i’m sorry, i’m sorry, i’m sorry … but i just couldn’t be alone in having seen this and then being unable to see it. (>_<)
daniel hannan (Inventing Freedom: How the English-Speaking Peoples Made the Modern World) is full of admiration for the dutch (so am i!). here from a blogpost of his — I’ve realised why I like the Dutch so much: they invented capitalism — from the other day:
“Only recently, though, was I able to put my finger on what I liked so much. It’s this: for centuries, the Dutch made the honest pursuit of self-betterment a supreme virtue. Other European nations elevated honour and faith and martial glory, but the people Shakespeare called ‘swag-bellied Hollanders’ quietly got on with trade….
“I’ve just written a book about Anglosphere exceptionalism, published in the US next week and in Britain the week after. While writing, I couldn’t help noticing that one place had kept pace with the English-speaking peoples in the development of property rights, representative institutions, limited government and individualism. Indeed, on one critical measure, the Dutch beat us to it: modern capitalism, as defined by the twin concepts of limited liability and joint stock ventures, was invented in the Netherlands….”
meanwhile, in another corner of the internet, t.greer has been asking — and nicely answering! — a neat question: why the rise of the west? specifically, why in the middle ages did europe “diverge” from the rest of the world economically, never to look back? from Another Look at ‘The Rise of the West’ – But With Better Numbers (see also The Rise of the West: Asking the Right Questions):
“A few months ago I suggested that many of these debates that surround the ‘Great Divergence’ are based on a flawed premise — or rather, a flawed question. As I wrote:
“‘Rather than focus on why Europe diverged from the rest in 1800 we should be asking why the North Sea diverged from the rest in 1000.‘
“By 1200 Western Europe has a GDP per capita higher than most parts of the world, but (with two exceptions) by 1500 this number stops increasing. In both data sets the two exceptions are Netherlands and Great Britain. These North Sea economies experienced sustained GDP per capita growth for six straight centuries. The North Sea begins to diverge from the rest of Europe long before the ‘West’ begins its more famous split from ‘the rest.’
“[W]e can pin point the beginning of this ‘little divergence’ with greater detail. In 1348 Holland’s GDP per capita was $876. England’s was $777. In less than 60 years time Holland’s jumps to $1,245 and England’s to 1090. The North Sea’s revolutionary divergence started at this time.“
so, by the early 1400s, england and holland had taken off.
why the dutch (and the english)? and why then? (you already know what i’m going to say….)
the netherlands — the low countries in general — were, once upon a time, a part of the early frankish kingdom of austrasia (i’ve more-or-less outlined the netherlands here — *ahem* — roughly):
the franks converted to roman catholicism early — in the late 400s — so they were positioned to adopt the church’s cousin marriage bans right away when they were instituted in the very early 500s (502 a.d.?), nearly one hundred years before the anglo-saxons in england. and there’s evidence that the franks did, indeed, adopt the cousin marriage bans early on — definitely by the late 500s (there’s always a lag time with these things). in fact, they seem to have taken pretty seriously all of the church’s marriage bans, including the ones regarding spiritual kinship (i.e. you couldn’t marry any of your godparents’ relatives because, since you were spiritually related to your godparents, you were also spiritually related to your godparent’s relatives). as i quoted in a previous post:
“St Boniface [d.754] expressed surprise when he learned that ‘spiritual kinship’ was created by lifting a child from the baptismal font and was being treated as an impediment to marriage among the Franks. But it was the law.”
The Outbreeding Project was so successful in franco-belgia and southern england that, by the 1300s, cousin marriage was a complete non-issue in the ecclesiastical courts in those regions.
the exception in the low countries was the group of frisians along the coast who didn’t convert to christianity until the late 700s [pg. 11], so they were at least three hundred years behind the franks as far as The Outbreeding Project went.
in addition, the frisians went untouched by manorialism, which served to reinforce the cousin marriage bans as well as to push for nuclear families. and the frisians (like their coastal neighbors the ditmarsians) remained a bit wild and clannish until rather late in the medieval period. from michael mitterauer’s Why Europe? [pgs. 41-41 & 76]:
“The area settled by the Frisians along the North Seas coast is an interesting case from within the Frankish Empire itself. Manorial estates had not been established there — not by the king, the church, or the nobility — although the imperial heartland lay very close by. The reason for this may well be the ecological conditions that determined the economy. The region was admirably suited for grazing, so that agriculture faded into the background…. Natural conditions were lacking for the cerealization that had been implemented by Frankish neighbors. That a region in the Frankish Empire specializing in animal husbandry did not even begin to come close to establishing the bipartite estate confirms, e contrario, the belief in a connection between increased grain production and the rise of the manorial system. Nor was the agricultural system in Frisian settlements shaped later on by manorial structures. Very strong rural communal groups were established instead, placing the local nobles dispensing high justice in a percarious position….
“Ecological conditions might well have blocked the [hide] system’s progress in Friesland and the North Sea coastal marshes. It is striking that those are precisely the areas where we find features — such as the clan system and most notably blood revenge — that typify societies strongly oriented toward lineage. Blood revenge is rooted in a concept of kinship in which all men of a group are treated almost like a single person. The agnates together are considered to be the bearers of honor — and guilt. That is why the guilt of one relative can be avenged on someone else who had utterly no part in the deed. The idea of blood revenge is completely incompatible with Christian views of guilt and innocence. Nevertheless, the institution of blood revenge was still alive in several European societies even after they were Christianized, those in the North Sea marshes among them.”
the frisians were free!
the dutch and the anglo-saxons are exceptional in terms of being individualistic (versus clannish) and, yet, oriented toward the commonweal — they’re both groups that developed capitalism and liberal democracy (perhaps the anglos are more fond of liberal democracy) — because these were the two populations in northwest europe that started outbreeding the earliest.
and now i’ve arrived back where i started two-and-a-half years ago (boy, will i ever shut up??) — with avner greif‘s paper Family Structure, Institutions, and Growth: The Origin and Implications of Western Corporatism [opens pdf]:
“There is a vast amount of literature that considers the importance of the family as an institution. Little attention, however, has been given to the impact of family structures on institutions, their dynamics, and the ability to change them…. This paper illustrates this by highlighting the importance of the European family structure in one of the most fundamental institutional changes in history.
“This change has been the emergence of economic and political *corporations* in late medieval Europe. ‘Corporations’ are defined here, consistent with their historical meaning, as intentionally created, voluntary, interest-based, and self-governed permanent associations. Guilds, fraternities, universities, communes and city-states are some of the corporations that dominated Europe in the past. Businesses and professional associations, business corporations, universities, consumer groups, republics and democracies are some of the corporations in modern economies.
“Providing institutions through corporations is a novelty. Historically, the institutions that secured one’s life and property and mitigated problems of cooperation and conflicts were initially provided by large kinship groups. Subsequently, such institutions that rely on this family structure were complemented or replaced by those provided by self-interested rulers. Corporation-based institutions can substitute for those provided by both kinship groups and self-interested rulers. When they substitute kinship-based institutions, corporations are complementary to a different family structure, namely, the nuclear family structure. For an individual, corporations reduce the benefits from belonging to a kinship group while a nuclear family increases the benefits from being a member of a corporation….
“[T]he actions of the Church caused the nuclear family — constituting of husband and wife, children, and sometimes a handful of close relatives — to dominate Europe by the late medieval period.
“The medieval church instituted marriage laws and practices that undermined large kinship groups. From as early as the fourth century, it discouraged practices that enlarged the family, such as adoption, polygamy, concubinage, divorce, and remarriage. It severely prohibited marriages among individuals of the same blood (consanguineous marriages), which had constituted a means to create and maintain kinship groups throughout history. The church also curtailed parents’ abilities to retain kinship ties through arranged marriages by prohibiting unions in which the bride didn’t explicitly agree to the union.
“European family structures did not evolve monotonically toward the nuclear family nor was their evolution geographically and socially uniform. However, by the late medieval period the nuclear family was dominate. Even among the Germanic tribes, by the eighth century the term family denoted one’s immediate family, and shortly afterwards tribes were no longer institutionally relevant. Thirteenth-century English court rolls reflect that even cousins were as likely to be in the presence of non-kin as with each other.
“The practices the church advocated, such as monogamy, are still the norm in Europe. Consanguineous marriages in contemporary Europe account for less than one percent of the total number of marriages. In contrast, the percentage of such marriages in Muslim, Middle Eastern countries, where we also have particularly good data, is much higher – between twenty to fifty percent. Among the anthropologically defined 356 contemporary societies of Euro-Asia and Africa, there is a large and significant negative correlation between Christianization (for at least 500 years) and the absence of clans and lineages; the level of commercialization, class stratification, and state formation are insignificant.”
in general, the dutch and the english have been outbreeding for the longest of all the europeans (of anybody, really), and they are two of the groups having the longest history of corporations in europe (there’s the northern italians, too), and they also have the strongest tendencies towards cooperative, voluntary, corporate groups today.
however, some of the dutch — and some of the english — actually did inbreed longer than some of the others: the frisians vs. the franks, the east anglians vs. the southeastern english. these groups were some of my in-betweeners — more outbred than your average arab, but less outbred than the longest of the long-term outbreeders. and the puritans (largely from east anglia) were big into business if Albion’s Seed is to be believed. and the frisians, too, were some of the earliest businessmen/traders in the low countries. from A Brief History of the Netherlands [pg. 15 – see also The Evolution of the Money Standard in Medieval Frisia: A Treatise on the History of the Systems of Money of Account in the Former Frisia (c.600-c.1500)]:
“Frisia (Friesland), however, remained a land apart. The Frisians were traders, stockbreeders, and fishermen, and feudalism took little hold in the swampy soil here.”
the combination of two not wholly dissimilar groups (franks+frisians, for instance), with one of the groups being very outbred (the franks) and the other being an in-betweener group (the frisians), seems perhaps to be a winning one. the outbred group might provide enough open, trusting, trustworthy, cooperative, commonweal-oriented members to the union, while the in-betweener group might provide a good dose of hamilton’s “self-sacrificial daring” that he reckoned might contribute to renaissances.
(and, yes, i am talking about the natural selection of innate behaviors.)
i could be wrong, but that’s my theory, and i’m sticking to it! (for now.) (^_^)
p.s. – in case you’ve forgotten, the nations that saw the earliest reduction of homicides in the medieval period…yes…england and the netherlands/belgium: kinship, the state, and violence.
(note: comments do not require an email. sunbathing giant sloth!)
great piece by ed west in the spectator yesterday about how political correctness is suppressing scientific inquiry nowadays. (yeah, i know we all know that, and have known it for quite some time now, but it’s good to keep repeating it to the pc-brigade!)
go read it on the spectator website!: Untold truths – how the spirit of inquiry is being suppressed in the West. (read this one, too, while you’re at it: Intelligence is just another privilege you inherited from mummy and daddy.)
here’s a little teaser…
“After the Second World War a new faith, the radical Left, conquered all and academics who proposed vaguely controversial ideas, such as Richard Herrnstein or E.O. Wilson, became the victims of vicious student-led campaigns (Hernstein was talking about IQ and class in a meritocratic society, which is what BoJo was arguing). By the early 1980s British biologist Bill Hamilton wrote in his diaries of a wish to return home because the academic atmosphere in the US was becoming stifling.
“And although America became less radical in the Nixon-Reagan era, academia became more so, especially when the students of 1968 returned as professors, and this political correctness, as it became known, fanned out into the wider culture of media and politics of the 1980s and 1990s. And it hasn’t gone away, you know.
“Soon after Harvard alumni Jason Richwine stated that Hispanic school scores in the US had not improved in four generations, he was sacked by his think-tank and publicly disgraced. 1,200 Harvard students signed a petition calling for Richwine to have his doctorate taken away, and many of them wrote that even if his research was academically sound, and accurate, he should still be punished for studying things that might promote ‘discrimination and exclusion’. These are America’s future leaders….“
yeah. great. =/
(this was pretty good, too – from tom chivers in the telegraph: On Boris Johnson and intelligence: it’s not clever to pretend IQ doesn’t matter)
(note: comments do not require an email. more giant sloths!)
previously: happy thanksgiving, 2012!
‘Rare’ Gene Common in African Descendants, May Contribute to Heart Disease – “Researchers at Weill Cornell Medical College have found that a genetic variation that is linked to increased levels of triglycerides — fats in the blood associated with disorders such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes, obesity and stroke — is far more common than previously believed and disproportionally affects people of African ancestry…. The finding offers a clue as to why Africans and people of African descent have an increased risk of cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes compared to many other populations, says the study’s senior author, Dr. Ronald Crystal, chairman of genetic medicine at Weill Cornell. African Americans with the variant had, on average, 52 percent higher triglyceride levels compared with blacks in the study who did not have the variant…. The gene variant the scientists studied is a single point mutation — a replacement of one of DNA segment with another — in the ApoE gene, which carries fats and other molecules through the blood.” – h/t hbd bibliography!
A gene mutation for excessive alcohol drinking found – “UK researchers have discovered a gene that regulates alcohol consumption and when faulty can cause excessive drinking…. [M]ice with a genetic mutation to the gene Gabrb1 overwhelmingly preferred drinking alcohol over water, choosing to consume almost 85% of their daily fluid as drinks containing alcohol…. Dr Quentin Anstee, Consultant Hepatologist at Newcastle University, joint lead author said: ‘It’s amazing to think that a small change in the code for just one gene can have such profound effects on complex behaviours like alcohol consumption.’“ – see also Firewater from greg cochran.
Predicting Human Body Height from DNA – “Predicting tall stature from these 180 DNA variants resulted in an accuracy of 0.75 on a scale from 0.5 (meaning random prediction) to 1.0 (completely accurate prediction). ‘Although the achieved DNA-based prediction accuracy for tall stature is still somewhat lower than we previously established for eye color, hair color and age,’ said Kayser, ‘I expect that upcoming new knowledge on height genetics will further increase the accuracy in predicting tall stature, and eventually the full range of body height, from DNA.'”
Study Connects Dots Between Genes, Human Behavior – “The team studied individuals with a rare disorder known as Williams syndrome. By measuring neural activity in the brain associated with the distinct language skills and facial recognition abilities that are typical of the syndrome, they showed that Williams is due not to a single gene but to distinct subsets of genes, hinting that the syndrome is more complex than originally thought.”
Different Gene Expression in Male, Female Brains May Help Explain Brain Disorder Differences – “UCL scientists have shown that there are widespread differences in how genes, the basic building blocks of the human body, are expressed in men and women’s brains. Based on post-mortem adult human brain and spinal cord samples from over 100 individuals, scientists at the UCL Institute of Neurology were able to study the expression of every gene in 12 brain regions…. They found that the way that the genes are expressed in the brains of men and women were different in all major brain regions and these differences involved 2.5% of all the genes expressed in the brain.” – h/t heartiste!
Only two genes maketh the man…or mouse – “The defining genetic feature of maleness, the Y chromosome, contains only two genes that are absolutely essential for male function – at least in mice.” – “male function” = producing sperm, apparently. and taking out the garbage of course. (~_^)
Male facial masculinity as a cue to health outcomes – “Although both attractiveness and rated health were associated with better actual health in the past and future (mainly indexed by lower antibiotic use), results were mixed for masculinity. With respect to respiratory illnesses, facial masculinity (assessed using morphometric techniques) was associated with better past health but with worse future health.” – h/t hbd bibliography!
HPV: Sex, cancer and a virus – “Human papillomavirus is causing a new form of head and neck cancer — leaving researchers scrambling to understand risk factors, tests and treatments.” – h/t john durant!
Gut bacteria could make cancer treatments more effective, researchers find – “[M]ice with reduced levels of bacteria in their gut were less responsive to treatments than mice that had a normal microbiota.”
Arroyo del Vizcaíno, Uruguay: a fossil-rich 30-ka-old megafaunal locality with cut-marked bones – evidence for humans in uruguay 30,000 years ago? hunting giant sloths?
Who Built Serpent Mound? – dunno.
Sexual selection on the American frontier – re. nineteenth century mormons – from jason collins.
Jealousy in a small-scale, natural fertility population: the roles of paternity, investment and love in jealous response – jealousy rates in a non-w.e.i.r.d. population (the himba of namibia) – “In this population, the majority of both men and women report greater distress over a sexual infidelity, with men reaching an almost unanimous consensus (96%). Despite the skew for both men and women, there is a significant sex difference in the direction predicted by the evolutionary hypothesis….” – h/t andrew badenoch!
Study examines potential evolutionary role of ‘sexual regret’ in human survival and reproduction – “[The results] suggest that men are more likely to regret not taking action on a potential liaison, and women are more remorseful for engaging in one-time liaisons.”
A Hot Wife Means A Happier Marriage – “[M]en are happier with attractive women and women don’t care as much about men’s looks. Stop the goddamned presses! You mean men and women are…*GASP*…different?” – @chateau heartiste. (^_^) – original research article.
Promiscuous mouse moms bear sexier sons – “Males make more pheromone if mama had access to many mates”
We can’t ignore the evidence: genes affect social mobility – “Why do so many people fail to accept the overwhelming evidence that genes contribute to academic achievement and thereby social status?” – h/t ed west!
The Sour Grapes of Pisa – from staffan.
The envirome and the connectome: exploring the structural noise in the human brain associated with socioeconomic deprivation – from neuroskeptic: “People from deprived parts of Glasgow have brains that are more ‘random’ structurally than those from rich areas.” – and from jayman: “Of course IQ has nothing to do with it… ;)”
Poor people’s poor sense – from the awesome epigone.
Meat, egg and dairy nutrient essential for brain development – “Asparagine, found in foods such as meat, eggs, and dairy products, was until now considered non-essential because it is produced naturally by the body. Researchers at the University of Montreal and its affiliated CHU Sainte-Justine Hospital found that the amino acid is essential for normal brain development. This is not the case for other organs.”
Different rates of first admissions for psychosis in migrant groups in Paris – “Our findings suggest that Sub-Saharan migrants were identified as the most vulnerable migrant group for developing psychosis in France, but additional work is warranted to confirm these trends.” – h/t neuroskeptic! – see also Redneck Psychiatrists from greg cochran.
Nations of Canada – from jayman.
Another Look at ‘The Rise of the West’ – But With Better Numbers – “The North Sea begins to diverge from the rest of Europe long before the ‘West’ begins its more famous split from ‘the rest….’ [W]e can pin point the beginning of this ‘little divergence’ with greater detail. In 1348 Holland’s GDP per capita was $876. England’s was $777. In less than 60 years time Holland’s jumps to $1,245 and England’s to 1090. The North Sea’s revolutionary divergence started at this time.” – from t.greer.
When it comes to diversity, most of us vote with our feet – “Liberals are almost as likely to flee diversity as conservatives, according to new research by Prof Eric Kaufmann for Demos. Some 61 per cent of white people who were ‘very comfortable’ with mixed marriages (the best indicator of views on race) moved to whiter areas during the period, compared to 64 per cent of those who were ‘fairly uncomfortable’.” – from
“utterly sh** in every way” ed west.
Race, Race, Race, Race, Race, Race, Race, Race, Race – “*Race is real*. In aggregate, human populations *differ*. Because of those differences, their interests can differ, too — and that can lead to various kinds of unpleasantness. Birds of a feather, whether we approve or not, still tend to flock together.” – from malcolm pollack.
How to have a sensible conversation about immigration – “The poor of the world are on the move, eager to live and work in rich nations. What are the consequences? Talking about them cannot be a taboo.” – h/t steve sailer!
3 Reasons Diversity Isn’t Working – @theden.
How Britain became ashamed of being Great: Major new book argues liberal self-loathing threatens the values that define our nation – a MUST READ from daniel hannan! buy the book, too: How We Invented Freedom & Why It Matters.
Study: Having daughters makes parents more likely to be Republican – i thought it was democrats? – and on that note: Does Having Sisters Make You Conservative? – h/t avi tuschman!
Atheists get sweaty when daring God – “When you get anxious or emotionally aroused, you sweat. Not a lot, but enough to be detected using electrodes on the finger tips. And it turns out that if you take a bunch of atheists, and get them to dare god to do horrible things, they get sweaty.” – heh! (really small sample size, tho.) – h/t anatoly!
The brains of high functioning autistic individuals do not synchronize with those of others – “Our ISC [InterSubject Correlations-ISCs] results suggest that the minds of ASD individuals do not ‘tick together’ with others while perceiving identical dynamic social interactions.” – no kidding?! (~_^)
In Israel, a Push to Screen for Cancer Gene Leaves Many Conflicted – “The country has one of the highest rates of breast cancer in the world, according to a World Health Organization report. And some leading scientists here are advocating what may be the first national screening campaign to test women for cancer-causing genetic mutations common among Jews — tests that are already forcing young women to make agonizing choices about what they want to know, when they want to know it and what to do with the information.”
10,000-year-old house uncovered outside Jerusalem – “‘Here we have evidence of man’s transition to permanent dwellings'” – cool!
Here’s why wine snobs should probably be called bacteria snobs – “Differences in wine quality between vineyards have long been attributed to processing techniques and seasonal variation. But research now suggests that regional differences between wines are shaped by microbes — specifically, fungi and bacteria. Cultivating certain grape microbes may actually improve wine flavor.”
bonus: FDA may begin seizing [23andMe] home DNA testing kits – losers. (the fda, i mean.)
bonus bonus: Do We Live in the Matrix? – yes.
bonus bonus bonus: Economics of Violence: What would it cost you if you didn’t fight back? – “In my 30 years of researching violence, every victim of violence who lived to tell the tale said they had a ‘bad feeling’ before the actual attack…. If an alarm goes off, respond to it. Got a bad feeling? Address it. Something nagging at you? Stop and look into it. Don’t ignore these signals. Don’t rationalize and mentally correct them. Don’t dismiss them without assessing them. Your body is built for survival and one of its hard-wired systems is designed to alert you to danger.” – h/t mr. mangan, esq!
bonus bonus bonus bonus bonus: Latest restaurant receipt hoax – from chuck @gucci little piggy.
bonus bonus bonus bonus bonus bonus: Banks Warn Fed They May Have To Start Charging Depositors – =/ – h/t charles!
bonus bonus bonus bonus bonus bonus bonus: Over 50,000 illegal Ethiopian workers sent home from Saudi Arabia
bonus bonus bonus bonus bonus bonus bonus bonus: Fabulous example of helpful Muslims in the UK: solving local blood feud – terrific. =/ – from frau katze.
bonus bonus bonus bonus bonus bonus bonus bonus bonus: China’s rich fleeing the country — with their fortunes – h/t randall parker! – also: China’s villages vanish amind rush for the cities.
bonus bonus bonus bonus bonus bonus bonus bonus bonus bonus: Man sells testicle so he can buy a Nissan 370Z – (o_O)
bonus bonus bonus bonus bonus bonus bonus bonus bonus bonus bonus: We’d rather eat turkey – “Thanksgiving is that very special holiday when we take a break from our hectic everyday lives to spend quality time with our loved ones, rediscovering all the reasons why we don’t actually live with them.” – (~_^) – from dave barry.
(note: comments do not require an email. giant sloth!)
earlier this month, the inestimable peter frost wrote:
“Over the past millennium, Western Europeans have created a social environment where the individual is largely free from collective ties of kinship and ethnicity. Because the State has imposed a monopoly on the use of violence, there is less need to rely on kinsmen to safeguard one’s life and property. That’s what the government is for. In many other societies, however, the State is much more recent and often foreign. Collective identity still matters most and, when the chips are down, personal ties of friendship matter little. Your real friends are your ‘blood’.”
in The Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined (2011), steven pinker says that, in england, this process of the state taking over and monopolizing violence began during the reign of henry i, which lasted from 1100-1135 a.d. [kindle locations 1830-1839]:
“Feuding among knights and peasants was not just a nuisance but a lost opportunity. During Norman rule in England, some genius recognized the lucrative possibilities in nationalizing justice. For centuries the legal system had treated homicide as a tort: in lieu of vengeance, the victim’s family would demand a payment from the killer’s family, known as blood money or wergild (‘man-payment’; the *wer* is the same prefix as in *werewolf*, ‘man-wolf’). King Henry I redefined homicide as an offense against the state and its metonym, the crown. Murder cases were no longer *John Doe vs. Richard Roe*, but *The Crown vs. John Doe* (or later, in the United States, *The People vs. John Doe* or *The State of Michigan vs. John Doe*). The brilliance of the plan was that the wergild (often the offender’s entire assets, together with additional money rounded up from his family) went to the king instead of to the family of the victim. Justice was administered by roving courts that would periodically visit a locale and hear the accumulated cases. To ensure that all homicides were presented to the courts, each death was investigated by a local agent of the crown: the coroner.”
the only problem with this picture is, as was discussed on this blog in a previous post, there is good evidence that the kindred in anglo-saxon england — the importance of kinship, in other words — was already beginning to disappear (in southern england, anyway) in the early 900s, or maybe even the late 800s, a full two hundred years before henry i and his coroners showed up on the scene.
as i said in that post:
“the *gegildan* appears in some of the anglo-saxon laws in the late-800s as an *alternative* group of people to whom wergeld might be paid if the wronged individual had no kin. by the 900s, though, in southern england, the *gegildan* might be the only group that received wergeld, bypassing kin altogether.”
again, from Wage Labor and Guilds in Medieval Europe (1991) [pgs. 39-42]:
“The laws of King Alfred of Wessex, dated to 892-893 or a few years earlier, are more informative about the *gegildan*. Again, the context is murder and the wergild — the compensation required for the crime. By Alfred’s time, if not during Ine’s, the *gegildan* is clearly a group of associates who were not related by blood. The clearest example of this is in chapter 31 of the laws: ‘If a man in this position is slain — if he has no relatives (maternal or paternal) — half the wergild shall be paid to the king, and half to the *gegildan*.’ No information exists on the purpose of the *gegildan* other than its role as a substitute for kinship ties for those without any relatives. These associates, who presumably were bound together by an oath for mutual protection, if only to identify who was responsible, would benefit anyone, whether the person had relatives or not…. Although the evidence from the laws of Ine may be read either way, the *gegildan* seems to be an old social institution. As seen more clearly in the tenth and eleventh centuries, it acquired additional functions — a policing role and a religious character.
“The nobles, clergy, and commoners of London agreed upon a series of regulations for the city, with the encouragement and approval of King Athelstan, who caused the rules to be set down some time in the late 920s or 930s. The primary purpose of these ordinances was to maintain peace and security in the city, and all those supporting these goals had solemnly pledged themselves to this *gegildan*. This type of inclusive guild, sometimes referred to as a peace guild, was an attempt to create one more additional level of social responsibility to support the king and his officials in keeping the peaces. This social group of every responsible person in London is a broad one, and the law does not use the term *gegildan* to describe the association in general….
“The idea of a guild to keep the peace was not limited to London, and a document from the late tenth century contains the rules and duties of the thegn’s guild in Cambridge. This guild appears to have been a private association, and no king or noble is mentioned as assenting to or encouraging this group. Most of the rules concern the principle purposes of this guild — the security of the members, which receives the most attention, and the spiritual benefits of membership itself. The guild performed the tasks of the old *gegildan*: the members were obliged to defend one another, collect the wergild, and take up vengeance against anyone refusing to pay compensation. The members also swore an oath of loyalty to each other, promising to bring the body of a deceased member to a chosen burial site and supply half the food for the funeral feast. For the first time, another category of help was made explicit — the guild bound itself to common almsgiving for departed members — and the oath of loyalty the members swore included both religious and secular affairs. Although in many respects this guild resembles a confraternity along the lines Hincmar established for the archdiocese of Rheims, the older purpose of the group — mutual protection with its necessary threat of vengeance — makes the Anglo-Saxon guild something more than a prayer meeting. To include almsgiving to members in distress would be a small step, given the scope of activities this guild established. There is no sign that the thegns cooperated in any economic endeavors, but older rules of rural society had already determined methods of sharing responsibility in the villages, and the thegns cooperated on everything that was important in their lives. The thegns of Cambridge had a guild that resembles in some important ways the communal oath, that will be discussed below, of some Italian cities in the next century.”
so, in england anyway, the individual didn’t become “largely free from collective ties of kinship and ethnicity” thanks to the state. anglo-saxon individuals were already on their way to becoming free from the collective ties of kinship before the state stepped in.
pinker has a neat chart in Better Angels — Fig. 3.3 – Homicide rates in five Western European regions, 1300–2000:
as he says about england [kindle locations 1581-1584]:
“Once again we see a decline in annual homicide rates, and it is not small: from between 4 and 100 homicides per 100,000 people in the Middle Ages to around 0.8 (eight-tenths of a homicide) per 100,000 in the 1950s. The timing shows that the high medieval murder rates cannot be blamed on the social upheavals that followed the Black Death around 1350, because many of the estimates predated that epidemic.”
and [kindle locations 1599-1603]:
“Were the English unusual among Europeans in gradually refraining from murder? Eisner looked at other Western European countries for which criminologists had compiled homicide data. Figure 3–3 shows that the results were similar. Scandinavians needed a couple of additional centuries before they thought the better of killing each other, and Italians didn’t get serious about it until the 19th century. But by the 20th century the annual homicide rate of every Western European country had fallen into a narrow band centered on 1 per 100,000.”
i discussed this difference in the timing of the drop in homicide rates between various european countries in a previous post — outbreeding, self-control and lethal violence — in which i looked at manuel eisner’s paper, Modernization, Self‐Control and Lethal Violence. pinker also drew on eisner’s work for Better Angels. in that paper, eisner said:
“[T]he data suggest that the secular trajectories of low homicide rates differ among large geographic areas. It appears that English homicide rates were already considerably lower in the late sixteenth century than during the late Middle Ages and that they declined continuously along a log-linear trend over several centuries. Extant estimates for the Netherlands and Belgium suggest a very similar structure trend in these areas. In the Scandinavian countries, the transistion to the decreasing trend occurs notably later, namely in the first decades after 1600. Despite huge gaps in the data, the German-speaking areas may also be assumed to have joined the declining trend from the early seventeenth century onwards. For Italy, however, all the available data indicate that acts of individual-level lethal violence remained very frequent until the early nineteenth century. It is not until the mid-nineteenth century that the rate begins to decline, but then very steeply.”
and, as i said in my previous post:
“hmmmm. now where have i heard a pattern like this before? england, the netherlands, germans earliest in *some*thing … scandinavians later … italians last.”
that “something” that i was referring to is, of course, the avoidance of close cousin marriage — or The Outbreeding Project, as i like to call it. (i guess i should really call it The European Outbreeding Project or The Norwestern European Outbreeding Project.) the importance of kinship — extended families and kindreds — disappeared in large parts of northwestern europe, because northwest europeans quit marrying their close cousins, and the ties (including genetic) between individual northwest europeans and their extended family members simply loosened. loosened to the extent that, after several hundreds of years, extended families and kindreds just didn’t matter to people anymore. and, so, kindred-driven activities like feuding ceased and homicide rates decreased markedly.
the dutch — thanks to having been a part of frankish austrasia — and the southern english (especially the ones in kent) — thanks to being heavily influenced by the franks just across the channel — began avoiding cousin marriage very early in the medieval period, probably already in the 600-700s (see “mating patterns in europe series” below ↓ in left-hand column — also more on medieval england and france). the germans weren’t far behind, especially since the franks had so much influence in what would eventually become germany over the course of the medieval period (see the ostsiedlung). the scandinavians lagged behind since they were comparatively late in adopting christianity (and, therefore, in adopting the cousin marriage bans). and the italians were very late since they mostly did not have manorialism (which reinforced the cousin marriage bans). the italians, in fact — especially southern italians — kept marrying close cousins up until very recently.
eisner offered several explanations — not necessarily mutually exclusive — for why homicide rates should’ve dropped so much in western europe over the course of the middle ages. one of the ones that steven pinker latched on to was the idea of the leviathan — the replacement of family feuds and compensation for killings with punishment (esp. execution) by the state. certainly there’s probably something to this — removing enough violent individuals from the gene pool could very well reduce the frequencies of “genes for violence” in a population in just one thousand years or so. (see also peter frost on rome – pdf.)
“Durkheim saw the decline of homicide rates as resulting from the liberation of the individual from collective bonds rather than as the consequence of the coercive potential of the state. High levels of lethal violence thus mirror the intensity of ‘collective emotions’, which bind the individual to ‘groups of things that symbolically represent these groups’. Violence thus declines to the degree that the person becomes liberated from its sacred obligation to the group, and the rise of moral individualism brings about both subjective reflexivity and emotional indifference in conflict situations (Durkheim 1957: 115).”
replace “liberated from its sacred obligation to the group” with “more and more outbred” and you’ve got a nice, little sociobiological theory there!
“This theoretical approach offers valuable insights into the historical patterns of declining homicide rates. First, the Durkheimian argument offers a theoretical framework for understanding the multifarious cultural meanings of violence in medieval society. Much empirical research on the topic emphasizes the crucial role of insults in triggering situational conflicts. This is in accordance with a society in which ‘honour’ constitutes highly important social capital of the male person as a representative of his group. It requires retributive violence as a potential and culturally accepted means for maintaining one’s honour. Such a theoretical framework may help to better understand why the secular decline in homicide rates primarily seems to have been due to a decrease in male-to-male fights. And it may also offer a point of departure for understanding the high violence rates in italy, where a culture of honour persisted despite the early development of administrative and judicial structures in the city states.“
in anglo-saxon england, then, the kinship groups and their “culture of honor” (feuds, etc.) declined before the state got involved in safeguarding the lives of individuals. meanwhile, in medieval italy, the culture of honor persisted despite the presence of states that punished violent offenders. the difference, of course, is that italy — especially southern italy — barely ever joined in The Outbreeding Project, whereas england was one of its leading nations.
previously: the importance of the kindred in anglo-saxon society and outbreeding, self-control and lethal violence and what pinker missed and more on genetics and the historical decline of violence and clannishness defined
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see if you can guess what population the people described below belong to! (^_^)
don’t cheat!! don’t google the text to find out. i’ll know if you do….
bonus points for guessing population X’s mating patterns. (~_^)
update: solution here in the comments. DON’T LOOK at the comments if you wanna have a guess! (^_^)
from a governmental agency publication (1983):
“Although the group solidarity of [population X] is strong, individual achievement is highly valued. Members of the group are expected to exercise individual initiative in the pursuit of economic goals. Individual acquisition of economic resources including private property, money, and other remuneration is stressed. Other cultural characteristics of the group that have been invaluable to their entrepreneurial skills are discussed below….
“[T]he social status of an individual in this ethnic group is not rigidly fixed; individuals — male or female — can improve their condition in life and are expected to do so. Commercial and business success is one of the most highly valued routes to prestige and status. [population X’s] women are also expected to achieve economic and comnercial success and there are few traditional limits placed on their economic participation….
“The traditional values of [population X] stress individual competition and overt displays of ‘getting ahead’. Individual [members of population X] are expected to compete and to surpass each other’s accomplishments. The emphasis on competition is not limited to economic activities, but is a feature of personal relationships as well: within families, children are expected to compete with their siblings; sons and daughters are encouraged to surpass the achievements of their parents….
“[P]oorer relatives are not expected or allowed to lay claim to or live off the riches of wealthier family members….
“A final feature of traditional society which must be noted is the system of succession and inheritance. Of all the elements characteristic of [population X’s] social organization, this feature has been fundamental and has had far-reaching implications for the rate and pace of [population X’s] participation in economic growth, development, and change. Succession and inheritance rules are determined by the principle of patrilineal descent. According to custom, the eldest son is the probable heir, but a father may choose any one of his sons to succeed him. An heir takes his dead father’s name and inherits any titles held by the latter, including the right to membership in any societies to which he belonged…. The rights in land held by the deceased were conferred upon the heir subject to the approval of the chief, and, in the event of financial inheritance, the heir was not obliged to share this with other family members. The ramifications of this are significant. First, dispossessed family members were not automatically entitled to live off the wealth of the heir. Siblings who did not share in the inheritance were, therefore, strongly encouraged to make it on their own through individual initiative and by assuming responsibility for earning their livelihood….
“A notable feature of the group is the complementarity between individualism and collective unity. Individuals are expected to make their own way in the world while retaining a strong ethnic identity and group association. This interact is one of the factors accounting for their economic success. Each individual, for example, is expected to contribute as much to the group as he receives in return. Thus, cooperation is essential. The group is perceived of as an interdependent system based on the strength of individual links….
“A principal [population X] belief is that individuals are, in the final analysis, responsible for their own fate. One makes one’s way in society on the basis of individual qualities. Status distinctions and rank are not rigidly fixed and there is always the possibility of advancement.”
a little more on inheritance practices in population X from a volume published by the university of california press (1976):
“[A]mong [population X], familial segmentation results from the choices that a testator can make with regard to this heirs: an individual who is not chosen as an heir is entitled to move into a new territory, and to create a new lineage: in this case, ascription is more likely to interact with achievement in the ultimate fate of an individual.”
and on voluntary associations from another volume published by the university of california press (1989):
“The original function of these societies was to administer initiation rites, but in societies with a more complex economy and polity, both male and female associations grew in importance by assuming a plurality of administrative and commercial functions as well, such as tax collection, price control in markets, maintenance of public order, and organization of collective work. The [X] societies of [population X’s] men and women provide good examples of such traditional associations. The women’s [associations] are presided over by the mother of the…chief — there are over a hundred such chiefdoms in [population X’s] territory — and its members help each other in agricultural work. The [associations] used to meet on a weekly basis to organize such work. In addition to associations that fit into the political structure of [population X’s] society, there are also many autonomous associations based on neighborhood. Aside from ritual functions (such as divination and faith healing) they also act as savings groups and associations for mutual assistance. More recently, [population X’s] associations…have been adapted to the needs of urban living and have led to a proliferation of voluntary membership clubs that provide mutual aid, companionship for immigrants, and entertainment. The savings groups are maintained by members paying in fixed amounts at weekly meetings, taking turns in receiving the entire sum. Membership is not restricted to a single saving association and the [members of population X] tend to join them as soon as they earn money.”
from a volume published by routledge (2013):
“Known for their frugality and successful entrepreneurship, [population X] historically have played dominant social roles as businessmen.”
finally, from yet another university of california press volume (2002):
“[population X], making up roughly 25 percent of the [nation’s] population, have higher rates of fertility than their average [national] compatriots…. [population X] also exhibit lower rates of infertility than all other ethnic groups in [the nation].”
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