random notes: 07/30/13

from A Brief History of Great Britain (2010) [pages xiv-xvi]:

“Britain is marked by pronounced regional differences. The most basic division is that between highland areas and lowland areas. The ‘highland zone’ is defined by being over 200 meters (656 feet) above sea level. Highland zones are found in Wales, much of Scotland, northern England, and parts of southwestern England, although lowland pockets exist in highland territories. The British highland zone is not really mountainous, as the highest mountains reach the mode height of roughly 4000 feet (1,129 meters). There is a much higher proportion of highland land in Scotland than in England, and the difference between the highlands and the lowlands and their inhabitants plays a central role in Scottish history and culture.

The highlands are marked by a greater emphasis on pastoralism, as they have mostly chalky soil and are too wet and cold for successful agriculture. The highlands are also much less densely populated than the lowlands, as it requires much more land to support a human being through pastoralism than through agriculture. Lowland areas are usually more fertile. The most fertile lowlands are in the south and southeast of Britain, where there is rich, heavy soil more suited to agriculture. Lowlanders can engage in raising either grains or livestock, depending on circumstances. In the Middle Ages much of the lowlands was truned over to the highly profitable production of wool. Lowlanders tended to live in villages, highlanders in small hamlets or isolated farmsteads, or to be nomadic.

“Invasions of Britain had much less effect on the highlands than on the lowlands, which constituted the really valuable prize due to their greater agricultural productivity. Those regimes exercising power throughout Britain or the British Isles were usually based in lowland England, the only place capable of supporting tehm. The extension of power from the lowlands to the highlands was a difficult challenge due to the difficulty of the terrain. Mountainous Wales preserved its independence for centuries despite its poverty and its inability to unite politically. The only invaders to subdue Wales before the 13th century were the well-organized and disciplined Roman legions, and it took them years after the conquest of England. The less-organized Anglo-Saxons, Vikings, and Normans had a much harder time, and Wales was only permanently annexed to England in 1284.

“The greater poverty of the highlands meant that highlanders often raided lowlanders, creating hostility between the two. The highlands were also more culturally and linguistically conservative. Cultural innovations usually originated in the lowlands and spread to the highlands. The highlands were where the Celtic languages lasted the longest, as English and its offshoots, originally the language of Anglo-Saxon invaders, became the dominant tongue of the lowlands in the early Middle Ages. This cultural division further added to the hostility between highland and lowland peoples.”

from The Environment of Early Man in the British Isles (1975) [pgs. 147-149]:

“The Highland Zone/Lowland Zone division

“It is from this time [late bronze/early iron age] onwards that the division of the British Isles into Highland and Lowland Zones becomes relevant. The division has been used by geographers to explain differences in settlement patterns, farming practices and the quality of material culture between the two zones, and Cyril Fox exploited it to a considerable extent in ‘The Personality of Britain’.

“In brief, the Highland Zone (Fig. 62) is that part of the British Isles which is made up of the most ancient group of rocks, those formed in the Paleozoic Era. They lie in the north and west and the division with the later Mesozoic and Tertiary rocks of the Lowland Zone falls roughly on a line from the mouth of the Tees to the mouth of the Exe. The Palaeozoic rocks are generally hard, forming mountainous regions, with continuous streches over 300 metres above sea level. Plains and vales are not extensive. There are steep slopes and crags making cultivation difficult or impossible, and soils are often thin, stony and impoverished. Rainfall is high and there is a strong correspondence between the chief moorland areas and mean annual rainfall.

“Lowland Britain, on the other hand, is made up of geologically younger rocks which are softer, and which have given rise to a series of low-lying, rolling hills and intervening extensive vales and plains. Slopes are gentle, crags few and almost all the land is available for tillage, pasture or settlement. Soils are generally fertile and there is little evidence of erosion. Rainfall is light and there is little waste ground.

“But there are many topographical exceptions, in particular various lowland areas within the Highland Zone. Some of these are relatively small — the Vale of Glamorgan, the Hebridean machair and certain fertile river valleys such as Strath Tay. Others are of much greater extent, including the Central Scottish Lowlands, East Banff and Aberdeen, and the Orkney Islands. Ireland can be divided topographically into its own Highland and Lowland Zoens, and presents an anomaly in that approximately half the country is essentially lowland but situated in a high rainfall area….

“Indeed, the key distinction between the Highland and Lowland Zones is not so much elevation and topography as rainfall which is greatest in the west (Fig. 62) since this is the direction from which the main rain-bearing winds blow….

britain - lowland-highland zones

“[F]or a variety of economic and environmental reasons, the first millennium bc represents a period of significant change in the Highland Zone. Fields were abandoned and either reverted to pasture or waste ground, or became covered by peat. In low-lying areas communications became difficult because of mire formation or flooding. The importance of stone and Highland Zone metal deposits dwindled. And there was no great exploitation of timber for iron smelting as occurred in the Lowland Zone. Indeed, it is from the beginning of the Iron Age that the Highland Zone as a whole assumes the pastoral character which it has retained ever since.

“‘It is generally understood that…the remains of the monuments and material costructed or used throughout Britain reveal no noticeable differences in quality between the lowland and highland areas until well into the first millennium bc, but that thereafter a contrast developed between the two areas, comprising a falling-off of the material culture of the highland in comparison with that of the lowland — a contrast which has lasted to the present day.'”

look! another line – the tees-exe line (the red one):

tees-exe line

from The British Isles: A History of Four Nations (1989, 2006) [pgs. 18-19]:

“To draw attention to this fact [i.e. that much of the pre-roman british isles was a part of a broader european celtic culture] is not to say that there was political and social uniformity throughout the area. The existence of tribal groupings in both Britain and Ireland is an indication of political differences at the local level. The Romans, to whom we are indebted for Latin versions of tribal names in the absence of their original Celtic forms, distinguished over twenty tribes in Britain south of the Forth. In Ireland, where politcal aggregation had not gone as far as it had elsewhere, the number of tribes seems to have been much larger.

“One powerful cause of variety was geography, in particular the contrast between Highland and Lowland Zones. It was Sir Cyril Fox who argued in his book ‘The Personality of Britain’ (1932) that the Lowlands would usually be exposed to forces of change before the Highlands. The Highland/Lowland contrast certainly makes good sense when applied to Britain, where north and west form a distinctive geographical area, including a good deal of land over 400 metres above sea-level. Poorer soil and climatic conditions made agriculture more of a challenge in the Highland Zone than it was in the south and east. In a British Isles context, however, the Highland/Lowland contrast is not quite so clear. Ireland, which has been compared to a saucer in which the rim represents the hills and the flat base the central plain, is not, geologically speaking, a Highland Zone. There is no doubt, however, that the narrow seas between north-west Ireland and south-west Scotland linked rather than divided them. At this particular period, however, it may be seen as forming part of a ‘cultural Highland Zone’, cut off, for better or worse, from the influence of the rising military power of Rome.

“Geographical determinism should not be pressed too far, however. It can also be argued that, under certain conditions, the Irish Sea provided a channel of communication…. It also seems to have been the case during the fifth and sixth centuries AD when Christian communities on both sides of the Irish Sea retained their links with Christian Europe at a time when the eastern half of Britain was being overrun by Germanic settlers. The Irish presence in Scotland in the sixth century AD and in parts of Wales illustrates the same point….

Another contrast between the Highland and Lowland Zones was almost certainly demographic. No firm statistical evidence exists but several strong indicators suggest that there was a considerable increase of population in the Lowlands from the fifth century onwards, well before the Belgic invasions. A good deal of internal colonisation seems to have taken place during this period….”

from The Culture of the English People: Iron Age to the Industrial Revolution (1994) [pgs. 5-7]:

“Some fifty years ago Sir Cyril Fox published one of the most seminal books in the history of British archaeology and culture, ‘The Personality of Britain’. In it he distinguished two parts of these islands, a ‘highland’ zone and a ‘lowland’ zone, with a boundary between them which ran from County Durham to Lyme Bay on the south coast (Fig. 1.1). This line separated a predominantly hilly region of Paleozoic rocks from a gentler region of Secondary and later rocks. These two regions, he argued, corresponded with two differing modes of cultural evolution. Simply expressed, his argument was that the bearers of outside cultural influences reached the Highland Zone often by sea and almost always in small numbers. Their impact was never sufficient to blanket or submerge the indigenous cultures. Instead they became assimilated. Elements of older cultures are today not only present, but conspicuously so in Highland Britain. Lowland Britain, by contrast, lay at the receiving end of a long series of invasions, from those who walked across the landbridge which once existed with Europe to the more recent invasions of Anglo-Saxons, Vikings and Normans. Each wave was powerful enough to impress its own culture, and thus to mask or to destroy pre-existing cultures. Fox commented on the relative ease with which new civilizations are established in the Lowland Zone, repressing without necessarily obliterating those which had prevailed before. ‘There is [thus] greater unity of culture in the Lowland Zone, but greater continuity in the Highland Zone.’

“The Fox model has not been without its critics. Some, including the present writer, would interpose a third zone covering the basically claylands of the English Midlands, between the Highland and the Lowland, with its own distinctive cultural history. But, however modified, the Fox model has been of incalculable imortance to a cultural history of these islands. It gives a rational explanation for a phenomenon which will recur in the pages of this book, namely the persistence of early cultural traits in the Celtic west and north, and the greater degree of cultural traits in the Celtic west and north, and the greater degree of cultural homogeneity in the lowlands of the south and east.”

england - lowland-midland-highland zones

previously: this one’s for g.w. and the flatlanders vs. the mountain people

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inbreeding and cognitive ability among whites in the u.k.

via dienekes via jayman:

Genome-wide estimates of inbreeding in unrelated individuals and their association with cognitive ability


“Research on consanguineous marriages, and other forms of inbreeding, has long shown a reduction in cognitive abilities in the offspring of such unions. The presumed mechanism is that detrimental recessive mutations are more likely to be identical by descent in the offspring of such unions and so have a greater chance of being expressed. To date, research on the relationship between inbreeding and cognitive ability has largely been restricted to recent inbreeding events as determined by pedigree…. It has been suggested that intellectual disability is under negative selection, and that recent deleterious mutations have an important role in the underlying aetiology. The wealth of molecular genetic data currently available allows estimates of inbreeding on a genome-wide level and to examine the effects of long-term ancestral levels of inbreeding. Such an association with inbreeding, as measured by runs of homozygous polymorphisms (ROH), has previously been identified with several behavioural traits, such as schizophreniz, Parkinson’s disease and personality measures, as well as non-behavioural traits such as height.

“The relationship between inbreeding on a population level and cognitive ability is particularly interesting due to assortative mating, non-random mating, which is greater for cognitive ability than for other behavioural traits, as well as physical traits such as height and weight. Positive assortative mating has been reported for cognitive ability, particularly for verbal traits, with spousal correlations generally around 0.5. Assortative mating should lead to greater genetic similarity between mates at causal loci for cognitive ability and to a lesser extent across the genome, which in turn reduces heterozygosity at these local. In other words, in contrast to the genome-wide reduction of heterozygosity caused by inbreeding, the reduction of heterozygosity due to assortative mating for a trait is limited to loci associated with the trait…. Another difference between inbreeding and assortative mating is that the effects of inbreeding are expected to be negative, lowering cognitive ability, whereas the effects of assortative mating affect the high, as well as the low end of the ability distribution, thus increasing genetic bariance, that is, when high-ability parents mate assortatively, their children are more likely to be homozygous for variants for high ability, just as offspring of low-ability parents are more likely to be homozygous for variants for low ability….



“The Twins Early Development Study (TEDS) recruited over 11 000 families of twins born within England and Wales between 1994 and 1996…. In this analysis, individuals were excluded if they reported severe current medical problems, as well as children who had suffered severe problems at birth or whose mothers had suffered severe problems during pregnancy. Twins whose zygosity was unknown or uncertain or whose first language was not English were also excluded. Finally, analysis was restricted to twins whose parents reported their ethnicity as ‘white’….

“Cognitive measures

“Verbal and non-verbal tests were administered using web-based testing. The verbal tests consisted the Similarities subtest and the Vocabulary subtests from the Wechsler Intelligence Scale for children (WISC-III-UK). The non-verbal tests were the Picture Completion subtest from the WISC-III-UK and Conceptual Grouping from the McCarthy Scales of Children’s Abilities. A general score was derived from the test battery as the standardized sum of the standardized subtest scores, which correlates 0.99 with a score derived as the first principle component of the test battery score.

“Runs of homozygosity

“FROH was defined as the percentage of an individual’s genome consisted of runs of homozygosity (ROH)…. [O]nly ROH with a minimum of 65 consecutive SNPs covering 2.3Mb were used when calculating the total proportion of the genome covered by ROH. In addition, the required minimum density in a ROH was set at 200kb per SNP, and the maximum gap between two consecutive homozygous SNPs was set at 500kb….


“Table 1 includes descriptive statistics for FROH and the three measures of cognitive ability (general, verbal, and non-verbal). FROH is slightly positively skewed, as it represents the total percentage of the genome that includes runs of homozygosity (ROH). The average percentage of genome covered by ROH was 0.7% (95% CI 0.65-0.72%). Verbal and non-verbal abilities correlate 0.49; because general cognitive ability is the sum of the standardized verbal and non-verbal subtests, they correlate much more highly with general ability (0.87 and 0.86, respectively).

inbreeding and iq - table 01

“Table 2 presents the results of the linear regression analyses. No significant regression was found between FROH and the cognitive measures after correction for multiple testing, although the association with non-verbal cognitive ability was nominally significant (P=0.03). Although this association was not statistically significant, it is noteworthy that every regression in Table 2 is *positive*, indicating that increased homozygosity tends to be associated with *higher* cognitive scores across different measures of cognitive ability (general, verbal and non-verbal).

inbreeding and iq - table 02

“Our analysis identified 87 loci where ROH overlapped in 10 or more individuals. For these overlapping regions we tested for association with each of the cognitive measures and again showed no significant associations after correction for multiple testing (P-values of less than 5.7 x 10-4). A sign test of the direction of effect across all ROH showed a disproportionately large number of *positive* associations, indicating that ROH are associated with higher cognitive ability (P=0.002). The sign test was non-significant for verbal ability but highly significant for non-verbal ability (P<10-6). The sign test for non-verbal ability alone remained significant after correcting for an individual’s genome-wide FROH score (P<10-6).

“As explained earlier, positive assortative mating can also lead to genome-wide homozygosity for trait-specific loci, and, unlike inbreeding, assortative mating can affect the high as well as the low end of the ability distribution. One possible explanation for the trend suggesting a positive correlation between homozygosity and cognitive scores in our data is that positive assortative mating on intelligence might be greater for high cognitive ability individuals….


“Our results show that within a representative UK population sample there was a weak nominally significant association between burden of autosomal runs of homozygosity and higher non-verbal cognitive ability. This nominal association with *increased* cognitive ability is counterintuitive when compared with the results from more extreme inbreeding based on pedigree information. A potential explanation for this direction of effect is that individuals with higher cognitive ability might show greater positive assortative mating, which would lead to increased homozygosity at loci for higher cognitive ability in their offspring. However, in a separate sample we showed that greater positive assortative mating was not associated with higher cognitive ability. While these findings seem to provide clear evidence against this hypothesis, it is possible that the genome-wide genetic finding reflect historical mating habits that no longer exist today. It should also be noted that there was a reduction in the standard deviations for spousal correlations in the increased cognitive ability groups by an average of 6% compared with the decreased cognitive ability group (see Table 3), which could reflect less genetic variability in the high ability couples or a ceiling effect on the cognitive tests. This lesser phenotypic variability at the high ability end would have a small effect in reducing the spouse correlations and potentially confound our analysis….

“Overall, these results highlight the importance of understanding mating habits, such as inbreeding and assortative mating, when investigating the genetic architecture of complex traits such as cognitive ability. The results certainly suggest that there is no large effect of FROH on reduced cognitive ability, the expected direction of effect. The nominally significant associations found in this study may even suggest that in the case of non-verbal cognitive ability, beneficial associations with homozygosity at specific loci might outweigh the negative effects of genome-wide inbreeding and that the relationship between inbreeding and cognitive ability may be more complicated than previously thought.

so, although obviously Further Research is RequiredTM, these researchers have concluded that both the absence of reduced cognitive ability and the slight increase in cognitive ability which they found in individuals who had runs of homozygosity (roh) in their genomes (evidence of matings between genetically similar individuals) were probably NOT due to assortative mating (i.e. smart people mating with smart people).

furthermore, they suggest that the inbreeding-causes-reduced-cognitive-ability meme is incorrect — or at least that the situation is more complicated than the idea that it’s the accumulation of recent deleterious mutations which haven’t been selected away that is the (whole) problem. in fact, a little inbreeding seems to have a positive effect on some cognitive abilities!

i’ve suggested a couple of times one way in which inbreeding might result in a low average iq in a population, and that is if the inbreeding leads to clannish, altruistic behaviors between extended family members which then result in the deleterious mutations NOT being weeded out.

one real world example i’ve offered is how life works in egyptian villages and how the more successful and affluent (and, presumably, more intelligent) members of a clan are obliged to help out their less successful and poorer (and, presumably, less intelligent) clan members. so, apart from mentally retarded individuals not reproducing, where is the negative selection for deleterious mutations here? there is none. or it’s a lot weaker than in more individualistic societies (like gregory clarks’ medieval england) where it’s more every man for himself — in clannish societies, deleterious mutations might be able to hang around for a long time, riding on the coattails of those with fewer deleterious mutations.

(note: comments do not require an email. i’m my own grandpa! [no, I’M not! it’s just the song.])

cousin marriage in 13th-15th century england

if anybody out there says to you – “but people everywhere in the past were always marrying their cousins!” – tell them i said no. no, no, no, emphatically no! (in a friendly, non-threatening tone, of course. (^_^) )

here, from sam worby’s Law and Kinship in Thirteenth-Century England [pgs. 92-103 – links added by me]:

“Canon law kinship rules can be seen in court records in three main ways: as a ground for ‘divorce’; a defence against an action to enforce a marriage, usually in litigation between parties; or as a matter of disciplinary action in an office case (where the canon law courts were exercising their quasi-criminal jurisdiction)….

Overall, cases involving canon law kinship did not form a large part of the business of the canon law courts in England. In York [in yorkshire in the north of england], for example, marriage made up 38 per cent of the business of the court between 1301 and 1499. Most of this was instance cases rather than ‘criminal enforcement’. Most of the marriage actions were to enforce a putative marriage and only 14 per cent were actions to dissolve. Pre-contract was the most common ground for matrimonial litigation in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries (overall 46 per cent of matrimonial cases), and denial was a common response. Other grounds used to defend against marriages were force and/or non age at 13 per cent, then consanguinity and affinity [i.e. relatedness to your in-laws] at 12 per cent (a total of 9 cases) in the fourteenth century. While kinship was not a large proportion of the business of these courts it did occur more frequently than grounds such as crime, impotence and vow (i.e. a vow to stay celibate). In the fifteenth century there were slightly fewer actions where the grounds of consanguinity and or affinity were raised than in the fourteenth.

because the rates of consanguineous marriages declined? no idea.

“Overall kinship was raised in 16 out of 178 cases. In Ely [in cambridgeshire in east anglia], between 1374 and 1381, cases involving kinship were more common, perhaps because of the higher proportion of *ex officio* cases in the business of this court. Kinship was raised as a defence on ground for divorce proportionately more frequently (in 15 claims of incest). In Ely kinship was a more common defence than force and non age, but was still significantly less common overall than allegations of precontract. There is reason to believe that the Ely court was active in relation to kinship as the Ely office cases tended to be brought at the start or in the early public phase of a relationship. While neither set of figures show kinship to have been a major part of business, they both show that it was still a relatively usual part.”

was consanguineous marriage more frequent in ely which is in east anglia (where the puritans were from)? no idea. (also on ely.)

“The canon law on kinship was variously ignored, followed and manipulated (these being alternatives in different times and place, for both the courts and the people subject to them). Donahue has shown, for example, how one new judge of Canterbury diocesan court, Richard de Clyve, on visitation in 1292, fresh from the schools, began by prosecuting every case in relation to kinship, but faced some resistance as is shown variously by witnesses growing less certain and by a letter pleading mercy on behalf of a woman sentenced to whipping…”

sentenced to whipping for being in a consanguineous marriage?! talk about enforcement!

“…from a mutually acquainted royal clerk. He finished his circuit on a more flexible note and began to base his decisions on the degree of local scandal that the cases inspired. He also exhibited doubts about the application of the rules which held that affinity arose from mere sexual relationships. Thus the courts could take an accomodating attitude to the rules about kinship, and sometimes finesse (or ignore) stict application of the rules. Richard de Clyve’s experience also confirms that people were aware of the rules, made an effot to follow them (to a degree) and could be scandalised in certain circumstances by their breach. An example of such scandal is the deathbed warning of a father against his son’s marriage. Though the kinship was distant, in the fourth degree, the father allegedly said ‘they will never flourish or live together in good fortune because of the consanguinity between them’. There were also cases where people ‘hotly resisted’ marriages that were within the forbidden degrees: one woman even said she would prefer to die rather than marry her kinsman. Rhetoric or not, such a declaration in a court case would have been dramatic, and would not have been plausible were the rules not accepted….

The evidence from York and Ely shows how far down the social scale obedience to the kinship rules of the canon law reached. Some of the cases were brought by or against relatively humble people but the ‘middling’ sort were not uncommon in these courts which suggests that some attempt was being made to apply the canon law kinship across the classes….

There are also several cases that show people seeking dispensations, again suggesting that the system could operate effectively. In *Wistow c Cowper*, a York case of 1491, a papal dispensation (for spiritual affinity) overcame the attempted defence. However, in several cases a papal dispensation was held to be, or appeared to be, insufficient. In the remarkable *Hiliard c Hiliard*, a York case of 1370, the couple had been previously cited for a consanguineous relationship, but the sentence had been deferred to allow them to obtain a papal dispensation. A priest had attempted this and failed. He testified that in the papal court he was told ‘that he could not get such a dispensation for a hundred pounds’. Since the relationship was in the fourth degree of consanguinity this statement is unlikely to be true….

Divorce cases on grounds of kinship were not the norm. Despite the occasional outlandish case, such as *Ask c Ask and Conyers* where a son alleged that his parents had divorced collusively on grounds of spiritual fraternity to deprive him of his interitance, the case evidence reveals a very different world from that where Maitland had proposed that almost any marriage could be dissolved on grounds of kinship. Clearly, consanguinity and affinity could be used or discovered to escape from marriages, but the records suggest that they were not often used to escape from current marriages; instead they were more common as a defence in marriage enforcement cases. In fact, the court records seem to show that the underlying system that was meant to prevent incestuous or harmful (i.e. non-dispensable) marriages operated with some level of success. It may be that a genuine sense that ‘incestuous’ marriages were wrong prevented kinship from being used as a casual route to escape marriage. There is evidence that shows that incestuous marriages were a matter of bad conscience. For example, both Donahue and Sheehan consider that John de Lile of Chatteris resisted cohabiting with his ‘wife’, Katherine, in the late 1370s, once affinity was discovered between them. Some effort was made to observe the rules: people would not have paid for a dispensation or for a priest to travel and gain a dispensation if there were no need and no social pressure to conform. It may also have been that kinship sufficient to dissolve or defend against a marriage was difficult to prove to a level that satisfied canon law rules of evidence. Whatever the reason for the comparatively small role of kinship in litigation, it seems clear that the canon law kinship system operated in practice and that some people obeyed it and were (publicly at least) scandalised when it was disobeyed….

“In a sample of sixty-two instance from York, Ely, Lincoln [in the east midlands], Wisbech [also in cambridgeshire, east anglia] and Canterbury [in kent in the southeast] that raised kinship in some manner, by far the

worby - types of kinship alleged in the canon law sample

greater majority raised objections on grounds of affinity: thirty-three affinity and sixteen consanguinity (see table 1)…. The disparity is interesting, however, as it suggests that people were either more likely to obey the consanguinity rules than the affinity rules, or that people were more likely to falsely allege an affinial relationship. There is some evidence for the second suggestion arising from the number of cases (at least twenty-three) based on affinity through illicit intercourse, a less public relationship than a marriage or betrothal. Yet the pattern was sustained in office cases where it can be supposed that there were fewer opportunities for collusion (thirteen out of eighteen cases alleging affinity of any type). Therefore it is likely that a combination of both factors was at work. It is enough to not that consanguineous relationships seem to have been more scandalous than relationships with affines.

it’s interesting that there were no cases related to consanguinity or “other incest” at all in fourteenth century canterbury which is all the way in the south of england in kent, just across the channel from northern france. kent had one of the earliest secular laws against cousin marriage in england that i have come across, the law of wihtred from the 690s, while at the same time it experienced a late adoption of manorialism, if at all (probably not so much in the east where the “men of kent” come from!). so, not the full package of outbreeding tricks for kent, but a very early start to cousin marriage bans.

previously: more on medieval england and france

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american nations

on the recommendations of jayman and benjamin (thanks, guys!), i’m reading colin woodard‘s American Nations: A History of the Eleven Rival Regional Cultures of North America, and, so far, it is terrific!

except for this paragraph which appears in the introduction:

“Finally, I’d like to underscore the fact that becoming a member of a nation usually has nothing to do with genetics and everything to do with culture. One doesn’t *inherit* a national identity the way one gets hair, skin, or eye color; one *acquires* it in childhood or, with great effort, through voluntary assimilation later in life. Even the ‘blood’ nations of Europe support this assertion. A member of the (very nationalistic) Hungarian nation might be descended from Austrian Germans, Russian Jews, Serbs, Croats, Slovaks, or any combination thereof, but if he speaks Hungarian and embraces Hungarian-ness, he’s regarded as being just as Hungarian as any ‘pure-blooded’ Magyar descendant of King Árpád. In a similar vein, nobody would deny French president Nicolas Sarkozy’s Frenchness, even though his father was a Hungarian noble and his maternal grandfather a Greek-born Sephardic Jew. The same is true of the North American nations: if you talk like a Midlander, act like a Midlander, and think like a Midlander, you’re probably a Midlander, regardless of whether your parents or grandparents came from the Deep South, Italy, or Eritrea.”


what does woodard base his assertion upon? nothing. no references backing up what he says whatsoever (just a couple of little anecdotal news stories). his “a nation usually has nothing to do with genetics” statement just hangs there in midair like … something just hanging there in midair.

what do i base my “poppycock” reaction on? actual biological evidence:

european populations - genetics

nations — as in nasci (to “be born”) — exist as real, biologically based populations — with fuzzy edges, of course, because it’s biology that we’re talking about. that doesn’t make them any the less identifiable as populations (see map above). and different nations have their own, innate characteristics. those that are closer to each other are more alike to one another, of course, because it’s easier to swap genes if you’re neighbors (especially in the past — nowadays, with modern transportation, almost anything goes — theoretically anyway).

the population of the united states is, obviously, much more tumbled up than old world ones, but oddly people keeping spotting the fact that there are different regional cultures across the u.s. — different nations as woodard puts it. this isn’t (wholly) down to “culture.” and, despite all the ethnic/racial mixing in the country, this is probably very much down to biology — and woodard, unbeknowst to himself, explains how this can be:

“Our continent’s famed mobility — and the transportation and communications technology that foster it — has been reinforcing, not dissolving, the differences between the nations. As journalist Bill Bishop and sociologist Robert Cushing demonstrated in The Big Sort (2008), since 1976 Americans have been relocating to communities where people share their values and worldview<…. As Americans sort themselves into like-minded communities, they’re also sorting themselves into like-minded nations.

americans (and immigrants to the u.s.) have been getting up and moving to areas of the country where they can find people like themselves. so american “cultural” regions — woodard’s nations — have persisted. thanks to self-sorting.

apart from that one paragraph, American Nations is really terrific! i, too, recommend it. (^_^)

(note: comments do not require an email. one of my favorite nations!)

the radical reformation

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

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

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

but this post isn’t about them. rather, it’s about the reactionaries to these reactionaries — mainly the calvinists (including the puritans) and the anabaptists, but also arminianism and (later) methodism and (even later, one my favorite groups) the unitarians. obviously this is not a comprehensive listing of all the radical reformers — like i said, broad strokes.

let’s first remind ourselves about the general pattern of outbreeding (i.e. the avoidance of cousin marriage) in northwestern europe — where it started in the early medieval period and how it spread.

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

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

extent and spread of manorialism

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

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

AND mating patterns via the church and secular laws…

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

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

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

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

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

and, indeed, by the 1300-1400s, cousin and other forms of close marriage were a non-issue in these regions of former austrasia as well as southern, and even central, england — they simply don’t appear in ecclesiastical court records. in the 1200s, the english were already very individualistic and busy in the early stages of inventing liberal democracy, while by the 1500s, places like amsterdam were reknowned for their religious and intellectual tolerance and were positively multi-cultural. this is all in stark contrast to peripheral europe — places like the highlands of scotland, ireland, the iberian peninsula, southern italy, greece and the balkans, and pretty much all of eastern europe east of the hajnal line — which were all very clannish places throughout the medieval period, and even later in many of those regions.

so what does this have to do with the radical reformers? well, check out this map (taken from here. anthony suggested that i add the calvinists in england, i.e. the puritans+some others, to the map, so i did — based upoon hackett fischer’s Albion’s Seed, i added purple stripes [didn’t know if it should be stripes or solid, so i just went for stripes] to east anglia and the wiltshire/somerset area.):

religious divisions of europe map + puritans

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

– poland (belarus?) and — what is that? — hungary/romania?: these areas represent the frontier of the ostkolonisation that mitterauer described. this is at the edge of the hajnal line — the edge of the hard-core outbreeding project in europe (the eastern orthodox churches did discourage cousin marriage, but generally starting at a later date and, quite likely, not as strictly — the regulations in medieval russia, for example, flip-flopped several times). this is where western outbreeding and eastern inbreeding meet — and we find calvinism there.

the calvinists and anabaptists (and others) were less universalistic radical reformers as compared to the lutherans. on the other hand, there were some radical reforemers who leaned towards greater universalism. not surprisingly, they turned up in the netherlands and england (and maybe some other places, too — poland, i think! — remember broad strokes — further research is required!):

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

arminianism influenced other reformationists/protestant groups such as:

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

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

and, my favorites…

– the unitarians: for whom, well, anything goes really! (~_^)

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

one final note — i think there’s a progression towards greater and greater universalism over time within christianity amongst the northwest europeans (the outbreeders) — not just in protestantism, but in roman catholicism, too — until eventually we wound up with simply humanism (not attached to a god at all) — and even movements for human rights to be extended to certain animals like chimpanzees, some of our closest relatives. apart from something like jainism, it starts to be hard to imagine a more universalistic belief system at all!

footnote: for those of you interested in hbd blogging history, the germ of the idea for this post first came to my mind (accidentally, as is usually the case) in this comment back in march of this year. i’ve been ruminating on the idea ever since.

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

intelligence and corruption

staffan already posted about this in his terrific post on corruption a couple of months ago, but i thought i’d just reproduce niklas potrafke‘s chart of the correlation (-0.63) which he found between corruption and iq. taken from this paper [pdf – click on charts for LARGER views]:

potrafke - intelligence and corruption

clearly there’s a connection between intelligence and corruption — the less smart your population is, the more corrupt it will probably be (on average).

i think i see some sub-patterns, though. take a look at this:

potrafke - intelligence and corruption 02

– in my lowest iq range — ca. 75 and below — all the populations are very corrupt — the vast majority fall above 6 on the corruption scale. and they all cluster together — they’re all more-or-less equally corrupt, just some a bit more, some a bit less.

– in my middle iq range — ca. 75 to 95 (i probably could’ve set that at 90) — again the majority of populations are very corrupt, and again the majority fall above 6, but that majority is floating well above that regression line, and the corruption hot spot (where this group clumps together) really seems to be pretty much the same as the lower-iq populations, around 7 on the corruption scale. as a group, they haven’t really dropped down on the corruption scale.

– in my highest iq rage — ca. 95 and above — this is where the corruption range really fans out. we’ve got everything from what looks like below 1 on the corruption scale to an 8 (russia).

and the spread is nice and geographical — west to east/north to south: the anglos and the dutch (and are the scandinavians there? i can’t tell), my long-term outbreeders, are the least corrupt — then, working upwards on the chart (i.e. towards more corrupt) you’ve got the belgians and french and spanish — crossing the line into the more corrupt zone you start to have poland and hungary and the czech republic, places on the border of the hajnal line and the medieval outbreeding project — and then you get up to italy and the ukraine and russia.

east asia is, of course, interesting with singapore, hong kong, and japan being some of the least corrupt, and china being way up by corrupt italy. need to work on figuring out east asia one of these days! (~_^)

so, there’s definitely a connection between intelligence and corruption, but that’s not the whole story, otherwise china and russia and italy and korea wouldn’t be very corrupt at all. one thing that the chinese, russians, and italians have in common (don’t know much about the koreans) is a longer history of inbreeding as compared to the english and the dutch (see mating patterns series below ↓ in left-hand column). the awesome epigone did find a correlation (0.44) between consanguinity and corruption, but like i said then, i’m betting that the correlation would be stronger if we could calculate something like degree+length-of-time inbreeding.

see also: Corruption: The Exception or the Rule? @thosewhocansee.

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