sixteenth century germany!:

“For most polemicists, the only possible motivation of ecclesiastical authorities in creating and maintaining such a system [in which minors could marry without their parents’ permission] was sheer avarice. In addition to charging for the various dispensations (most commonly for cases of third- or fourth-degree consanguinity), bishops and officials made money from all related marital litigation, such as dissolution and separation cases. Outraged by such abuses, reformers attacked both the law and its enforcement with a brutality rivaled only by related anticlerical tracts on concubinage and simony. Luther castigated Church legal authorities as ‘[sellers] of vulvas and genitals — merchandise indeed most worthy of such merchants, grown altogether filthy and obscene through greed and godlessness.’ As far as he could see, the only purpose of creating the ‘snares’ of impediments was to ‘catch’ money — sentiments echoed by Johann Brenz: ‘Perhaps [the pope] had his eye on money and filling the coffers, and for that reason forbade certain degrees, so that they could be dissolved again if one had the money.'”

previously: guess when and where!

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guess when and where!

don’t cheat (i.e. google). i’ll post the solution in the a.m. (^_^)

“At the beginning of … in … the institution of marriage seemed to many contemporaries to be under a state of siege. The growing proliferation of tracts and dialogues satirizing the sorry state of the institution has led many historians to the same conclusion. Sexual promiscuity, according to critics, ran rampant in all areas of society, making a mockery of the [religious] teachings on both marriage and celibacy. Whether [religious] leaders and [non-religious authorities] were unwilling or unable to stop the marital chaos provided a subject of much debate among the new reformers of marriage. The detrimental effects on the dignity of the estate of marriage, meanwhile, seemed obvious to many observers….

“Nothing more clearly illustrated the crisis of patriarchal authority for … than the specter of clandestine marriages among minors. Combining both outright defiance of paternal authority with perceptions of official [religious authority] indifference or even avarice, these illicit unions provided the symbolic whipping boy of all … marriage reformers.”

all sounds very “today,” doesn’t it? marriage under a state of siege, young people recklessly “hooking up,” etc., etc.

update: solution

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divide et impera

in “Kinship and marriage among the Visigoths,” giorgio ausenda writes [pgs. 147-48]:

Langobardic [Lombardian] laws concerning forbidden marriages also became stricter over time. Liutprand 33 [8th century] forbade marriage with the widow of a cousin, but no further prohibitions were reflected in the laws. We know, however, that more extended prohibitions were made compulsory by the Church….

This shows that both Church and State were interested in forbidding close kin marriages. Their common concern becomes clear when one bears in mind the recognized difficulty the Church had, from the fourth century onwards, in expanding into the countryside….

“In conclusion, the strenuous effort [by the Church] to penetrate the countryside entailed a long-drawn battle against traditional religion, whose vehicle was the kin group, and substituting the authority of the elders of the kin group with that of a religious elder, the presbyteros. At the same time the king’s rule was undermined by revolts on the part of the most powerful kin groups, clans or sections, whose conspiracies and murders menaced the power of the state. Thus Church and State became allies in trying to do aways with the political power of extended kin groups utilizing all manners of impositions. One of the most effective among them was to destroy their cohesiveness by prohibition of close kin marriage.

so, it was not just the early medieval church that wanted to reduce the cohesiveness of clans and tribes, it was also very much the political powers-that-be of the day. kings and princes wanted to reduce the power of these extended-family groups because that would enable the transfer of more power to themselves. divide and conquer.

that was then. this is now:

How Become a Good Single Parent
Equality for all parents, straight or gay
Accept gay marriage

(you don’t really have to read any of those. you know the sort of things they have to say.)

tptb today also want to grab as much power for themselves, but there aren’t any clans or tribes left to dismantle (at least not in the west). so, how to divide the population? well, one way is via mass immigration, which they’re obviously doing as i type. the other is to divide the family even further, even though it seems like that shouldn’t be possible. i mean, what the h*ck is smaller than the nuclear family? well, i guess single-parent families….

the character of europe was radically altered by the changes in mating patterns in medieval europe — which were imposed from outside by both the church and the state. we, living today, might say that those changes were for the better, but the members of the clans and tribes that disappeared wouldn’t say that. they would probably say that their extended families were destroyed — just as families are being destroyed today.

i’m very socially liberal by nature (live and let live, say i) and not religious at all, so i don’t find it immoral if people have children out of wedlock, nor do i think that gay marriage is morally wrong. i really don’t care what people do in their own home (altho i am kinda sick and tired of all-gay-all-the-time wherever i turn — can’t you just be gay and quiet about it for a change?). but i do care about the breakdown of western society, prolly mostly just because i have a conservative personality, but also ’cause i think that western civilization has been pretty darn wonderful, so why fix what’s not broken? i mean, what are we going to wind up with if we do away with the stable family entirely: african family structures and, therefore, african-like societies and ideologies?

i’m against too much welfare for single-moms and no-fault divorces and gay marriage not because of any moral revulsion i have about these things. i’m against them because i think they’re being used by the elite as weapons against the ordinary folk and the ordinary family. they’re changes in mating patterns being imposed, largely, from outside with the intent of breaking down family bonds.

divide et impera. sub sole nihil novi est.

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the hajnal line

from wikip:

“The Hajnal line links Saint Petersburg, Russia and Trieste, Italy. In 1965, John Hajnal discovered it divides Europe into two areas characterized by a different levels of nuptiality.

West of this line, the average age of women at first marriage was 24 or more, men 26, spouses were relatively close in age, and 10% or more of adults never married. East of the line, the mean age of both sexes at marriage was earlier, spousal age disparity was greater and marriage more nearly universal. Subsequent research has amply confirmed Hajnal’s continental divide, and what has come to be known as the ‘Western European marriage pattern’, although historical demographers have also noted that there are significant variations within the region….”

here it is. the caption on wikipedia reads: “The line in red is Hajnal’s. The dark blue lines show areas of high nuptiality West of the Hajnal line.”

so, basically, we’re talking about germanic peoples (west of the line).

michael mitterauer offers several explanations for the characteristics of marriage east of the line including:

“e) Influences of the church

As a rule, Christianity helped to weaken bonds of lineage and descent and strengthen the relations between spouses everywhere. Not everywhere, however, did these principles succeed to the same extent. The penetration of principles of church marriage laws was generally stronger in the area of the Western than in that of the eastern church. Also corporative and communal social forms supported by the church were stronger in the West. Consequently, patrilinear kinship structures were less affected in the area of the orthodox church than in the West. In the long run, however, also in the East Christian principles worked against structures of lineage and descent. Patrilinear patterns totally in contradiction to church marriage law, such as levirate marriages or second marriage in case of a childless first marriage, were maintained in areas of weak church influence in eastern and southeastern Europe.”

from “Whatever Happened to Hajnal’s Line”:

“Interestingly enough, Hajnal’s line followed quite closely the Iron Curtain, then dividing Europe into capitalist and socialist societies.”

this is one of emmanuel todd’s major points in “The Explanation of Ideology” — i.e. that almost all of the nations that became communist in the 20th century had a particular family structure based, amongst other things, on strong, patrilineal lineages. (i’m gonna write up a post on his book — soon. i promise!) i pointed out what looked like a connection between slavs and ex-communist countries here.

also from wikip:

The region’s late marriage pattern has received considerable scholarly attention in part because it appears to be unique; it has not been found in any other part of the world prior to the Twentieth Century. The origins of the late marriage system are a matter of conjecture prior to the 16th Century when the demographic evidence from family reconstitution studies makes the prevalence of the pattern clear….

interestingly, tacitus wrote about late marriage practices amongst the german tribes. it’s hard to tell, tho, if he was working from accurate information, or just reproaching his fellow romans for their morally loose marriage practices. here, from jack goody [pg. 39]:

“Marriages are not made early, for ‘the young men are slow to mate, and their powers, therefore, are never exhausted. The girls, too, are not hurried into marriage’. Was the ‘European pattern’ of late marriage (Hajnal 1965) already in evidence or was this too a figment of Tacitus’ moralising?”

in any case, delayed marriage for westerners (esp. western westerners) is not a new-fangled thing.

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“Exogamy, on the other hand, is a strict rule, an obligation which seems so normal to Europeans that they are hardly aware of it, but it does exist and it organizes their very existence and their society. It is a negative type of structuring which pushes apart the members of a single family and forces them to choose a marriage partner outside the group they come from. Despite myths about the permissive society, the Western world is very rigidly regulated from a sexual point of view.”

The Explanation of Ideology [pg. 27]

previously: we’re doomed

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side-effects of polygamy in three african societies

here’s a little data from the demographic and health surveys for three african nations where polygamy is common — benin (2006), burkina faso (2003), and nigeria (2008). these are the percentages of single (never married) men and women at different ages. as you can see, because of polygamy (which creates a shortage of women), it takes longer for men to get married (a first time).

in benin, we don’t see a majority of men (76%) being married until after age 25. the vast majority of women are married by ages 20-24:

in burkina faso, again, a majority of men (~60%) are not married until after age 25. 84% of women are married by age 24:

in nigeria, a majority of men (76%) are not married until between the ages of 30-34. 62% of women are married by the age of 24:

in all three countries, a majority of men aged 45+ (98-99%) are married, but there’s a h*ckuva long wait for so many men!

see also: solving the “polygamy problem”? and more on solving the “polygamy problem”

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more on solving the “polygamy problem”


“A major trait distinguishes the African family models as a whole from their European, American and Asiatic equivalents: widespread polygyny, which is only one central element of a whole system. The numbers of men and women in any community being roughly the same, a proportion of polygamous marriages of 30 per cent or more of all unions implies the existence of peculiar demographic mechanisms. One of these is a wide age difference between husband and wife. Women marry much younger than men and on average have more years of married life: the excess of ‘female married years’ is what makes general polygamy possible. To create a demographic balance, remarriage has to be frequent. Often it is not a question of remarriage but simply of inheritance, a widow being automatically transferred as wife to the man designated by the rules of succession. This implies a certain weakness or even the non-existence of prohibitions on marriages between affines; a man can inherit wives from his brother and from his father, although naturally his own mother is excluded. This practice, which is fairly frequent in Africa, flagrantly contravenes bothe the Christian and the Muslim teaching on incest.” [The Explanation of Ideology, pg. 192]

so, i think i may have been on the right track re. solving the “polygamy problem” (i.e. that if some men hoard all the women, other men will be cheated out of a chance to get a wife/wives). the trick must be to recirculate the women as much as possible. i suggested divorce as a possible strategy. in african societies, some men just inherit wives from male family members.

perhaps other men are still left out, tho. maybe women just circulate around the “alpha male” circles. getting your hands on some captive, slave women (as suggested by greying wanderer) is probably another solution.

previously: solving the “polygamy problem”?

update 06/22: see also side-effects of polygamy in three african societies

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i’ve been trying to get my head around the different types of kinship terminologies that people around the world use. i remember from anthro 101 that anthropologists seem to be particularly obsessed with kinship terminologies, but at the time i couldn’t figure out why. i still can’t figure out why, actually, ’cause from what i can tell, most anthropologists don’t seem to be bothered by actual genetic relationships or how related different individuals within a society are to one another and how marriage patterns can affect that. maybe i’m doing anthropologists a disservice — do let me know if i’m wrong about this — but i don’t think i am.

anyway, for instance — let’s take the hawaiian kinship system first. it’s one of the easiest to remember: everyone of your own generation is called ‘brother’ or ‘sister’ (in hawaiian, of course), and everyone of your parents’ generation is called ‘father’ or ‘mother.’ cool, huh?

but i can’t find anyone anywhere explaining why the hawaiians (and some other malayo-polynesians) should use this system. oh, sure, there’s lots of talk about communal living and how, traditionally, kids were raised by groups of adults … but really … that’s the best you got?

how about this: traditionally, a certain portion (dunno how much) of hawaiian marriages were group marriages. (kinky, huh?) groups of brothers would share their wives in common; or groups of sisters would share their husbands. it might even be that it was a group of brothers PLUS a group of sisters.

soooo … if we envision this group as everyone in a small village or hamlet, then you may as well call all the adults mom and dad ’cause you can’t be sure which ones really are your mom and dad!

well, actually, it’s usually pretty obvious who your mom is … but it might be very hard to tell who your dad is if your mom has been sleeping around (not YOUR mom, of course. she would never do that!). and if she’s been sleeping around with a bunch of brothers, it might be hard to pick out which one you look like (and, therefore, which one is prolly your dad) ’cause the brothers prolly all look kinda alike.

and as for everyone in your generation — well, any number of them might actually be your half- or full- brothers and sisters, so you may as well just call them all “brother” or “sister.”

(in reality, a lot of the adult “brothers” and “sisters” — i.e. the dads and the moms — might be cousins not siblings, or not just siblings, so then all the kids are half brothers and sisters and|or cousins. or something like that. i dunno. it’s very complicated.)

here, from westermarck (yes, the incest guy) [pgs. 239-40]:

“We now come to another type of group-unions, where a group of brothers are represented as married or having access to a group of sisters; and since these groups are said to consist of brothers and sisters in the classificatory sense, they would be of considerable size.

“The classical instance of this sort of group-unions is the punalua system of the Sandwich Islanders [Hawaiians]. Judge Lorin Andrews wrote in 1860 to Morgan:— “The relationship of punalua is rather amphibious. It arose from the fact that two or more brothers with their wives, or two or more sisters with their husbands, were inclined to possess each other in common; but the modern use of the word is that of dear friend or intimate companion.” The Rev. A. Bishop, who sent Morgan a schedule of the Hawaian system of relationship terms, observed that the “confusion of relationships” was “the result of the ancient custom among relatives of the living together of husbands and wives in common.” Dr. Bartlett wrote, “Husbands had many wives and wives many husbands, and exchanged with each other at pleasure.” Dr. Rivers remarks that side by side with the presence of individual marriage as a social institution there existed among the Sandwich Islanders much laxity, and also “a definite system of cicisbeism in which the paramours had a recognised status. Of these paramours those who would seem to have had the most definite status were certain relatives, viz. the brothers of the husband and the sisters of the wife. These formed a group within which all the males had marital rights over all the females”; and Dr. Rivers was told that even now, nearly a century after the general acceptance of Christianity, the rights of punalua “are still sometimes recognised, and give rise to cases which come before the law courts where they are treated as cases of adultery. In addition to these punalua who had a recognised status owing to their relationship to the married couple, there were often other paramours apparently chosen freely at the will of the husband and wife.”

westermarck expresses some doubts about the accuracy of the reports on the hawaiians, but he was also doubtful about reports on australian aboriginal systems of kinship and marriage and they turned out to be correct (i.e. that you couldn’t marry within your own moiety). it could very well be that the punalua system in hawaii was real, but westermarck had a hard time believing it to be true.

engels (yes, that engels!) wrote about another group of people who seem to have had the same kinship naming system as the hawaiians and a similar marriage practice:

“At the session of October 10 (Old Style; October 22, New Style) of the Anthropological Section of the Society of the Friends of Natural Science, N. A. Yanchuk read an interesting communication from Mr. Sternberg on the Gilyaks, a little-studied tribe on the island of Sakhalin, who are at the cultural level of savagery. The Gilyaks are acquainted neither with agriculture nor with pottery; they procure their food chiefly by hunting and fishing; they warm water in wooden vessels by throwing in heated stones, etc. Of particular interest are their institutions relating to the family and to the gens. The Gilyak addresses as father, not only his own natural father, but also all the brothers of his father; all the wives of these brothers, as well as all the sisters of his mother, he addresses as his mothers; the children of all these ‘fathers’ and ‘mothers’ he addresses as his brothers and sisters. This system of address also exists, as is well known, among the Iroquois and other Indian tribes of North America, as also among some tribes of India. But whereas in these cases it has long since ceased to correspond to the actual conditions, among the Gilyaks it serves to designate a state still valid today. To this day every Gilyak has the rights of a husband in regard to the wives of his brothers and to the sisters of his wife; at any rate, the exercise of these rights is not regarded as impermissible. These survivals of group marriage on the basis of the gens are reminiscent of the well-known punaluan marriage, which still existed in the Sandwich Islands in the first half of this century.

if these ethnographic accounts are correct, then i can’t see why anyone wouldn’t conclude that the reason for the hawaiian kinship naming system is due to the genetic relatedness between the members of the group. any of the male adults in the generation before you might be your father (so you might as well call them all “dad”), and any or all of the guys and gals in your own generation might be your half-, or even full-, brothers or sisters — not to mention that many of them are also your cousins (so you might as well call them all “brother” or “sister”.)

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