random notes: 08/29/12

just some random notes that i want to keep track of — and that i thought might interest some of you guys out there — but that i haven’t, or am not planning to, work into a full post — not just now anyhoo. enjoy!
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the law of wihtred from the 690s:

“The Law of Wihtred is an early English legal text attributed to the Kentish king Wihtred (died 725). It is believed to date to the final decade of the 7th century and is the last of three Kentish legal texts…. It is devoted primarily to offences within and against the church, as well as church rights and theft.”

from The Anglo-Saxons from the Migration Period to the Eighth Century: An Ethnographic Perspective [pg. 216]:

“Marriage was redefined, as a consequence of the influence of the Church, in the laws of Wihtred; four chapters (Wi. 3-6) condemn illicit unions — namely unconsecrated unions, bigamous unions or unions within the forbidden degrees.”

so here we have a secular, anglo-saxon (jutish!) law from the late 600s banning cousin marriage (should be out to second cousins according to canon law at this point in time). this was in kent. this was also just at the beginning of the era when mating practices were loosened in england — right after the anglo-saxon-jutes converted to christianity. who knows how well … or for how long … the law of wihtred was enforced.
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from The development of the family and marriage in Europe [pg. 144]:

“Much later this [the church’s cousin marriage ban] was reduced to the second degree [i.e. first cousins] for Indians of South American origin in 1537, for Blacks in 1897, and then for the world at large in 1917.”

the one, holy, catholic and apostolic church (gotta love the full title!) regularly offered concessions on the whole cousin marriage thing for new converts: they did so for the anglo-saxons/other germanic tribes, and again for the baltic populations. not surprising that they should also do so for native americans and africans.

i don’t know if the 1537 exemption applied to mexican/central american populations as well or just to south american indians. that’s something i need to find out.
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previously: east anglia, kent and manorialism

(note: comments do not require an email. men of kent.)

10 Comments

  1. “the one, holy, catholic and apostolic church”

    Sounds good in English. How’s the Latin?

    Do you suppose English is the Latin of the future?

    Reply

  2. @luke – “Do you suppose English is the Latin of the future?”

    i thought english was the latin of now. (~_^) lingua franca and all that.

    Reply

  3. Ah, so Kent was a Jutish colony.

    This makes me wonder, is there a legal consanguinity gradient over the various ethnic groups of Yon Olde England? I mean, besides the Welsh/Scots/Irish being holdouts.

    Of course, I guess that most everyone was a bit Jute-admixed by the time nuclear family structure was fully established in the 1300’s. But I wonder if the Jutes coming over and being relatively isolated from their brethren back in Scandinavia might have made them particularly vulnerable to Church decrees, particularly in need of Church approval. Or they might have been primed for outbreeding by the prevalence of intermarriage with the English locals.

    I suppose the only way to find out is to take note of the instances of consanguinity law, like the law of Wihtred, and try to see if it fits. Not a very exact science, hm.

    Reply

  4. Apologies. The link is here (I hope). Early Modern England by a Yale historian named Keith Wrightson. Listen to the introductory lecture. This guy is good, and it will be a good way to test some of hbd* chick’s theories.

    Reply

  5. @redzengenoist – “This makes me wonder, is there a legal consanguinity gradient over the various ethnic groups of Yon Olde England? I mean, besides the Welsh/Scots/Irish being holdouts.”

    i think there was! i keep looking to hackett fischer for clues:

    – there are the east anglia puritans who loathed cousin marriage — the anglo-saxons in east anglia would’ve been some of the first (along with the kentish men) to be hit with the church’s cousin marriage ban;

    – there are the south of england “distressed cavaliers” and indentured servants — these peoples’ ancestors would’ve been from the anglo-saxon kingdom of wessex who hung on to cousin marrying practices for longer than the east coasters;

    – then there are the quakers from the north midlands — they’re mercians. not sure about their cousin marrying practices.

    – and, finally, there’s hacket-fischer’s border reivers — but we know all about them and their clannish ways. (~_^)

    there are probably more gradients, but i haven’t thought them through yet.

    Reply

  6. @redzengenoist – “I wonder if the Jutes coming over and being relatively isolated from their brethren back in Scandinavia might have made them particularly vulnerable to Church decrees, particularly in need of Church approval.”

    there were strong connections between the jutish kingdom of kent and the franks on the continent (just across the channel). christianity was introduced to the kentish folks via the franks — some jutish king married a frankish woman and she was a christian (can’t remember which king now). it was he/they that invited augustine over who introduced christianity to the anglo-saxons more broadly.

    but, yeah, isolation and the inter-breeding with the locals might’ve primed them. and/or their germanic traditions that they already had (descent being calculated on both sides, for instance). however, none of that can be the whole story because if it were, why didn’t other anglo-saxon populations on the island turn out the same? they were isolated, too, and some of them more than the jutes who were not all that far away from the continent. why were the anglo reivers inbreeders, for instance?

    it’s complicated. (^_^)

    Reply

  7. @mike – “It’s sad to see such a smart guy so blinkered on an issue.”

    yes, it is sad to see ron is so blinkered on this issue. (~_^) but i suspect that’s ’cause he’s very keen, for what reasons i don’t know, on the mass immigration of mexicans to the u.s.

    Reply

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