Archives for posts with tag: a theory of everything! (almost)

there’s been a theory floated for a few years now that there was a sort of apartheid system in early anglo-saxon england in which the angles and saxons and jutes didn’t really mix with the native britons. or vice versa. from thomas, stumpf, and härke:

“Reproductive isolation and differential social status along ethnic lines is a frequent, temporary consequence of conquest and settlement, the best-known modern case being the Apartheid system in South Africa. In the post-Roman period, intermarriage between dominant immigrants and subject natives was banned in Visigothic France and Spain in the late fifth and early sixth century (King 1972). The Normans in eleventh- and twelfth-century England operated a conquest society in which the native English and Welsh had a lower legal status than Normans (Garnett 1985), and intermarriage, where it happened, was predominantly unidirectional, i.e. Norman men marrying English women. In Anglo-Saxon England, elements of an apartheid-like society can also be perceived in a Wessex law code of the seventh century which distinguishes clearly between Saxons and ‘Welsh’ (Britons) and gives the former a significantly higher legal status, some two centuries after the initial immigration (Whitelock 1979). Archaeological and skeletal data (Härke 1990, 1992), as well as textual evidence (Woolf, 2004), have been used to suggest a situation of limited intermarriage between immigrant Anglo-Saxons and native Britons until the seventh century when this distinction began to break down.”

for more on this theory, see: Anglo-Saxon immigration and ethnogenesis.

now it seems as though the recently published genetic study by leslie et al. may back up this idea. from the Supplementary Information [pdf – pg. 18]:

The Cent./S England inferred admixture date is older, at around 1200 years ago. This is moderately, but significantly, more recent than the historically accepted time of approximately 1400 years ago (around 600) for the Anglo-Saxon migration into England. This discrepancy is unlikely to be explained by errors in our human generation time (we used 28 years) because an unlikely generation time of 33 years or higher would be required to account for this difference. Instead, an important point is that the date of admixture cannot be earlier than the arrival of a group, but can be later if mixing did not occur for some period (e.g. if the Anglo-Saxon community remained distinct for some period after arrival), or if mixing took place gradually, and initially at a relatively slow rate.”

so, they’re saying that intermarriages between the anglo-saxons and the native britons didn’t really get going until the 800s.

both the anglo-saxons and probably the native britons (presuming they were rather like the native irish and scots), like every other pre-christian northern european group, married their cousins to some degree or another. we know for certain that the anglo-saxons did, because augustine of canterbury wrote several frantic letters to pope gregory the great about the problem (he viewed this as a problem since already by this point in the 600s the church had banned marriages to close cousins).

across the channel in the frankish kingdoms, cousin marriage didn’t became socially unacceptable until the 800s, even though there were local bans issued by bishops in the frankish kingdoms as early as the 500s. as i wrote in a previous post:

from “An Unsolved Riddle: Early Medieval Incest Legislation” in Franks and Alamanni in the Merovingian Period: An Ethnographic Perspective (1998), a collection of papers from an “historical archaeoethnological” conference [pgs. 109-110]:

“In the course of the eighth century the Frankish campaign against incest gained momentum, aided by papal decrees and letters which began to circulate in the North (De Jong 1989:38-41). When it came to blood relations papal guidelines were more radical than Frankish episcopal and royal decrees, but in other respects — such as spiritual kinship — Rome and the Frankish leadership saw eye to eye right from the beginning. Letters sent from Rome to Boniface reveal an increasingly rigid papal position. Gregory II forbade all unions between blood relations and affinal kin (‘*quamdiu se agnoscunt affinitate propinquos*’), but permitted the recently converted a marriage ‘*post quartam generationem*’; his successor Gregory III withdrew any such privilege, assuring Boniface that marriage within the seventh *generatio* was out of the question….

“In practice…it did not make any difference whether one forbade marriage ‘until the seventh *generatio*’ (Gregory III), or proclaimed an unspecified ban on all kinswomen and affines (Gregory II). Both meant the same: marriage and kindred did not go together. Pope Zachary expressed this clearly in 743, stating that no Christians were permitted to marry if they were in any way related to each other (Werminghoff 1904:19-21). Avoidance of kin-marriage had become one of the defining criteria of Christianity….”

by the 800s [pg. 120]:

By the ninth century, a marriage in the third *generatio* [i.e. second cousins – h.chick] had become scandalous, but the fourth generation remained a viable option, along with a whole range of more distant kin (Le Jan 1995:316-17). This pattern persisted well into the tenth and eleventh centuries.”

i’m not one hundred percent certain, but i think that this shift to the regular avoidance of cousin marriage by the franks probably had something to do with the establishment of parish churches in the 700 and 800s by pepin the short and charlemagne. once there was “a church in every village,” the message that cousin marriage was not permitted would’ve been more readily heard, and, perhaps, more easily enforced (by the local priest).

i don’t know anything about the establishment of parishes in england (yet), but perhaps the english — the anglo-saxons and britons — were on a similar trajectory as the franks with regard to cousin marriage. perhaps they, too, didn’t really start to take the bans seriously until sometime in the 800s, despite there having been some very early laws forbidding cousin marriage in some of the anglo-saxon kingdoms (like in the late 600s in kent). if there was such a delay in avoiding cousin marriage in england in the seventh and eighth centuries, then there wouldn’t have been much intermarriage between the anglo-saxons and britons during those centuries simply because they all would’ve been still mostly marrying their own cousins or other close kin (i.e. fellow clan or kindred members). if so, then genetic exchange between the groups would’ve become much more likely once cousin marriage began to be consistently avoided. maybe it took the church and its bans on cousin marriage to end anglo-saxon apartheid.

just a thought. Further Research is RequiredTM. (^_^)

previously: free cornwall now! and anglo-saxon mating patterns

(note: comments do not require an email. anglo-saxon rings.)


northern europeans began to think of — or at least write about — themselves as individuals beginning in the eleventh century a.d. [pgs. 158, 160, and 64-67 – bolding and links inserted by me]:

The discovery of the individual was one of the most important cultural [*ahem*] developments in the years between 1050 and 1200. It was not confined to any one group of thinkers. Its central features may be found in different circles: a concern with self-discovery; an interest in the relations between people, and in the role of the individual within society; an assessment of people by their inner intentions rather than by their external acts. These concerns were, moreover, conscious and deliberate. ‘Know yourself’ was one of the most frequently quoted injunctions. The phenomenon which we have been studying was found in some measure in every part of urbane and intelligent society.

“It remains to ask how much this movement contributed to the emergence of the distinctively Western view of the individual…. The continuous history of several art-forms and fields of study, which are particularly concerned with the individual, began at this time: auto-biography, psychology, the personal portrait, and satire were among them….

“The years between 1050 and 1200 must be seen…as a turning-point in the history of Christian devotion. There developed a new pattern of interior piety, with a growing sensitivity, marked by personal love for the crucified Lord and an easy and free-flowing meditation on the life and passion of Christ….

“The word ‘individual’ did not, in the twelfth century, have the same meaning as it does today. The nearest equivalents were *individuum*, *individualis*, and *singularis*, but these terms belonged to logic rather than to human relations….

“The age had, however, other words to express its interest in personality. We hear a great deal of ‘the self’, not expressed indeed in that abstract way, but in such terms as ‘knowing oneself’, ‘descending into oneself’, or ‘considering oneself’. Another common term was *anima*, which was used, ambiguously in our eyes, for both the spiritual identity (‘soul’) of a man and his directing intelligence (‘mind’). Yet another was ‘the inner man’, a phrase found in Otloh of Saint Emmeram and Guibert of Nogent, who spoke also of the ‘inner mystery’. Their vocabulary, while it was not the same as ours, was therefore rich in terms suited to express the ideas of self-discovery and self-exploration.

“Know Yourself

“Self-knowledge was one of the dominant themes of the age…. These writers all insisted on self-knowledge as fundamental. Thus Bernard wrote to Pope Eugenius, a fellow-Cistercian, about 1150: ‘Begin by considering yourself — no, rather, end by that….For you, you are the first; you are also the last.’ So did Aelred of Rievaulx: ‘How much does a man know, if he does not know himself?’ The Cistercian school was not the only one to attach such a value to self-knowledge. About 1108 Guibert of Nogent began his history of the Crusade with a modern-sounding reflection about the difficulty of determining motive:

“‘It is hardly surprising if we make mistakes in narrating the actions of other people, when we cannot express in words even our own thoughts and deeds; in fact, we can hardly sort them out in our own minds. It is useless to talk about intentions, which, as we know, are often so concealed as scarcely to be discernible to the understanding of the inner man.’

“Self-knowledge, then, was a generally popular ideal.”

there seem to be two broad sociobiological/genocultural packages when it comes to average nepotistic vs. not-so-nepotistic altruistic behaviors in human populations — these are not binary opposites, but rather the ends of some sort of continuum of behavioral traits [click on table for LARGER view]:

nepotistic vs. not-so-nepotistic

the common thread running through the not-so-nepotistic groups of today (primarily northwest europeans) is a long history of outbreeding (i.e. avoiding close matings, like cousin marriage). (and a long history of manorialism. yes, i WILL start my series on medieval manorialism soon!) while individualism and guilt cultures may have been present in northern europe in paleolithic or even mesolithic populations, these behavioral traits and mindsets were definitely not present in the pre-christian germanic, british, or irish populations of late antiquity. those populations were very much all about clans and kindreds, feuding and honor, shame, and group consensus. guilt/individualistic cultures (i.e. not-so-nepostic societies) can come and go depending at least partly on long-term mating patterns. human evolution can be recent as well as aeons old.

the individualistic guilt-culture of northwest (“core”) europeans today came into existence thanks to their extensive outbreeding during the medieval period (…and the manorialism). the outbreeding started in earnest in the 800s (at least in northern france) and, as we saw above, by 1050-1100 thoughts on individualis began to stir. around the same time, communes appeared in northern italy and parts of france — civic societies. violence rates begin to fall in the 1200s, especially in more outbred populations, i would argue (guess!) because the impulsive violence related to clan feuding was no longer being selected for.

by the 1300-1400s, after an additional couple hundred years of outbreeding, the renaissance was in full swing due to the “wikification” of northern european society — i.e. that nw europeans now possessed a set of behavioral traits that drove them to work cooperatively with non-relatives — to share openly knowledge and ideas and labor in reciprocally altruistic ways. the enlightenment? well, that was just the full flowering of The Outbreeding Project — an explosion of these not-so-nepotistic behavioral traits that had been selected for over the preceding 800 to 900 years. individualism? universalism? liberal democracy? tolerance? reason? skepticism? coffeehouses? the age of enlightenment IS what core europeans are all about! hurray! (^_^) the Project and its effects are ongoing today.

it could be argued that the fact that certain mating patterns seem to go together with certain societal types is just a coincidence — or that it’s the societal type that affects or dictates the mating patterns. for example, i said in my recent post on shame and guilt in ancient greece that:

“shame cultures are all tied up with honor — especially family honor. japan — with its meiwaku and seppuku — is the classic example of a shame culture, but china with its confucian filial piety is not far behind. the arabized populations are definitely shame cultures with their honor killings and all their talk of respect. even european mediterranean societies are arguably more honor-shame cultures than guilt cultures [pdf].

“if you’ve been reading this blog for any amount of time, you’ll recognize all of those shame cultures as having had long histories of inbreeding: maternal cousin marriage was traditionally very common in east asia (here’re japan and china); paternal cousin marriage is still going strong in the arabized world; and cousin marriage was prevelant in the mediterranean up until very recently (here’s italy, for example).”

perhaps, you say, the causal direction is that nepotistic, clannish shame-cultures somehow promote close matings (cousin marriage or whatever). well, undoubtedly there are reinforcing feedback loops here, but the upshot is that both ancient greece and medieval-modern europe clearly illustrate that the mating patterns come first. (possibly ancient rome, too, but i’ll come back to that another day.) the pre-christian northern european societies were clannish shame-cultures until after the populations switched to outbreeding (avoiding cousin marriage) in the early medieval period. late archaic-early classical greek society was rather (a bit borderline) universalistic, individualistic [pg. 160+] and guilt-based until after they began to marry their cousins with greater frequency (at least in classical athens). the not-so-nepotistic guilt-culture we see now in northwest european populations is particularly resilient, i think, because the outbreeding has been carried out for a particularly long time (since at least the 800s) and thanks to the complementary selection pressures of the medieval manor system (which ancient greece lacked), but it did not exist before the early medieval period.

so, the direction of causation seems to be: (long-term) mating patterns –> societal type (nepotistic vs. not-so-nepotistic).

i think.

previously: there and back again: shame and guilt in ancient greece and big summary post on the hajnal line and individualism-collectivism

(note: comments do not require an email. earliest formal self-portrait, jean fouquet, 1450.)

from long-term mating patterns. there. i said it! (~_^)

just to remind everybody — emmanuel todd is a french historian/anthropologist/demographer/sociologist/political scientist who, amongst other things, has (more or less correctly, imho) noticed a connection between family types (nuclear, extended, clan, etc.) and ideology (capitalism, communism, christianity, islam, etc.). see his The Explanation of Ideology: Family Structures and Social Systems (and my previous post “l’explication de l’idéologie”).

here is a summary of todd’s family types, where he found them, and some of their fundamental characteristics and related ideologies (again, see previous post for more — see also this chart from craig willy):

absolute nuclear family
– no cohabitation of married children with their parents
– no marriage between the children of brothers
– anglo-saxons, netherlands, denmark
– christianity, capitalism, ‘libertarian’ liberalism, feminism

egalitarian nuclear family
– no cohabitation of married children with their parents
– no marriage between the children of brothers.
– northern france, northern italy, central and southern spain, central portugal, greece, romania, poland, latin america, ethiopia
– christianity (catholicism); the “liberte, egalite, fraternite” form of liberalism

authoritarian family
– cohabitation of the married heir with this parents
– little or no marriage between the children of two brothers
– germany, austria, sweden, norway, belgium, bohemia, scotland, ireland, peripheral regions of france, northern spain, northern portugal, japan, korea, jews, romany gypsies
– socialism/bureaucratic socialism or social democracy, catholicism. fascism sometimes, various separatist and autonomous (anti-universalist) movements (think german federalism)

exogamous community family
– cohabitation of married sons and their parents
– no marriage between the children of two brothers
– russia, yugoslavia, slovakia, bulgaria, hungary, finland, albania, central italy, china, vietnam, cuba, north india (note that many of these countries, the eastern european ones, also have a tradition of marrying young)
– communism

endogamous community family
– cohabitation of married sons with their parents
– frequent marriage between the children of brothers
– arab world, turkey, iran, afghanistan, pakistan, azerbaijan, turkmenistan, uzbekistan, tadzhikistan
– islam

asymmetrical community family
– cohabitation of married sons and their parents
– prohibition on marriages between the children of brothers, but a preference for marriages between the children of brothers and sisters
– southern India
– hinduism; a variety of communism unlike that found elsewhere

anomic family
– cohabitation of married children with their parents rejected in theory but accepted in practice
– consanguine marriage possible and sometimes frequent
– burma, cambodia, laos, thailand, malaysia, indonesia, philippines, madagascar, south-american indian cultures

african systems
– instability of the household
– polygyny

the fundamental pattern here is that the family types run from small (and individualistic) to large (and communal) — from nuclear families through to community families. the underlying fundamental pattern — the causal factor — is that the long-term mating patterns run from outbreeding to greater and greater levels of inbreeding (to inbreeding+polygamy in many african societies).

as i said in a previous post where do clans come from?:

“the presence (or absence) of clans in societies is somehow connected to the mating patterns of societies. in fact, it seems to be that a whole range of kinship-based societal types is somehow connected to a whole range of mating patterns: the ‘closer’ the mating patterns in a society, the more ‘clannish’ it tends to be — the more distant the mating patterns, the less ‘clannish.’

“so we see a spectrum of ‘clannish’ societies ranging from the very individualistic western societies characterized by nuclear families and, crucially, very little inbreeding (cousin marriage, for instance) to very tribal arab or bedouin societies characterized by nested networks of extended families and clans and large tribal organizations and having *very high* levels of inbreeding (specifically a form of very close cousin marriage which increases the degree of inbreeding). falling somewhere in between these two extremes are groups like the chinese whose society is built mostly around the extended familiy but in some regions of china also clans — or the medieval scots (especially the highland scots) whose society for centuries was built around the clan (h*ck, they even coined the term!). these ‘in-betweener’ groups are, or were, characterized by mid-levels of inbreeding (typically avoiding the very close cousin marriage form of the arabs).”

running through todd’s types:

– the absolute nuclear family found in anglo-saxons (the english), the netherlands, and denmark. todd notes that there is no marriage between the children of brothers in societies where this family type is found. in fact, there has been very little cousin marriage of ANY sort in these “core european” societies since the middle ages (see “mating patterns in europe series” below ↓ in left-hand column) — especially in (southern) england and (parts of) the netherlands (i don’t know about denmark). these are the areas of northwest europe — of probably the world — that have been outbreeding the most, since the early part of the medieval period — and they have the smallest families and are the greatest individualists (although i’m not so sure about the danes…).

– the egalitarian nuclear family found in northern france, northern italy, central and southern spain, central portugal, greece, romania, poland, latin america, and ethiopia. again, todd notes there there is no marriage between the children of brothers in these societies, but the key — at least as far as the european societies here go — is that they, too, have mostly been avoiding ALL forms of cousin marriage for a very long time — but NOT QUITE as long, or for as much, as the peoples of the low countries/southern england. The Outbreeding Project of the europeans (as i like to call it) really got going earliest amongst the franks (and the anglo-saxons in kent who had close ties to the franks), and it spread out in all directions across europe from there. so, the populations closest to the early medieval frankish heartland (other parts of northern france, northern italy, spain, portugal) are just one family type step away from the absolute nuclear family — and individualistic, but not as individualistic as the english or dutch. (for more details on these other european countries see “mating patterns in europe series” below ↓ in left-hand column.) i don’t yet know enough about the mating patterns of latin america or ethiopia.

– the authoritarian family, which is a type of stem family (nuclear family+grandparents), found in germany, austria, sweden, norway, belgium, bohemia, scotland, ireland, peripheral regions of france, northern spain, northern portugal, japan, korea, jews, and romany gypsies. todd notes that there is little or no marriage between the children of brothers in these populations, but again, most of the european countries/regions included here have avoided ALL cousin marriage for centuries. HOWEVER, they were mostly part a LATER — sometimes much later (e.g. ireland, highland scotland) — wave in The Outbreeding Project, just like the european egalitarian nuclear families above (for more details see “mating patterns in europe series” below ↓ in left-hand column). the japanese, too, began outbreeding quite latevery late, i believe (but i need to find out more). i don’t know enough about the koreans or jews (i assume todd means ashkenazi jews?) to say. in general, gypsies inbreed (marry their cousins) A LOT. so, as the extent of long-term inbreeding increases, the family size begins to increase.

– the exogamous community family found in russia, yugoslavia, slovakia, bulgaria, hungary, finland, albania, central italy, china, vietnam, cuba, and north india. todd notes that there is no marriage between the children of brothers in these groups, but in most of the eastern europeans populations here (not sure about finland or hungary), The Outbreeding Project arrived much later than in northwestern europe, and marriage between maternal cousins was not unusual in the medieval period (see “mating patterns in europe series” below ↓ in left-hand column). in some of these groups — like the albanians — maternal cousin marriage is probably still common today, or was until very recently. parts of italy, too, especially the farther south you go. maternal cousin marriage was common in china, especially in the south, for millennia (see “mating patterns in asia series” below ↓ in left-hand column). i don’t know enough about the vietnamese or cubans to say. the northern indians (the hindus) tend to avoid cousin marriage, but marry within castes, of course. so we see again that, the longer the history of cousin marriage, the larger the family size. most of these groups have been marrying cousins for several hundreds of years longer than northwestern europeans, and they have large “community” families.

– the endogamous community family found in the arab world, turkey, iran, afghanistan, pakistan, azerbaijan, turkmenistan, uzbekistan, and tajikistan. todd notes that there is frequent marriage between the children of brothers. that is absolutely correct — father’s brother’s daughter (fbd) marriage, which probably originated in the levant, was exported into the arabian peninsula, and spread out from there when the arabs conquered the middle east, north african, and many of the “-stans.” and it just so happens that fbd marriage leads to the greatest degrees of inbreeding possible — and, therefore, these populations have some of the largest family sizes possible (clans and tribes).

– the asymmetrical community family found in southern india. todd notes that maternal cousin marriage is preferred here, and the rates of cousin marriage in southern india — and uncle-niece marriage — are very high. so again, lots of close marriages leads to large, community families.

– the anomic family found in burma, cambodia, laos, thailand, malaysia, indonesia, philippines, madagascar, and south-american indian cultures. todd says that consanguineous marriages are permitted and “sometimes frequent” in these populations — and that adult children often live with their parents (so these families are larger than nuclear families). i don’t know much about the mating patterns in any of these groups, but if consanguineous marriages are frequent in them, it’s not surprising to find large family sizes.

african family systems found in sub-saharan africa. todd describes them as unstable and polygynous. i know that cousin marriage is common in some but not in others, but i don’t know many details. we shall have to wait and see on sub-saharan africa.

but hbd chick — maybe populations with large family sizes simply favor close marriages? perhaps it’s all just a coincidence!

no, it’s definitely NOT a coincidence, and we can know that the causal direction is from long-term mating patterns to family size (and various ideologies), because we have the example of europe to show us that.

BEFORE northwest europeans started outbreeding (avoiding cousin marriage) on a regular basis — in the pre-christian era — they had large families — kindreds and clans and tribes (for more details see “general” section and “mating patterns in europe series” below ↓ in left-hand column). and the groups that have been OUTBREEDING THE LONGEST — the english and the dutch (and the danes?) — have the smallest family sizes — and are the most individualistic. and the groups that started outbreeding later — for example the irish and the highland scots — they had larger families and even clans until well into the medieval period. same for eastern europe. and in the balkans, many of those groups are still marrying cousins today (or up until very recently), and they still have extended families and clans.

it’s not clear exactly what the mechanism is, but it must be biological and is, no doubt, related to the concept of inclusive fitness. the natural analogy (heh – see what i did there?) to draw would be to ants and the other eusocial insects (although i know many myrmecologists/entymologists don’t like to connect eusociality and inclusive fitness) — many of the individuals in these insect populations are very closely related, and, so (probably), they come together in very large family groups. other parallels might be to naked mole rats versus other mole rats or to meerkats, but i don’t know the mating patterns/genetic relatedness in those species.

however it actually works, the general pattern is clear: the closer the long-term mating patterns, the larger the family size (and the more family-oriented the populace) — the more distant the long-term mating patterns, the smaller the family size (and the more individualistic the populace — and, yet, more commonweal oriented — at least in europe…).

see also: craig willy’s Emmanuel Todd’s L’invention de l’Europe: A critical summary

previously: “l’explication de l’idéologie” and where do clans come from? and whatever happened to european tribes?

(note: comments do not require an email. nekked mole rat!)