Archives for posts with tag: the radical reformation

in a brief article on the church’s role in the development of things like political liberty (belated happy magna carta day, btw!) and prosperity in medieval england, ed west says:

“Last week I was writing about Magna Carta and how the Catholic Church’s role has been written out, in particular the part of the Archbishop of Canterbury, Stephen Langton.

“But the same could also be said about much of English history from 600AD to 1600; from the very first law code written in English, which begins with a clause protecting Church property, to the intellectual flourishing of the 13th century, led by churchmen such as Roger Bacon, the Franciscan friar who foresaw air travel.

“However, the whitewashing of English Catholic history is mainly seen in three areas: political liberty, economic prosperity and literacy, all of which are seen as being linked to Protestantism.

“Yet not only was Magna Carta overseen by churchmen, but Parliament was created by religious Catholics, including its de facto founder, Simon de Montfort….

“Likewise literacy, which hugely increased in the 16th century and is often attributed to the Protestant attachment to the word, was already increasing in the 15th and the rate of growth did not change after Henry VIII made the break with Rome….”

here’s the graph from max roser on literacy rates in western europe from the fifteenth century onwards [click on chart for LARGER view]:


and more from ed west:

“As for the economy and the ‘Protestant work ethic’, well the English economy was already ‘Protestant’ long before the Reformation.

As one study puts it:

“‘By 1200 Western Europe has a GDP per capita higher than most parts of the world, but (with two exceptions) by 1500 this number stops increasing. In both data sets the two exceptions are Netherlands and Great Britain. These North Sea economies experienced sustained GDP per capita growth for six straight centuries. The North Sea begins to diverge from the rest of Europe long before the “West” begins its more famous split from “the rest”. [W]e can pin point the beginning of this “little divergence” with greater detail. In 1348 Holland’s GDP per capita was $876. England’s was $777. In less than 60 years time Holland’s jumps to $1,245 and England’s to 1090. The North Sea’s revolutionary divergence started at this time.’

“In fact GDP per capita in England actually decreased under the Tudors, and would not match its pre-Reformation levels until the late 17th century.”

so there are three big things — political liberty, prosperity, and literacy — all of which improved significantly, or began on a trajectory to do so, already by the high middle ages in northwestern or “core” europe (england, netherlands, nw france, ne germany, scandinavia, etc.).

there are additionally some other large and profound societal changes that occurred in core europe which also started earlier than most people think:

– a marked reduction in homicide rates, which has been studied extensively by historians of crime like manuel eisner, was written about at great length by steven pinker in his Better Angels, and most recently was suggested by peter frost and henry harpending to be the result of genetic pacification via the execution of criminals in the middle ages (i think they’re partly/mostly right!).

here’s the example of england (from eisner 2001):

eisner - homicide rates in england

“In the thirteenth and fourteenth century, the mean of almost 40 different estimates lies around 24 homicides per 100,000. The average homicide rates are higher for the late fourteenth century than for the thirteenth century, but it seems impossible to say whether this is due to the difference of the sources used or reflects a real increase related to the social and economic crises in the late Middle Ages. When estimate start again after a gap of some 150 years, the average calculated homicide rates are considerably lower with typical values of between 3-9 per 100,000. From then onwards, the data for Kent line up with surprising precision along a straight line that implies a long-term declining trend for more than 350 years.” [pg. 622]

while it is likely that the state’s persistent execution of violent felons over the course of a couple of hundred years in the late medieval/early modern period resulted in the genetic pacification of the english (and other core europeans — this is the frost & harpending proposal), it is also apparent that the frequency of homicides began to drop before the time when the english state became consistent and efficient about its enforcement of the laws (basically the tudor period) — and even before there were many felony offences listed on the books at all. homicide rates went from something like 24 per 100,000 to 3-9 per 100,000 between the 1200s and 1500s, before the state was really effective at law enforcement [pg. 90]:

“As part of their nation-state building the Tudors increased the severity of the law. In the 150 years from the accession of Edward III to the death of Henry VII only six capital statutes were enacted whilst during the next century and a half a further 30 were passed.”

the marked decline in homicides beginning in the high middle ages — well before the early modern period — needs also to be explained. you know what i think: core europeans were at least partly pacified early on by the selection pressures created by two major social factors present in the medieval period — outbreeding and manorialism.

– the rise of the individual, which began in northwest europe at the earliest probably around 1050. yes, there was a rather strong sense of the individual in ancient greece (esp. athens), but that probably came and went along with the guilt culture (pretty sure these things are connected: individualism-guilt culture and collectivism-shame culture). and, yes, individualism was also strong in roman society, but it seems to have waned in modern italy (probably more in the south than in the north, and possibly after the italian renaissance in the north?). siendentorp rightly (imho) claims that it was the church that fostered the individualism we find in modern europe, but not, i think, in the way that he believes. individualism can come and go depending, again i think, on mating patterns, and the mating patterns in northwest europe did not shift in the right direction (toward outbreeding) until ca. the 700-800s (or thereabouts) thanks to the church, so individualism didn’t begin to appear in that part of the world until after a few hundred years (a dozen-ish generations?) or so of outbreeding.

in any case, the earliest appearances of individualistic thinking pop up in nw europe ca. 1050, which is quite a bit earlier than a lot of people imagine, i suspect.

– the disappearance of and dependence upon the extended family — the best evidence of this of which i am aware comes from medieval england. the early anglo-saxons (and, indeed, the britons) had a society based upon extended families — specifically kindreds. this shifted beginning in the early 900s and was pretty complete by the 1100s as evidenced by the fact that members of the kindred (i.e. relatives) were replaced by friends and colleagues (i.e. the gegilden) when it came to settling feuds. (see this previous post for details: the importance of the kindred in anglo-saxon society.)

the usual explanation offered up for why the societies in places like iraq or syria are based upon the extended family is that these places lack a strong state, and so the people “fall back” on their families. this is not what happened in core europe — at least not in england. the importance of the extended family began to fall away before the appearance of a strong, centralized state (in the 900s). in any case, the argument is nonsensical. the chinese have had strong, centralized states for millennia, and yet the extended family remains of paramount importance in that society.

even in the description of siedentorp’s Inventing the Individual we read: “Inventing the Individual tells how a new, equal social role, the individual, arose and gradually displaced the claims of family, tribe, and caste as the basis of social organization.” no! this is more upside-down-and-backwardness. it’s putting the cart before the horse. individualism didn’t arise and displace the extended family — the extended family receded (beginning in the 900s) and then the importance of the individual came to the fore (ca. 1050).

there are a lot of carts before horses out there, which makes it difficult to get anywhere: the protestant work ethic didn’t result in economic prosperity — a work ethic was selected for in the population first and, for various reasons, this population then moved toward even more protestant ideas and ways of thinking (and, voila! — the reformation. and the radical reformation as a reaction to that.) a strong state did not get the ball rolling in the reduction in violence in nw europe or lead to the abandonment of the extended family — levels of violence began to decline before the state got heavily involved in meting out justice AND the extended family disappeared (in northern europe) before the strong state was in place. and so on and so forth.

it’s very hard for people to truly understand one another. (this goes for me, too. i’m no exception in this case.) and, for some reason, it seems to be especially hard for people to understand how humans and their societies change. i suppose because most people don’t consider evolution or human biodiversity to be important, when in fact they are ALL important! in coming up with explanations for why such-and-such a change took place, the tendency is to look at the resultant situation in our own society — eg. now the state is important rather than the extended family, which is what used to be important — and to then assume that the thing characteristic of the present (the state in this example) must’ve been the cause of the change. i don’t know what sort of logical fallacy that is, but if it doesn’t have a name, i say we call it the cart-horse fallacy! (alternative proposal: the upside-down-and-backwards fallacy.) explaining how changes happened in the past based on the present state of affairs is just…wrong.

so, a lot of major changes happened in core european societies much earlier than most people suppose and in the opposite order (or for the opposite reason) that many presume.

also, and these are just a couple of random thoughts, the protestant reformation happened in the “core” of core europe; the radical reformation (a set of reactionary movements to the main reformation) and the counter reformation (the more obvious reactionary movement to the reformation) happened in peripheral europe. the enlightenment happened in the “core” of core europe; the romantic movement, in reaction to the enlightenment, happened in peripheral europe (or peripheral areas of core countries, like the lake district in england, etc.). just some thoughts i’ve been mulling over in my sick bed. =/

see also: The whitewashing of England’s Catholic history and The Church’s central role in Magna Carta has been airbrushed out of history from ed west. oh! and buy his latest kindle single: 1215 and All That: A very, very short history of Magna Carta and King John! (^_^)

previously: going dutch and outbreeding, self-control and lethal violence and medieval manorialism’s selection pressures and the importance of the kindred in anglo-saxon society and the radical reformation.

(note: comments do not require an email. back to my sickbed!)

so some people have asked me: what about the swiss then? why are they behaving so badly? are they just a bunch of clannish cuckoo clock makers or what?

first of all, everything’s relative. the results of the swiss referendum to curtail immigration were actually reeeally close — just 50.3% voted yes (that was out of a 55.8% voter participation rate) — so it's not like the vast majority of the swiss citizenry want to slow down immigration to their country. and we are only talking here about slowing down immigration to switzerland — the referendum was about reducing the number of people from the e.u. that will be allowed to migrate to switzerland in future — and they haven’t even agreed upon what they’re going to reduce it to yet — it was NOT about ending immigration altogether. nor have the meanie, meanie swiss decided to deport any current immigrants in switzerland or anything like that.

meanwhile, saudi arabia HAS deported 250,000 illegal immigrants in just the last three months — another two million have self-deported since last march when the saudi immigration laws changed — and the saudi government hopes to deport an additional two million over the course of the next year. (they’ve got something like nine million immigrants in the country.) the saudi government will also fine companies that do not meet quotas for hiring saudi citizens — businesses will have to pay a fine for each non-saudi employee they have over and above the number of saudi employees.

it’s hard to become a citizen of switzerland, of course — even non-swiss who are born and raised in the country have to apply for citizenship, and it’s usually the citizens of their respective cantons who vote on whether or not to give applicants citizenship — but it’s next to impossible to become a saudi arabian citizen if your family isn’t/ancestors weren’t saudi. and up until last year, the saudi government made it very difficult for non-saudis to marry saudi women — it’s still not very easy. not so in switzerland. some groups in saudi arabia don’t like and won’t marry — on principle! — other groups in saudi arabia. why the difference in attitude towards foreigners and outsiders in the two countries?

the gdps (the economists’ favorite metric) of the two countries are not all that different (in millions of u.s. dollars): saudi arabia=711,050 and switzerland=631,183 (note that the swiss get there without all that oil). so that’s probably not the problem. a little over 23% of the population in switzerland is comprised of immigrants — the number is ca. 30% for saudi arabia. perhaps the proportionally greater number of immigrants in saudi arabia accounts for the different reactions to immigration in the two countries, but i somehow doubt it. dunno. maybe it’s where the immigrants come from? in saudi arabia, they’ve mostly got immigrants from the indian subcontinent, yemen, and the phillippines. the largest immigrant groups in switzerland consist of people from italy, germany, the former yugoslavia/albania, portugal, and turkey (turks and kurds). so a larger number of immigrants in saudi arabia are from farther-flung places than those in switzerland, but, still, the saudis expelled 800,000 yemenis in the early 1990s, and how different can they be from saudi nationals?

no — there’s a difference in attitude toward foreigners between saudi arabia and switzerland that i think cannot be (completely) accounted for by economic circumstances or how foreign the foreigners are. the swiss want to slow down immigration to their country — the saudis don’t really like you marrying their women! the saudis, imho, are definitely muuuuch less universalistic (see here and here) in their thinking than the swiss.

buuuut the swiss seem maybe to be less universalistic than other western european groups. ‘sup with that? are they more inbred than other western europeans or what?

before i get to that, i should note that the french-speaking areas together with zurich did NOT vote for decreasing immigration as enthusiastically as the german- and italian-speaking regions (h/t daniel olsson! – map source [opens pdf]):

swiss referendum map 02

as mario on twitter pointed out, there are more immigrants in the french-speaking cantons and zurich (ca. 25% foreign born) than other areas of the country — from the telegraph:

“Interestingly, those areas with the most immigrants, and therefore with the most overcrowding, typically voted against the proposals.”

it could very well be that foreign born swiss citizens tended to vote against this proposal — someone ought to check. anecdata: i have a cousin who is a naturalized swiss citizen, and she voted against the proposal. (see? what do i keep saying? gotta be careful with letting in immigrants!)

anyway…i have some notes on switzerland and the swiss, but don’t have a complete picture of the history of their mating patterns (yet). here’s what i’ve got so far…

in late antiquity, the gallic helvetii inhabited the swiss plateau — no idea what their mating patterns or social structures were like — and, of course, the romans were present. some people in switzerland were christians already by the early 300s a.d., but remember that the first of the church’s cousin marriage bans didn’t appear until the early 500s a.d.

with the collapse of rome, the burgundians moved into western switzerland and the alemanni into the north onto that plateau. again, don’t know anything specific about the mating patterns/social structures of either of these groups, but seeing as they were germanic populations, it’s likely that they had similar mating patterns/social structures to the other germanic groups: some amount of cousin marriage, residential nuclear families, and bilateral kindreds that were of import in everyday life and, most especially, in legal issues including wergeld payments and feuding (see the links under “germans” in the “mating patterns in europe series” below ↓ in left-hand column for more info).

the alemanni and burgundians were conquered by the franks in the early part of the sixth century, and presumably the franks would’ve tried to impose their ideas on marriage in their new dominions and/or the burgundians and alemanni might’ve wanted to imitate their new overlords. avoiding cousin marriage may not have been part of that package right away, though — recall that, although the church banned cousin marriage in 506 a.d., the frankish king didn’t issue a secular law banning cousin marriage until sometime in the 750s, but then by the 800s the franks thought it (heh) barbaric to marry even a second cousin (see this post). how well this law was enforced outside the frankish heartland in north/northeastern france — or if it even applied throughout all of the frankish kingdom(s) — i don’t know. i would think it likely that, whatever the case, the pressure to avoid cousin marriage would’ve been strongest in the core areas of the frankish kingdom(s) — austrasia and neustria in northern and northeastern france — since that’s where the practice really got going the earliest, and that the degrees of pressure and/or enforcement would’ve been weaker the farther one moved away from that core — but i could be wrong about that. additionally, the alpine regions of switzerland simply never would have experienced manorialism, a system in which enforcement of the cousin marriage bans was made easier (lords of the manor often had to approve marriages, plus there were typically churches/ecclesiastical-types attached to manors) and which pushed for nuclear family units.

fast-forward to the reformation (i told you i didn’t have the complete picture!) — one of the outcomes of the reformation was that many of the new protestant nations/churches reversed the catholic church’s cousin marriage bans — cousin marriage is not prohibited anywhere in the bible, so many of the reformers just threw the bans out (plus they were also disgusted with the church charging for dispensations as they were with the indulgences). however, in the 1500s (1530s), many cities and cantons in switzerland actually reinstated the cousin marriage bans — zurich, bern, basel, schaffenhaussen, saint gallen. geneva had never done away with them. the tide changed again, though, beginning in the 1600s, and over the course of the next couple hundred years, the bans on cousin marriage were gradually lifted. from “Kin Marriages: Trends and Interpretations from the Swiss Example” by jon mathiue in Kinship In Europe: Approaches to Long-Term Development, 1300-1900 (2007) [pgs. 214, 215, 224, and 216]:

“After an especially conservative phase in the late sixteenth century, the rolling back of the prohibitions emerged as the dominant trend, similar to that in the German lands….

“Thus, except for the canon rules, which for Catholics remained valid in their religious existence, the familial marriage prohibitions were rolled back three degrees over the course of 350 years….

Around 1500, one could only marry his fourth cousin; by 1900, first cousins were acceptable as marriage partners. The dispensations for forbidden kin marriages, documented in local and central records, show a parallel development. They increased practically everywhere, and especially in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, became a common occurrence….

“That the lawmakers repealed the restrictions despite every counterargument is thanks not just to the new relationship between state, church, and citizen, which had developed since the revolution. Earlier juristic practice had already had to take into consideration the values of the populace to some extent, and here it appears that large groups surmounted their aversion to kin marriages, because they were increasingly interested in marrying their kin.”

so, at the same time that the secular and canon laws against cousin marriage were being relaxed in the country, swiss roman catholics were, additionally, applying for greater numbers of dispensations from the church to marry cousins. here is table 11.1 from “Kin Marriages: Trends and Interpretations from the Swiss Example”. the number before the slash (/) in each instance is the percentage of marriages up to and including third cousins; the number after the slash, the percentage of marriages up to and including second cousins. you can see that there was a general increase in the percentage of first and second cousin marriages in all of the locales over the time period. of course, the rates don’t come anywhere near the rates of first and second cousin marriage in saudi arabia today (50%+), but the third cousin rates seem quite high to me [pg. 217 – click on table for LARGER views]:

switzerland - mathieu - table 11.1

by way of comparison, many of the first and second cousin marriage rates in the 1800s are higher than those for the same time period in southern england, and the third cousin marriage rates are MUCH higher. for southern england, the rates were: first cousins=2.2%, second cousins=1.7%, third cousins=2.2%. the swiss rates are more like rates seen in parts of scotland (see also the other rates in the table in that post).

an isonymic study (not as great as a genetics study, but hey — you work with what you’ve got) of a sample of 1.7 million swiss individuals conducted in 1994 found that (links added by me):

“…the highest consanguinity values were observed in the Grisons and in the nucleus of the founding Cantons [see map here – h.chick], while the lowest were observed in the Cantons of Geneva and Vaud, preferential areas of immigration to Switzerland from abroad…. French and Italian languages indicate minor, German and Romanisch major inbreeding.

i said before in my post the radical reformation that my guess is that the swiss are some of western europe’s “inbetweeners” as far as outbreeding goes. i guessed that they probably got involved in The Outbreeding Project later than some other western europeans — the ones in and closer to the center of my “core” europe. and they didn’t experience manorialism either (unless some of them on the swiss plateau did?). the fact that the swiss were a bit late on the medieval reduction of internal violence in the country — as compared to the english, dutch, and belgians anyway — but were ahead of the italians on this score — is an indicator that they are inbetweeners, i think.

on reviewing the evidence that i’ve collected so far, what it in fact looks like is that, yes, the swiss may indeed have started outbreeding a bit late — possibly a bit later than the franks in the frankish heartland who were seriously outbreeding by the 800s — but, then, in addition to the late start, it looks like the swiss outbreeding project went into reverse in the 1600s. not extremely so — they didn’t resume marrying their cousins at rates that the arabs do today, or not even like the southern italians of the 1960s, but something along the lines of some of the scots in the 1800s.

so perhaps the swiss are inbetweeners BOTH because they started outbreeding a bit late (900s? 1000s?) AND because they resumed inbreeding again — somewhat — about four hundred years ago.

anyway…more on the swiss anon!

previously: more on mating patterns from deutschland (and switzerland) and the radical reformation

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

on (political) witch-hunts and the nature of witch-hunting:
“to disbelieve in witchcraft is the greatest of heresies”
a loaded question
why human biodiversity is true…and why jason richwine is right
something’s rotten in the state of denmark

– this was also the year of the hbd chick interview @the hoover hog! thanks, chip! (^_^)

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

hbd chick trading card

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

anybody else getting a little bored with europe and europeans? yeah, i thought so. here’s a little diversion! (i will return to the mating patterns of europeans shortly.)

the arabs. and by “the arabs” i mean the ones on the arabian peninsula. even more specifically, i mean to contrast the arabs living in the hejaz on the west coast with the arabs from the najd in the interior. for a very long time, the hejazi arabs have been quite comopolitan and internationally-oriented, whereas the najdi arabs were mostly camel-herding nomads or settled in and around desert oases. the balance of power between the two shifted beginning in the 1700-1800s when the al saud clan — from the najd region — gained control of the region, and, most importantly, when they eventually acquired de facto control of the nation’s oil. tells us that the saudi arabians today inbreed a LOT: 50%+ of all marriages are consanguineous (between second cousins or closer). there is variation within the country though.

from Consanguinity among the Saudi Arabian population (1995) [click on table for LARGER view] …

consanguinity among the saudi arabian peninsula - table 02

… the total consanguinity rate in what the authors refer to as the “north western province” (i think this must be some former provincial designation), which is basically the hejaz region, was 67.7% in 1995. the “central province” — the northern part of the najd region — had a consanguineous marriage rate of 60.8% — so lower than the hejaz region.

i don’t think that this was always the case, that consanguineous marriage was more common in the hejaz region than in the najd region. in fact, i think that the hejazis have adopted cousin marriage more and more over the course of the last couple of centuries thanks to a process of “najdification” that, presumably, the entire country has been undergoing since the al saud clan came to prominence. (also, perhaps many najdis have moved to places in the hejaz region like mecca.)

from Cradle of Islam: The Hijaz and the Quest for an Arabian Identity (2004) [pgs. 77-81]:

Of key interest here is the introduction of what may be called the ‘tribalisation’ of marriage relations amongst the Hijazis. In contrast to past practices of marriage with non-Arab Muslims, marriages now take place within the Hijazi cultural group. The definition of what constitutes a Hijazi for marriage purposes has become more strict….

One implication of ‘tribalisation’, however, is that it draws the cultural form of association that sets the standards for the Hijazis from Najdi life. The emphasis placed on lineage, purity and related ideas confirms the superiority of a particular conception of what a social group should be: a tribe….

“For members of the Hijazi *’awa’il*, establishing and dissolving contemporary marriage relationships is now regulated by several sets of rules and considerations, most of which are relatively recent in origin…. All of these changes are best understood in light of the contrast between the period prior to and that following the Hijaz’s political unification under Saudi rule….

“In the period before Saudi political unification the rules governing marriage derived from largely religious sources, reflecting a very different relation between state and society to that which exists in the present. All contemporary marriage rules are closely related to these earlier ones, either as refinements or entailing new but subordinate principles.

“At the most general level, the Quran is broadly permissive of potential marriage partners: ‘Oh! Mankind! We have created you from a single [pair] of a male and a female, and made you into nations and tribes, that ye may know each other. Verily the most honoured of you in the sight of Allah is the most pious of you.’ There are, however, some qualifications to this open-ended approach. The first is that Islam permits marital ties between Muslim men and non-Muslim women, provided the latter are ‘people of the book’, *ahl al kitab*, i.e. Jews or Christians. The Quran tells male Muslims that, ‘lawful for you are the chaste women from among those who have been given the book’. Muslim women, on the other hand, are absolutely prohibited from marrying non-Muslims. A Muslim woman’s marriage to a non-Muslim is considered to entail illegal intercourse and thus produces illegitimate offspring who are prohibited from inheriting the father’s wealth….

“In addition to religion, considerations of the nature of wider family life have been most influential in regulating marriage. Here the promotion and defence of patrilineal group status is of central significance. Family status is related to the *’ird* (honour) of its male members, which is defended by ensuring the chastity of female dependants. The idea of *’ird* is a key reason why marriage based on overt love has traditionally been considered *’ayb* (shameful): admitting love implies a clandestine pre-marital relationship. Indeed, the idea that marriage should be based on an emotional bond between husband and wife conflicts with the primacy of maintaining well-integrated families; it implies putting one’s personal interests and needs above the extended family’s wellbeing. In this, Hijazis conform to general Arabian attitudes but, as ever, the Hijazi preoccupation with family creates a specific distrust of bonds based on emotion or sentiment….

Accounts of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries clearly show that these rules did indeed regulate Hijazi marriages. For instance, being Muslim, regardless of other origins, provided a sufficiently strong basis on which to build marriages. Mecca was a melting pot for the Islamic world, so mixed marriages were common. Marriage made a significant contribution to the heterogeneous and cosmopolitan nature of Hijazi society.

By contrast, Najdi marriage was, and remains within the same lineage, with bonds among the tribal families usually reinforced by patrilineal parallel-cousin marriages. There is, however, an important distinction between *khadiri* (non-tribal, i.e. ‘non-pure’ Najdi), and *gabili* (tribal ‘pure-blooded’ Najdi). Strict patrilinearity allowed *gabili* men to marry outsiders, such as Egyptian, Moroccan or Lebanese women, but their female relatives have never married outside the tribe. In principle, then, men from the Hijaz would not have been able to marry into a pure-blooded Najdi family, while women would, although Hijazi women were not, as a rule, given in marriage to Najdi families, nor were they asked. In this intricate system of social boundaries expressed through marriage practices, Hijazis — both men and women — married from the Asir tribal region more easily than from the tribal Najd….

“Among elite Najdi men polygamy has also been more prominent.”

so it sounds as though the najdi arabs have had a longer history of closer inbreeding than the hejazi arabs.

if we go even further back, there are more hints that the hejazis may have been comparative outbreeders, as far as arabs go anyway. from Close Relationships: Incest and Inbreeding in Classical Arabic Literature (2005) [pgs. 78-81]:

“Much has been written on the extent to which Islam changed or confirmed the existing customs in pre-Islamic Arabia. Data on these customs are scanty…. As for the forbidden degrees of marriage, early Muslim authorities explain that the main differences between pre-Islamic and Islamic customs concerned the marriage of stepmothers and sons, and being married to two sisters simultaneously. Muhammad ibn al-Saib al-Kalbi (d.146/763) praises the Arabs in the Jahiliyya, the period of ‘ignorance’, for anticipating the Qur’anic prohibitions:

“‘The Arabs, in the time of their Ignorance, held things for forbidden that the Qur’an was to declare forbidden. They did not marry daughters or mothers, nor sisters or aunts from the mother’s side or the father’s side. The worst thing they used to do was to be married to two sisters at the same time, or to succeed one’s deceased father as husband to his wife. They used to call someone who did this *dayzan*….

“‘(…) If a man died, leaving a wife, or divorced his wife, his eldest son would stand up and throw his cloak over her if he wanted her. If he did not want her, one of his brothers would marry her, with a new brideprice.’

“Ibn Habib (d. 245/860), who has a nearly identical passage, adds that ‘Islam has separated men from the wives of their fathers; they are numerous’….

“Ibn Habib also states that the Arabs used to marry two sisters….”

not too much about marrying cousins there, but there’s this…

Against the tendency of presenting the pre-Islamic Arabs as being very close to Islam already, others restrict this virtuous behaviour to the inhabitants of Mecca, contrasting them with the Bedouins, as did Yaqut in the passage quoted above….

and that passage from yaqut [pg. 60]:

“In his ‘Kitab al-Arab’ (‘Book of the Arabs’), devoted to the virtues of the Arabs, Ibn Qutayba praises especially Quaysh, the Prophet’s tribe, for preserving something of the old Abrahamic religion, inherited through Abraham/Ibrahim’s son Ismael/Imail; these remnants included ‘circucision, ritual ablution, repudiation of women, manumission of slaves, and the prohibition of marriage with forbidden family members, through kinship, milk relationship, or affinity by marriage’. Yaqut (d. 626/1229) rephrases the same idea: the pre-Islamic Meccans:

‘were not like the uncouth Bedouins. They used to circumcise their sons, to perform the Hajj at the Kaaba; … they shunned marriages with a daughter, a daughter’s daughter, a sister, and a sister’s daughter, because of their sense of jealous honour and in order to keep aloof from the Magians.'”

in other words, perhaps the pre-islamic hejazi were not at all like the pre-islamic najdis (bedouins) … and, perhaps, the hejazi — the population from whence mohammed hailed — didn’t inbreed so much [pg. 81]:

In general, as far as may be ascertained, inbreeding was not very common in pre-Islamic times. It is difficult to obtain precise information. The genealogies of tribes and clans in the pre-Islamic and early Islamic periods, though very detailed, are notoriously unreliable, loaded as they are with politics and sentiments; an alliance between tribes was often cemented by fabricating a common ancestor. Moreover, the genealogies normally present the male lines only and give very little information on females. Among the exceptions are the lineages of the Prophet Muhammad and other prominent early Muslims. Thus Ibn Habib gives Muhammad’s ancestors in the all-female line, going back seven generations. Similar but shorter matrilinear lines are given for Abu Bakr, Umar, Uthman, Ali, and al-Hasan. Only two lines are given in full in these lineages: the all-male and the all-female, out of the theoretical maximum of 128 (2 to the 7th) lines of ascendants that go with a full picture of seven generations in Muhammad’s case. Therefore it is hazardous to draw any firm conclusions. Yet the general picture that emerges from this admittedly limited sample is clear: there may have been ‘irregularities’ by Islamic standards, such as the above-mentioned stepmother-marriages, but the spouses are not closely related and even first-cousin unions, often assumed to be dominant in Arab society, are almost absent as far as can be observed. In the Prophet’s lineage, one finds that his great-grandmother Umm Habib and her husband Abd al-Uzza had a great-grandfather (Qusayy) in common; Uthman’s maternal great-great-grandmother Sakhra bint Abd ibn Imran married her first cousin Amr ibn Aidh ibn Imran.”

perhaps mohammed — who invented a fairly (fairly) universalistic religion — came from a comparatively not-so-inbred population [i.e. the hejazi arabs – mohammed’s tribe, the quraysh tribe, was from mecca]. -?- dunno. difficult to tell, but it’s an interesting question, i think.

previously: inbreeding and the ancient hebrews (and the arabs) and father’s brother’s daughter’s marriage

(note: comments do not require an email. tl;dr.)

so … the quakers. where was i?

oh, yes: from the north of england originally — mostly from the highland zone (and we know what that usually means).

the general pattern seems to have been closer marriages (i.e. greater inbreeding) for a longer period in the north and west of england than in the south and east (except for parts of east anglia), but more data would be nice. that would fit the topography of britain, as well as the family patterns found by todd in britain in the 1500-1900s — nuclear families more in the south and east, extended (“stem”) families more in the north and west. (i think that the connection is: the greater/longer the inbreeding, the larger the families become [extended families/clans/tribes] — the greater/longer the outbreeding, the smaller families get.)

barry levy points this out in Quakers and the American Family — that family structure was not the same across seventeenth century england. yes, in the southeast the english were all about nuclear families — their “little commonwealths” — but in the north and the west of england (not to mention wales), it was the extended family that still held sway [kindle locations 452-461, 635-637]:

“Many middling northwestern lineages, nevertheless, did survive without the means to form ‘little commonwealths’ or compensatory formal institutions. Lacking alternatives, many northwesterners relied upon the family. They tended to emphasize familialism, as would the northwestern Quakers. In order to provide family continuity and personal dignity in the face of scarcity and individual household poverty, however, many middling northwestern households had learned to pool their meager resources among a number of different people and households. These alliances did not merely highlight the economic deficits of northwestern middling households; they provided the sinews of northwestern society. Northwestern Quakerism would develop as a radical, charismatic version of northwestern farmers’ traditional reliance on informal human relations.

Many northwestern farmers preferred an ‘extended commonwealth’ to the ‘little commonwealth’ of southeastern English and New English fame. An impressive number of very poor middling northwesterners left wills for just this reason…. In Wales, will-writing was inspired partly by English law. Welsh people were forced legally to translate their wills into English or Latin. Poor Welsh people accepted this insult in order to avoid a worse indignity: English intestate law which confined intestate distribution of wealth to the nuclear family and thereby violated the way northwest people had learned to preserve their own families and dignity….

“Because they were middling northwesterners, northwestern Quakers were fascinated by the potentialities of familial relations. Because they were sincere religious fanatics, they sought to change the ethics of northwestern British middling society at the most intimate level. Quakers came to disagree with most northwestern farmers over the farmers’ emphasis upon clan honor and their willingness to merge their households and children promiscuously with their neighbors and landlords.”

the quakers were obviously a self-sorted group of individuals, so, on the one hand, while the characteristics of the broader population from which they sprang might tell us something about them — something about their behavioral traits and evolutionary history — on the other hand, this self-sorted group probably had a lot of rather unique traits and was somewhat unlike its parent population in many ways. that, after all, is why they split off from their parent population.

one remarkable thing about the quakers, which levy dwells on a lot, is that they abandoned the extended family. at the same time, though, they became hyper-focused on the nuclear family AND the “family of god” (i.e. their fellow quakers). so they didn’t leave familialism behind entirely. in my opinion, they sound like part of a population in flux. the northern and western english were some of my “in-betweeners” — northwest europeans who came a bit late to the outbreeding project, so still in the late medieval/early modern period they were dealing with shedding their extended family-ness — something which seems to have been over and done with amongst my “core europeans” (who began outbreeding earlier) as early as, perhaps, the thirteenth-/fourteenth-centuries. but the individuals who became quakers in the north of england in the 1600s were those at the leading edge of this delayed outbreeding project in that corner of the world.

here are some quotes from levy related to the sort of individualism that seventeenth century northerners/quakers displayed. to me, the quakers sound more like anti-institutional individualists (along the lines of southern libertarians or greeks or moi) rather than individualist-collectivists:

“The Friends’ great tenets and the outlines of their early history are widely known…. Quaking when the power of Truth first struck them in meeting and rudely invading the pulpits of more staid Protestants, the early Friends believed that God’s Truth, Grace, or Light was reborn on earth with the birth of every individual. They insisted that Truth in both individuals and society could only be hampered by excessive external coercion. They rejected intolerance, university-educated ministerial authority, and most forms of civil and international force.” – [kindle locations 74-77]

When George Fox and other Quaker prophets appeared in these hills in the late 1650s, they appeared defiantly, yet plausibly, anti-institutional…. The central medium of Quaker worship was not the reception of a well-produced sermon, as among the Puritans, but a silent meeting, a gathering where all social criticism or support was purposefully suspended to reveal and communicate the divine truths embedded in the spiritual human body…. Each Quaker was an embodiment of the Word and therefore preached within or without meeting, or with or without words, to other Quakers or ‘tender’ people.” – [kindle locations 161-167]

and from Albion’s Seed:

“The ecclesiology of the Quakers was an extension of their theology. They invented a system of church government which differed radically from those of Anglicans and Puritans. Quakers condemned what they called a ‘hireling clergy,’ and ‘steeple house ways.’ They repudiated all sacraments, ceremonies, churches, clergy, ordinations and tithes, and maintained no ministers in the usual sense — only lay missionaries and exhorters whom they were sometimes called ministers.” – [kindle locations 7032-7036]

i don’t think it was very strange, then, that when the quakers set up their ideal society in the new world, it looked like this [from colin woodard’s American Nations: A History of the Eleven Rival Regional Cultures of North America – kindle locations 1620-1631]:

The Quakers’ ideals proved to be at odds with successful governance. Believing that all people were followers of Christ and innately good, the Quakers assumed citizens could govern themselves through mere self-discipline and the application of the Golden Rule. This turned out not to be the case, as Quakers were also by nature inclined to challenge authority and convention at every juncture. The community’s leaders quarreled with one another over doctrinal questions while government fell into disarray, failing to maintain public records or to pass laws essential to the functioning of the court system. The governing council couldn’t manage to hold regular meetings, while the colony went through six governors in its first decade. The Dutch, Swedes, and Finns of the ‘lower counties’ became so desperate for proper government that they broke away to form one of their own, founding the tiny colony of Delaware in 1704. ‘Pray stop those scurvy quarrels that break out to the disgrace of the province,’ Penn wrote from London. ‘All good is said of [Pennsylvania] and but little good of [its] people. These bickerings keep back hundreds [of settlers], £10,000 out of my way, and £l00,000 out of the country.’ In desperation Penn finally appointed a succession of outsiders to run the place, including a Yankee Puritan (John Blackwell), a successful Anglican merchant from Boston (Edward Shippen), and an arrogant English gentleman (David Lloyd). None of them succeeded in getting Quaker leaders to assume responsibility for the community they’d created.”

not quite individualist-collectivists, yet. (~_^)

previously: geographical origin of the quakers and on the topographical origins of the quakers and the flatlanders vs. the mountain people and random notes: 07/30/13 and the myddle people and more on consanguinity in england (and scotland) and traditional family systems in medieval britain and ireland and the radical reformation

(note: comments do not require an email. quakers in china.)

so we’ve seen that the earliest quakers were from the north of england, mostly from the geographical highland zone of england, but there were also quite a few from the intermediate zone. this distribution doesn’t seem to have changed all that much over time — from Albion’s Seed [AS – kindle locations 7308-7310]:

This was the region [the six counties of Derbyshire, Nottinghamshire, Lancashire, east Cheshire, west Yorkshire and southern Westmorland] where the Quakers first appeared. It long remained their strongest base. The founder, George Fox (1624-91), was a Leicestershire weaver’s son who developed his doctrine of the Inner Light by 1646 and made his early converts mostly in the North Midlands. By the year 1654, 85 percent of Quaker meetings were in the northern counties of England.7

footnote 7 [kindle locations 24244-24247]:

“Pratt, ‘English Quakers and the First Industrial Revolution,’ 53-65; especially helpful is chap. 3, ‘The Geography of Nonconformity,’ which concludes that ‘the Quakers had always been a northern religion.’ By the end of the 17th century, there were Quakers in every English county and city. In the 18th century, many Quakers moved south to London and Birmingham. But the largest number remained north and west of the River Trent.”

andrew mentioned a couple of weeks ago (thanks, andrew!) that hackett-fischer and other researchers have pointed out that this region of england saw a lot of viking settlement. from AS [kindle locations 7285-7290]:

“This region shared a common cultural condition, and also a common history. The North Midlands, more than any other part of England, had been colonized by Viking invaders. Historian Hugh Barbour writes, ‘…in the central region of the North, the Pennine moorland, where Quakerism was strongest, the villages were mainly Norse in origin and name, and Norse had been spoken there in the Middle Ages. From the Norsemen came the custom of moots, or assemblies in the open at a standing-stone or hilltop grave, which may have influenced the Quakers’ love for such meeting places. The Norse custom was individual ownership of houses and fields: the Norman system of feudal manors imposed in the twelfth century was always resented.’3

naturally! (~_^)

the locations of scandinavian place-names in england are certainly awfully suspicious (see also maps on this page):

scandinavian place-names in england

and the genetics backs this up as well (see also oppenheimer).

taking a look again at the map of the distribution of early quakers in england, a viking-quaker connection could explain the absence of quakers in northumberland — doesn’t look like too many vikings settled in that region.

but why no quakers in lincolnshire? or what looks like the southern parts of lancashire? or not really south of the severn-trent line either?

i’m going to go with topography (map adapted from this one):

england topography - quakers

quakerism seems to have developed, and been the most successful … yes … in areas of viking settlement in england, but more specifically in upland areas having had viking settlement. and uplanders (and other populations livining in remote, marginal environments) appear to have a tendency towards close matings.

here’s more from AS on how the quakers were uplanders [kindle locations 7311-7326]:

The Quakers were most numerous in the poorest districts of this impoverished region. In Cheshire, for example, Quaker emigrants to Pennsylvania came not from the rich and fertile plains in the center and southwest of the county, but mostly from the high ridges and deep valleys on the eastern fringe of the county. This was rough country, with settlements that bore names such as Bosely Cloud and Wildboarclough. In the seventeenth century, much of this region was still densely wooded, the ‘last refuge in England of the wolf and the boar.’ The climate was more severe than in the lowlands — with bitter ‘close mists’ that settled in the valleys, and the dreaded ‘wireglass’ that glazed the ridges and killed many an unwary traveler. The sense of desolation was deepened by the forbidding appearance of small isolated farmhouses, constructed of a harsh gray-black millstone. On the steep slopes of eastern Cheshire, they may still be seen to this day.8

In Nottinghamshire, the Quakers came not from the rich alluvial lands of the Trent Valley, but from the craggy uplands. The men of the Monyash monthly meeting once wrote, ‘…we are a poor, unworthy and despised people, scattered amongst the rocky mountains and dern valleys of the high peak country.’9 In Derbyshire, the pattern was also much the same. Here the Quakers lived mostly in the ‘coal measures’ on the east side of the county, and also in the Peak District. Comparatively few came from South Derbyshire.10

In the West Riding of Yorkshire, Quakers tended to be poor dalesmen who lived in places such as Lotherdale, a secluded valley on the border between Yorkshire and Lancashire. In the seventeenth century this area was described as ‘perfectly inaccessible by road.’ Remoteness was indeed one of its attractions. Some Quakers fled there to escape their persecutors.11

what’s the history of the mating patterns in these regions? not sure.

the area would’ve been part of the anglo-saxon kingdoms of northumbria and mercia — and, later, the danelaw obviously. were there any discouragements against cousin marriage in those centuries? no idea.

had the vikings — who came from both norway (mostly to the west coast of england) and denmark (mostly to the east coast) — been marrying close cousins? don’t know. they were certainly at least somewhat clannish having feuding and wergeld systems and all that — but did they have strong clans like the irish and the scots? or did they have looser kindreds more like the other germanic populations? dunno, but i intend to find out!

fast-forward a bit to mid-1500s-1600s cumbria — which definitely had quakers in the 1650s — and folks in that part of the world did have a tendency to marry closely, although i don’t know if we’re talking first and/or second cousins here. from AS [kindle location 10809]:

“In many cases the husband and wife both came from the same clan. In the Cumbrian parish of Hawkshead, for example, both the bride and groom bore the same last names in 25 percent of all marriages from 1568 to 1704.”

hmmmm. was the rest of the region where quakers appeared like that? don’t know.

further to the south in myddle in shropshire — a town which supplied some later quakers to the new world and a county which appears to be mostly in the geographic intermediate zone — barry levy says that young people of the 1600s often defied their parents in deciding whom they would marry [Quakers and the American Family: British Settlement in the Delaware Valley – kindle locations 555-557]:

“When Richard Gough’s gossip about courtship in seventeenth-century Myddle is systematized, it suggests that love-matches were common; that the children of poorer tenant farmers were more likely than the children of gentry to both initiate their own marriages and to rebel if necessary against parents or kin; and that they were less likely to be placed into marriages by parents and relatives.”

that, to me, sounds as though perhaps cousin marriage was not common in this region of england, since cousin marriage and arranged marriages often go hand-in-hand. was this pattern typical of the areas that quakers came from? or was the cumbria pattern more typical? cumbria’s a much more upland region, so perhaps the answer is that it varied. again, dunno.

one thing’s for certain, though — in the new world, quakers banned first cousin marriage — and frowned upon second cousin marriage [AS – kindle locations 7904-7907]:

“Quakers also condemned dynastic marriages which were made for material gain. They forbade first-cousin marriages which were commonplace in Virginia. During the eighteenth century, many Quaker meetings even discouraged unions between second cousins — a major restriction in small rural communities, and an exceptionally difficult problem for the Delaware elite.6

was this a continuation of how they had done things back in england? it’s likely, yes, but the important question is: for how long had these northern english populations been avoiding cousin marriage?

previously: geographical origin of the quakers and the myddle people and the radical reformation and random notes: 07/30/13 and the flatlanders vs. the mountain people and consanguinity in england – north vs. south

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

*update below*

here’s a map — taken from here — of where quaker communities were located in england in the mid-1600s:


so, early quakers = northerners.

and — pardon my scrawl (don’t expect these borders to be precise — please look back at the original map yourselves) — here is the same map with the highland, lowland, and intermediate zones indicated:

map1654 + highlands lowlands intermediate zone

so, early quakers = highlanders + a few intermediate zone dwellers — all beyond the tees-exe line the severn-trent line [see comments – thnx martin!].

update 08/20: see also this comment.

previously: the myddle people and the radical reformation and random notes: 07/30/13 and the flatlanders vs. the mountain people

(note: comments do not require an email. quaker.)

one of the preeminent historians of medieval france was georges duby whose work was primarily focused on feudalism, but he also wrote quite a bit on medieval french family structures as well. his main research area was the mâconnais district of burgundy in central france, but he also dealt with other regions of france including the northeast which at one time was part of what was known as austrasia (see also here).

duby’s major finding related to the medieval french family was that, around ca. 1000, there was a titantic shift in family structures in northeastern and central france (and possibly other areas — i’m not sure) from kindreds to lineages, at least amongst the aristocracy, although obviously at some point the commoners followed suit — there are no kindreds in france today. here’s what he had to say about it in The Chivalrous Society [pgs. 146-147]:

“I want to conclude by drawing attention to a point which seems to me essential and by formulating in this connection a hypothesis for research. In this part of western Europe the genealogical recollections of men living at the end of the twelfth century seem, indeed, to reach back according to the rank which they held. At the level of the smaller knights, it goes back towards the mid-eleventh century, in castellan families to the region of the year 1000, in the families of counts as far as the beginning of the tenth century. These thresholds, beyond which the ancestral remembrance was lost, were the more remote the higher placed was the lineage in the political and social hierarchy. This need not surprise us. But it is interesting to observe that the three chronological points appear to be exactly those reached by the researches of present-day scholar trying to recontruct the real blood relationships of families. Moreover, researches cannot reach any point earlier than these. Thus in the society of the Mâconnais, I have been able to uncover kinships in the lineages of knights up to the first half of the eleventh century, the lineages of castellans to the end of the tenth century, and the lineages of counts down to about 920. Beyond these dates I have found it impossible to discover who was the father of the earliest known ancestor. The obstacle is not in the documentation which changes neither in nature nor quantity. We might therefore think this obstacle … resulted from the transformation of the very structure of kinship. Indications of patrilineal blood relationshps disappear from written sources at the very point at which research, going back in time, steps across these chronological thresholds. This reflects a lessening in the importance of these blood relationship in the family consciousness at these dates. In the documents at our disposal it appears as if, at different levels in the aristocracy, the kinship structure was gradually transformed between the beginning of the tenth century and the mid-eleventh century. Before those dates there was no lineage, nor awareness of genealogy properly speaking, and no coherent remembrance of ancestors. A member of the aristocracy considered his family, if I may use the phrase, a horizontal group, spread out in the present, with no precise or fixed limits…. At a later date an individual felt himself, on the contrary, to be part of a family group with a much more rigid structure, centred on agnatic consanguinity and its vertical links.

duby put this shift down to the effects of feudalism (and the related rise of primogeniture which, duby says, was connected to the changing agricultural production methods [see mitterauer]), and i’m sure he’s correct, but i also (of course) think that this shift was connected to changing mating patterns. feudalism can’t be the entire answer since, for example, the early medieval irish had a sort of feudalism — they had a fief system anyway (see Cattle Lords & Clansmen: The Social Structure of Early Ireland) — but unlike the burgundians, the irish hung on to their extended families/clans until very late (into the modern period). where the early irish differed from the burgundians and other germanic populations was that they 1) didn’t have manorialism (until much later when the normans partially introduced it) and 2) they kept on marrying close cousins right through the medieval period.

historians are in agreement that the earlier germanic populations — the franks and the visigoths, etc. — married close cousins to some degree or another in late antiquity/the early medieval period — enough that, for whatever reasons, the roman catholic church and tptb bothered to ban the practice/pass laws against it specifically beginning in the early medieval period. i don’t know whether or not the early medieval lex burgundionum had any regulations regarding cousin marriage, but the burgundians do seem to have converted to roman catholicism (from arianism) by about the year 500, so, like the franks, they may have been some of the earliest of the north europeans to start enjoying the church’s cousin marriage bans (not that the bans were necessarily well-enforced at this early point in time, but the push against cousin marriage had begun by then).

and don’t forget that along with this shift from kindreds to lineages, there was also a shift towards nuclear families.

i think that the broadening of the mating patterns in medieval france and other areas of nw europe (i.e. from close relatives to more distant ones, or even to unrelated individuals) resulted in the shrinking of the family structures (i.e. from broad kindreds to narrower lineages and nuclear families).

here is a little more on duby’s findings from frances and joseph gies’ Marriage and the Family in the Middle Ages [pgs. 124-26, 129 – kindle edition]:

“Around the millennium, by a mechanism that is not well understood, a profound change took place in family dynamics….

“The most significant discernible element in the change was a shift from partible to impartible inheritance. Among the minor nobility in the Mâcon region, the *frérèche*, the association of brothers in joint ownership, previously limited to a few families, became the rule. One son, not necessarily the eldest, was designated to succeed the father in managing the family estates and representing the family in the outside world. Marriage was restricted to this son and at most one other. Households were large. The typical household of the minor aristocracy of the time, as described by Duby, contained perhaps a dozen family members: parents, one brother with his wife and children, and brothers and sisters who remained unmarried, with some of the unmarried brothers often groomed to follow in the footsteps of an uncle who was a church official. The young men lived under the control of their parents, or, when the parents died, of the brother who became head of the family. The share of each in the enterprise was modest, but together they could afford to equip and maintain one or two of the brothers as knights.

“At the top of the hierarchy, and moving steadily down the social ladder in the eleventh century, a different form of impartible inheritance made its appearance, the succession of a single son, usually the eldest: primogeniture….

“The change in the shape of the family was signaled by an element that made its historic first appearance in the documents of the time: the surname or patronymic, passed down in the paternal line. This development was entirely original, bearing little resemblance either to the complex Roman system of nomenclature or to the naming system of the early Middle Ages, in which the individual was designated only by a first name chosen from a short family list….

“Deeds recorded in the Mâcon region before the year 1000 list no family surnames. In the next thirty-five years a few surnames appear, the number increasing throughout the eleventh century….

The progress of the family revolution varied from region to region with the political and economic situation. Local studies by different scholars disagree as to when it principally occurred, from the late ninth to the eleventh century. But an overwhelming consensus exists that sometime within this period a radical change took place in the structure and self-perception of noble families. Previously the fluid horizontal kindred was grouped around a member who held royal office. It practiced partible inheritance and gave equal weight to maternal and paternal forebears. It identified itself merely by distinctive family first names. Now the family assumed a vertical dimension, firmly seated on an estate, a patrimony which descended from father to one son and which gave the family its new, unique surname.”

i think this shift from kindreds to lineages (and nuclear families) in burgundy — and further to the northeast in france, too, if i understand it correctly — is connected to the shifting mating patterns in this part of europe over the course of the medieval period.

kindreds and clans also disappeared from other parts of northwest europe to be replaced by nuclear families, but on a different timeline than central/northeastern france and on different trajectories, the latter thanks to differing economic/agricultural systems:

– independent nuclear families were well in place by the early 1300s in the east midlands in england. the anglo-saxons in england converted to christianity slightly later than the franks/burgundians, so they would’ve headed down the outbreeding road later than those groups. (the franks were even enforcing spiritual kinship marriage bans, i.e. kinship that came about via baptismal relationships between an individual and his godparents, by the 750s, so i’m sure they were concerned about actual relatedness, too, at that point — again, probably mainly amongst the aristocracy.)

east anglia and (eastern?) kent had joint families (not, i imagine, unlike the *frérèche* of pre-1000 burgundy) in the 1300s, but nuclear families by sometime in the 1500-1800s. mating patterns may have remained close for longer in east anglia since it was a remote, swampy area — like frisia and dithmarsian, both areas which displayed strong “clannishness” until comparatively late — but i don’t know that for certain. i need to check on that.

– anglo-saxon/briton populations further away from southeastern/central england seem to have had strong extended familiy/”clannish” connections (even though they may have lived in nuclear family units) until much later, for instance into the 1600s. it may be that, because they were both 1) farther removed from southern areas of anglo-saxon-dominated england where cousin marriage bans were in place from comparatively early on (compared to, say, highland scotland or ireland anyway), and 2) living in upland areas (mountaineers tend to marry closely), these border populations practiced close cousin marriage for longer than other areas of england (they certainly seem to have done so up in cumbria). again, i need to find this out for sure.

– the irish barely gave up their extended families/clans even into the 1700-1800s. they seem to have continued to mate very closely up to at least the 1500s.

furthermore, i think that much of what we see in the reformation and the radical reformation is a set of reactions by northern europeans who were becoming more and more outbred over time and, so, more individualistic and more universalistic behaviors and sentiments were being selected for in these populations. but northern european populations were all over the place in terms of the timing and extent of that outbreeding and the trajectories that their family structures were on. these changes to family and social structures were probably all over and done with in northeastern/central france — and likely parts of the low countries — by the time of the reformation in europe, because, as we saw above, these processes had already begun in these areas by the eleventh century — because they had converted to christianity earlier than other north european groups AND because this is the area of europe where manorialism began.

footnote: interestingly, in modern times burgundy is one of the regions of france with some of the lowest cousin marriage rates.

previously: medieval germanic kindreds…and the ditmarsians and what about the franks?

(note: comments do not require an email. burgundy.)


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 390 other followers