some examples of hajnal mating patterns outside the hajnal line

in jack goody’s The Development of the Family and Marriage in Europe, i came across two examples of hajnal mating patterns (i.e. comparatively high rates of late- and/or never-marriage) which occurred historically outside the hajnal line [pgs. 8-9]:

“The notion of the uniqueness of a late marriage for women and of frequent celibacy for both sexes may require some modification in view of the evidence from twentieth-century Tibet and from Roman Egypt, even if this is less substantial than one would like. In Egypt Hopkins writes of a ten-year post-pubertal delay for women (1980: 333) while in a survey this century among the Khams of eastern Tibet, there were numerous unmarried women and nearly 40 per cent of households had no married couple (Carrasco 1959: 69).”

goody suggests that these examples might (might) refute some researchers’ suggestions that the late-/no-marriage pattern of western europe somehow explains western europe and capitalism and all that, although goody acknowledges that further evidence would, of course, be needed [pg. 9]:

“[I]t [these examples from tibet and roman egypt] would tend to reduce the claims that this demographic regime is linked by a causal nexus with the rise of the West, that is, of Western Europe.

“While Hajnal suggested that these patterns emerged in the late sixteenth century and were possibly to be linked with the development of capitalism and Protestantism, other writers have seen these same features as present in a yet earlier period, but characterising the north-west rather than the whole of Western Europe.1 Some take the view that England was unique in these and other important respects, and Macfarlane has recently seen this singularity as including the presence of a strongly ‘individualistic’ streak, which he tentatively derives from its roots in the German woods (1978: 206) [i partly disagree w/the german woods part-h.chick]. Those who find these features present before the sixteenth century see them as predisposing factors in the rise of capitalism.”

and footnote 1:

“Hajnal himself thought that medieval villagers did not follow a ‘European marriage pattern’; Razi has given support to this idea, finding that in the pre-plague period in the village of Halesowen in the West Midlands of England, marriages took place between the ages of 18 and 22 (1980: 63; also Dyer 1980: 234); however the basis of the calculations has been criticised by Smith (1979: 112), who, like Macfarlane, leans towards the view that the late marriage of women is early and English. See also Smith’s valuable comments (1981) on Herlihy and Klapisch-Zuber (1978).”

i don’t want to get into a discussion about the marriage patterns in medieval halesowen or the ones that dyer discusses in worcester right now, but i do want to point out that both of these places are located in the west midlands and, so, are quite possibly on the edge of the core area of outbreeding/manorialism in europe/england and perhaps, therefore, hajnal’s late marriage arrived in these areas much later. dunno. i’ll come back to this some other time.

back to the tibetan and roman egyptian examples of hajnal mating patterns…

there are two reasons — well, one set of unanswered questions and one known reason — that neither of these examples is comparable to what happened in northwest europe:

1) we don’t have any idea for how long late-/never-marriage was present in either tibet or roman egypt. for tibet we have only a twentieth century survey revealing late-/never-marriage (close to 40% of kham households in eastern tibet had no married couple at all in 1949 – pg. 145) — for roman egypt we have some info about late-marriage (ten year post-pubertal for women – pg. 8), but i don’t know for how long (don’t have access to the paper). but since we’re talking about evolutionary processes, we do need some amount of time for anything to happen. in northwest europe, late-/never-marriage is at least a four hundred year old practice (altho, imho, it’s the coterminous outbreeding that’s really the key here, not the late-marriage — not if you want to explain the rise of capitalism and such things). if, for instance, late-/never-marriage was new to tibet in the twentieth century, well — that’s not going to make a whole lot of difference yet. also, wrt the roman egyptian example, the late-marriage probably only applied to a small subgroup of that society — see point 2 for more on this.

2) both of these societies — tibet and roman egypt — had, or had up until fairly recently, practiced close marriage. the roman egyptians — who, btw, were actually greeks in roman egypt — married, as everyone has heard, their siblings. (but contrary to what you might have heard, brother-sister marriage was not ever common in pharaonic or roman egypt. yes, the pharaohs practiced sibling marriage but probably not the general populace, and the historic records we have for sibling marriage in roman egypt are accounts of greeks who had settled in the kingdom who, for various reasons, mostly to do with maintaining their class status, did not want to marry in with the locals. i keep meaning to do a post on this, and i just haven’t gotten around to it yet.) wrt the kham people in tibet, i don’t know about them specifically, but in general it’s my understanding that tibetan peoples today generally avoid marriage between paternal relatives out to the seventh generation and also avoid marriage between maternal relatives out to the third generation. however, per ippolito desideri, first cousin maternal cousin marriage was common in tibet as recently as the early 1700s [pg. 192], which would fit with the general pattern of marriage in east asia (i.e. with maternal cousins, usually mother’s brother’s daughter marriage). the question is, when did the tibetans abandon this first cousin marriage? it’s sometime within the last three hundred years anyway. (btw, tibetan groups in india still regularly practice maternal first cousin marriage.)

[edit 03/26: but see slng.uls’ comment below and my response to it. thanks, slng.uls!]

so, while these are two interesting examples of hajnal mating patterns occurring outside the hajnal line, they’re really not comparable to what happened in northwest europe. the case in roman egypt really isn’t comparable since there we’re talking about a small subgroup of the population — their mating patterns would hardly have affected the larger society. and in the case of tibet, we have pretty recent cousin marriage — as recent as what probably happened in peripheral places in europe like ireland — which is to be found outside the hajnal line.

previously: big summary post on the hajnal line

(note: comments do not require an email. ippolito desideri.)

Advertisements

19 Comments

  1. And then there is the more general point that nothing anywhere in nature ever has a single cause. I doubt that anyone is arguing that the hajnal mating pattern by itself is sufficient to bring about Western style capitalism or anything else. It could be necessary without being sufficient and, as such, it may be one of the things (possibly even the only thing, though I doubt that) that distinguishes pre-modern northwest Europe from other areas around the globe. We need a better English word than “multi-factorial” to talk about things like that.

    Reply

  2. What kind of role does shipping off the kids play? I have no sense for how marriages were arranged, though I’d think that there’d be at least some fait accompli against the parent’s wishes when the youngsters are offsite.

    Reply

  3. Roman Egypt was diverse. Was he talking about the upper class in Egypt (primarily Greek and Roman), or ethnic Italians in Egypt, or all of Egyptians?

    Reply

  4. The Yi Jing also seems to advocate a rather late marriage. In line 2 of hexagram 3 (of King Wen sequence) 屯 (tun/zhun, “sprouting”) it recommends a 10 year waiting period for men after coming of age. In line 4 of hexagram 54 歸妹 (gui mei, “the girl marries”) a girl who fails to marry within the auspicious period has to wait until her younger sisters have married. Only then can she try again. In line 5 of hexagram 28 大過 da gou (“the great divide”) an old woman marrying a young bachelor doesn’t earn praise, but isn’t chided for that either.
    This could mean that in China (at least in pre-Han times) men married late and picky girls as well. Older women and widows marrying younger men were not encouraged, but not ostracized either.

    Reply

  5. O/T but a tale you might like from a letter in this morning’s Telegraph. In the seventies the writer was shown a coin that had recently been received in change: 4th century. His acquaintance said “Must be the last Roman coin in circulation.”

    Reply

  6. Kham is not Ü-Tsang, and the differences can really matter.

    Culturally Tibetan, the Khampas are warriors: formerly they were nomadic bandits who put the fear of God into the heart of every traveller who passed their way. Called ‘gentlemen brigands’ by early 20th-century French explorer Alexandra David-Neel, the unruly but devout Buddhists typically have vigilant, almond eyes, faces flushed by sunlight, high cheekbones and long, lightly splayed noses. They are strikingly handsome cavaliers.

    They swagger in fox-skin cloaks, one arm free, the other sleeve hanging down to their knees, their heads wrapped in bundles of red silk, necks festooned with turquoise, amber, coral and ivory. Riding ponies valued also for their strength and stamina, they roam the grasslands, tending their yaks and training their steeds for the festival. On the grasslands of Tibet, where roads are at a premium, owning a horse is imperative. To own a fast and agile beast is to be honoured, envied, feared and respected.

    Reply

  7. Somewhat related: The Germ Theory of Democracy, Dictatorship, and All Your Most Cherished Beliefs

    Might this tie into the spread of Hajnal mating patterns? Lowlanders would share disease and parasite burdens across the plain, while mountain folk would have different patterns from valley to valley and from the flatlanders, making them more resistant to incorporation into lowland cultural patterns. Disease burdens would explain why outmarriage and late marriage was actually successful when tried in medieval Europe, and possibly not elsewhere.

    Reply

  8. @luke – “And then there is the more general point that nothing anywhere in nature ever has a single cause. I doubt that anyone is arguing that the hajnal mating pattern by itself is sufficient to bring about Western style capitalism or anything else. It could be necessary without being sufficient and, as such, it may be one of the things (possibly even the only thing, though I doubt that) that distinguishes pre-modern northwest Europe from other areas around the globe.”

    yes to all of that! (^_^) i think that, if anything, long-term outbreeding simply sets up a certain relatedness web throughout a population — a very loose set of connections — which provides a sort-of a platform or stage on which all sorts of evolutionary events might take place. like you say, it’s probably a necessary condition for getting to a corporate sort-of world that northwestern europe is, but it’s extremely unlikely that it was the only factor which led nw europeans down their peculiar evolutionary path. lots of things — including accidents of history — contributed to the outcome that we see today.

    Reply

  9. @james – “I have no sense for how marriages were arranged, though I’d think that there’d be at least some fait accompli against the parent’s wishes when the youngsters are offsite.”

    the church in the middle ages really fought against arranged marriages (although these obviously happened all of the time in the aristocracy). marriage was supposed to be a union of two individuals entered into of their own free will, end of story. this, in fact, was one of the big objections to the catholic church by the reformation-minded germans — german parents wanted more control over who their kids married!

    so i’m not sure how the farming out of kids affected arranged marriages, ’cause arranged marriages may, in fact, have been pretty unusual in medieval “core” europe. then again, i dunno — maybe you sent your kid off to a family that you hoped they’d marry into? dunno.

    Reply

  10. @alfred – “Was he talking about the upper class in Egypt (primarily Greek and Roman), or ethnic Italians in Egypt, or all of Egyptians?”

    hopkins (as quoted by goody) was talking about the people in roman egypt who married their siblings, and those were — per shaw — the greeks in roman egypt.

    Reply

  11. @basyl – “The Yi Jing also seems to advocate a rather late marriage…. This could mean that in China (at least in pre-Han times) men married late and picky girls as well.”

    oh, very interesting! thanks so much! (^_^)

    Reply

  12. @dearieme – “In the seventies the writer was shown a coin that had recently been received in change: 4th century. His acquaintance said ‘Must be the last Roman coin in circulation.'”

    heh! cool. (^_^)

    Reply

  13. @slng.uls – “Kham is not Ü-Tsang, and the differences can really matter.”

    yes, you are quite right! and desideri was in lhasa, so perhaps what he had to say about tibetan marriage practices at the time didn’t apply to the khampas. dunno. i shall endeavor to find out!

    i’ve added a pointer to your comment to the post. (^_^)

    Reply

  14. @anthony – “Somewhat related: The Germ Theory of Democracy, Dictatorship, and All Your Most Cherished Beliefs. Might this tie into the spread of Hajnal mating patterns?”

    i like the pathogen theory for inbreeding a lot, because i have a liking for biological explanations for behaviors. (^_^)

    having said that, i don’t really buy the theory — at least not fully — since the BIG outliers in this theory are the arabs et al. who inbreed the most and yet who have very low pathogen levels in their parts of the world. i posted about the pathogen and consanguineous matings theory here. maybe they’re just an exception to the rule, but boy what an exception they are!

    also, the correlation that they found between inbreeding and pathogen levels was just 0.39, so it wasn’t that strong of a connection.

    having said all that, and then looking back at medieval europe — places like southern italy and southern spain, which had (have! in the case of italy) higher inbreeding rates for longer than northern europe did have endemic malaria, for instance. another little place that kept inbreeding for longer (i think) was swampy frisia — malaria there again. so, maybe there is something to the pathogen-consanguinity theory. but it really doesn’t explain the arab world. -?-

    Reply

  15. Don’t Tibetans also do polyandry? My impression was that food in Tibet isn’t easy to produce, so there’s many different quirks made to limit fertility.

    Reply

  16. For what it’s worth, I checked my dad’s genealogical records and it seems like people in Sweden (at least those I’m related to) married at around 22-24 years at least back to the mid 1700s. I only found two teenagers (of some 40 marriages), 18 and 19, but plenty who married in their 30s. The earliest law is from 1734 and states that the man needs to be 21 and the woman 15.

    Reply

  17. Chick – “correlation that they found between inbreeding and pathogen levels was just 0.39” – how did they quantify inbreeding? How did they quantify pathogen levels? Does 0.39 actually mean anything?

    Also – perhaps we’re dealing with a “necessary but not sufficient” condition: the outbreeding/late-marriage experiment requires a low pathogen load to work (which might explain Jayman’s map showing that your theory doesn’t explain sub-Saharan Africa very well), but that a low pathogen load doesn’t *drive* Hajnal marriage patterns.

    Reply

  18. The apprentice marries the Master’s daughter and takes over the business is something of a regular theme. So sometimes, sending the child elsewhere was a marriage play if the lad’s head was screwed on right. What teenager has their head screwed on right?

    Reply

  19. “if anything, long-term outbreeding simply sets up a certain relatedness web throughout a population”

    I think there will be a way to express this mathematically in terms of the kin altruism of large groups.

    If you imagine a population of 1000 people divided into 10 clans of 100 each where clan members are related to their 100 clan members at an average of 2nd cousin and at an average of 6th cousin to the other 900 people outside their clan and then compare that to a population of 1000 people who are all 4th cousins then I think the optimal altruism behaviors (in the technical sense) will be different mathematically.

    .

    on-topic

    The Egyptian example above – a Greek minority within Egypt marrying exogamously wouldn’t lead to a hajnal situation but to an endogamous ruling caste which was exogamous within the caste but not outside it. I think this is similar to a lot of Indian castes?

    If so it’s still interesting in terms of behavior as castes like that ought (?) to be mini-hajnals **within** the caste i.e. similar behavior but on a smaller scale.

    Reply

Leave a Reply to hbd chick Cancel reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s