

and they would’ve kept going all the way to siberia except they bumped up against a wall. it wasn’t just that they ran up against some slavs, because they managed to push some of them aside. according to mitterauer, what they ran up against were slavs living in vast, forested areas who were still using the old slash-and-burn farming methods (i.e. the russians and the finns had yet to adopt the new agricultural techniques) and still living in the old social systems [pgs. 46-7]:

“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. To take one example, in the early thirteenth century Duke Henry the Bearded of Silesia made a change in his schedule of dues and services. Grain was to be rendered after a certain point instead of the squirrel skins demanded until then. This changeover was symptomatic of the structural transformations wrought by the colonization of the East; the age-old tribute of pelts that had been widespread in eastern Europe was replaced by rents in grain….

“The squirrel skins [originally] demanded by Duke Henry the Bearded point toward a particularly ancient model. Tributes in pelts were originally demanded collectively from tribal societies as a whole or in part. The inner structure of the societies ruled in this manner were completely unaffected by this system of duties. The expeditions Finnish lords made across Lapland, first on their own, then later, on a commission from the king of Sweden, represented an extreme and long-lived example of this type of tribute. Tributes in furs were so important in northern and eastern Europe that a specific ‘fur geld’ (Pelzgeld) based on them was created between the eleventh and the thirteenth centuries. Tributary systems based on tribes were a long way from the arrangements established by the manorial system.

the manorial system required, amongst other things, a breaking of the tribal system. that hadn’t fully happened, yet, in eastern europe in the middle ages.

previously: more on inbreeding in germanic tribes and loosening of genetic ties in europe started before christianity? and what about the franks?

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poor people don’t like terrorists

at least not in pakistan (at least not the ones in this survey). it’s the middle class you gotta watch out for (edit: like the ones in abbottabad maybe?):

“Pakistan’s Middle Class Extremists”

“The data revealed four findings that undermine common wisdom about support for militancy in Pakistan. First, survey participants were generally negatively inclined toward all four militant organizations….

“Second, Pakistanis living in violent parts of the country, in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa in particular, strongly disliked these groups….

“Third, poor Pakistanis nationwide disliked the militant groups about two times more than middle class Pakistanis, who were mildly positive toward the groups….

“Finally, this dislike is strongest among poor urban residents….”

so, if you’re stuck living (or dying) with extremists and terrorists in your neighborhood, you’re prolly reeeally not gonna like them. makes sense.

previously: ass-burgery terrorists?

(note: comments do not require an email. it’s not my fault.)