first of all, let me apologize upfront for getting ahead of myself in this post. i wasn’t going to write this post until after i covered more thoroughly, and on an individual basis, the histories of the mating patterns/family types for each of the countries discussed in this post — as i did for ireland recently (4+ posts) — but i’m too impatient to wait for me to get that done! so you’ll just have to trust me for the meantime as i give you some abridged versions of the mating pattern histories for these european societies. i promise to cover them all in greater depth in the near future! (i’ve actually already looked at most of them to some degree or another in the “mating patterns in europe series” below ↓ in left-hand column.)
this post is about the radical reformation and its connections to the long-term mating patterns/family types of various european populations beginning in the medieval period. please keep in mind that i’m about to paint a picture in VERY broad strokes. this is an idea which will likely change, if not be debunked completely by me, myself, and/or someone(s) else out there.
to begin with, the reformation (primarily lutheranism) seems to have been a reaction on the part of the northern european outbreeding populations — which, thanks to intensive outbreeding and the new social structures/selection pressures which followed from that, were becoming more and more individualistic/universalistic over time — to the relatively more clannish/particularistic attitudes and behaviors of inbreeding southern europeans (italians, for example) that infused the roman catholic church of the day. (for more on individualism/universalism vs. clannishness/particularism see here and here and here.) the northern europeans — in this case the germans — wanted, amongst other things, to have a more personal interaction with god (i.e. reflecting their greater individualism, i think), and they were also reacting strongly (as good individualists/universalists do) to all of the corruption in the roman catholic church.
but this post isn’t about them. rather, it’s about the reactionaries to these reactionaries — mainly the calvinists (including the puritans) and the anabaptists, but also arminianism and (later) methodism and (even later, one my favorite groups) the unitarians. obviously this is not a comprehensive listing of all the radical reformers — like i said, broad strokes.
let’s first remind ourselves about the general pattern of outbreeding (i.e. the avoidance of cousin marriage) in northwestern europe — where it started in the early medieval period and how it spread.
some of the earliest evidence for outbreeding/nuclear families (the two go together) in early medieval europe appears in the frankish kingdom of austrasia and, shortly afterwards, in the anglo-saxon kingdom of wessex (see map below). this is where medieval manorialism started (see mitterauer’s Why Europe?), and, as i’ve discussed previously (see also here), manorialism and outbreeding — not to mention late marriage — all went together as a package.
here’s a map that i made previously of the extent and spread of manorialism in medieval europe based on mitterauer’s book — i’ve indicated the core spots where manorialism started in green:
for reasons that are not entirely clear to me, manorialism spread outwards from austrasia mainly to the east and southeast — not so much to the west or southwest. from mitterauer [pgs. 45-46 – links added by me]:
“The most significant expansion of the model agricultural system in the Frankish heartland between the Seine and the Rhine took place toward the east. Its diffusion embraced almost the whole of central Europe and large parts of eastern Europe. The German term for this, *Ostkolonisation* — the ‘colonization of the East’ (the *German* colonization of the East is what is understood here) — has suffered from the abuses of nationalist historiography; but if we leave these connotations aside, the word hits the nail on the head. This great colonizing process, which transmitted Frankish agricultural structures and their accompanying forms of lordship…”
AND mating patterns via the church and secular laws…
“…took off at the latest around the middle of the eighth century. Frankish majordomos or kings from the Carolingian house introduced manorial estates (*Villikation*) and the hide system (*Hufenverfassung*) throughout the royal estates east of the Rhine as well — in Mainfranken (now Middle Franconia), in Hessia, and in Thuringia. Research on German historical settlement refers to ‘Frankish state colonization’ in this context…. The eastern limit of the Caronlingian Empire was for a long time an important dividing line between the expanding Frankish agricultural system and eastern European agricultural structures…..”
AND an important dividing line between mating patterns/family types, i.e. there was more outbreeding for a longer period of time, and smaller nuclear families rather larger extended families, the farther WEST of that eastern limit of the carolingian empire that one went.
“When the push toward colonization continued with more force in the High Middle Ages, newer models of *Rentengrundherrschaft* predominated — but they were still founded on the hide system. This pattern was consequently established over a wide area: in the Baltic, in large parts of Poland, in Bohemia, Moravia and parts of Slovakia, in western Hungary, and in Slovenia. Colonization established a line stretching roughly from St. Petersburg to Trieste. We will come across this line again when studying European family systems and their diffusion. The sixteenth century witnessed the last great attempt to establish the hide system throughout an eastern European region when King Sigismund II of Poland tried it in the Lithuanian part of his empire in what is modern-day Belarus. The eastward expansion of Frankish agrarian reform therefore spanned at least eight centuries….
“The more ancient agrarian economic structures of the East and the newer structures of the West stood in especially strong contrast to each other in the areas annexed by the colonization of the East.”
the region that was austrasia is today comprised of: a bit of northeastern france, a bit of western germany, belgium, luxembourg, and the netherlands. this — along with wessex (and, probably, western kent) in southern england — is the area of northwestern europe where the medieval outbreeding project began, so this is the region of europe that we should expect to be the most individualistic/universalistic and that should have started to show those features the earliest.
and, indeed, by the 1300-1400s, cousin and other forms of close marriage were a non-issue in these regions of former austrasia as well as southern, and even central, england — they simply don’t appear in ecclesiastical court records. in the 1200s, the english were already very individualistic and busy in the early stages of inventing liberal democracy, while by the 1500s, places like amsterdam were reknowned for their religious and intellectual tolerance and were positively multi-cultural. this is all in stark contrast to peripheral europe — places like the highlands of scotland, ireland, the iberian peninsula, southern italy, greece and the balkans, and pretty much all of eastern europe east of the hajnal line — which were all very clannish places throughout the medieval period, and even later in many of those regions.
so what does this have to do with the radical reformers? well, check out this map (taken from here. anthony suggested that i add the calvinists in england, i.e. the puritans+some others, to the map, so i did — based upoon hackett fischer’s Albion’s Seed, i added purple stripes [didn’t know if it should be stripes or solid, so i just went for stripes] to east anglia and the wiltshire/somerset area.):
i know that there’s a lot going on on this map, but what strikes me is that, the less universalistic reformers — the calvinists and the anabaptists (some of whom formed very closed, non-universalistic groups like the amish and the mennonites) — are found in the border regions between or including both outbreeders and inbreeders — i.e. between the roman catholics and the lutherans (and, later, the anglicans).
- scotland: we find calvinists mostly in the scottish lowlands which is practically a dmz between the clannish highlanders & islanders and the clannish border reivers. throughout the medieval period in scotland, there was more feudalism/manorialism in lowland scotland than in the highland areas, which, being mountainous, were populated by pastoralists — and pastoralists/mountaineers tend to be inbreeders. so, given the presence of manorialism, outbreeding was probably encouraged at least somewhat in the lowlands. also, a good number of foreigners from the continent settled in the lowlands in the medieval period, some of whom had been outbreeders back from whence they came. from A History of Everyday Life in Medieval Scotland: 1000 to 1600 (the chapter entitled The Family):
“The Historiographer Royal, Chris Smout, has commented memorably that, ‘Highland society was based on kinship modified by feudalism, Lowland society on feudalism tempered by kinship’, although even this statement needs further refinement. There is the additional complication that, as late as the twelfth century, the kingdom of the Scots was an amalgam of several different peoples: by the reign of King David I (1124-53) the Picts may have been a distant memory but David and his successors regularly addressed the men of their realm as *Francis* (a description which included French, Normans and Bretons), *Anglis* and *Scottis*, and sometimes also as Cumbrians and Galwegians.”
so kinship was still important to the lowlanders — as is evidenced by lowland scottish clans — but they were less clannish than the highlanders.
- england: we’ve got calvinists (puritans) in east anglia and southwestern england (but not cornwall), pretty much bordering either side of wessex where manorialism was first founded in england and where, therefore, outbreeding is likely to have the longest history on the island. at least the wiltshire/somerset area bounds on the wessex area. we’ve also seen previously that east anglia (and eastern kent) never experienced manorialism AND had a tendency towards extended families, so this, too, was probably a region that didn’t experience as much outbreeding as south-central england did. the east anglians don’t sound at all as clannish as, say, the medieval or even early modern irish, but extended family ties lingered until quite late, so it may be that this region of england saw some sort of intermediary range of outbreeding. (further research is required!)
- northern france/belgium/the netherlands: according to my theory, this region shouldn’t have any calvinists or anabaptists (reactionary radical reformers) at all, since this is smack-dab in the middle of what was once austrasia. the thing is, though: frisia. the frisians along the coastal areas of the netherlands never experienced manorialism and, in fact, remained very clannish until very late — as a group, they were very independent-spirited (quite like, say, the scots-irish) and took pride in their “frisian freedom.” in fact, the entire coastline of northern europe from the netherlands to denmark was inhabited by group-oriented, likely inbreeding (although i don’t know that for sure — still need to find out) groups who lived in the swampy areas of the coast — from the frisians in the netherlands to the ditmarsians in northern germany. the east anglians can really be considered a part of these clannish coastal swamp dwellers, too. the (likely) close mating in these populations didn’t happen as a result of remote mountain dwelling, but, rather, from living in remote, inaccessible corners of these swamp lands. (did i mention that menno simons, the founder of the mennonites, was a frisian?)
- southern france: i don’t have a good idea at all of the historic mating patterns for southern france, but if the modern patterns are anything to go by (and they might not be), then greater numbers of close marriages are likely for southern france. this is also indicated by the topography (upland/mountainous) of the region. certainly the hotspots of calvinism in southern france seem to coincide with the mountainous areas. even the area northwest of tours, too. further research is required!
- switzerland: switzerland is more mountainous to the south than the north (although it’s pretty mountainous all over!). according to the map above, the calvinists were located solidly in the northern part of the country, and not really in the south. on the other hand, according to this other map, they were in the west and not in the east. not sure who to believe, so i need to do more reading on the reformation in switzerland. i can tell you, though, (and you’ll have to trust me on this for now), that historically there’s been more and closer inbreeding up in the mountain villages in switzerland rather than in the valleys. again, though, switzerland seems to be an example of the reactionary radical reformation happening in border areas between inbreeders and outbreeders — not sure which of the groups adopted calvinism, though! perhaps both. dunno.
- poland (belarus?) and — what is that? — hungary/romania?: these areas represent the frontier of the ostkolonisation that mitterauer described. this is at the edge of the hajnal line — the edge of the hard-core outbreeding project in europe (the eastern orthodox churches did discourage cousin marriage, but generally starting at a later date and, quite likely, not as strictly — the regulations in medieval russia, for example, flip-flopped several times). this is where western outbreeding and eastern inbreeding meet — and we find calvinism there.
the calvinists and anabaptists (and others) were less universalistic radical reformers as compared to the lutherans. on the other hand, there were some radical reforemers who leaned towards greater universalism. not surprisingly, they turned up in the netherlands and england (and maybe some other places, too — poland, i think! — remember broad strokes — further research is required!):
- arminianism: arminianism seems to be a reaction to the sorts of ideas espoused by the calvinists who were, in turn, reacting to lutheranism (who were, in turn, reacting to roman catholicism!). i might be wrong since i don’t know a whole lot about arminianism, but it seems more individualistic/universalistic than calvinism since salvation is dependent upon the rational choice of men to believe in/follow god, whereas the calvinists have got this double predestination thing in which god really has a set plan for everybody beforehand. that does not seem universalistic to me at all — in fact, it seems quite closed — so, perhaps it’s not strange that calvinism appealed to somewhat inbred groups and/or groups found in inbreeding/outbreeding borderlands. jacobus arminius, btw, was from the place formerly known as austrasia.
arminianism influenced other reformationists/protestant groups such as:
- the baptists: baptists are very individualistic in that they believe in “soul competency,” i.e. that each and every individual is responsible for his own faith. the first baptist preacher was an englishman, john smyth, who happened to be residing in (tolerant) amsterdam at the time he developed his ideas/founded his church. smyth was from nottinghamshire in the east midlands.
- the methodists: arriving on the scene much later (the eighteenth century), the methodists are the quintessential individualists/universalists who are endlessly concerned about the commonweal and helping their fellow man. they’re into “unlimited atonement,” so in their view, everyone can be (is!) saved. jesus died for EVERYone. THAT is universal. the wesley family (the founder of methodism being john wesley) was originally from dorset — in the heart of wessex (see above).
and, my favorites…
that’s all i’ve got for you for now. i promise to go back and take a closer look at all these different populations — and i’ll try to find out if they’ve really been inbreeders or outbreeders like i’ve said (guessed!)! (^_^)
one final note — i think there’s a progression towards greater and greater universalism over time within christianity amongst the northwest europeans (the outbreeders) — not just in protestantism, but in roman catholicism, too — until eventually we wound up with simply humanism (not attached to a god at all) — and even movements for human rights to be extended to certain animals like chimpanzees, some of our closest relatives. apart from something like jainism, it starts to be hard to imagine a more universalistic belief system at all!
footnote: for those of you interested in hbd blogging history, the germ of the idea for this post first came to my mind (accidentally, as is usually the case) in this comment back in march of this year. i’ve been ruminating on the idea ever since.
(note: comments do not require an email. moo! (^_^) )