Archives for posts with tag: anglo-saxons

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.)

here’s a map (on the left) of anglo-saxon burial sites of the 5th to 7th centuries from “Anglo-Saxon immigration and ethnogenesis” compared to the distribution of the eastern, central, and southern english genetic cluster (red squares on map to right) from leslie et al. who found between 10-40% of the ancestry of those english to be anglo-saxon:

harcke - anglo-saxon burial sites 5th to 7th-8th centuries

that is all! (^_^)

previously: free cornwall now!

(note: comments do not require an email. anglo-saxon burial: lady and her cow.)

sam schulman points me to an interesting article in the tls (thanks, sam!), Querns and curtains, which is a review of a couple of books about the house and home. one of them is The Making of Home: The 500-year story of how our houses became homes by judith flanders.

here’s the cool bit [my bolding]:

“France and Britain stood on two sides of a divide that Flanders identifies between the ‘home’ countries and ‘house’ countries. In the ‘house’ countries – where Romance or Slavic languages are spoken – there is no linguistic distinction between house and home. ‘When an Italian goes home he *sta andando a casa*, goes to the house’. To speakers of the languages of north-western Europe, home and house are ‘related but distinct things': *Heim* and *Haus* in German or *koti* and *talo* in Finnish. Flanders convincingly suggests that this linguistic separation of house and home went along with a different ideal of ‘homeness’. The focal point was not the wider community but the individual household, which was increasingly founded on privacy. Curtains are a case in point. They make possible the kind of cosiness – the Danish word is *hygge* – that can only be found inside ‘when set against a real or metaphorical cold world outside’. Flanders writes that the implications of the northern European version of ‘home’ went far beyond the cultural. Patterns of late marriage in these countries produced generations of couples who needed ‘to equip new houses’ and had ‘the cash to do so’. It is Flanders’s thesis that a focus on a private ‘home’ equipped with new desirable consumer goods was one of the factors that made industrialization happen earlier in Britain than elsewhere. The ideal home was an insatiable creature, constantly generating new appetites for consumer goods, such as sash windows, carpets, cookstoves; and later for gas light and newfangled raisin-pitters and apple-corers.”

sounds like the dividing line between ‘house’ and ‘home’ societies in europe is more or less the hajnal line! — with france outside the hajnal line in this instance. (is there really no word for ‘home’ in french?)

consulting my (shorter) oed, i find that the words house and home both go back to at least old english, i.e. sometime before 1149 (and both are also related to similar words in other germanic languages obviously), but that the word home really took on the primary meaning that we use today in middle english or sometime between 1150 and 1349 when its other usage (“a collection of dwellings”) was dropped:

house [f. Gmc: ult origin unkn.] A n. Pl. houses. 1 A building for human habitation, a dwelling, a home; spec. a self-contained unit having a ground floor and one or more upper storeys (as opp. to a bungalow, flat, etc.). OE.

home
A n. †1 A collection of dwellings; a village, a town. OE-ME. 2 The place where one lives permanently, esp. as a member of a family or household; a fixed place of residence. Freq. without article or possessive, esp. as representing the centre of family life. OE.

i’ve been arguing for a while now that the foundation of anglo-saxon society in early medieval england was the extended family or kindred and not the individual and his nuclear family like today. (this is not my idea — i’ve picked it up from various historians.) i’ve also argued that the shift from the kindred to the nuclear family in medieval england and elsewhere in my northwestern “core” europe occurred sometime between ca. 1000 and 1200 — roughly speaking (prolly slightly later in northern scandinavia). for example, it wasn’t until the eleventh century in england that a feud could be carried out by a man’s fellow guild members (i.e. people not necessarily related to him) rather than his kindred (see here) — this, i think, indicates that the importance of the kindred was dying away at that point in time. for more on all this see my previous posts: kinship in anglo-saxon society, kinship in anglo-saxon society ii, and the importance of the kindred in anglo-saxon society.

the shift in the meaning of the word home sometime between 1150 and 1349 to (only) the way we use it today is, i think, another indicator of the rising importance of the nuclear family right around this time (or just a bit before, perhaps, with a slight delay in the language until it caught up with the reality on the ground). from the article again: “The focal point was not the wider community but the individual household….” the “wider community” had, of course, largely been extended family and kindred members in the early medieval period; by the high and late middle ages, the nuclear family in the individual household was what was important — one’s “home” (as we know it), no longer one’s “home” (a “collection of dwellings”…belonging to the extended family?). and, of course, i think that this shift from the extended to the nuclear family in nw europe happened thanks to The Outbreeding Project in medieval europe, yada, yada, yada….

this shift in the language parallel to the one in the family type isn’t the only one that appears to be connected to The Outbreeding Project. the terms that we use to describe various family members — especially cousins and aunts and uncles — also changed in nw europe a couple of hundred years after The Outbreeding Project got going in europe — right around the 1100s in germany, in fact. interesting, huh? (and did i ever mention that there was a similar linguistic shift in ancient greece in the fifth to the third centuries bc?)
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something else that i found interesting in the review article, but only because i have a quirky interest in the layout of houses, both inside and in relation to other houses:

“Another common feature of these roundhouses, as the archaeologist Francis Pryor notes in ‘Home: A time traveller’s tales from Britain’s history’, his account of family life in Britain before the Romans, was that the doorway almost always faced south-east – as many as 95 per cent of the ones we know of. The most likely reason was solar orientation: ‘to catch the light of the rising sun’, as Pryor puts it. In his view, this was not primarily a practical move – in the Fens, where there are bitter north-easterly winds, a west-facing door might have offered more protection – though it ‘may have helped’ with getting up in the morning. Rather, these sun-catching doorways were a ‘symbol’ of the importance of the sun in structuring daily life. Home, in Iron Age Britain, was a place that looked outwards towards the sun.

“Fast-forward to the towns of Britain in the nineteenth century and people no longer had strong views about the placement of doorways. A front door faced not the sun but the street, and therefore varied depending on which side of the street you occupied. What mattered more than which way the door faced was that a home should have curtains. By the mid-nineteenth century, as Judith Flanders explains in her magnificent overview ‘The Making of Home’, to live without curtains ‘seemed as odd to the British as living without corridors’ (another thing that homes had once not felt the lack of). Curtains have many functions – insulation, decoration and prestige. But their primary purpose is to protect the home from what is happening outside, ‘even light’, as Flanders writes. Curtains epitomize a view of ‘home’ directly opposed to the south-easterly doorways of prehistoric Britain. Our modern version of home is not a place that looks towards the sun, but inwards towards itself. Curtains enable the occupants of a house to feel that ‘what is happening outside is far away’.”

i’ve brought up the orientation of houses in england (and nw europe) before. what i’ve always thought was significant is that anglo/nw european houses face onto the street or a common area (the “green”), not only for a functional reason (although it’s no doubt useful to have the entrance to your house face the road), but because all the unrelated nuclear families in these homes feel that they are a part of the broader community (except, of course, for that one crazy guy livin’ on his own down the street). this is in contrast, for instance, to courtyard houses that you find in many areas of the world where inbreeding (cousin marriage) still occurs and where it’s the extended family that’s important, not the neighborhood.

flanders’ observations on curtains offering some privacy and a way for the nuclear family to focus in on itself (particularly when the blinds are closed?) are interesting, though. maybe i’ll have to read the book! (^_^)

previously: big summary post on the hajnal line and the importance of the kindred in anglo-saxon society and kinship in anglo-saxon society and kinship in anglo-saxon society ii and there’s no place like home and kandahar vs. levittown.

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

busy reading all about crime and punishment (i.e. the death penalty) in medieval england, so you don’t have to! (^_^) in the meantime, until i post about that, here are some random notes:

the law codes of ine king of wessex (688-726) are some of the earliest anglo-saxon law codes still surviving. they were issued ca. 694. ine took his christianity seriously and demanded that [pg. 27]:

“[A]ll children were to be baptised within 30 days of their birth, failing which their guardians had to pay a fine of 30 shillings. If a child died before baptism its guardian lost all he possessed….”

so there are some strong incentives for the populace to convert to christianity or remain christian once they’d done so.
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æthelstan, king of the anglo-saxons and then the first king of the north english (924-939), also passed a bunch of laws including [pg. 32]:

“[T]he first social legislation in England, providing for the relief of the poor. If a king’s reeve failed to provide, from the rents of the royal demesne, for the poor in the manner prescribed he had to find 30 shillings to be distributed among the poor under the bishop’s supervision.”

nice of him! (^_^)
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some examples of concerns about consanguinity issues in the late anglo-saxon period [pg. 226]:

“General concern about marriage and sexual relations within the kin is expressed throughout our period, for example, in the late ninth century in letters from Pope John VIII to Burgred, king of the Mercians, and to Æthelred, archbishop of Canterbury, and another from Fulk, archbishop of Reims, to King Alfred. In the 950s, according to the ‘Anglo-Saxon Chronicle’, ‘Archbishop Oda separated King Eadwig and Ælfgifu because they were too closely related’. They may have shared a great-great-grandfather, King Æthelwulf of Wessex….”

so there you go.
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and in anglo-norman england [pgs. 435-437]:

“As in the Anglo-Saxon period, a central issue was consanguinity. In the second half of the eleventh century and particularly under the influence of the reformer Peter Damian, the method of counting the prohibited degrees was established in its most extensive form. Instead of counting to see if there was a common ancestor within four generations, the counting was taken a further three generations back, to the seventh. This had the effect of extending the range of prohibited marriage partners to sixth cousins.[12] In England, the prohibition ‘to the seventh degree’ was decreed at ecclesiastical councils at London in 1074 x 1075, and at Westminster in 1102 and 1125: ‘between those related by blood or relatives by affinity [i.e. by marriage], up to the seventh generation, we prohibit marriages to be contracted. If indeed anyone shall have been thus joined together, let them be separated’. Reformers also emphasised other non-blood relationships, especially spiritual kinship. The potential for conflict with lay practice must have increased significantly, as it has been suggested that whilst the layity did not commonly contract marriages within four degrees, they did within five or six.[15]

“[12] It has been suggested that blood relationships alone might mean that the bride or groom had over 2,500 cousins of their own generation whom they were prohibited to marry; J.-L. Flandrin, Families in Former Times, trans. R. Southern (Cambridge, 1979), 24.

“[15] E.g. Green, Aristocracy, 348-9.”

2,500 cousins that you couldn’t marry. awkward that.
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interestingly (at least to me!), from late anglo-saxon england [pg. 242 – link added by me]:

“A further important tie was that of spiritual kinship, created particularly at baptism, but also at the catechumenate and confirmation. It seems that in England, unlike the Continent, there was only one sponsor, of the same sex as the person undergoing the ceremony. This is one reason for the relatively limited emphasis in England on the need for the group of godparents and their godchild to avoid sexual relations or marriage within the group.[114]

“[114] J.H. Lynch, Christianizing Kinship: Ritual Sponsorship in Anglo-Saxon England. 1998.”

huh! who knew?
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and, finally, just to remind everyone how barbaric the barbarians were [pg. 186]:

“The laws of Æthelstan mention drowning or throwing from a cliff for free women, stoning for male slaves, burning for female slaves:

“‘In the case of a male slave, sixty and twenty slaves shall go and stone him. And if any of them fails three times to hit him, he shall himself be scourged three times. When a slave guilty of theft has been put to death, each of those slaves shall give three pennies to his lord. In the case of a female slave who commits an act of theft anywhere except against her master or mistress, sixty and twenty female slaves shall go and bring three logs each and burn that one slave; and they shall pay as many pennies as males slaves would have to pay, or suffer scourging as has been stated above with references to male slaves.’

“However, the literary and archaeology evidence just cited suggests that hanging and beheading were the most common methods.”

=/

(note: comments do not require an email. æthelstan – earliest surviving portrait of an english king.)

in a previous post — the transition from shame to guilt in anglo-saxon england (and “core” europe) — i responded to a post by peter frost in which he argued that sentiments of guilt vs. shame in nw european populations, in particular anglo-saxon (i.e. english) society, go back to at least pre-christian anglo-saxon days. my response was that i think that’s unlikely — there’s no good evidence that feelings of guilt motivated the pre-christian anglo-saxons — and rather that innate feelings of guilt were selected for after the anglo-saxons (and other nw europeans) converted to christianity, and primarily because they quit marrying close relatives which triggered a whole chain of selection processes (if that’s the right way to put it).

peter wrote a part ii to his guilt vs. shame post — Origins of Northwest European guilt culture. Part II (go read it if you haven’t already!) — and this post is a response to that.
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in part ii, peter makes the argument that guilt in nw european populations goes way back to before the arrival of neolithic peoples in the region, and that the fact that there were large-sized, rather complex, semi-sedentary hunter-gatherer (fisher) populations in scandinavia and the baltic area meant that lots of non-kin individuals would’ve interacted with each other and, therefore, feelings of guilt could’ve arisen (read his post if you didn’t follow that — read it in any case, ’cause it is an interesting post!).

unfortunately, he doesn’t offer any evidence for a guilt culture existing in these societies. as far as i can tell, he just sorta assumes it:

“When did this guilt culture emerge? Historians usually link it to the rise of Protestantism, the expansion of the market economy, and the emancipation of the individual from the kin group, all of which happened — or are said to have happened — over the last thousand years. Yet there is compelling evidence for an earlier time frame. At the dawn of history, the peoples along the North Sea and the Baltic already had relatively loose kinship ties, a tendency toward prolonged celibacy, and a high level of circulation of non-kin individuals between households.

where is the evidence for these loose kinship ties, tendency toward prolonged celibacy, and high level of circulation of non-kin individuals between households? he does offer evidence for increased complexity in northern european mesolithic societies, but nothing about the kinship ties/celibacy/circulation of non-kin (unless i missed something -?-).

peter also presents the argument that, since the advance of the neolithic farmers stopped at the edges of where these mesolithic hunter-gatherers in scandinavia/the baltic region lived, that somehow the mesolithic hunter-gatherers were able to stop that advance by some collective action. possibly — but that doesn’t mean they had a guilt-based culture. and, anyway, the advance of neolithic peoples northwards and eastwards in europe seems to have stalled on more than one occasion, like in southeastern europe [pg. 34]:

“As had happened earlier in Greece, the expansion of farming communities into southeastern Europe went only so far and then stopped. The initial phase of rapid, long-distance colonizing movements was followed by consolidation. A frontier was established in Hungary south of Lake Balaton that persisted for at least five hundred years, about 6100-5600 BC…. When another wave of colonizing migrations began about 5600-5500 BC, carrying the farming and stockbreeding way of life over the Carpathians and into Poland, Germany, and France, the villages of southeastern Europe were already old and well established, and had a history of interconnection.”
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the reality of it is, late iron age/late antiquity/pre-christian northwestern european societies were not guilt-based. of the regions peter mentioned, the scandinavians were busy feuding between clans (their ætts) just like all the other germanic (and celtic) clans and tribes of pre-christian europe (stay tuned in the coming weeks for more on the scandis!). and the baltic populations — well, h*ll, they’re STILL barely guilt-based today (they’ve got the highest homicide rates in europe, some of the highest corruption levels, etc., etc.) — probably because the avoidance of close cousin marriage came really late to the baltic region. if mesolithic northern european societies had been guilt-based (and there’s not much evidence that they were), that guilt was long gone by the iron age.

again, peter said:

When did this guilt culture emerge? Historians usually link it to the rise of Protestantism, the expansion of the market economy, and the emancipation of the individual from the kin group, all of which happened — or are said to have happened — over the last thousand years.

the historians are right — or they are sorta right. northwestern (my “core”) european guilt culture emerged not because of the rise of protestantism — that was just the flowering of it — but, rather, had its roots several centuries before that in the early medieval period (see previous post).

the center of the guilt culture in northwestern europe — the core region which (historically anyway) has been characterized by the least corruption, the highest levels of trust, liberal democracy, free societies, low levels of internal violence, high levels of human accomplishment, the invention of capitalism, the advancement of science, the development of the ideas and ideals of the enlightenment, and pretty much everything else we call western civilization today — is the core where The Outbreeding Project began the earliest in europe. here is that core encircled (roughly) in green right here on this map for you (quite possibly denmark and parts of northern italy should be included, too — i’ll keep you posted on that) — the hajnal line represents the outer limits of The Outbreeding Project and the rise of western europe’s guilt culture:

hajnal line - core europe

see these previous posts — mating patterns of the medieval franks and going dutch — for more about the history of mating patterns/The Outbreeding Project in this core region.

we are in The 10,000 Year Explosion territory here. in fact, we are more in the neighborhood of “Natural History of Ashkenazi Intelligence.” human evolution did not slow down or stop since the rise of culture and civilization — our natures of today were not wholly shaped in the paleolithic — human evolution has, in fact, sped up since the agricultural revolution. and, with strong enough selective pressures, human evolution can happen in ca. 40-50 generations. this is what we’ve got in core europe since the early medieval: ca. 48-52 generations, counting generations at a conservative 25 years in length.

no, i haven’t proven either that the medieval Outbreeding Project in europe led to the guilt culture of northwest europeans (it’s just a theory!), but the circumstantial evidence for the presence of a guilt culture (lack of corruption, low internal violence, etc.) does seem to match the boundaries of The Outbreeding Project awfully well. (^_^)
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p.s. – here’s something that i wrote to someone in an email recently that sums the situation up:

“The connection here, I believe, is in length of time spent outbreeding — and there is also a connection between length of time outbreeding and the Hajnal line. Michael Mitterauer examined and explained this latter connection in chapters two and three of his Why Europe? (I HIGHLY recommend reading the book): during the medieval period, the economy of most of the region that falls within the Hajnal Line was based upon manorialism, and this manor system ‘pushed’ for both outbreeding and late marriage (the late marriage part was Hajnal’s discovery). It also ‘pushed’ for nuclear families.

“The idea of avoiding cousin marriage in Europe was, indeed, one first proposed by the Roman Catholic church, but it really became important — and was implemented to its fullest extent — under the manor system. This is why the range of outbreeding coincides almost perfectly with the Hajnal line: with the expansion of the manor system eastwards across the continent during the medieval period, ideas about cousin marriage — and, indeed, all sorts of Roman Catholic practices — went with it. That expansion stopped in the east when it ran up against the wall of Slavs and vast forests. (This is all covered by Mitterauer.)

“Manorialism also failed to reach all sorts of other areas in Europe where the heavy plow and large agricultural fieds were not practical: the mountainous regions of Italy and Greece, for instance….

“[O]n the whole, yes, Eastern Europeans converted to Christianity quite a bit later than many of the groups in Western Europe. The Russians converted in the late-900s, which is just so very different from the Franks who converted around 500 a.d. That’s a four hundred year delay in any possible implementation of any cousin marriage bans amongst the Kievan Rus vs. the Franks! Complete conversion of the entire populations and the implementation of cousin marriage bans would also have taken time, of course — for instance, I showed in a recent post that, although the Catholic Church banned cousin marriage in the early 500s, the practice of avoiding cousin marriage probably didn’t fully take hold amongst the Franks until the 700-800s. I would imagine that there were similar delays, too, in Eastern Europe — and, in fact, in one post I quoted some evidence that there may have been quite a bit of ‘flip-flopping’ in Russia when it came to enforcing the cousin marriage bans during the medieval period. Again, this is likely due to the fact that the manor system was not in place in Eastern Europe and, so, it just wasn’t considered as necessary to enforce the cousin marriage bans and/or the infrastructure just wasn’t there to properly implement enforcement.

“A curious area of Europe — which I plan on looking into next on the blog — is Scandinavia. They converted to Christianity comparatively late (ca. 1000 a.d.), however, at least in Sweden, they enforced the cousin marriage bans for longer than other Protestant nations. Most of the Protestant nations dropped the cousin marriage bans around the time of the Reformation, but the Lutheran church in Sweden kept prohibiting cousin marriage until the mid-1800s! Oddly, too, cousin marriage doesn’t really seem to have increased much in the Protestant nations after the Reformation — I suppose social norms meant that people just continued to mostly avoid marrying their close cousins. Old habits die hard. (~_^)”

previously: the transition from shame to guilt in anglo-saxon england (and “core” europe)

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

ok, so it’s not really ten posts but a baker’s dozen — and it’s not even thirteen posts but thirteen “themes” — so sue me! (^_^)

this “top ten” list was determined solely by me. ymmv.

clannishness – difficult to define, but i know it when i see it:
clannishness defined
clannishness
where do clans come from?
where do emmanuel todd’s family types come from?
mating patterns, family types, social structures, and selection pressures

individualism-collectivism – a curious paradox?:
individualism-collectivism
national individualism-collectivism scores
kandahar vs. levittown
universalism vs. particularism
universalism vs. particularism again

what a few hundred years of outbreeding might get you?:
renaissances
archaic greek mating patterns and kinship terms

what a moderate amount of outbreeding (making you an in-betweener) might get you?:
the radical reformation

inbreeding, outbreeding, and democracy:
questions some of us thought to ask

inbreeding, outbreeding, and violence:
kinship, the state, and violence

why inbreeding or outbreeding?:
flatlanders vs. mountaineers revisited
consanguineous marriage in afghanistan
mating patterns in france and topography (and history)
the turkana: mating patterns, family types, and social structures
guess the population!

medieval germanic kindreds:
medieval germanic kindreds…and the ditmarsians
more on medieval germanic kindreds

the north sea populations – the anglo-saxons and the dutch:
the anglo-saxons and america 3.0
the saxons, the anglo-saxons, and america 3.0
the importance of the kindred in anglo-saxon society
the transition from shame to guilt in anglo-saxon england (and “core” europe)
going dutch
“core europe” and human accomplishment

the quakers:
random notes: 07/30/13
the myddle people
geographical origin of the quakers
on the topographical origins of the quakers
quaker individualism

the irish:
what’s this all about?
early and late medieval irish mating practices
clannish medieval ireland
early modern and modern clannish ireland
mating patterns, family types, and clannishness in twentieth century ireland

the arabs:
historic mating patterns on the arabian peninsula
hejazis vs. najdis (and vice versa)

on (political) witch-hunts and the nature of witch-hunting:
“to disbelieve in witchcraft is the greatest of heresies”
a loaded question
why human biodiversity is true…and why jason richwine is right
something’s rotten in the state of denmark
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– this was also the year of the hbd chick interview @the hoover hog! thanks, chip! (^_^)

– and the year that i got my very own (awesome!) Heroes of the Dark Enlightenment trading card from Radish Magazine!! awww, shucks. (*^_^*)

hbd chick trading card

– and, finally, it was also the year that i asked: where are my DRAGONS?! (^_^)

peter frost has a really, really cool post up about how some societies are “shame cultures” while others are “guilt cultures” (i’ll let you guess which ones are which (~_^) ): The origins of Northwest European guilt culture.

this post is mostly going to be a response to — or a riff off — peter’s post, so, if you haven’t already, you might want to head over to his blog and read his post first. i’ll wait here.

oh! back already? ok! let’s get started…

peter says:

Shame is the primary means of behavioral control in most societies. If you are seen breaking a social rule, you will feel shame, and this feeling will be reinforced by what people say and do (gossiping, malicious looks, spitting, ostracism, etc.). Shame is much less effective if you break a rule without being seen or if you merely think about breaking a rule.

Guilt is more important in European societies, particularly those of Northwest European origin. It operates even when you act alone or merely think about breaking a rule. Behavior can thus be regulated in all possible situations with a minimum of surveillance.”

i haven’t read anything about shame vs. guilt cultures, so i don’t know if this division is correct or not (it certainly feels right), but let’s assume — just for now (i WILL investigate this further, because i think it might be a key point wrt any General Theory of the West) — that this is right and that northwest europeans (my “core” europeans) feel guilt more than most other peoples.

peter suggests that this guilt tripping of nw europeans goes right back to early anglo-saxon england and maybe even to pre-christian, pre-invasion continental germanic societies. he offers a couple of examples from anglo-saxon literature/christian writings: a passage from Beowulf and religious writings from the eighth, ninth, and tenth centuries.

peter thinks that the passage from Beowulf might indicate that feelings of guilt versus shame go right back to pre-christian anglo-saxon (germanic) days. i’m a big fan of Beowulf, but its date is disputed — could be from anywhere from the eighth to the eleventh centuries — and parts of it could be earlier or much later than other parts. so it’s difficult to use Beowulf as an indicator of what was going on in the minds of anglo-saxons of any given period. i’m going to call it unreliable and stick to the christian writings which can be much more securely dated.

from peter’s post:

In Anglo-Saxon England, guilt already existed as a major means of behavioral control. The English abbot Aelfric of Eynsham (955-1010) described it as a special kind of shame where the witnesses to the wrongful act are divine entities or spirits of the dead:

“‘He who cannot because of shame confess his faults to one man, then it must shame him before the heaven-dwellers and the earth-dwellers and the hell-dwellers, and the shame for him will be endless. (Bedingfield, 2002, p. 80)’

“This argument comes up repeatedly in Anglo-Saxon literature, where it forms a ‘penitential motif':

“‘The motif runs: it is better to be shamed for one’s sins before one man (the confessor) in this life than to be shamed before God and before all angels and before all men and before all devils at the Last Judgement. (Godden, 1973)’

Guilt thus played a major role in English culture at least as far back as Anglo-Saxon times. Furthermore, it seems to have been indigenous:

“‘One particularly interesting fact that emerges is the peculiarly Anglo-Saxon character of the motif. Not only did it circulate widely in Old English writings but the only two Latin works in which I have been able to find it were written by Anglo-Saxons — Alcuin and Boniface. Moreover an important element of the motif, the notion of three hosts present at the Last Judgement, is itself characteristic of Anglo-Saxon writers: the usual representation of the Last Judgement in continental works (as in Alcuin’s letter) has the angels and all mankind present, and sometimes the devil as prosecutor, but not the whole host of devils, whereas the concept of the three hosts, as in Boniface’s homily, is very common in Old English writings generally. (Godden, 1973)'”

to me it sounds as though these early christian anglo-saxon writers — boniface (d.754), alcuin (d.804), and aelfric of eynsham (d.1010) — were NOT writing about guilt, but rather about shame — albeit a rather special form of shame where, as peter said, the witnesses who would shame you were not living members of your society but “divine entities or spirits of the dead”. kind-of like how santa keeps a list of who’s been naughty and who’s been nice even though he spends most of the year up at the north pole. (how does he do it?!) somebody’s watching, so you’d better behave!

afaics, that’s still not guilt — i.e. when individuals check their own behavior simply because they’d feel bad if they did something wrong. this early anglo-saxon shame-guilt thing sounds like the beginnings of a transitional phase moving from a shame culture to a guilt culture. and this transitional phase seems to have been underway already in boniface’s day or the eighth century.

early anglo-saxon england was full of transitions. one big one that i’ve written about previously (see here and here) was the disappearance of the kindred which likely began in the early 900s (or possibly the late 800s). the overall trajectory of anglo-saxon society during the early medieval period seems to have been that of a move away from a more local-group-oriented sort-of society based upon kindreds towards a more individualistic society based upon the nuclear family. something similar seems to have been happening across the channel in the low countries (and, probably, northeastern france and northwestern germany — and kinda-sorta in parts of northern italy).

the amazing thing about these societies that became more individualistic is that they — seemingly paradoxically — became the very same societies in which collective behaviors work the best! BROADLY collective — like on a society-wide basis. strong majorities in “core” europe are oriented towards the commonweal in ways that many, if not most, other societies are not (there are exceptions — and there are no doubt more).

so northwest (my “core”) europeans can have these (so can the japanese!)…

vegetable stand - honor system

…or these…

newspaper vending machine

because most people in society would feel guilty — internally, all on their own — if they stole from somebody else.

i suspect that guilt does not go back to pre-christian germanic societies. if they had’ve had guilt proper, then the early christian anglo-saxon clerics wouldn’t have written these weird quasi-shame/quasi-guilt lessons for the people. they would’ve just talked about guilt and everyone would’ve understood it in an “of course” sort-of way.

feelings of guilt were probably selected for over the course of the middle ages in northwestern europe starting in the early part of the period. i would wager good money on it! (^_^) and it was thanks to The Outbreeding Project (imho) — to quote myself:

“think of it like a two-stage rocket:

“- FIRST you have either inbreeding or outbreeding (or any range in between those), and these mating patterns either focus or disperse ‘genes for altruism’ … within extended family groups, which …

“- THEN sets the stage for creating different selection pressures in that different social environments are created (egs. nuclear families, extended families, clans, larger tribes). it’s HERE in this second stage where the behaviors — either clannish or not (or any range in between those!) — are selected for (or can be selected for).

including guilt. i betcha!

look forward to part ii of peter’s post on this question. stay tuned!

(note: comments do not require an email. santa and friends! (~_^) )

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.”

pinker cites daly and wilson (1988) on this who, in turn, cite hurnard (1969). there is also green (1972). see also The Aristocracy of Norman England (2002), pg. 243.

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:

pinker - fig. 3.3

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.)

eisner also suggested another explanation, though, one that he drew from emile durkheim [pg. 632]:

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

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

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