krsna slava

krsna slava is a traditional serbian (although it seems that there are similar traditions elsewhere in the balkans) celebration of a family’s particular patron saint — and by “family” here i mean an extended, patrilineal family — a celebration by a man and his wife and their sons and their families (if they have any) plus any unmarried daughters. a wife would celebrate the slava with her husband and his family of their patron saint, not the one which she grew up with (although if a woman was the last in her line, her slava might be celebrated in the household, too). the tradition goes right back to at least the medieval period — the earliest known record of slava celebrations is from 1018 a.d. [pg. 68] — although it probably has pre-christian roots.

the krsna slava qualifies as “clannish” as far as i am concerned (even though the serbs might not — surprisingly — be the most clannish of the balkan populations — more on that some other time). the slava is a way of distinguishing one extended family from another — each family has its own patron saint and own slava day (the saint’s feast day, i think) — and there’s some evidence/suggestions that the slava tradition ties back into the days when the serbs (and other balkan populations) were organized more into clans or tribes and not just extended families.

from Serbia [pgs. 42-43]:

“There are many facets of Orthodox religious practice that are central to Serbian culture even for individuals who are not especially religious. One of the most important of these is the custom of celebrating *slava*, a practice which may also be encountered in Montenegro, Macedonia, Bulgaria and Croatia, although it is most commonly associated with the Serbs. *Slava*, which might be best translated as meaning ‘praise’ or ‘glory’, is the celebration of a patron saint. Each family celebrates its own saint, who is considered to be its protector. A particular *slava* is inherited from father to son and the occasion brings families together as each household, in sharing the same *slava*, is obliged to celebrate the event together. In special cases, such as migration abroad, family members may stage the event separately but as a rule it takes place under one roof, that of the family patriarch.

“During a *slava* the family home is open to anyone who wishes to drop by. It is considered untraditional to actually invite guests outside the family, but visitors are welcomed if they come of their own free will. To be turned away from a Serbian home during a *slava* is unheard of as this would bring disgrace to the household. The Krsna *slava* ritual involves the breaking of bread and the lighting of a candle by a priest. A prayer is said over the *koljivo* — ground cooked wheat — the third of the three ingredients central to the *slava* ceremony (the Serbs have a thing about the number three). Incense is burned and everyone present is blessed with holy water before the priest blesses and cuts the bread in the sign of the cross. The bread is then rotated by the family patriarch, his godfather and the priest before everyone assembled sits down for a meal. Of the various saints’ days, the most commonly celebrated are those of St. Nicholas (Nikolijdan) on 19 December, St. George (Durdevan) on 6 May, St. John the Baptist (Jovanjdan) on 20 January and St. Archangel Michael (Arandelovdan) on 21 November.

The custom of *slava* is believed to date back to the late 9th century when the Serbs were first Christianised. It is thought that each of the Serb tribes adopted its collective saint protector around this time and this is borne out by *slava* variations according to geographical regions. Another commonly held belief, which does not necessarily contradict this, is that the custom of *slava* is a remnant from pre-Christian paganism and that *slava* was a syncretic adaptation in which the qualities of the old Serbian gods found sustenance in the personalities of the new Christian saints. Occasionally, a new *slava* is adopted when it is believed that a particular saint has facilitated deliverances from an afflication such as an illness, in response to prayer.”

interestingly, though:

“As well as individuals and families, various communities such as villages, cities, organisations, political parties, institutions and professions, can have their own *slava*. Belgrade’s *slava* is on Ascension Day, which takes place on a Thursday, 40 days after Easter each year.”

middling inbreeders/outbreeders, the serbs? more in-betweeners? dunno.

james hedman (of the nsa?! (~_^) ) commented the other day:

“The tribes of Arabia were at the time of Mohammed by and large polytheistic pagans, each tribe having its own specific deities to nature, such as oases, trees, and weather.”

quite so. from Islam: A Guide for Jews and Christians [pgs. 41-42]:

“The inhabitants of Arabia assuredly had a religious tradition before Islam, and although we are not particularly well informed about it, it appears to have been quite complex, as we would expect to discover in societies that were splintered into tribes and clans of widely varying sizes, some sedentary and some nomadic, with a number of the latter ranging seasonally over enormously broad terrains.

“The inhabitants of the Hajaz worshiped the way they lived: the small settled populations visited fixed shrines in oases, whereas the Bedouin carried their gods with them. The objects worshiped were principally stones, trees, and heavenly bodies, or rather, the gods thought to reside in them, or possibly — and here we begin to enter a world we do not fully understand — represented by them. Reasonably clear is that in the more recent Arabian past sacred stones were increasingly being shaped into human likenesses, rough or fine, perhaps, it has been surmised, because of the extension of Hellenistic styles into the peninsula.

“However the devotees thought of it, Arabian cultus was highly volatile, the deities often sharing characteristics, being harmonized into families, or passing now into the possession of this tribe and now of that. There is a distinctly tribal notion to the Arabs’ worship of the gods. On the basis of the South Arabian evidence, with which the more meager Arab tradition concurs, each tribe or tribal confederation had a divine patron whose cult gave the group a focus for its solidarity. In a practice that points directly to what was occurring at Mecca, each of these ‘federal deities’ was the ‘lord’ of a shrine that served as the federation’s cult center.”

i feel that the krsna slava of the serbs is just a half step away from the tribal gods of the arabs, and both of them are clearly related to household deities. all of these “clan gods” serve to both unite extended families/clans/tribes AND to distinguish them from all the other extended families/clans/tribes out there.

the best sort of “clan god” worship, imho, has got to be the veneration of the dead. have some shrines in your house to your ancestors — maybe exhume them every now and again just to say hello. how more uniting can THAT be to actually remember, on a regular basis, (former) members of your actual family/clan? it’s very direct. i like that!

i kinda/sorta recognize the family patron saint thing from my own semi-clannish background. traditionally, individuals often had “favorite” saints, and it was not uncommon for kids to adopt their parents’ favorite saints, although, afaik, there were no hard-and-fast rules about this. and there were no party days on the saints’ days (d*rn!). my mother adopted my grandfather’s (her father’s) favorite saint, and i am actually named after that saint. my gradmother’s favorite saint was st. martin de porres:

MartinDePorres

granny was always so daring! (~_^)

previously: mating patterns in medieval eastern europe

(note: comments do not require an email. family shrine – japan.)

random notes: 06/01/13

pretty much only medieval europe today…

from East Central Europe in the Middle Ages, 1000-1500 [pgs. 87-89, 91]:

In some parts of medieval East Central Europe animal herding was the primary means of livelihood. In Albania the inhabitants of the coastal districts evidently lost their connection with agriculture in the 6th and 7th centuries in the wake of the Slavic invasions. Adopting a pastoral life-style, they survived by tending sheep in the mountains, migrating twice annually between winter and summer pastures. These mountaineers regularly raided the plains settlements, supplementing their incomes with plunder. The Magyars had been herders on the Ukrainian steppes prior to invading Central Europe; and even in Hungary, stock raising was their principal means of support. They avoided the thick beeach and pine forests which could not be used as pasture, leaving these to Slavic, German, or Vlach peasants. Travelers of the 12th century described Hungary as one vast grazing area, interrupted only occasionally by patches of cultivated land. The Magyars spent their winters in villages set alongside riverbanks, often in shelters hollowed out of the earth. In spring they sowed their seed, then moved on to the grasslands where they lived in tents. At harvest time they returned to their villages. Their winter habitats were usually near a fortress, while summer residences were located in the vicinity of pastures.

Similarly the early Serbs lived primarily from stock raising, an occupation well suited to their hilly country. (The region known as Serbia in the 12th century faced the Adriatic and included the rough terrain of Hercegovina and Montenegro.) The chronicler William of Tyre, passing through Serbia in 1168 on his way to the Holy Land, described the local people as warlike mountaineers, rich in milk, cheese, butter, meat, honey, and wax. The Serbs that he observed lived entirely from the products of their herds, although we now know that they also practiced a moderate agriculture in the valleys. Hog raising was a primary activity in medieval Serbia just as in modern times, thanks to an abundant supply of acorns for pigs to feed upon in the thick oak forests. Hunting was also important: bears, wolves, stags, boars, rabbits, martens, and foxes were abundant. Fishing was carried on everywhere in the lakes and streams….

Stock raising continued to be widely practiced in East Central Europe long after agriculture had become the dominant economic activity. Many animal herders were Vlachs (ancestors of the modern Romanians), who spoke a language derived from Latin. Subsisting on the products of their flocks, they lived in the mountainous regions of southern Poland, Transylvania, and the Balkan Peninsula….

“Whether a free agricultrual population — consisting neither of serfs bound to the land nor of slaves who were owned outright — existed in the early medieval period is a question not easily answered. Conditions varied widely from country to country, and even within a single regions. Nevertheless, it is clear that when the great Slavic migrations came to an end in the 6th-7th centuries and the tribesmen settled down to agriculture, serfdom was unknown. Settled areas were held in common by the clans or tribes….

Hungary in the 11th and 12th centuries was still largely a pastoral country, where members of the tribes remained free people subject only to their sovereign. The class of true peasants, as opposed to herders engaging in occasional agriculture, was for a long time relatively small. The spread of serfdom was hindered at first by the fact that so much of the land still belonged to communities of herdsmen….. [A]s agriculture gradually replaced herding, the property of the clans was broken up into private estates which were held mainly by nobles and churchmen. Gradually the free Magyar clansmen were transformed into serfs.”

who knew? previously: the flatlanders vs. the mountain people and more on albanians.
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how to put a stop to a feud the early medieval way (the following event happened in the 500s a.d.) — from Family, Friends and Followers: Political and Social Bonds in Early Medieval Europe [pg. 33]:

“[K]inship ties were immensely important to the status and rank of this nobility. This may be seen, for instance, from Gregory of Tours’ report of a bitter feud between two Frankish kin-groups. In this case offence had been given when a man from one kin-group was accused of associating with prostitutes and being unfaithful to his wife, who belonged to the other kin-group. This provoked the woman’s brother to attack his brother-in-law, leading to a series of fights in which both men, and most of their supporters, were killed. The fathers of the two dead men then took up the feud. The Merovingian queen, Fredegund, brought an end to the fighting: she invited the leaders of both warring factions to a meal and, when these men and their *pueri* had become drunk, she had them all killed. There can be little doubt that the two kin-groups involved were extremely powerful because the remaining *parentes* were still strong enough to force the queen to flee.”

so, the merovingian franks were still clannish and feuding. previously: early medieval bavarians and feuds & honor killings.

here, btw, is fredegund … attempting to kill her daughter! (no idea if she was successful or not):

fredegund
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finally, khan krum — krum the horrible — of bulgaria after his defeat of the byzantine emperor nikephoros i being served some wine by a (very nervous looking) servant. the wine has been poured into a skull cup made from nikephoros’ cranium!:

krum the horrible

(note: comments do not require an email. nineteenth century tibetan skull cup.)

balkan endogamy

nick says: “The Balkans had the 7th cousin law, that forbid them to marry anyone closer than the 7th cousin.”

i did a little googling on that and found what i think will probably prove to be a general pattern for balkan populations: a ban on marrying in the patriline, but marrying on the mother’s side is ok and even preferred. so the seventh-cousin law that nick is referring to relates only to paternal cousins.

this is just a preliminary look at the mating patterns in the balkans, btw. i need to do a lot more research on this.

anyway, this pattern of avoiding marriage in the patrline but preferring marriage to maternal relatives seems to hold for bosnian muslims, albanians, and macedonian slavs.

regarding the macedonian slavs: “The genealogical reckoning is primarily agnatic [i.e. through the male line – h. chick]. Kinship terminology distinguishes father’s brother (stric) from the mother’s brother (ujak), as well as using a special word to indicate sister’s or daughter’s husband (zet) and a woman married to a set of brothers (jetrva). On the agnatic side, marriage is forbidden up to the ninth generation, while the matrilineal first cousins could be regarded as possible mates if it was not for the canonical prohibition.

that’s the christian church’s ban on cousin marriage. but otherwise, marriage to matrilineal relatives is ok — and macedonian slavs would’ve approved of matrilineal first cousin marriage if it wasn’t for their church.

regarding the bosnian muslims, bringa reports (pg. 146) that “there is a preference for marrying agnatic affines.” agnatic refers to the paternal line — so your father and your paternal grandfather and all your paternal aunts and uncles, etc. affines are in-laws. so there is a preference amongst bosnian muslims to marry their in-laws connected to the father’s side of the family.

the most obvious members of that group would simply be one’s maternal relatives, i.e. your father’s in-laws (see?). but agnatic affines could also include, for instance, your paternal uncle’s wife’s relatives.

i know — it all gets kinda complicated. the important thing, though, is it’s all a sort of endogamous mating.

finally, the albanians. i’m going to reproduce a long-ish passage from State Collapse and Reconstruction in the Periphery: Political Economy, Ethnicity and Development in Yugoslavia, Serbia and Kosovo. just skip it if you’re bored already, but it talks about the clannishness or tribalness (the author’s words, not mine!) of the albanians and how their mating patterns have, at least traditionally, been endogamous, including marriage to maternal relatives (this is not strange, btw, since marriage to maternal relatives seems generally to be the most popular form of close family marriage around the world) [pgs. 64-67]:

“A brief description of Albanian society is required here. Albanians are divided into two language or dialect groups, the Gheg and the Tosk, with the Tosk dominating in southern Albania and the Gheg in northern Albania and the highlands (the division is roughly at the Shkumbi river). The Albanians in Kosovo, Macedonia and Serbia are Ghegs (with some exceptions in southern Macedonia). Traditional structures, tribal or clan-based, as well as village community-based forms of social organisation remained important among the Albanian population in Kosovo throughout the Yugoslav period. There are notable elements of continuity in traditional loyalty structure and customary law (including the practice of blood feud). The terms ‘tribe’ and ‘clan’ are contested, but we may instead use the Albanian terms. The Albanian term ‘fis’ refers to a large groups which claim descent from one common male ancestor. Each fis is divided into sub-branches. Marriage within the same fis (based on the male line) is considered incestuous even if the ‘actual’ relationship is, say, nine or ten generations back (which does not apply on the maternal side).[12] In Kosovo there are about thirteen fises. A smaller group which traditionally has existed within the fis is a brotherhood or ‘vellazeri’, which is similar to the Balkan form of extended family, the ‘Zadruga’, but differs from it, for example, in that there was not a common budget. A ‘mehala’ is another term for a subgroup consisting of a number of closely related houses. A house, or a ‘shpi’ could itself consist of an extended family — something still existing in Kosovo although they have declined considerably during the Yugoslav period…. It should be noted that within the same fis some members can be Muslim and other Catholic. Among the Albanians there are Catholics, Muslims and Orthodox. The Orthodox prevail in south Albania (among the Tosk), whereas Kosovo is predominantly Muslim….

The traditional Albanian village consisted of the (often fortified) houses (kulle) of the extended families, but had no public spaces. There were no cafes or inns, or public buildings of any kind. All matters relating to society, or social life, were discussed inside the family houses, and the house was thereby of particular importance in Albanian cultural life…. In contrast to the pattern in northwestern Europe, for example, there were no intermediary associations or public spheres between the individual, or family, and the state and hence nothing resembling what has been called ‘civil society’ in the usage of eighteenth- or nineteenth-century thinkers. Indeed there was neither the social structure nor social infrastructure or type of economy for such an analytical term as ‘civil society’ to be applied; social life was shaped by the extended family (with its house), the clan and the village, and there was no social organisation beyond the extended family apart from the clan. All legal matters were strictly regulated in customary law and applied by the clans, or mediated in meetings by the elders (kuvend)….

“The Albanians … had no aspirations to an Albanian state before the twentieth century, but were quite content with remaining inside the Ottoman state. Although there may have been a growing Albanian identity, beyond the fis, especially in the nineteenth century, there was not really any expression of Albanian nationalism. Several factors made expressions of nationhood unlikely. There were disputes between clans, and the Albanians did not share a single religion, but were divided between Islam, Orthodox Christianity and Catholicism. The lifestyles of, for example, the Tosk in the south or in the coastal trading ports and the Gheg of the highlands were quite different.

“[12] As noted by Edith Durham, the Catholic Church prohibited marriage to the sixth degree, but on the maternal side much closer relatives might enter marriage. See Durham (1909: 22); The practice of prohibiting marriage within the fis remains today.”

previously: mating patterns in medieval eastern europe and invention of the modern world

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more from ron unz on iq

ron unz has a new post up: Unz on Race/IQ: The Rural/Urban Divide. he says:

“[O]ne very intriguing pattern is that according to Lynn’s IQ data certain European populations such as the South Italians, Irish, Greeks, and South Slavs tended to have IQs much lower than other European populations such as the British and the Dutch. However, according to the Wordsum-IQ data, this pattern is exactly reversed in the United States, with the descendents of immigrants from Southern Italy, Ireland, Greece, and Yugoslavia having much higher IQs than Americans of British or Dutch ancestry.”

as i (and others) have already pointed out to ron, he has no way of knowing from the gss data if italian- or irish- or greek- or slavic-americans are comparable to the italians and irish and greeks and slavs back in europe. for one thing, there is the problem with the irish of which irish we’re talking about, both in the u.s. and in the republic of ireland. native irish? scots-irish? anglo-irish? for another thing, how italian or slavic is someone who self-identifies themself as italian or slavic on the gss? fully? one-half? one-quarter? (is obama black or white?) if you don’t have your populations sorted out from the start, any comparisons will be a waste of time.

also, where are the wordsum data for all these groups? i mean, i know they’re in the gss, but how about a chart or a link or at least some search terms for the searches conducted. most sciencey bloggers nowadays present their data, not just write lengthy articles with barely any references. ron is making some strong, and possibly very interesting, claims here. someone out there might like to try to replicate his findings.

and how about looking at other data in additon to the gss (if possible)? chuck (the occidentalist) has shown that the gss wordsum scores for mexican-americans aren’t in accord with other iq measurements for that population, so maybe it would be a good idea to look at some additional data, too. just to be on the safe side. (note that i’m not discounting the gss wordsum data completely. i understand that it’s a fairly good proxy for iq scores.)
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ron also again rejects the idea that european immigrants to the u.s. (and elsewhere) might have “self-sorted” themselves — i.e. higher iq folks emigrating leaving lower iq folks behind, thus resulting in low average iqs back in europe and higher iqs for these populations in their new homes. because he believes this, ron concludes that nineteenth century european immigrants to the u.s., and europeans back in europe, have experienced extraordinary increases in their iqs in the last couple of generations:

“Finally, let us consider the European evidence. Today, the international PISA academic tests are widely regarded as one of the best means of estimating national IQs, and if we consider the 2009 PISA scores, we find that the scores were extremely similar for Ireland, Poland, Britain, France, Sweden, Norway, Denmark, and several other countries. Since Lynn standardizes the British IQ to 100, that indicates that Ireland and Poland today have IQs around 100, which seems quite plausible.

“However, a huge sample placed Ireland’s IQ at 87 in 1972, and Lynn himself has stated that his own Ireland research in the late 1960s convinced him that the Irish were a low IQ population, whose only hope for the future lay in a strong eugenics program. So the evidence indicates that the Irish IQ was around 87 at that point, and has risen nearly a full standard deviation in the four decades which followed. Lynn also provides two additional very large samples, which placed the Irish IQ at around 92 in the early 1990s, so at the half-way mark, the Irish IQ had risen by half the difference between the endpoints, which seems remarkably consistent.

“Obviously, for the Irish to raise their Flynn-adjusted IQ by nearly a full standard devision in just over one generation is a total absurdity from a genetic perspective; thus, the huge rise must be due to some class of ‘environmental’ factors. When we consider that Ireland had been one of most rural European countries and rapidly urbanized during exactly that period, the impact of urbanization seems a plausible possibility.”

to repeat, i don’t think ron has convincingly shown what the iqs of italian- and irish-, etc., americans are, so it remains difficult to compare the old and new world iqs for each of these populations. and several commenters (like in this discussion thread) have suggested that the one figure of 87 for the irish in 1972 is just one figure, so perhaps it’s not all that reliable. (the data on which that 87 score is based upon are from a master’s thesis, btw. i found the reference here – opens pdf.)

but let’s say, for the sake of argument, that that figure was correct. ron doesn’t think that this low score could’ve been the result of selective migration because he thinks the immigrants would’ve been from the lowest classes of european society (i.e. presumably those with the lowest iqs):

“Even if we ignore all contemporaneous evidence and argue that 19th century European immigrants to America and elsewhere somehow constituted the IQ elite of their originating countries, the theory of selective migration still remains implausible…. So even if we hypothesize that the Irish, South Italians, Jews, and Greeks who immigrated to America constituted the smartest small slice of their generation — rather than, as seems more likely, often the poorer and most miserable….”

this, however, is an erroneous assumption. from thomas sowell’s Ethnic America: A History (pgs. 22-23):

“Although the cost of a trip to the United States in the hold of a cargo vessel was less than ten pounds sterling (less than fifty dollars at contemporary exchange rates), the poorest of the Irish could not afford even that, so that immigration was very low from the poorest fourth of the Irish population. Those a notch above them on the economic scale emigrated in large numbers, often by selling their belongings, using up savings, and spending money sent by relatives already in America. From one-third to three-quarters of the Irish immigrations to America in the 1830s and 1840s was financed by money sent from North America.”

so, as i said in my previous post, it wasn’t “the poorer and most miserable”, or even “the smartest small slice of their generation” that emigrated from ireland to the u.s. (or britain or australia), but folks in the middle — individuals above “the poorest fourth of the Irish population”. in other words, people of average-ish iqs.

and they left in the millions. for 140-150+ years.

if that wasn’t a dysgenic brain drain, i don’t know what was.

and all that emigration (and famine-related deaths) is reflected in this population graph for the republic of ireland:

the population of the republic of ireland seems to have bottomed out just around the time of lynn’s 87 iq score for the irish in the 1970s. the irish economy improved in fits and starts in the decades after that, and really took off in the heydays of the celtic tiger nineties and noughties (how’d that work out for them anyway?). then there wasn’t any need for anyone with half a brain to leave the country anymore — and there was an additon of something like 1.4 million individuals in two-and-a-half generations (ca. a 35% increase in the population) — and the iq scores started to improve (as ron points out the average iq was measured to be 93 in the early 1990s) — possibly (i’d say likely) as the national average regressed to its natural mean (whatever that might be, presumably higher than 87). (plus the usual flynn effect and possibly effects of better nutrition and other stuff like that.)

that scenario is a strong possibilty anyway, which ron just dismisses based on very shaky evidence.

speaking of dysgenic brain drains, how about southern italy? according to wikipedia (so it must be true!), 80% of immigrants from italy to the u.s. came from southern italy. and look at the iq (pisa) scores there today.

(btw, i don’t think this mass emigration scenario is the whole story re. the low iq scores for the peripheral european countries, but it certainly shouldn’t be discounted as easily as ron has done.)
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ron theorizes that these differences in average iqs have something to do with urban vs. rural living, which is an interesting idea, but he hasn’t made a convincing argument i think. he talks, for instance, about differences in iqs between urban and rural white americans:

“Next, consider the aggregate IQs of rural and urban/suburban whites. During the 1970s according to Wordsum-IQ data, the intelligence gap between whites raised on farms and those who grew up in an urban/suburban background was enormous, almost exactly equal to the white/black gap.”

well, that’s interesting, but again i ask — where are the data? (show me the data! (~_^) )
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finally, ron says:

“Unfortunately, this discussion has been almost entirely restricted to narrow racialist circles, with virtually all non-racialist journalists or pundits maintaining a studious silence on the matter and giving the controversy a very wide berth, although I would argue that issues of race and intelligence have considerable importance in American society.”

i agree! the situation is unfortunate. very unfortunate. i wish everybody would think and talk about human biodiversity all the time! (ok, maybe not all of the time.) i wish it were a regular topic on oprah! (does she even have a show anymore?) i can’t see how we’re gonna solve even half the world’s problems if we don’t — but then i’m beginning to suspect that most people aren’t really interested in that (prolly me, neither). *sigh*

thanks to ron for bringing up the subject at all! (^_^) (although i think there are big holes in his argument. (~_^) )

previously: ron unz and iq and mexican-american iq and a message for ron unz

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

traditional family systems in medieval russia

ihtg asks: I did not know there was a disappearance and then reemergence of the extended family in medieval Russia. Why did that happen?”

good question! i dunno. (^_^)

szopeno suggested: “maybe they [the zadrugas or extended families] are not reflection of distant past, but rather a common reaction to reappearing problem (external dangers, scarcity of resrouces etc).

that makes a lot of sense to me. perhaps family types — nuclear or extended — are just populations’ responses to their environmental/economic conditions. if there are plenty of resources — plenty of land for all — perhaps families can be small ’cause everyone can spread out. but if population density is high and there’s a shortage of resources/land, perhaps families band together. certainly cousin marriage generally seems to be a way of keeping wealth or resources (land, goats, whatever) in the family, so maybe keeping the extended family physically together is another sort of response to difficult-ish circumstances. keep the labor force together along with the wealth. and keep everyone nearby the family’s resources so that they can benefit from them, provided there’s enough to go around.

i’m going to hypothesize right now, though, that it’s probably easier for families in inbred populations to clump together than in outbred populations — or it would come more naturally to them anyhow.

ihtg was responding to this quote from that racey book, Sex and Society in the World of the Orthodox Slavs, 900-1700 [pg. 138]:

“Changes in Russian versions of canon law on incest coincided with changes in family structure. The proto-Slavic zadruga fell into disuse as a residential system in twelfth-to-fifteenth century Russia, although landholding continued to be communal. There the residential household usually consisted of a nuclear family, occasionally joined by an elderly parent or a young bride.”

twelfth-to-fifteenth century “russia” seems to cover (if i’ve got it right) the latter part of the kievan rus’ principalities [882–13th century], the first part of the muscovy days [1283–1547] and all of the novgorod republic [1136–1478] (and other polities?).

note that although nuclear families seem to have been living on their own in russia during these centuries, “landholding continued to be communal.” (this sounds rather like the medieval men of kent.)

anyway. about the kievan rus’, we’ve got janet martin in Medieval Russia: 980-1584 telling us [pg. 65]:

“The vast majority of the Kievan Rus’ population, who both materially supported the Riurikid princes and depended upon them, were peasant farmers (smerdy). Despite variations derived from tribal background, geographic location, and other factors, the peasants of Kievan Rus’ shared many characteristics and were regarded as a single undifferentiated social stratum. Among the free members of society, peasant men and women had the lowest social status.

Peasants lived in their own huts with their nuclear families, and farmed their own plots of land using their own tools and livestock. Their households were grouped into rural villages and organized into communes (vervi or miry), which had their roots in the tribal and clannic ties among the population. By the Kievan era, however, the communes had a territorial identity as much as a clannic one. Members of each commune shared common pasture lands, meadows and forests, and fishing and hunting rights. They also, importantly, shared responsibilities for tax payment and other legal obligations.”

so these kievan rus’ communes were clan or tribal based. nuclear families may have been living in their own, independent houses, but extended family bonds were clearly still there.

in Lord and Peasant in Russia: From the Ninth to the Nineteenth Century, jerome blum suggests [chapters two and three] that the change over from slash-and-burn farming techniques — which required a lot of labor — to a two- or three-field agricultural system resulted in the breakdown of extended families in medieval russia. maybe. both he and martin also talk about the kievan rus’ opening up new areas of forest for settlement, so maybe that right there offered an outlet for the apparently expanding population. maybe you didn’t have to stay at home with mom and pop and everyone else anymore if you went off and moved to some unsettled area of the dnieper valley. i dunno.

in Peasant Farming in Muscovy, robert smith (no, not THAT one) talks about that population expanding out into new territories as well, so again maybe that’s the key to the nuclear families in russia during these centuries. maybe. smith also claims that, at least in the 1400s, there is no evidence for extended family living arrangements [pgs. 80-83].

i don’t know anything about the family types in the novgorod republic (yet!), so i’ll have to leave it there for now.
_____

todd categorized the russian family type as an exogamous, patriarchal community family. he was talking about the 1500s-1800s. dunno if he had that right or not, but it certainly seems as though for the four hundred preceding that period, russians were not living in extended family groups — at least not in the same household. it’s likely they lived in the same neighborhood — hamlet, village, commune — though since land was still held communally in the clan-based communes.

previously: medieval russian mating patterns and mating patterns in medieval eastern europe

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medieval russian mating patterns

following up on this post — mating patterns in medieval eastern europe — i thought i’d get more specific on the mating patterns of the medieval russians.

first of all, russians did not adopt christianity until 988 a.d., so that puts them something like 400 years behind western europeans with regard to cousin marriage proscriptions from any christian religious authorities. like the roman catholic church, the orthodox church in the east did ban different types of cousin marriages at different times, but the timing was different from that of the catholic church.

the first question is: did the pre-christian russians inbreed/marry endogamously?

in Sex and Society in the World of the Orthodox Slavs, 900-1700, eve levin says [pgs. 136-37]:

“The Slavs abhorred incest long before the introduction of Christianity. Authors condemned outsiders, usually unjustly, for their incestuous customs. The traditional definition of incest, however seems to have been a sexual relation between members of a family living as a unit. In-laws were included, but not more distant relatives who did not share the same household, especially through the female line. Thus Slavic notions of propriety in matters of consanguinity did not coincide in all respects with the dictates of canon law.”

it’s likely, although debatable [pgs. 7-8], that the pre-christian russians lived in patrilineal extended family households (they certainly did at later points in time — see below — as did other slavs like the poles), so paternal first- and perhaps even second-cousin marriage probably didn’t occur given the pre-christian slavic ideas on incest, although this is just a guess on my part. cousin marriage with maternal cousins would not have been ruled out, though, and since it is the most common form of cousin marriage in the world, i wouldn’t be surprised to learn that the pre-christian russians practiced it. in any case, they likely practiced some form of endogamous marriage since nearly all peoples everywhere and at all times do/did. again, just a guess.

later in the medieval period we start to be on more solid ground with historical records and such.

1100s-1400s: Code of Jaroslav – bans on close incest (parents and children, siblings, etc.) but not on cousins specifically. just a vague ban on “marriage within the clan.” to me that doesn’t sound very different from the pre-christian slavic ideas on incest, i.e. avoiding whomever lives in the household, nuclear family members out to possibly paternal second cousins. so, perhaps, not much of a change in mating pattern from pre-christian russia right up to the 1400s. that’s another 400 years of in-marriage compared to all of the out-marrying northwestern europeans were doing. levin suggests (see below) that during this time russians did not the consider marriage of cousins to be incestuous.

end of 1400s/1500s+: first, second and third cousin marriages banned, both paternal and maternal. this is the restriction that western europeans had to follow for 700 years from the 1200s through the 1800s — some (northwestern europeans) did more than others — and western europeans had already had first and second cousin marriage banned starting in the 400s, and out to SIXTH cousins in the 1000s-1100s. this restriction may not have been seriously implemented in russia until the 1500s, though (see below).

i don’t know what the russian orthodox church’s regulations have been in more modern times — or what the regulations may have been in the soviet union or in russia today. if the russian orthodox church’s regulations are similar to the greek orthodox church, then there ought to be a ban on marrying first cousins. don’t know when this started for the greek church, or the russian one if that’s what they follow.

in any case, looking away from other sorts of endogamous matings, it seems as though the russians had a ban on consanguineous marriages (first and second cousin marriages) for just about 500 years, whereas (north)western europeans have had such a ban for almost 1600 years. that’s an 1100 year difference. if we calculate generations at 20 years, that’s a whopping 55 generations difference. whoa.

here are some more excerpts from levin [pgs. 137-39, 142-43]:

“Orthodox canon law recognized four types of consanguinity: by blood, by marriage, by adoption, and by spiritual bond. Slavic hierarchs recognized restrictions on intermarriage and extramarital intercourse for all four cases….

“Changes in Russian versions of canon law on incest coincided with changes in family structure. The proto-Slavic zadruga fell into disuse as a residential system in twelfth-to-fifteenth century Russia, although landholding continued to be communal. There the residential household usually consisted of a nuclear family, occasionally joined by an elderly parent or a young bride. The lists of peasant family units in wills of this period and the archaeology of aristocratic residences all point to the nuclear family as the dominant familial structure in this period. The rules on incest in the Code of Jaroslav reflect this familial arrangement. They prescribe fines for relations between parents and children or children’s spouses, brother and sisters, and brothers-in-law and sisters-in-law. More distant relatives are not named specifically, but are subsumed under the vague category of ‘marriage within the clan.’ This categorization implies that marriage was forbidden if a familial relationship was known to exist, but the exact degree of kinship was not an issue.

More extensive rules on incest appeared toward the end of the fifteenth century. Marriages between persons more closely related than fourth cousins were prohibited. If a union was contracted unknowingly between third cousins, it was allowed to stand only with great reluctance…. The reemergence of the extended family in late-fifteeth-century Russia made expanded incest regulations pertinent. Land cadasters, especially from Novgorod, reveal that peasants had switched to extended family living units akin to the South Slavic zadruga….

“According to most ecclesiastical authors, consanguinity up to the eighth degree [third cousins] precluded marriage, although some would permit a marriage between relatives in the seventh degree [second-cousins once removed, i think – h. chick], contracted unknowingly, to stand, albeit with a penance. Relationships through the male and the female lines were treated identically….

“Specific prohibitions on sexual intercourse between distant relatives by blood appeared only sporadically. Incest with cousins was more likely to be mentioned in Serbian penitential questions and trebnik nomokanony than in Russian or Bulgarian ones….

Russian codes earlier than the sixteenth century tended to omit specific regulations concerning illicit intercourse or marriage between second and third cousins, although descriptions of degrees of kinship forbade intermarriage between individuals so closely related. Apparently Russians from the eleventh century to the fifteenth century did not regard unions between cousins as incestuous. Even clerics who tended to be exacting in regard to the letter of the law, such as the Greek-born metropolitan Ioann II, had to make concessions to native attitudes. Ioann permitted marriage between third cousins, with a penance. The terms in which he outlawed marriage between second cousins make clear that such unions took place….

“Cousin marriages had a practical application: reconsolidation of ancestral lands. Because the Slavs practiced partible inheritance, the ancestral lands became fragmented after a few generations. While communal ownership by the zadruga mitigated the effects of partible inheritance for a time, eventually holdings became subdivided. When a daughter-heir could be married to her male cousin, the ancestral estate could be reconstituted, at least in part. That might have been the motivation in an instance of marriage between cousins in fifteenth-century Novgorod. Agrafena, an heiress of the boyar class, married her second cousin, Fedor Onkifovic. Together they possessed a large portion of the entailed estate of their common ancestor, but there were still other heirs, especially Agrafena’s sister’s son, who kept their shares separate. Incidentally, there is no evidence to suggest that the marriage was considered improper. Inheritance of landed property by daughters was a relatively unusual phenomenon among the medieval Slavs; it developed most fully in northwestern Russia in the fifteenth century. Consequently, there would not have been much community pressure on the church to reinterpret regulations on consanguinity to permit marriages between cousins.”

previously: mating patterns in medieval eastern europe and traditional family systems in medieval and modern poland

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traditional family systems in medieval and modern poland

*update below*

i had a post up a few months ago about mating patterns in medieval eastern europe which i said at the time was just a preliminary view on that whole region of the world since eastern europe is a pretty big place and i want to look at the mating/family patterns for that whole region from at least the early medieval period up until today (*whew! – hbd chick wipes brow*). here goes another post on part of the region — poland — which, again, should just be viewed as an initial peek at what’s been going on mating-wise in that part of the world over the past several hundreds of years.

szopeno left a comment on the previous post the other day saying that the zadruga, which i had mentioned in the post, is/was mostly just a southern slav thing and not a western slavic institution.

sho’nuff, according to wikipedia, a zadruga is/was:

“[A] type of rural community historically common among South Slavs….

Originally, generally formed of one family or a clan of related families, the zadruga held its property, herds and money in common, with usually the oldest (patriarch) member ruling and making decisions for the family, though at times he would delegate this right at an old age to one of his sons….

The zadruga eventually went into decline beginning in the late 19th century, as the largest started to become unmanageable and broke into smaller zadrugas or formed villages. However, the zadruga system continues to color life in the Balkans; the typically intense concern for family found among South Slavs even today is partly due to centuries of living in the zadruga system. Many modern-day villages in the Balkans have their roots in a zadruga, a large number of them carrying the name of the one that founded them.

Villages and neighbourhoods that originated from zadrugas can often be recognized by the patronymic suffixes, such as -ivci, -evci, -ovci, -inci, -ci, -ane, -ene, etc., on their names.”

so that’s the southern slavs. what about the western ones? – in particular the poles?

in The Explanation of Ideology, emmanuel todd says that the traditional family system in poland was the egalitarian nuclear family (see map here) which is also found in parts of france and spain and southern italy. the characteristics of his egalitarian nuclear family include:

– no cohabitation of married children with their parents
– equality of brothers laid down by inheritance rules
– no marriage between the children of brothers

todd’s sources for poland, however, number only four. two of them are a census and a survey both from the 1970s. while those are interesting, they don’t tell us much about the (evolutionary) history of polish family- or mating-types. the third source [in french] relates to the 1700s, again fairly “recent,” especially given that todd claims to be talking about traditional family systems dating from 1500 to 1800 — i already discovered that he had some very late data for ireland — now it looks like todd’s kinda fudged the data for poland, too. anyway…

his final source is a book entitled Poland, Its People, Its Society, Its Culture [pg. 348]:

“The Polish family is characterized by marked internal strain and attenuation of family ties which are the final product of a long process of disintegration. Before Poland’s partition in the late eighteenth century the family was given cohesion by an ideal of family solidaritary extending to a large number of relatives by blood and marriage. The ideal, which is still held by all strata of the population [this was published in 1958 – h. chick], stressed the feeling of belonging to the family group, the integration of activities of family members to obtain common objectives, the utilization of family resources for needy members, and the maintenance of continuity between the parental family and new family units. By the end of the nineteenth century, however, family ties had become so attenuated that the ideal was rarely attained except by upper-class and intelligensia families. The nuclear family of husband, wife, and children, rather than the extended family (which includes many other relatives), became the norm among all social groups.”

so the nuclear family is relatively new in poland — the first partition of poland was in 1772, so 1770s until 2010s that’s ca. twelve conservative generations (a generation equalling twenty years).

in the medieval period in poland, community families were the thing. from East Central Europe in the Middle Ages, 1000-1500, Volume 3 [pg. 85]:

“A common residential pattern in the villages of medieval East Central Europe was an extended family of some kind. Nuclear families were not unknown, but the larger kinship group offered greater economic security in an uncertain environment, since its members could help one another. In Poland the so-called large family typically included three generations of men with their wives and children. The entire family worked the land together under the direction of the father or grandfather, and constituted the basic unit of social life.”

i don’t know if that qualifies as a zadruga, but the poles were definitely living in communal family arrangements in the middle ages.

here’s more from alan macfarlane [pgs. 18, 24-25, 31-32]:

“The central feature of traditional East European peasantry was that ownership was not individualized. It was not the single individual who exclusively owned the productive resources, but rather the household…. Galeski writes about the Polish family farm that ‘the children are both the heirs of, and workers on, the farm. As heirs they are also co-owners.’ ‘The farm is handed down from generation to generation, while the family — the successive usufructuries — carries a responsibility to its own children (and to village opinion) for the property in its charge….’

“[O]n the whole peasant societies are geographically relatively immobile. In the context of Poland, for example, this is taken for granted, our authors only alluding to it in asides. Thomas and Znaniecki suggest that one reason for the absence of romantic love is that it is psychologically impossible because ‘in most cases … all the possible partners are known from childhood.’ Galeski refers to the ‘marked spatial stability’ of the inhabitants of villages, stating that it is ‘a characteristic of the village community that the persons living in it are connected primarily by social, but also by territorial origin. They were usually born in the village or in a neighbouring village….’ The idea that people should spend their lives in half a dozen villages, or move from village to town and then back to the village is largely absent. Most of those who live in a community pass through all the major phases of their life in one area among a group of people they know from cradle to grave. Many of those around them are neighbours, but many are also kin, for one consequence of limited geographical immobility and an association between land and family is that territories fill up with kin….

[W]e find Galeski referring to the ‘strong ties of kinship among the families which make up the community.’ This is reinforced by the frequent intra-village marriages and results in the fact that ‘there are usually only a few family names in the village community. The village consists of several interrelated large families (or clans). For this reason, a village is sometimes defined as a family neighbour group….’

“Shanin [who was writing about russian peasants – h. chick] observes that ‘the village community operates to a great extent as an autonomous society….’ This author speaks in many places of this community-based society, of the hostility to ousiders, the satisfaction of all wants within the community, and other features. The same phenomenon is noted by Galeski for Poland, where he argues that the local community acts as the central economic, ritual, cultural and social control unit: the ‘village community is a primary group. Relationships among the inhabitants are based on personal contacts.’ The result of this is that a peasant society is made up of a host of largely identical, but mutually antagonistic and bounded territorial groups…. Although it is clear that peasant societies will vary in strength of community boundaries, it appears to be generally true that such nations could be called ‘particularist’ rather than ‘universalist.‘”

so, from around 1000 to 1500, poles were mostly living in community family groups. i’m not sure what happened after 1500, but it sounds as though extended families and strong family ties lasted well up and probably into the 1800s.

what i don’t know is what the mating patterns of poles were historically. did they marry cousins? the russians did from time to time, but hey — that’s the russians. the poles became roman catholics in 966, so they ought to have followed all the church’s bans on cousin marriages. but being catholic and marrying cousins never bothered the irish much and, of course, dispensations have often been available (southern italians have very frequently married their cousins up until quite recently). from galeski we learn that, at the very least, marriage was pretty endogamous amongst polish peasants. sounds like the poles are more like the greeks than the english or the medieval rural northern italians.

macfarlane quotes galeski as saying:

“Relationships among the inhabitants are based on personal contacts.”

well, not just personal contacts but genetic relatedness. most of a polish peasant’s relationship were with immediate family, extended family, or distant family. as macfarlane said, territories pretty quickly fill up with kin.

update 04/18: i don’t have access to this dissertation, but it looks like a good deal of medieval poles paid little heed to the church’s regulations on marriage. not surprising. several other medieval (and modern!) european societies did the same (egs. the italians, the irish).

previously: mating patterns in medieval eastern europe

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mating patterns in medieval eastern europe

i said i would start taking a look at the mating patterns of eastern europe after christmas, so here i am! (^_^) hold on … here we go …

first of all, eastern europe is a big place, not to mention the medieval period, so consider this a premlinary view of things (which it is).

the second thing to note is that, except for the southern areas of eastern europe that were part of the byzantine empire, christianity arrived later in eastern europe than in western — for instance, the serbs converted between the seventh and ninth centuries, while the rus not until the ninth and tenth. so, whatever the pre-christian mating practices of all these slavs were — no doubt quite endogamous since we’re talking about slavic tribes here — they probably continued with those practices for several hundred years longer than western european populations did. the catholic church had put a ban on cousin marriage as early as the 400s; and the germanic franks and visigoths, for example, already had complimentary civic laws banning cousin marriages by the 500 and 600s. (not all western europeans stopped inbreeding so early. see the “Inbreeding in Europe” series down below ↓ in the left-hand column for more details.) so, eastern europeans were probably inbreeding for at least a couple of hundred years longer than (north)western europeans.

now, eve levin in Sex and Society in the World of the Orthodox Slavs, 900-1700 describes how both pre-christian southern slavs and the rus lived in extended familiy communal groups called zadruga or obshchina in russian. these family groups were patrilinear and patrilocal and often consisted of up to four generations of an extended family living together with great-grandpa in charge. most slavs continued to live in such extended-family households post-conversion, too.

levin says that the pre-christian slavs were concerned about inbreeding within the zadruga, so it’s likely that they avoided first- and second-paternal cousin marriage. i would guess that maternal cousin marriage was the norm since that is the most common form of cousin marriage globally, but that is only a guess on my part. (see the paragraph about the south slav trebnici in the excerpts below, tho.) the christian church in the east banned first- and second-cousin marriage, which coincided well with slavic family structure, and in addition also, of course, banned both paternal and maternal cousin marriage.

in russia specifically, the canon laws regarding marriage varied over time (they did so in western europe, too). between the 1100s and 1400s, there were no specific bans on cousin marriage, only a ban on “marriage within the clan.” levin claims that during this time period, the russians did not consider mating by cousins to be incestuous, so you would think there would’ve been a good deal of cousin marriage during these centuries amongst the russians. so that’s another four hundred years or so of close mating practices by the russians as compared to western europeans. recall that during the 1000s and 1100s in western europe, the church had banned marriages up to and including sixth cousins. after 1215, it was up to and including third cousins. by the end of the 1400s in russia, marriage with persons up to fourth cousin was banned by the orthodox church.

levin also points out that the serbs seemed to, overall, have more regulations about cousin marriage than either the russians or bulgarians. the serbian church had heavy penances for even second cousin marriage, so perhaps the serbs have been outbreeding for longer than the russians.

here are some excerpts from Sex and Society in the World of the Orthodox Slavs, 900-1700. more on this part of europe anon! pages 136-144 (links added by me):

“The Slavs abhorred incest long before the introduction of Christianity. Authors condemned outsiders, usually unjustly, for their incestuous customs. The traditional definition of incest, however, seems to have been a sexual relation between members of a family living as a unit. In-laws were included, but not more distant relatives who did not share the same household, especially through the female line. Thus Slavic notions of propriety in matters of consanguinity did not coincide in all respects with the dictates of canon law….

“Orthodox canon law recognized four types of consanguinity: by blood, by marriage, by adoption, and by spiritual bond. Slavic hierarchs recognized restrictions on intermarriage and extramarital intercourse for all four causes. The Byzantine sources — the nomocanon, the syntagma, and secular codes — offered a wide variety of rules to chose from on consanguinity and affinity. For example, Byzantine canons prohibited marriage among distant cousins and families of in-laws, while civil law labeled as incestuous a narrow range of relations: between parents and children, stepparents and stepchildren, brothers and sisters, uncles and nieces, aunts and nephews, brothers-in-law and sisters-in-law, and first cousins. The adoption of laws governing consanguinity roughly matched the dominant family structure….

“Among the South Slavs [bulgarians, serbs, croats, macedonians, slovenes, bosniaks & montenegrins], the extended communal family (zadruga) was established as the basic social unit. The zadruga commonly included the patriarch and his wife (who directed the other women in the household), his sons and their wives and children, and even those children’s grandchildren. The family house could contain four generations at a time, and persons as distantly related as second or third cousins. The Slavic zadruga was almost exclusively patrilinear and patrilocal. Descent was traced through the father, and inheritance of land passed primarily through the male line. Sons brought their brides into the parental household, while daughters were married out into other families.

“When the family became too numerous to live together comfortably, or a dispute arose over shares of property, the zadruga would dissolve itself into nuclear families. In time, through marriage and the birth of children, each nuclear family would again become an extended zadruga….

“The canon law’s ban on the marriage of third cousins thus coincided with the South Slavs’ conception of the family unit. Relatives in the male line to four generations would be living in the same household; marriages between them would fall under the nearly universal incest taboo. Relatives in the female line, other than the mother’s immediate family, might well be strangers. Thus South Slavic trebnici raised questions concerning marriages among bratucedi, literally ‘brother-children,’ but rarely mentioned the question of sestricni, or ‘sister-children.’ The traditions of Orthodox canon law, on the other hand, required equal observance of degrees of consanguinity in both male and female lines.

“Changes in Russian versions of canon law on incest coincided with changes in family structure. The proto-Slavic zadrga fell into disuse as a residential system in twelfth-to-fifteenth century Russia, although landholding continued to be communal. There the residential household usually consisted of a nuclear family, occasionally joined by an elderly parent or a young bride…. The rules on incest in the Code of Jaroslav reflect this familial arrangement. They prescribe fines for relations between parents and children or children’s spouses, brothers and sisters, and brothers-in-law and sisters-in-law. More distant relatives are not named specifically, but are subsumed under the vague category of ‘marriage within the clan.’ This categorization implies that marriage was forbidden if a familial relationship was known to exist, but the exact degree of kinship was not an issue.

“More extensive rules on incest appeared toward the end of the fifteenth century. Marriages between persons more closely related than fourth cousins were prohibited. If a union was contracted unknowingly between third cousins, it was allowed to stand only with great resistance. This alteration may be explained in part by the influx of South Slavic clerics who fled the Turkish takeover of the Balkans, bringing with them the canons and outlook of their homelands. Yet the availability of an alternative set of rules on incest does not explain its acceptance. The reemergence of the extended family in late-fifteenth-century Russia made expanded incest regulations pertinent. Land cadasters, especially from Novgorod, reveal that peasants had switched to extended family living units akin to the South Slavic zadruga….

“According to most ecclesiastical authors, consanguinity up to the eighth degree [russian calculation, which equals third cousins] precluded marriage, although some would permit a marriage between relatives in the seventh degree [second-cousins once-removed, i think], contracted unknowingly, to stand, albeit with a penance. Relationships through the male and the female lines were treated identically….

“Ignorance of kinship did not constitute grounds for complete exoneration of the offending couple. Their marriage still offended God and endangered the welfare of the community. In order to prevent incestuous unions contracted out of ignorance or deceit, priests were instructed to question prospective brides and grooms carefully, and their parents as well, in order to ascertain that marriage did not violate canon law. Observance of canons on marriage probably underlay the law in the Code of Stefan Dusan requiring all Serbs to go to their own priests to be married….

“Fewer codes of canon law and penitential questionnaries included questions about more distant relatives by blood [than parents or siblings], with the exception of first cousins. Instead, they included general prohibitions on ‘incest’ and ‘marriage within the clan’ (v rodou). The severity of the recommended penances indicate that close relatives were intended. Although Byzantine law available in Slavic translation included provisions against sexual relations with an aunt or a niece by blood or marriage, very few native codes mention these transgressions. Because the Slavic family tended to be exogamous and patrilocal, it would be unusual for an adult aunt or niece by blood to live in the same household as nephew or uncle. First cousins, however, frequently shared the same dwelling, at least as children, and their relationship was viewed as nearly as close as that between siblings or half-siblings. For that reason, analogous penances were recommended, ranging from two to sixteen years of fasting; a ten-year penance was the most common.

“Specific prohibitions on sexual intercourse between distant relatives by blood appeared only sproadically. Incest with cousins was more likely to be mentioned in Serbian penitential questions and trebnik nomokanony than in Russian or Bulgarian ones. Regulations against incest between second cousins listed a penance of nine or ten years’ exclusion from communion, which could be shortened under the rules of St. John the Penitent to one year and four months or two years of fasting. For incest between third cousins, the basic penance was eight years, but few codes included a specific provision regarding this relationship.

“Russian codes earlier than the sixteenth century tended to omit specific regulations concerning illicit intercourse or marriage between second and third cousins, although descriptions of degrees of kinship forbade intermarriage between individuals so closely related. Apparently Russians from the eleventh century to the fifteenth did not regard unions between cousins as incestuous. Even clerics who tended to be exacting in regard to the letter of the law, such as the Greek-born metropolitan Ioann II, had to make concessions to native attitudes. Ioann permitted marriage between third cousins, with a penance. The terms in which he outlawed marriage between second cousins make clear that such unions took place. The late-fourteenth-century explication of degrees of kinship in the Sofijskaja Kormcaja permitted marriages among blood relatives related in the sixth degree: a man could marry his first cousin’s granddaughter.

“Cousin marriages had a practical application: reconsolidation of ancestral lands. Because the Slave practiced partible inheritance, the ancestral lands became fragmented after a few generations. While communal ownership by the zadruga mitigated the effects of partible inheritance for a time, eventually holdings became subdivided. When a daughter-heir could be married to her male cousin, the ancestral estate could be reconstituted, at least in part….

“It was possible to contract an incestuous union unknowingly … because lineage was popularly traced more through the male line than through the female. Canon law had to make provisions for the accidental incestuous marriage of third cousins before the relationship was discovered. Clerics disagreed about marriages arranged out of ignorance between persons related in the seventh or eight degree [russian calculation]. Some ordered such unions dissolved, and the husband and wife undergo the penance for cousin incest (ten years); others permitted the couple to remain married, though with a penance.”

previously: whatever happened to european tribes? and big timeline of european mating patterns (as yet incomplete…)

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