meanwhile, in france…

from jack goody’s The development of the family and marriage in Europe [pgs. 186-87 — links added by me]:

“Throughout its [the church’s] history reformers pointed to the ease with which the congregation continued to fall into earlier ways. At the domestic level the Church’s prohibitions and injunctions were frequently avoided, even disobeyed (Turlan 1957: 480). The actual extent of this disobedience is not known. Except for the registers of dispensations, which may themselves represent only the tip of the iceberg, the evidence for the practice of close marriage among the rural population is unlikely to achieve statistical reliability. But some accounts give a glimpse of the persistence of such forms of marriage. After the end of the eighteenth century the small isolated village of Pinon in the Auvergne gained fame as an example of ‘communal’ exploitation of the soil, with the different branches of one ‘family’ marrying among themselves. In 1787 the commune consisted of four such branches totalling 19 persons in all who married amongst themselves. Indeed, according to one source, the Pope had granted them a permanent dispensation against ‘cousinage’ (Dupin 1929: 47; Champeaux 1933: 248). They feared that out-marriage would ‘enfeeble their customary ways’, although one commentator, voicing an anxiety that runs as a continuing thread in Western European belief from the Dark Ages down to today, expressed the alternative view that the recent loss of population which they had experienced had been caused by this very practice of marrying kin.”

the amount of close marriages in pinon in the eighteenth century is not out of character for mountainous regions in europe, or elsewhere for that matter. (the unusual thing is when mountain folks outbreed a lot.) pinon is unlikely to be representative for france as a whole, however, although it could very well be representative for alpine and other mountainous regions of france.
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continuing from goody:

“More substantial evidence of close marriage is provided by Karnoouh’s study of French peasants in Lorraine in the last two centuries, a part of the country that had a very strong Catholic tradition. Nevertheless, claims the author, ‘they have always transgressed in very significant proportions, with or without the agreement of their bishops, the rules on the prohibited degrees of marriage laid down by the Church.’ Between 1810 and 1910 as many as 50 per cent of marriages went against those rules. Many were between first cousins, while others were between uncle and niece. The majority were between individuals born and resident in the same village (1971: 41). The last point is critical, for it suggests that the parties and their families had overlapping interests in matters other than marriage itself.”

a 50% consanguinity rate for lorraine between 1810 and 1910 sounds high, but may very well be correct. parts of southern italy, another devoutly roman catholic nation, had such rates in 1910-1914, so it’s certainly not completely out of character for europeans. however, the consanguineous marriage rate for catholics in alsace-lorraine in the 1870s was 0.997%. that’s quite a remarkable difference. i haven’t seen the original karnoouh article so i don’t know exactly where in lorraine he conducted his research. was it in the eastern mountainous region? i don’t know.
_____

more:

The importance of cousin marriages in the recent past of the French village of Minot in Burgundy is noted by Verdier. ‘Before’, declared one mother, ‘of course people used to marry cousins, the marriages would be arranged when people gathered in the evenings, they used to talk about them.’ She hastened to add that today she would prefer her son to marry anyone other than a cousin and even a Black or Japanese for her daughter, but Verdier remarks that ‘the proportion of in-marriage and out-marriage remains remarkably stable’ (1979: 287-8).”

again, i haven’t seen the original work (by verdier) so i don’t know what the in- and out-marriage rates were for minot, nor exactly what time we’re talking about.
_____

In a general survey of rural France in the nineteenth century, Segalen claims that in-marriage, both within the community and between relatives, actually increased over that period (1980: 19). But unlike the figures from Lorraine, the recorded rates are not exceptionally high; the records consist of dispensations registered with the Church, which represent only a proportion of the actual total of such unions. In Loir-et-Cher [in central france], such marriages formed about 3.5 per cent of the total, rising at times to 5 and 6 per cent; in Finistere [in brittany], the percentage was higher even at the beginning of the twentieth century.

a 3.5 percent consanguineous marriage rate on average is more in line with what i would expect for central france in the nineteenth century. those numbers fit better with the alsace-lorraine data referenced above, not to mention the figures for france’s neighbors, england and spain, in the same time period. it also fits better with early twentieth century figures for france [h/t m.g.!] which max out at 3.5+ percent for roman catholics in certain regions of the country (click on map for LARGER view):

also, segalen’s findings that consanguinity rates increased in france in the nineteenth century fit with a general pattern that has been found for europe — or western europe at any rate — as a whole.
_____

finally:

“Rates of in-marriage varied with the size of the village, the area in which it was located, and the freedom with which the dispensations were granted. Flandrin claims that in some mountain areas of France in the eighteenth century, the frequency was very high and ‘almost all marriages had to take place with dispensations from the impediments on the grounds of kinship’ (1979: 34). Such unions were often between cousins, some of whom had been brought up together because of the death of parents, a situation of which the registers of dispensations of marriage provide ‘innumerable examples’.”

again, mountain folks. typically rather high consanguinity rates.
_____

references from goody:

– Champeaux, E. 1933. Jus sanguinis. ‘I’rois fagons de calculer la parenté au Moyen Age. “Revue Historique de Droit Fiungais et Etmnger,” 4e série, 12: 241-90.

– Dupin, C.-R. 1929. Une communaute familiale en Auvergne, “L’Auvergne Litteraire, Artistique et Historique” 48: 41-52.

– Flandrin, J.-L. 1979. Families in Former Times, Cambridge.

– Karnoouh, C. 1971. L’oncle et le cousin, Études rurales No. 42, Recherches sur la parenté paysanne (Apr.-Jun., 1971), pp. 7-51.

– Segalen, M. 1980. Mari et femme dans la societe paysanne, Paris.

– Turlan, Julliette M. 1957. Recherches sur le mariage dans la pratique coutumière, XIIe-XVIe siècles, “Revue historique de droit français et étranger” 4th sér., 35: 477-528.

– Verdier, Y. 1979. Façons de dire, façons de faire, Paris.
_____

previously: inbreeding in nineteenth century alsace-lorraine (including jews) and what about the franks?

(note: comments do not require an email. balance skillz.)

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12 Comments

  1. “Between 1810 and 1910 as many as 50 per cent of marriages went against those rules.”

    I think that probably means “up to” i.e. the maximum in the most remote spots

    A relief map of France mostly fits the consanquinity distribution: the eastern mountain edge, the massif central and a bit of the pyrenees…

    …but Brittany stands out dramatically – not sure what’s going on there?

    A quick bit of non-conclusive googling – pastoralism?

    http://www.interregdairyman.eu/regions/france-brittany/

    “Brittany is the number one region for livestock production in France. In 2008, the region produced 57% of the national tonnage of pork, 42% of the eggs, one third of poultry meat, one quarter of the veal meat and 21% of the milk volume. Seven farms in ten are specialized in breeding, with a more intensive mode of production than in other regions. About 15,600 farms produce milk, this is 44% of all farms in Brittany of which 59% are specialized dairy farms.”

    http://www.thecanadianencyclopedia.com/articles/dairy-farming

    “Canadian cattle were developed in Québec from cows imported from Brittany and Normandy”

    http://www.stuff.co.nz/manawatu-standard/your-manawatu/tribune/7346051/Brittany-not-so-different-from-NZ

    Inside the City Library, a French woman talked about “the region where it’s always raining…Interestingly enough, she was not talking about Manawatu but her home province of Brittany in north-west France…The main drivers of Brittany’s economy are dairy farming and fishing”

    Reply

  2. I should say the thing about pastoralism in Brittany depends on it always being that way and not just recently.

    The point about regions of heavy pastoralism / sheep farming / dairy farming etc (pre-industrialization) being lower relative population density i.e. a variation on the mountain scenario.

    Reply

  3. @g.w. – “‘Between 1810 and 1910 as many as 50 per cent of marriages went against those rules.’

    I think that probably means “up to” i.e. the maximum in the most remote spots”

    yeah, absolutely! still, as a ballpark figure, 50% is … whoa … high! i mean, even if the average was more like 30%, that’s way more than a 3-5% figure. mountain folks. (~_^)

    @g.w. – “A relief map of France mostly fits the consanquinity distribution: the eastern mountain edge, the massif central and a bit of the pyrenees…”

    thanks! (^_^) that’s just the sort of map i was looking for for the post! — and by “looking for” i mean “wishing i had but too lazy to do any googling for such a map myself.” (~_^) it does all fit very nicely, though!

    Reply

  4. @g.w. – “A quick bit of non-conclusive googling – pastoralism?”

    yeah, could definitely be the pastoralism. probably is the pastoralism. we know that pastoralism=close marriage.

    i also wonder, though, if their close marriage practices are some hold over tradition that they brought with them from britain. could they have stuck to the old insular celtic church practices ’cause that’s what their ancestors had done? maybe ’cause the pastoralism gave ’em an extra push to do so? dunno. just wondering.

    Reply

  5. “still, as a ballpark figure, 50% is … whoa … high!”

    Yes, true. I was going by…

    “1787 the commune consisted of four such branches totalling 19 persons in all who married amongst themselves.”

    …so a *very* low population – which i think ties into the point you make in the next post about a possible tendency for scientists to study populations that are unusual for some reason may extend *within* standard populations as well so maybe data from France is skewed to unusual populations within France.

    .
    “i also wonder, though, if their close marriage practices are some hold over tradition that they brought with them from britain.”

    Yes, except i think cattle-raising and the Atlantic Coast may have been joined at the hip for a very long time…

    Newgrange, Stonehenge, Carnac etc.

    …so i wonder if they were *already* part of that same Atlantic coast cattle-raising culture that held sway in Ireland and SW Britain with maybe similar marriage customs.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_Cornwall

    “Cornwall was part of the territory of the tribe of the Dumnonii which included Devon and parts of Somerset. After a period of Roman rule, Cornwall reverted to rule by independent Romano-British princes and continued to have a close relationship with Brittany, and Wales as well as southern Ireland which neighboured across the Celtic Sea.”

    I wasn’t sure if Brittany had retained that culture into modern times but looking at your French consanquinity map it seemed possible.

    Reply

  6. @g.w. – “Yes, except i think cattle-raising and the Atlantic Coast may have been joined at the hip for a very long time…

    Newgrange, Stonehenge, Carnac etc.

    …so i wonder if they were *already* part of that same Atlantic coast cattle-raising culture that held sway in Ireland and SW Britain with maybe similar marriage customs.”

    oh, i see what you’re saying! yes — the folks in brittany could very well have been pastoralists going way back. i agree.

    Reply

  7. I’m curious about Brittany and cousin marriage, too, so I poked around on “www.persee.fr” (big database of French-language studies), but didn’t find anything illuminating. The pastoral + sparse population or old Celtic marriage customs seems a good guess to me too.

    If I may be anecdotal: It’s a region I’ve visited, and I’ve many co-workers from there. My sense is many Bretons feel somewhat ‘apart’, even today–this region was integrated into France very late, and had an active separatist movement ’til recently. (There’s a wiki page listing everything they’ve tried to blow up in the last fifty years.) Driving there, you still see separatist grafitti all over the place (written in Breton, their Celtic language). They have a massive Celtic festival in the summer, where you feel for all the world like you’re in the British Isles somewhere. And the megaliths at Carnac are truly awesome.

    No idea if there’s a link between that ‘separate’ feeling and cousin marriage, or if it’s really a question of being so ethnically and culturally Celtic. As a Yank who’s lived a long time in Mediterranean France, I just loved it up there, felt so ‘at home’ and didn’t want to leave! (But it does rain a lot.)

    Reply

  8. @m.g. – “I poked around on ‘www.persee.fr’ (big database of French-language studies), but didn’t find anything illuminating.”

    dr*t. well, thanks for checking! (^_^)

    @m.g. – “They have a massive Celtic festival in the summer, where you feel for all the world like you’re in the British Isles somewhere.”

    i’ve heard about that! supposed to be a blast. (^_^)

    Reply

  9. M.G
    “My sense is many Bretons feel somewhat ‘apart’, even today–this region was integrated into France very late, and had an active separatist movement ’til recently.”

    Yes. My Celtic nationalist in-laws certainly see a connection – based on the atlantic coast climate imo – between southern Ireland, Wales, SW Britain and Brittany (and i think the Basques / Gascons a bit too) which i think may go back a very long way.

    Also although the Celtic cultural angle is very strong now i personally think the root of the connection is pre-Celtic.

    Reply

  10. The Atlantic economy viewpoint includes Northern Spain, Galicia, as part of the Celtic proto historical world. Although Cunlliffe’s Pytheas, the “discoverer” of various Atlantic islands, probably took the short cut across Southern France to Bordeaux.

    Reply

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