drinkin’ and fightin’ songs

from “Representations of Drinking in English Songs” in Alcohol and Temperance in Modern History: An International Encyclopedia [pg. 224]:

In English songs of the nineteenth century, fighting assumes less prominence than in contemporary Irish drinking songs (Ingle 2000). Only 16 English songs of this period contain fight-related themes, and 7 songs from the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries have been identified. In contrast, over 70 of 200 Irish drink-related songs of the same era concerned fighting. Of those, half were concerned with a peculiar Irish institution, ‘faction fighting,’ which is foreign to British tradition (Conley 2000). Only 2 English songs have been found with comparable themes. ‘Pleasures of the fair’ (in which a mob at a rural carnival ‘drinks and fights uproariously’) depicts a brawl that apparently arises from high spirits. And ‘Pace egging song’ also depicts a spontaneous group fight among a reveling throng at an Easter festival.

“Other English group fight-theme songs include ‘Dramatic morality,’ in which drinking at a theater leads to disorder wherein men cuff and spar with each other, with no mention of anger as a motive. In a playful scene at ‘The Manchester races,’ a throng eats and drinks with abandon, while others fight. Three songs depict group fights, growing out of arguments at sporting events. ‘Wednesbury cocking’ describes a bloody affair, to be long remembered (and thus atypical), while in ‘Wedgfield wake’ (a seasonal fair) another cockfight debate triggers a fight. Finally, in ‘Humor of Eccles wake,’ an unspecified sporting dispute also leads to a brawl. In reviewing ‘recreational fighting,’ it appears these English songs are neither as organized nor as damaging as Irish faction fights….

The contrasts between song themes from Scotland, Ireland, and England are also intriguing and suggest topics for social historians to pursue. The balance between perceived benefits and dangers of drinking is significantly different between Irish and British songs, for one thing — and the Irish reference for fighting as a recreation in their street ballads (Ingle 2000) could not be discovered in English street ballads or in rural folk songs. Are the British really so different in their attitudes toward drink-enhanced fighting, or are they simply disinclined to sing about them?


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previously: early modern and modern clannish ireland and english victorian working class pugilists

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english victorian working class pugilists

lest you think it was only the nineteenth century irish boxing each other’s ears, check out the pugilistic tendencies of english victorian miners (these are some of john derbyshire’s folks, don’t ya know! (~_^) ).

from Leisure And Recreation In A Victorian Mining Community: The Social Economy of Leisure in North-East England, 1820-1914 [pgs. 111-112]:

“Fighting and boxing

“It is critically important to emphasize how important fighting was in mining society. It was fundamental to life itself — miners always fought, down the mine, in the street and, in particular, on Friday and Saturday nights. It was deeply engrained in the very fabric of mining life. It was one of the most visible elements of the whole concept of masculinity. Life down the mine was dangerous and brutal — only the fittest survived. A ‘man’ was one who could stand up for himself and was always willing to test himself against anyone else. It is important to emphasize the pervasiveness and importance of fighting in the mining villages. More than anything else fighting spoke to questions of manhood. Physical prowess defined who a man was and fighting was a manifestation of manhood.

“Evidence as to the popularity of fighting flowed through the nineteenth century. The Commission on Mining Districts in 1842 reported on the prevalence on fighting. In the first half of the century some colliery owners place a prohibition of fighting within the bond. Several court cases were brought against miners for fighting in the mine. Comments were made as to the frequency of ‘pitman fights’ in the 1860s. Without exception these took place on pay Fridays or pay Saturdays. The pay weekends became the times when grudges were worked out and money was bet. This remained the same throughout the century. Jimmy Tabarar, a miner from New Hartley, commenting on the second decade of the twentieth century, stated that there ‘always was a battle on Saturday afternoon. Bare fist. Strip to waist.’ Talking about the same time, James Wilson, from Ashington, commented that there were ‘rough nights on pay weekends…Fights were frequent. Used to lay into one another, stripped to the buff, bare knuckled — until the police intervened.’ That these were, in some sense, organized affairs is implicit in a comment made about the 1850s. ‘I once heard of a pitman who always gave himself an extra clean wash on pay Friday, because he wanted to look “decent” when he put his shirt off to fight.’ It was this semi-organized fighting that provided the foundations of the organized boxing that developed in the 1890s.”

notice, though, the key difference between the faction fighting in 1800s ireland and the fist fights in 1800s england: in ireland you had literally hundreds of men involved in these fights, and the “factions” typically revolved around families or sets of families (the connors, the delahantys, the maddens) — in england, it was one man vs. one other man. two individuals duking it out for their individual honor, not great hordes fighting for their families’ honors.

and the women waiting at home for the pay packet (which was spent in the pub!) in order to buy milk for the kids. men! (~_^)

(p.s. – if anyone can give me any example of “faction fighting” in england, please lemme know!)

previously: english individualism and english individualism ii and english individualism iii

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early modern and modern clannish ireland

the medieval irish, then, mated closely and were clannish right up to at least the late-1500s.

even if the theory that close matings lead to clannishness (because they set up positive selection pressures for clannish behavioral traits) is wrong, i think it still would be important to consider, given their family types and structure of society, what sorts of selection pressures for what sorts of behavioral traits might’ve existed for the irish over the course of those ca. 1000 years — at least.

the mating patterns of the irish should’ve come into line with the rest of northwestern roman catholic europe in the 1100s when the invading normans tried to get the irish (celtic) church to follow rome’s teachings. unfortunately, the normans “went native,” and the promises made at the synod of cashel (1172) do not seem to have been enforced.

from jack goody [pgs. 44-45 — see also previous post]:

“But as far as the family and marriage were concerned, the wishes of the Church did not always prevail and resistance was often prolonged. The difference between ‘local custom’ and ecclesiastical law is nowhere stronger than in Ireland, even as late as the Norman period. It was then, during the late eleventh and early twelfth centuries, that English (or Norman) influence came to play a dominant role in reshaping the Irish Church. The archbishops of Canterbury, Lanfranc and Anselm, both protested against the Irish customs of marriage and divorce. From the seventh century Irish Church legislators had recognised only four degrees of kinship within which marriage was prohibited (and the law tracts fewer), whereas the papacy acknowledged seven…. ‘Native law’, comments Hughes (1966: 260), ‘triumphed over the stricter provisions of the church, to the disgust of the Anglo-Norman prelates, who were used to very different customs.’

“In theory, this state of affairs was altered by the first of the reforming synods, held at Cashel in 1101. However this conclave did not introduce the full requirements of the Roman Church, and, although it did forbid a man to marry his step-mother (or step-grandmother), or his sister or daughter, his brother’s wife, or any woman of similarly near kinship, it said nothing of the ‘Irish practices of concubinage and divorce.’ Even so, the legislation seems to have had little effect on social life, for some time later Pope Alexander III [pope from 1159 to 1181] was told that the Irish ‘marry their step-mothers and are not ashamed to have children by them; that a man may live with his brother’s wife while the brother is still alive; and that one many may live in concubinage with two sisters; and that many of them, putting away the mother, will marry the daughters’ (Sheehy 1962: I,21; Hughes 1966: 265).”

and, as we saw two posts ago, rome’s marriage regulations seem to have been largely ignored by the irish right up until the late 1500s.

unfortunately, i don’t know what happened next. (argh!) i know that by the 1800s the roman catholic irish did, generally, obey the church’s teachings on cousin marriage, etc., but i’m not sure what happened in the intervening centuries from the late 1500s until the 1800s. i think (i hope!) the answers lie in this book…

Marriage in Ireland (1985)

…but it’s not available anywhere online (dr*t!), and i don’t have a copy of it. one of these days, i just might have to (*gulp*) turn off my computer, temporarily sever my connection to the innnerwebs (ouch!), and move myself physically to the library. theoretically that is a possibility (so i’m given to understand), but it probably won’t happen in the next couple of weeks. so, until then, these centuries will remain a mystery!

what did obviously happen in ireland in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries were the plantations. the new arrivals were, unlike the natives, protestants, who, except for the scots-irish, likely came from a long line of outbreeders (it would be interesting to know from where in england the anglo-irish in southern ireland came!), and while the authorities tried to introduce protestantism to the native irish, they were having none of it. there was something of a counter-revolution in ireland which was supported from outside — even from rome (they sent in the jesuits!) — so perhaps as part and parcel of all that, the irish church got more in line with rome wrt marriage, etc., etc. not sure. just guessing. i’m hoping Marriage in Ireland will tell me!

what i do know is that the early modern and modern irish were still clannish in their behaviors. actual clans (*fines*) were no longer the organizing principle of irish society — the protestant ascendancy ran the show politically and economically for a couple of centuries — but the native irish still behaved in clannish ways.

one of the easiest ways to spot clannishness is to look for feuding, a la the hatfields and the mccoys. that’s not the only way for clannish peoples to express their clannishness (look also for nepotism and certain other types of corruption), but it is one of the most obivous ways.

from a previous post:

“they sound like they were rather clannish as recently as the mid-1800s — right around and after the time of the potato famine there (1847) [pgs. 57-58]:

‘Clark affirms that “neighbourhood and kinship ties formed the basis of ‘primary’ groups in pre-famine Ireland” (such as “factions”) but concentrates upon “social interaction…beyond the primary group.” After the Famine, though communal and kinship ties continued to influence the composition of “collectivities”, “associational organizations was clearly predominant…during the entire second half of the nineteenth century”….'”

so perhaps towards the end of the 1800s, clannishness amongst the irish — in the sense of actually being tied to fellow extended kin members in daily life — did start to wane somewhat. but…

‘Arensberg and Kimball, by contrast, stress the strength and flexibility of kinship bonds among Claremen of the 1930s. Family links took precedence over bonds of class or occupation, while family members were remarkable for their co-operation and mutual supportiveness rather than competitiveness. The cohesion of kinship groups had been strong enough to survive profound changes in economic and social structure since the Famine….”

here come the feuds:

‘The outrage reports for pre-famine Cloone confirm the importance of “neighbourhood and kinship ties” in aligning the factions involved in “party fights”. Thus at Drimna, in 1838, “a faction fight took place between two hostile parties, named Deignan’s and Mullin’s, respecting the right to the possession of a small portion of land”. Other such confrontations were of a ritual rather than material character, providing an occasion for “long-tailed” families to assert their corporate identity and importance through trials of strength. Indeed market-day brawls could be provoked merely by the affirmation of family affiliation, as when a certain Cooke of Carrigallen “retreated towards a Public House where a party of his friends were drinking and when near it he called out ‘Who dared say anything against a Cooke…?'” It is clear that the ceremonial grappling of factions became unusual after the Famine, despite occasional reports throughout the century…. Familial networks, though, in less overt fashion, never ceased to lend cohesion to rural associations ranging from the Society of Ribbonmen to the United Irish League or Sinn Fein.'”

again, then, towards the end of the 1800s, the clannishness — the feuding — starts to die down. but the irish were still feuding as late as the mid-1800s. to find evidence for such feuding amongst the english, you need to go back to around ca. 1000-1100, i.e. 700-800 years earlier.

btw, the name “outrage reports” just cracks me up! i can imagine the very civilized, non-feuding english just thinking that the irish were “outrageous” with all their feuding! (~_^)

here’s some more from Melancholy Accidents: The Meaning of Violence in Post-Famine Ireland from the chapter entitled “Recreational Violence” (heh) … the entire chapter is quite an entertaining (if sad) read — i’ll just reproduce a couple of bits for you here [pgs. 17-21, 24 — links added by me]:

“The most remarkable thing about violence in late nineteenth century Ireland was not its political manifestation, but its recreational aspects. Rather than brutal assassins, the characters who emerge from the criminal records are more often people who enjoyed fighting as a sometimes lethal, but rarely malicious form of entertainment. Recreational violence includes incidents in which a challenge was issued and a fight agreed upon but no serious grounds for malice existed. The confrontation occurred most often at fairs, markets and other social gatherings and usually involved alcohol [thnx to the person who sent me that!]. Over 42 percent of all homicides were recreational in origin. In the four counties for which full records exist, at least 58 percent of violent crime fell into the recreational category.

Recreational violence was a long-established cultural tradition in rural Ireland. The overwhelming concern with physcial bravery, the relative indifference to homicide, the willingness to do battle with and even kill loved ones, and the comic buffoonery sometimes demonstrated by Cuchulainn and his cohorts in ancient legends are all echoed in nineteenth century court records. These patterns had continued as fundamental parts of Irish life over the centuries….

“The defense attorney in a case in which more than a hundred men had been involved in a fight ‘alluded to the very few recreations which the country people had to amuse themselves with….’

“In many cultures violence is associated with the lower classes. However, in late nineteenth century Ireland rowdy recreation was not limited to the lower orders. Twenty-eight percent of homicides in brawls involved farmers or their families…. Though it might be argued that such rowdiness was a holdover from earlier times in which political and economic success were effectively denied to Irish tenant farmers, it is difficult to explain why it was in the most prosperous areas of the countryside that the violent traditions were longest-lived. As the ‘Munster News’ pointed out when discussing the violence in the eastern section of Limerick: ‘There should be less cause of atrocity here than in other places. The country around is fertile; the farmers are in comfortable circumstances and a barefooted boy or girl is seldom observed.’

“For all classes brawling could be entertainment and violence viewed as comic. English journalist Bernard Becker observed during a tour of Ireland in 1880 that, ‘Nothing is more amazing to serious people than the light and easy manner in which everybody takes everything on this side of the Irish Sea.’ At least thirteen homicides were the result of practical jokes gone wrong. As usual the courts gave more weight to the intent than the consequences. The longest sentence for a homicide caused by a joke was nine months given a drunk whose ‘joke’ was stabbing a child in the rear end with a hot poker.

“Faction Fights

The most obvious examples of recreational violence were faction fights…. A formal faction fight, which might involve hundreds of men on each side, usually began with the ritual of wheeling which included chants, stylized gestures and insults. In the traditional wheel, the chant included the name of the faction issuing the challenge as well as the intended opponent. For example, a faction fight might begin when one side chanted ‘Here is Connors and Delahanty. Is there any Madden will come before us…?’

“Faction fighting enjoyed its heyday in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. By the 1860s the incidence had declined considerably though factions seem to have been under-reported in official returns. The outrage returns report only forty faction fights between 1866 and 1892, but there are sixty faction fights mentioned in the surviving court records. At least thirty of the homicides reported as outrages between 1866 and 1892 were faction related though not all of these deaths were the result of formal, ritualized, large-scale fights….

“Factions were particularly strong in the New Pallas and Cappamore districts of Limerick where the Three Year Olds and Four Year Olds had battled for generations. The names stemmed from a fight held decades earlier over the age of either a colt or a cow. The feud had lasted so long nobody remembered which. These factions were contributing factors in over a quarter of all indictments for assault and 8 percent of homicides in Limerick between 1866 and 1892. The ‘Limerick Reporter’ lamented, ‘There was not a fair or market, petty sessions or quarter sessions in which these horrible feuds and party disagreements were not found to prevail.’ In May 1871 the Limerick chief inspector of police reported that over half the indictable offenses in Pallas could be attriubted to factions. Even though arrests had been made, he feared ‘in every case of faction fight retaliation may be expected….’

“More than any other form of recreational violence, factions resemble organized sports. Not only do factions resemble other forms of leisure found in medieval and early modern societies, such as the battles of the bridges in Venice, they also have parallels to modern team sports. Such organized violence provides entertainment, a path to status and an outlet for communal loyalties.

so this (see steve sailer)…

fightin' irish

…is really just another confirmational stereotype. (~_^)

previously: what’s this all about? and clannish medieval ireland and early and late medieval irish mating practices and inbreeding in europe’s periphery and meanwhile, in ireland… and inbreeding in ireland in modern times

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clannish medieval ireland

as we saw in the previous post, the mating practices in ireland right through the medieval period were close — cousin marriage was preferred, definitely in the early part of the period and probably also in the later part — and even uncle-niece and aunt-nephew marriages happened regularly enough that the (foreign) church authorities objected. the preferred form of marriage was within the paternal clan (fbd marriage?) — and in the early part of the period polygamy was not uncommon. the close marriages (cousin marriage) seem to have continued right up until the late-1500s.

and what sort of society was medieval ireland? clannish. literally.

from from A History of Everyday Life in Medieval Scotland: 1000 to 1600 (2011) (scotland, ireland — practically the same thing!) [pg. 92]:

“The word ‘clan,’ borrowed into English from Gaelic *clann*, has several levels of meaning. The primary meaning of *clann* is ‘children’ although it can also be used of descendants of a common ancestor, for example, a great-grandfather. But the term came to be used to describe an agnatic lineage which might be many generations deep. At a further level, *clann* could describe a powerful and well-established kin group which wielded considerable political power: a polity as much as, or more than, a social group. By way of definition, it has been suggested that, ‘in medieval Highland society the term *clann* was used to describe a patrilineal kindred the members of which descended in known steps from a named ancestor’. This definition underlines two points believed to be true of the clan in Scotland and in Ireland: namely, that the members of the true clan were related to one another through the male line, and that the eponym or name father of the clan was a historical, and not a mythical, character. The term ‘clan’ has, of course, passed into wider anthropological usage and has been used by anthropologists to describe kin groups that may not conform to the above definition as regards either patrilineal descent or the historicity of the eponym.”

and now some extensive quotes from Chapter 9 – The Forms of Irish Kinship from nerys patterson’s Cattle-Lords and Clansmen: The Social Structure of Early Ireland (1994). i’ll try to keep it brief [pgs. 239-258]:

“The most inclusive kinship group was the clan, but though ‘clan’ is actually a Gaelic word, the most common term in the Irish law tracts for this group was *cenél*. More precisely defined as a group was the *fine*; it was a branch of a *cenél*, but its relationship to the latter is not clarified by the sources. Within both clan and *fine*, there existed a gradation of power and autonomy, extending ‘up’, in terms of level of group aggregation and the status of the person with authority over the group, from the domestic patriarch of the farming community to the *cenn fine*, or the chief of the *cenél*.”

i supposed a *fine* could be viewed as a sub-clan within the larger clan (*cenél*).

maybe i should throw in some definitions here from patterson’s glossary:

– cenél: a descending kindred, in-marrying, and so ‘bilateral’ in many aspects of kinship, though patrilineal in descent; usually had a chiefly agnatic group at the core. Parallel to Welsh *cenedl*, a bilateral descending group.
– fine: a classification of kin, usually of agnatic kin.
– gelfine: in an agnatic personal kindred, ego’s first cousins and their fathers.
– derbfhine: in an agnatic personal kindred, ego’s second-cousins and their ascendents.
– íarfine: in an agnatic personal kindred, ego’s third cousins and their ascendents.
– indfhine: in an agnatic personal kindred, ego’s fourth cousins and their ascendents.
– tuath: the basic polity; a people; a petty kingdom or lordship.

got all that? no, me, neither. suffice it to say, extended family mattered a LOT to the medieval irish.

back to patterson:

“The Irish law-tracts recognized the following types of kinship organization:

“(i) Cognatic or bilateral kinship in which individual ties through both both mother’s and father’s kin were important; this concerned payment/receipt of *díre* (honor-price), inheritance…of chattels and lands not tied up in agnatic corporate groups….

“(ii) Agnatic ties between individuals, in which only connections through male ancestors were counted. This was important for payment/receipt of *cró* (wergeld), and inheritance of *fine* lands. Both (i) and (ii) were ‘personal kindreds’ [patterson’s emphasis], in that no one person’s circle exactly overlapped with another’s (other than with a sibling’s before parenthood)….

“(iii) The corporate agnatic kin-group, ‘the’ *fine*: the important *fine* of the area, that of the local chief of the landowning clan. Such a structure is often referred to as a descending kindred [patterson’s emphasis], to distinguish it from the personal circles of kin.”

so the first two sets of relationships there — (i) and (ii) — the “personal kindreds” — sound very like the kindreds of the pre-christian/early christian germanics that we’ve seen before (see here and here), but the “corporate agnatic kin-group” (iii) is very different from what the germanics (apparently) had. this was a patrilineal clan, perhaps not unlike what you’d find in the arab world today. perhaps. it’s certainly in that direction anyway. in other words, the medieval irish were more clannish than the early medieval germanics.

interestingly, patterson compares the agnatic kindred (ii) of the early medieval irish to the personal kindred of the kalmuk/kalmyk people of central asia [see fox, pg. 170], another pastoral group.

more from patterson:

(ii) “Agnatic personal kindreds.

“There is no doubt, however, that by the sixth or seventh century, *fine* groups existed that were structured around agnatic unilineal descent….”

hmmmm. when did they first appear?

“…That is, no one could claim membership in a *fine* by right of descent traced only through a woman of the group. This is made clear both by the rules of descent and inheritance, and by the genealogies….

“The general rule, then, was that women did not transmit membership of their own father’s *fine* to their sons, even though they conveyed dowry property to them….”

patterson then outlines the groups that i gave definitions for above: *gelfine*, *derbfhine*, *íarfine*, and *indfhine*. those are all the different types of agnatic personal kindreds depending upon degree of relationship of the members. the point of all those different groups is just that, amongst other sets of duties/obligations, the amount of wergeld owed, or how quickly one ought to come to the fighting aid of one’s cousin, depended upon the closeness of the relationship, i.e. whether you were first-cousins (in the same gelfine) or second-cousins (same derbfhine) and so on.

(iii) “The corporate *fine*; ’17 men’

“This organization preserved *fine* lands, *fintiu*, answered to society on behalf of its members, and controlled weaker members with suffocating thoroughness. A corporate *fine* could conceivably have developed after initial colonization of land by a group of people, but in the inhabited landscape of the Ireland of the law-tracts it was far more likely that such a group arose from lineage fission, initiated by individuals of quite high social standing….

“The sole point of fission in the Irish context was to establish a new corporate identity; what is more, there is no sign that after fission new lineages ever ‘merged’ on the basis of kinship closeness with those kin from whom they had severed. Far from being each other’s nearest allies they were inclined to be each other’s most lethal competitors.

within the territory of a *fine*, however, “kin were generally neighbors, and most neighbors were often kin.”

this sort of fissioning of what are known as segmentary lineages sounds all arab-y again. hmmmm.

finally, back to the maternal kindred (i) again for a sec:

“The *maithre*, the mother’s kin, had legal rights in their sister/daughter’s children….

“The bond between individuals and their *maithre* was strengthened by polygyny; plural sexual relationships were tolerated, and were probably typical amongst the secular elite. Residences, however were separate — it was such an insult to the wife to bring a concubine into the marital home that the wife was legally entitled to assault the concubine, and to divorce the husband with full economic penalties. Permanent cohabitation between husbands and wives was not, then, an overriding norm. Women often retained close ties to their kin which strengthened the children’s ties to them; this was especially true of concubines, whose kin retained a two-thirds share of their honor-price, but it was also true of chief-wives (whose kin retained only a third of their honor-price), since divorce or intermittent separation of the spouses was so likely to occur. Moreover, as many agnatic siblings were half-siblings, their basic allies in competition for dominance in the agnatic corporation were their non-agnatic connections, principally the mother’s kin. Often this bond was reinforced by fosterage, for the mother’s brother seems commonly to have been the foster-father; the foster-father was the person the child called ‘dad’.

heh. this really makes my head spin, though, because if husband and wife were often cousins, then the wife’s family was also the husband’s family. they’re all from the same sub-clan (*fine*) after all! still, i can see, the mother’s side of the family would’ve been slightly more distant agnatic relatives than the father’s side.
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medieval irish society, then, was clannish. and it was very often *fine* vs. *fine*, *cenél* vs. *cenél*, *tuatha* vs. *tuatha*. they had a wergeld system like most populations in pre-christian northern europe (and many societies around the world!), and there was the same sort of obligation to engage in vendetta/blood feud in an instance of insult to a member of the *fine*.

in fact, they were so busy being clannish that they didn’t even notice when one of them — in typical clannish fashion, i might add — invited in a bunch of foreigners to help him win back his throne. heh!
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(note that none of the above applies to you scots-irish out there! not strictly speaking anyway. your ancestors hadn’t yet arrived in ireland. i’ll get to the scots-irish later. all of this does, however, apply to the vikings who settled in ireland [who were probably clannish at that point in time anyway], as well as to the normans or old english who “went native” [and who probably weren’t as clannish as the native irish at the time they arrived, but there weren’t that many of them, and a lot of them interbred with the locals]. it definitely doesn’t apply to any of the more recently arrived anglo-irish.)

previously: what’s this all about? and early and late medieval irish mating practices and inbreeding in europe’s periphery

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early and late medieval irish mating practices

first, make sure to read what’s this all about? if you haven’t already.

ok. early medieval — and even later medieval (here and here) — irish society was clannish. very clannish. this state of affairs most likely stretched back into the irish iron age judging by some of the tales that came out of that era, like those about cú chulainn, which are basically all about the cattle raiding activities of various kings and queens and their clans. who knows how far back clannishness goes in native irish society, but it was definitely present throughout the medieval period right up until at least the early 1600s, possibly later. i’ll come back to the nature of medieval irish society in my next post.

to start with, medieval irish mating practices.

they were close. very close. marriages happened within the paternal clans, very often to cousins. it’s not clear whether or not these were father’s brother’s daughter’s (fbd) marriages, but given that the marriages were happening within the paternal clans, and that ireland at the time was a pastoral society (with some agriculture, too), it’s very possible that they were. earlier in the period polygamy (and concubinage) was also possible and not uncommon, although it was less common — but still present — toward the end of the period. like forms of close marriage such as cousin marriage, polygamy also, of course, narrows the relatedness within a group.

from A History of Everyday Life in Medieval Scotland: 1000 to 1600 (2011) (yes, scotland — don’t panic!) [pgs. 89-90]:

“[T]he French historian Georges Duby … emphasised the tension which existed for many centuries between the ideal of Christian marriage expounded by the Church and a much older secular model of marriage. Goody compared ‘western’ or ‘occidental’ family structures with those which he termed ‘eastern’ or ‘oriental’. He describes the system of descent in the oriental model as ‘strictly patrilineal’, and contrasts this with a western ‘bilineal’ model which places greater emphasis on paternal and maternal kin and on marriage alliances. He suggests that the oriental kin group typically derives from ‘a segmentary tribal system’ based on ‘the agnatic lineages [that is, a lineage related through males] clearly defined in time and space’, in contrast to the western model which emphasises bilateral descent and ‘does not exist in itself but only in relation to each individuals, having therefore no continuity in time, nor cohesion in space’. As to marriage, Goody suggests that the oriental kin group has ‘strongly endogamous tendencies’, that is, a tendency to marry within the patrilineal kin — while the western bilineal model exhibits a ‘tendency towards exogamy’….

“In Ireland, as elsewhere in Europe, much work has been done on the history of the institution of marriage. This, too, has emphasised the contrast between marriage according to the canon law and an older secular model. The early Irish law tracts disclose an approach to marriage completely at odds with the later canonical ideal. They allow for polygamy and concubinage, and for divorce available to both sexes on a number of grounds. At first, there appears to have been genuine polygamy, including provision for a ‘chief wife’ who was accorded special privileges. In later centuries, polygamy was serial, with spouses being divorced and replaced in rapid succession. As in Western Europe generally older customs of secular marriage were tenacious and long survived the coming of Christianity. Although Ireland was Christianised early, traces of older marriage customs survived until very late. The historian Donncha Ó Corráin has written that, Irish dynasties, as the laws and other sources conclusively prove, were polygamous from the earliest period until the collapse of the Gaelic System; while Kenneth Nicholls has commented with pardonable exaggeration that,

“‘In no field of life was Ireland’s apartness from the mainstream of Christian European society so marked as in that of marriage. Throughout the medieval period, and down to the end of the old order in 1603, what could be called Celtic secular marriage remained the norm in Ireland and Christian matrimony was no more than a graft onto this system.‘”

now, from Cattle-Lords and Clansmen: The Social Structure of Early Ireland (1994) (sorry, some of this is a repeat of what was in my previous post on early ireland) [pgs. 26, 57, 289, 291 — links added by me]:

“Irish and other early European descent structures were not egalitarian but *normatively* ranked, intensely competitive within the fraternal circle, and were structured not only on the principles of genealogical closeness but also on the basis of patron-client relations between kinsmen of unequal wealth and influence. Such structures are often described as ‘conical clans’ (Kirchoff 1959: 375; Goody 1983: 237). There were no rules of clan-exogamy, and thus no regular exchange of brides, but rather a tendency to in-marriage in order to curtail the outflow of property through bridal dowry. Thus … Irish, Welsh, Scottish and Dietmarschen clans recruited heirs patrilineally, like African segmentary lineages….

re. sixteenth-century Ireland: “Social practices that are referred to in the canonical texts of the law-tracts are attested in English descriptions as flourishing at the end of Gaelic society — a fact underscored by the continuation of work on Irish legal MSS, even as war raged around the scribes in the 1560s and 1570s. These long-lasting native institutions included: distraint, competitive succession, polygynous marriage and temporary marriage, affiliation of children of concubines, collective kin-liability, payment of wergeld instead of capital punishment, clientship contracts, including a type of free clientship, and payments of renders in kind and in services (Nicholls 1972: 3-87)….”

and, i would guess, close marriages.

“*Marriage Preferences.* Although in Ireland, as in the rest of early Europe (Goody 1983: 31-3), there were no hard and fast rules governing the choice of marriage partner (other than a taboo on primary incest), there was a preference for marriage between close kin (in-marriage), and for matches between children of fathers of equal rank (isogamy). Absent from the picture is evidence for child-bethrothal, even amongst the upper classes, or evidence that women were customarily married in early adolescence….

“Connected to the practice of dowering women was the preference for marriage with close kin; this tended to conserve property within the *fine* [agnatic kin] branches that repeatedly intermarried. Clerical complaints offer indirect testimony to the Irish preference for canonically ‘incestuous’ marriage. The seventh-century source, the ‘Second Synod of St. Patrick’, records that the *Romani* — a faction of the Irish clergy advocating greater conformity to Roman Catholic practices — attempted to insist upon ‘what is observed amongs us, that they be separated by four degrees’, i.e. that men should not marry their first cousins (the fourth degree kinswoman). The nativists protested that they had ‘never seen nor read’ such a rule (Bieler 1975: 197 xxix; Hughes 1966: 131).

Again, in the eleventh century, churchmen singled out tolerance of ‘incest’ (marriage of kin) as a major fault of the Irish church. Such laxity was still a scandal to Canterbury in the later middle ages, not only in cases involving famous families, but apparently amongst the general population. So weak were the sanctions against in-marriage, that incidents are recorded in which men were sexually involved with aunts and nieces — not in covert relationships, but marriage for which the parties tried to gain sanction and blessing (Nicholls 1972: 75). Even in the law tracts there survives a hint that Roman Catholic complaints were not without foundation, for ‘Corus Bescna’ asks:

“‘What is the *corus fheini*? (laws of the farmer) Joint-plowing, marriage, giving in charge, lending … (Commentary) marriage — the daughter of each to the other, i.e., to such a one as is not cursed by the patron saint of the land.’

“A curse from the local saint could be incurred on a large number of grounds, such as associating with the various categories of society tainted with paganism, not paying one’s tithes, or simply belonging to a hostile group. The point is that a neighbor, even a close kinsman, was preferred as a husband because his exact social position was well-known — a sentiment share by the Welsh and expressed in the proverb, ‘marry in the kin and fight the feud afar.'”

so, according to patterson, close marriages in ireland were pretty much definitely still happening in the 1000s, and according to both patterson and sellar likely happening as late as the 1500s.

this is a very different state of affairs than what was happening in neighboring england and northeastern france on the continent, both places in which cousin marriage was a complete non-issue by the 1300s at least, and society was based around the nuclear family, not the clan. (some of the earliest secular laws against cousin marriage in england came in the 800s in kent.)

previously: inbreeding in europe’s periphery

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what’s this all about?

forgive me, but i’m going to start posting (heavily) about the history of various european populations’ mating patterns, family types, and social structures all over again. i started down this road in 2011, and honestly thought i’d be done with it by now, but things always take longer than you think they will (there’s a rule for that, isn’t there?). (^_^) sorry. also, i’ve come across a bunch more info/data for several european societies, and i’m working on finding out more about the ones i know nothing about (yeah, still mainly eastern europe), so i thought i’d share.

i’m going to begin again with the irish — mostly because a lot of what was going on in pre-christian/early medieval ireland also happened in scotland (especially the highlands and the islands), and i want to set the stage for “explaining” the scots (insofar as ANYbody could possibly do that! (~_^) ) — but the irish are interesting, too, of course, especially since there are so many in the u.s., england, australia, etc. i’ll squeeze the scots-irish in here, too, since they’re so important to how american society turned out.

then i’ll swing down through england — probably won’t post too much about the english just now ’cause i’ve already covered them pretty heavily (see “mating patterns in europe series” below ↓ in left-hand column) — and head straight for the netherlands — and then on to switzerland (which is going to be very interesting!).

then … well, i dunno. haven’t thought that far ahead yet (i’m from one of those populations that doesn’t do forward planning very well (~_^) ). i feel that i still need to cover further: france, germany, the iberian peninsula, italy(!), scandinavia … and that’s just western europe. i promise, though — i WILL get off of europe asap!

why am i doing this? what’s this all about?

well, for those of you just joining us (welcome!) — there seems to be a connection between mating patterns and various societal structures like family types AND certain sets of behavioral patterns such as “clannishness” or “clannism.” the fundamental correlation seems to be that, the closer the mating patterns (e.g. the members of your society consistently marry their first cousins over an extended period of time), the more clannish your society is going to be. and vice versa. why this is, i’m not entirely sure, but it likely has something to do with the selection over time for different types of behavioral patterns (clannish vs. not, for example) due to the presence of differing societal structures, namely family types, the presence or absence of extended families or clans, etc.

certain groups in northwest europe — the english, some of the dutch, some northern french, the belgians, the germans (especially in the northern half of germany), some northern italians (not the ones in the alps), and a bit later the swiss and the scandinavians — for some screwy historical reasons all quit marrying closely in the early medieval period (some earlier than others, like the english) and because of that (i think) they became less clannish. they became so less clannish that they, in fact, became quite individualistic, which — trust me — is unusual for humans. in doing so, they set themselves up for some interesting selection pressures to act on them — see gregory clark’s A Farewell to Alms, for example.

some of the english and some of the dutch especially became very individualistic. in doing so, they also paradoxically became very universalistic in their belief systems and collectivistic in their societies. they did strange things like invent liberal democracy and the industrial revolution and modernity. they put aside clannish behaviors like nepotism and corruption — even violent behavior (esp. the fly-off-the-handle stab-the-guy-sitting-next-to-you kind).

and all because some berber-latin guy once suggested that maybe people shouldn’t oughta marry their relatives. funny how things happen sometimes!

so, that’s the plan and the reasons behind it! hold on while we take an historical tour of western european societies — it’s tuesday, it must be ireland! (~_^)

most importantly, always remember: there’s more to hbd than just iq!

(note: comments do not require an email. the observation automobile!)

individualism-collectivism

in Individualism-Collectivism and Social Capital (2004) [pdf], allik & realo — after looking at some, you know, actual data — come to the same conclusion that i have been babbling on about here on the blog (if you can read between the lines/read my mind, that is), and that is that paradoxically it appears that, in societies in which the members are MORE individualistic, those same members are oriented MORE towards the group, the whole group, and nothing but the group (i.e. NOT their extended families or clans or tribes) than in societies in which the members are NOT so individualistic.

this seems paradoxical, because you would think that the more individualistic a bunch of individuals were, the more selfish and self-oriented they’d become; but what in fact seems to have happened out there in The Big World is that those individualistic individuals are more concerned about the commonweal than non-individualistic peoples are — the individualistic individuals are, in fact, more civic minded, more democratically minded, and NOT very family minded (in the sense of the extended family, that is).

oddly, the whole world is not like this, only some peoples are. as riley jones said on twitter the other day, it’s almost like people evolved…to be different!

from allik & realo [pg. 32]:

“[I]ndividualism does not necessarily jeopardize organic unity and social solidarity. On the contrary, the growth of individuality, autonomy, and self-sufficiency may be perceived as necessary conditions for the development of interpersonal cooperation, mutual dependence, and social solidarity…. Psychologists have also noticed that the consequences of individualism are not always detrimental. For instance, it has been noticed that individualism (as it is conceptualized in psychology) is also associated with higher self-esteem and optimism (Kitayama, Markus, Matsumoto,&Norasakkunkit, 1997); individualistic cultures are higher on subjective wellbeing (Diener & Diener, 1995; Diener, Diener, & Diener, 1995; Diener & Suh, 1999; Suh, Diener, Oishi,&Triandis, 1998), and they report higher levels of quality-of-life (Veenhoven, 1999). People in individualistic cultures tend to have more acquaintances and friends (Triandis, 2000); they are more extraverted and open to newexperience (McCrae, 2001); and they are more trusting and tolerant toward people of different races (Hofstede, 2001)….

“According to Hofstede’s (1991) definition, ‘individualism pertains to societies in which the ties between individuals are loose: everyone is expected to look after himself or herself and his or her immediate family.’ Collectivism, on the other hand, ‘pertains to societies in which people from birth onwards are integrated into strong, cohesive in-groups, which throughout people’s lifetime continue to protect them in exchange for unquestioning loyalty’ (p. 51). Linking to theories of modernization, Hofstede (1991) claimed that industrialized, wealthy, and urbanized societies tend to become increasingly individualistic, whereas traditional, poorer, and rural societies tend to remain collectivistic….”

now’s the point where, if you haven’t read them before, have a look at these two previous posts of mine: mating patterns and the individual and where do clans come from?

back? ok!

here are the results from allik & realo. they took at look at the degrees of individualism both in different countries and in different u.s. states to see if there was any correlation between individualism and collectivism (measured by looking at social capital or interpersonal trust) in those places (see their paper for their methodology and where they got the data from — putnam was one of their sources). first, the countries (click on charts for LARGER views!):

allik and realo - nations

you’ll recognize all the usual, long-term outbreeding suspects** in the upper right-hand corner (most individualistic and most trusting): great britain, the anglo nations, and the netherlands in the lead; the scandinavians (a bit less individualistic than the brits/dutch) following; then the swiss, germans/other germanic populations, and the french and italians; then the eastern europeans; trailing way behind are groups like the turks, brazilians, and nigerians. the one big outlier is the chinese, and the authors, as well as other researchers to whom they refer, all admit that they have no idea why the chinese show up as so trusting — in other surveys, too, apparently. i can’t explain it, either — but, then, there are always exceptions that prove the rule. (~_^) (maybe.)

next, the u.s. states. it’s south dakota all over again!:

allik and realo - u.s. states

hackett fischer couldn’t have drawn a tidier chart of his four folkways! there are the yankees (and scandinavians) in the upper left-hand corner — the most individualistic with the most “social capital” a la putnam [pdf]. in other words, the longest outbreeders again. in the lower right-hand corner are the backcountry southerners who stem from populations that inbred for longer (i.e. the scots-irish and border reivers**). they all have the lowest amounts of individualism and social capital (although, paradoxically again, they probably feel like strong individualists, but that’s just antipathy towards government, i.e. outsiders having any control over their lives — i know the feeling! (~_^) ). and states with a mix of outbreeders and inbreeders — like new york and illinois — fall in between.

more from allik & realo [pgs. 44-45]:

“Where Does Social Capital Come From?

“A mere correlation (no matter how high it is) between measures of social capital and individualism tells us nothing of course about their causal linkage. What we can conclude is that individualistic values appear to be conducive to social capital and social capital appears to be conducive to individualism (see also Inkeles, 2000)…. As noted in our introduction, individualism can be seen as a consequence of modernization. Modern, rational societies are built on the self interest of individual actors whose independence and inalienable individual rights form the core of their political and economical life. Many social scientists have predicted that one inevitable consequence of modernization is the unlimited growth of individualism, which poses serious threats to the organic unity of individuals and society by paving a road to social atomization, unbounded egoism, and distrust (Etzioni, 1993, 1996; Lane, 1994). Existing data, however, provide no support for such pessimistic prognoses. On the contrary, we saw that individualism appears to be rather firmly associated with an increase of social capital, both within and across cultures. Paradoxically, in societies where individuals are more autonomous and seemingly liberated from social bonds, the same individuals are also more inclined to form voluntary associations and to trust each other and to have a certain kind of public spirit…. Thus, the autonomy and independence of the individual may be perceived as the prerequisites for establishing voluntary associations, trusting relationships, and mutual cooperation with one another.”

i think that the social scientists have it exactly backwards: individualism is not a consequence of modernization, but rather modernization is a consequence of individualism. and this individualism first got going in the early medieval period (although its roots may go even further back — see here and here) in the northwest corner of europe (barring ireland and the highlands of scotland) with the outbreeding program put into place by the catholic church and tptb.**

the english were some of the earliest individualists (see here and here and here), and they pretty much invented the industrial revolution and neat things like liberal democracy. oh, and they were also the first in europe to cease being so crazy violent in the medieval period.

peoples are individualistic because they have certain innate traits that were selected for via evolution, and one way (i think) to set up the conditions for those traits to be selected for is to avoid close mating, i.e. get rid of clannishness. over the long-term — we’re talking evolutionary processes here, not overnight quick fixes. the process started in northern europe in the early medieval period (or perhaps even a bit earlier), and after a thousand years or so, these societies were filled with individualistic individuals having a strong orientation towards the wider group, i.e. societies with a lot of trust and a lot of social capital. that’s the recipe for individualism-collectivism.
_____

**for more on the historic mating patterns of various european (and other) populations, see the “mating patterns in…” series below (↓) in the left-hand column.

previously: me and max and mating patterns and the individual and where do clans come from? and corporations and collectivities and liberal democracy vs. consensus building and mating patterns, family types, social structures, and selection pressures

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

mating patterns, family types, social structures, and selection pressures

i’ve mentioned this before (see here and here and here), specifically wrt family types like nuclear families vs. clans, but i thought i’d bring it up again:

more attention ought to be paid to things like mating patterns, family types, and the social structures within societies as creating different sorts of selection pressures for different types of individuals — personality types, iq, other behavioral patterns, etc.

some researchers have been looking at how, for instance, mating patterns can affect genes and genomes in populations: cochran and harpending have been investigating paternal age and mutation rates, some of greg’s low-hanging fruit (double entendre NOT intended), and hage and marck discovered how matrilineality and matrilocal residence affected the distribution of y-chromosome haplogroups in polynesia (other researchers have done similar research for other parts of the world) — and these types of research are really interesting and very exciting, but they’re not quite what i’m talking about.

here’s one example of the sort of thing i’m interested in asking (and answering!): what sort of persons succeed in reproducing the most in a society based on the nuclear family versus a society based around extended families or even clans? what sort(s) of personalities do they have? how high of an iq do they need? what other types of behavioral patterns do they exhibit?

gregory clark famously found that, over the course of the medieval period in england, it was the hard-working, thrifty, forward planning folks with middle-class values who reproduced the most. but he made next to no (actually i think it was none whatsoever) mention of the prevailing family type in medieval england: the nuclear family, which was well-established by at least the 1200s.

imagine what sort of people would do well — what sorts of traits would be selected for — in a society which was based on the individual and his nuclear family making it on their own — with a little help from immediate family and, most importantly, friends and neighbors. someone trustworthy? and trusting? someone who can plan ahead, because those who don’t can’t rely on falling back on an extended family/clan? someone with not the lowest iq in the world?

and what sorts of people do well in a clannish society? those who believe in putting family first ahead of friends and/or the wider community? those who trust their family members more than outsiders, because the outsiders have always had their own family members that they prioritized? individuals who don’t feel a strong urge to plan that far in advance, ’cause hey — uncle joe or cousin ahmed will be there to help out when times are tough? too many individuals who are not so bright because their brighter relatives support them and their offspring?

here, once again, is my favorite example of how at least some clannish societies work. (see if you can spot the potential dysgenic practices!) this is from modern-day egypt — upstream which is much more clannish/tribal than the delta region of the country — Development and Social Change in Rural Egypt (1986), pgs. 150-51:

“The importance that poor peasants attach to the brokerage services by a single wealthy patron can be seen in the continuing importance of the extended family unit in rural Egypt. In the village of El-Diblah [pseudonymous village representative of upper egypt], as well as other Egyptian communities, politics and much of life itself are organized on the basis of large, extended families numbering 500 members or more. These extended families are broad patrilineal structures, which may or may not be able to trace themselves back to a single historical founder. While these extended families do not represent monolithic social structures, most fellahin are animated by a real feeling of belonging to a particular extended family unit. When they need a loan or help with outside government officials, poor peasants will often turn to the leader or a prominent person within their extended family. In the village of El-Diblah three of the four leading extended families are headed by rich peasants. In the eyes of most fellahin, this is exactly as it should be. In the countryside wealth acquired by virtually any means provides a good indication of an individual’s ability to deal with (or against) the ouside world.

“‘Zaghlul,’ for example, is the rich peasant head of one of the leading extended families in El-Diblah. A short, wiry 55-year-old fellah, whose dress and mannerisms are almost indistinguishable from those of other peasants in the village, Zaghlul now owns about 25 feddans of land. Much of this land is planted in sugar cane, a crop that he uses to supply his own cane press that produces black molasses for local sale. As the owner of 25 feddans of land, and the proprietor of one of the few ‘manufacturing’ enterprises in the village, Zaghlul is able to dispense a wide number of agricultural and non-agricultrual work opportunities to favored members of his extended family. Many of the poorer members of his extended family live in a mud-brick settlement surrounding Zaghlul’s modern two-story, red-brick house. In the evenings a steady stream of these poor people come to Zaghlul’s house, seeking brokerage and intercessionary services (for example, help in securing agricultural inputs and medical services from the government)….

mating patterns matter. family types matter. social structures matter. all in the sense that they (i think) set up selection pressures for different sorts of traits — or at least they can do. no doubt they cannot be looked at in isolation (one needs to consider all sorts of other life factors, too, like economic structures), but i think they’re probably pretty important — and need more attention. from this perspective, i mean.

previously: a sense of entitlement and clannish dysgenics and inbreeding and iq

(note: comments do not require an email. low-hanging fruit.)