random notes: 03/06/15

oooooooohhhhhhhh! from Reimagining Europe: Kievan Rus’ in the Medieval World, 988-1146 [pgs. 58-60]:

“The medieval period pre-1215 was an especially interesting time in the history of consanguinity legislation because during this era the church stretched consanguinity to seven degrees, an increase from the four that was common in the late Roman world, and the degrees were calculated in a new manner. Instead of siblings being related in two degrees, as was held previously, the new method of calculation made siblings related in the first degree. This may at first appear to be a small change, but in fact it was enormous. The original method, and the one returned to after the Fourth Lateran Council in 1215, was to count connections between people; thus, for siblings, one degree up to the shared parent, and one degree down to the sibling, for a total of two degrees. For first cousins, a more likely target for marriage than siblngs, it was one degree up to your parent, another degree up to your grandparent, a degree down to your uncle/aunt, and a degree down to your cousins, resulting in a relationship of four degrees.

“The new method of calculating consanguinity was based on degrees to a common ancestor, which resulted in a one-degree relationship for siblings (a common ancestor is one generation back) and two degrees for a cousin (a common ancestor is two generations back). When this concept was applied to seven generations of ancestors, it expanded the pool of consanguineous relations to anyone with whom one shared a great-great-great-great-great-grandparent….

“The Orthodox Church, like the church in Rome, also maintained a policy against consanguineous marriages. Marriages were also forbidden in the seventh degree, but the Orthodox Church never changed its method of calculating degrees, which created a much smaller pool of consanguineous relations.”

oooooooohhhhhhhh! why didn’t they say so in the first place?! =P

so, what this means is, all those cousin marriage regulations out to the “seventh degree” which we hear about from eastern europe (re. orthodox populations)…they’re just referring to SECOND cousins, not SIXTH the way that western european experienced it for a couple hundred years in the medieval period (from about 1000 to 1215). that’s not to say that most medieval western europeans somehow managed to obey the bans out to sixth cousins, but just that there’s apparently never been the same extreme push against close kin marriage in eastern europe. interesting.
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from “Marriage Causes in Late Medieval Sweden: The Evidence of Bishop Hans Brask’s Register (1522-27)” in Regional Variations in Matrimonial Law and Custom in Europe, 1150-1600 [pg. 240], on consanguineous marriage in sweden in the sixteenth century:

“Considering the number and type of cases, the Swedish may have been somewhere in between the ‘incestuous’ late-medieval Netherlands, discussed by Vleeschouwers-Van Melkebeek, the carefree Poles described by Brozyna and the English and Parisians who, according to the of Helmholz and Donaghue, had internalized the rules of incest better and did avoid matrimony with relatives. Perhaps ordinary Swedish peasants in the see of Linköping had easier access to dispensations. Possibly the control of the impediment of consanguinity before the voluntary ecclesiastical solemnization also managed to unearth the ties of kinship between fiances. Moreover, the children’s later loss of inheritance rights may have been a risk some couples were unwilling to take if they were discovered to have known about the impediement prior to their marriage. Swedish synodal statues stressed that children born to couples whose marriage was later discovered to be incestuous would only be considered legitimate if their parents had solemnized *in facie ecclesiae* and the banns had been read without opposition.”

most of this picture fits what i’ve been saying: that (some of) the french and english were the earliest adopters of outbreeding in europe (i posted about donahue’s studies here), the scandinavians came to the party a bit later, and eastern europeans (the example in the excerpt above, the poles) much later. i don’t know who these “‘incestuous’ late-medieval” netherlanders were — i’ve been under the impression that the dutch (minus the frisians) are some of the long-term outbreeders along with the french and english. the source for this is: “Incestuous Marriages: Formal Rules and Social Practice in the Southern Burgundian Netherlands” by monique vleeschouwers-van melkebeek in Love, Marriage, and Family Ties in the Later Middle Ages, which is not available on google books at the moment. (dr*t!) what’s not clear to me is whether vleeschouwers-van melkebeek looked at netherlanders in general or just the aristocracy (which these studies often do). i shall have to find out!
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from The Jews of Eastern Europe, 1772-1881 [pg. 48]:

The spread of Hasidim stopped only when it reached the invisible border that separated German Jewry from Eastern European Jewry — the boundary between the western central part of the Ashkenazi diaspora and its eastern part. With the exception of one quasi-Hasidic community established in Frankfurt, the Hasidic *tzaddikim* did not succeed in gaining a foothold in Germany as the movement spread.”

previously: historic mating patterns of ashkenazi jews
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from Jews Against Zionism: The American Council for Judaism, 1942-1948 [pg. 23]:

“Antagonism between the established, well-to-do German Jews and the new, working-class East European immigrants was unavoidable. To the East Europeans, the German Jews, whom they called *Yahudim*, were not authentic Jews; their Reform Judaism was a sham. They seemed to lack a feeling of closeness to fellow Jews. The native German Jews, on the other hand, frightened by the ‘Russian invasion,’ tended to regard the new immigrants as primitive, ‘medieval,’ clannish, Asiatic, unrefined, and radical. German Jews even coined the word *kikes* for the Eastern Europeans.”
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from The Jews of Chicago: From Shtetl to Suburb [pgs. 95-96]:

“The German Jews…embarked on an extensive program of financing and running a number of educational, health, and social-service institutions, mostly in the Maxwell Street areas. These proved very helpful to the poorer Eastern European immigrants. Socially, the German Jews kept apart from the newer immigrants, living separately and maintaining their own clubs, synagogues, fraternal organizations, and community centers, at which the Eastern European Jews were not welcomed. Later, as the Eastern European Jews progressed, they built a parallel set of their own institutions, such as a hospital, old peoples’ homes, charities, and orphanages. Although the distinction between the two groups was gradually blurred, for decades the social distance between the groups remained great. The German Jews, for example,

“‘did not wish to have these Jews to close to them. These Russians were all right — of that they were quite certain — but, like the southern Negro, they had to keep their place. All sorts of philanthropic enterprises were undertaken in their behalf, but in the management of these enterprises the beneficiaries were given no voice. Charity balls by the debutantes of the German-Jewish elite in behalf of the wretched West Side Jews were held at the splendid clubs of the German Jews, which by this time had increased to four, and charitably inclined young Jewish men and ladies-bountiful spent their leisure hours in alleviating the hardships of the Jewish slum dwellers.

‘But the Russians did not take altogether willingly to the American ways of dispensing *zdoko* (charity). They were accustomed to assisting one another in the Old Country in much more informal style. The Jewish communities they had known in Russia were self-sufficient large families. These German Jews of the ‘societies’ asked all sorts of embarassing questions before they dispensed their financial and other aid. They made investigations and kept records. Most of all, they did not understand — they did not know — their own people; in fact, they were only halfway Jews; they did not even understand *mama loshon* (the mother-tongue), or Yiddish.'”

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suicide by death penalty

here’s a strange — and sad — set of homicide statistics from sweden (stockholm) in the early 1700s — from manuel eisner’s Long-Term Historical Trends in Violent Crime [pdf – pg. 112]:

“There is one major exception to this pattern [of male preponderance in serious violent crime-h.chick]. In early eighteenth-century Stockholm, women not only accounted for more than 60 percent of property crime offenders but also 45 percent of murder and manslaughter offenders and 41 percent of assault offenders (Andersson 1995). These are probably the highest female participation rates in serious violent crime found anywhere in the world. Scholars examining this phenomenon emphasize a combination of factors including — besides demographic imbalance — a highly specific cultural configuration, which embraced some kind of otherworldly calculus. More particularly, for fear of eternal punishment in hell, suicidal women appear often to have chosen to kill somebody else, usually their offspring, and then suffer the death penalty imposed on them by the judiciary (Jansson 1998). Homicide would bring them to purgatory for a limited period of time, after which they would enter heaven for eternity, which was definitely to be preferred to consignment to eternal hell because of suicide.”

=/

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inbreeding in 18th and 19th century sweden

here’s a little more on inbreeding in sweden, again from this article: The Influence of Past Endogamy and Consanguinity on Genetic Disorders in Northern Sweden.

the researchers looked at parish record books to work out who married whom — and if and how they were related — in 18th and 19th century skellefteå which is right here:

the researchers assure us that, despite being a hair’s breadth away from the arctic cirle, skellefteå was not (is not!) a completely off piste locale and traded regularly with stockholm, etc., etc. so, skellefteå should not be a too a-typical example of mating patterns in sweden at the time. (still, like steve sailer pointed about about sweden in general, skellefteå is not exactly a cross-roads sorta place like istanbul or sicily. so, apart from the swedes and maybe some finns and a few sami and drunken mooses, it prolly wasn’t a very cosmopolitan place in the 18th and 19th centuries.)

how much inbreeding did they do? well, i’m glad you asked! [pg. 551]:

“Of the 14,639 marriage records examined, 3,043 (20.8%) were between couples related as sixth cousins or closer (F ≥ 0.00006), with a mean coefficient of inbreeding (α) for the total study population of 0.00204. First cousin unions comprised 2.05% of all marriages, and unions between couples who were second cousins and third cousins accounted for 2.24% and 2.91% of marriages, respectively.”

those are the averages of first-, second- and third-cousin marriages over the whole time period from 1720-1899. here are the percentages of first- through third-cousin marriages for each of the time periods looked at (click on chart for LARGER version):

as you can see, the rates increase up to the middle of the nineteenth century and then sorta drop off a bit in the last couple of decades. we’ve seen the increase in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries before in italy and spain, and increasing cousin marriage rates was, apparently, the general pattern for much of europe in the nineteenth century:

“Prior to industrialization an inbreeding pattern characterized by increasing values throughout the 19th century was common to many societies, both European (Calderón et al. 1993; Morales 1992; Pettener 1985) and American (Gradie et al. 1991; Madrigal and Ware 1997). In many European populations, inbreeding was highest in the period from 1875 to 1915 (O’Brien et al. 1988)….” [source]

so, sweden was pretty typical for its times in this regard.

how do the swedish cousin-marriage rates compare to other european countries during the same period? well, for england, we’ve got a first-cousin marriage rate of 2.25% for rural areas in 1876. sweden’s first-cousin marriage rate for about the same time (1860-1879) was 2.66%, so pretty much in the same ballpark.

again, these rates come nowhere near the rates for early-twentieth century southern italy where the first-cousin marriage rate hit 56.97% in reggio calabria between 1910 and 1914. northern italy, on the other hand, is more like sweden (and england) in the nineteenth century with rates like 2.28% in rovigo between 1910 and 1914.

the other country for which i’ve got data from the same time period is spain. (remember that these numbers are probably not representative for the whole of spain. gredos is a mountainous area and remote, mountain populations tend to have higher than average inbreeding rates.) here are the percentages for first- through third-cousin marriages in gredos, spain, in the late-nineteenth and early-twentieth centuries:

only the two first periods here sorta overlap with the last two periods of the swedish data:

spain — sweden
1874-1884 = 17.30% — 1860-1879 = 11.42%
1885-1894 = 16.62% — 1880-1889 = 10.06%

so, gredos, spain, had quite a bit more first- through third-cousin marriages in these decades than sweden — but, again, gredos might not be representative for the whole of spain.

overall, then, the swedes did not have very high inbreeding rates in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. the cousin marriages rates for sweden during the period were comparable to those in england and probably also northern italy and perhaps even spain. remember, however, that the swedes do not have the same depth of outbreeding as other areas of northern europe. they may have had similar cousin marriage rates to other northern europeans in modern times, but they were likely marrying their cousins for longer during the early medieval period.

previously: inbreeding in sweden

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inbreeding in sweden

ok. moving northwards for a sec … sveeeeeden.

inbreeding (or outbreeding) in scandinavia in the dark ages? who knows? no written records, obviously, except for the odd runic inscription here and there. it’s probably a safe assumption to guess that the scandis were like the germanic tribes and did, indeed, practice some form of endogamous mating — likely some cousins, but who knows which ones and how frequently? we’re not even exactly sure what the marriage practices of the germanic tribes were like and we have some (late in the period) written laws from them.

there were norse clans, tho — ætts — kinda like the scots in the past or the chinese today, so that hints at endogamous mating practices:

The Scandinavian clan or ætt was a social group based on common descent or on the formal acceptance into the group at a þing. [T]he clan was the primary force of security in Norse society, as the clansmen were obliged by honour to avenge one another. The Norse clan was not tied to a certain territory in the same way as a Scottish clan, where the chief owned the territory. The land of the Scandinavian clan was owned by the individuals who had close neighbours from other clans. T he name of the clan was derived from that of its ancestor, often with the addition of an -ung or -ing ending.”

so, there you go.

christianity arrived relatively late way up north so that, while some of the german groups on the continent were already being told not to marry their second-cousins in the 500s, the swedes were still having battles between christians and pagans as late as the 1000s. presumably this meant that more swedes were following their old mating practices rather than the new-fangled christian ones until a much later date — as late as the 1100s maybe. so i would guess that the scandinavians do not have the depth of outbreeding that, say, the english and other north-west european populations have.

fast-forward to the reformation — most of the protestant churches in europe did not ban cousin marriage the way that the roman catholic church had done (and still does with first-cousin marriage). the new churches went with what the bible said, particularly leviticus — and the old testament, having been written by the ancient hebrews, was of course ok with cousin marriage.

the exception to this rule of protestant churches was the swedish luthern church which banned cousin marriage (i believe) right at the start of its foundation in the 1500s until 1680 when one could get a dispensation to marry a first-cousin (but see quote below). so, cousin marriage was, presumably, not practiced by the catholics in sweden and, then, also not practiced once the church there became luthern [pgs. 550 & 552-53]:

“Although strongly Protestant, the Lutheran Church in Sweden initially banned marriages between first cousins throughout the country, but from 1680 a dispensation for first cousin marriage could be granted by the King in Council. The expense involved was, however, a major disincentive and during this period first cousin marriages were rare and principally contracted among the nobility (Alstrom, 1958). After unsuccessful attempts in 1809 and 1823 to remove the requisite fee for first cousin marriage dispensation, it was reduced by the Swedish Riksdag (Parliament) in 1829. Then, after another failed attempt at reform in 1841, in 1844 the Riksdag formally revoked the requirement for royal dispensation, leaving first cousins free to marry should they so desire. The history of consanguineous marriage within Sweden can therefore be conveniently sub-divided into three separate time periods: pre-1680, 1680–1843, and 1844 onwards….


“Prior to the introduction of royal dispensation in 1680, first cousin marriages were very rare in Sweden, since they were not sanctioned by the Lutheran Church (Alstrom, 1958). Thereafter, the prevalence increased nationally to an estimated 0.2% in 1750, 1.0% in 1800 and 1.5% by the mid-19th century. This study also reported a distinct north-south cline, with the highest rates of consanguinity in the more sparsely populated northern regions abutting Finland, that are home to most of the Swedish Saami (Lapp) community. Investigations during the first half of the 20th century, mainly based on first cousin marriages only, confirmed the continuing north-south cline of consanguinity (Fraccaro, 1958), with an upper prevalence of 6.8% first cousin unions in a remote northern parish (Book, 1948), compared to 1.7% and 1.3% first cousin marriages in southern and western rural regions of the country (Book & Mawe, 1955; Larson, 1956).

so, first-cousin marriage rates in sweden in more modern times:

1750 = 0.2%
1800 = 1.0%
mid-19th c = 1.5%
early-20th c = 1.3%-1.7% (western & southern sweden)

compare the early 20th century rates of sweden with the rates for first-cousin marriage in italy between 1910-1914: anywhere from 2.28% in northern italy to (mamma mia!) 56.97% in southern italy.

edit: also compare the mid-19th century rate of first-cousin marriage sweden — 1.5% — with the mid-19th century rate for consanguineous marriages (only first-cousin?) amongst protestants in alsace-lorraine — 0.186%. and, amongst catholics in alsace-lorraine — 0.997%.

of course, the swedes could very well having been marrying their second- and third-cousins (spoiler alert: they did), but it’s late now so i’ll take a look at that in another post (hopefully tomorrow).

previously: clientelism in greece and whatever happened to european tribes? and inbreeding amongst germanic tribes and more on inbreeding in germanic tribes and early medieval germans…again!

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