--- Charles DeVane <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
I've found no specific idea of crimes against
> children in the Brehon Laws.
F/|\ In the early middle ages, it was not uncommon to
withold naming a child until they were 3-6 yrs of age,
as infant mortality rates were quite high. (baptism
and naming are different rites, not like today where
they are combined) The act of not naming, suggests the
child was not recognized in law as having personhood,
and hence, had no rights...could it be said then, that
this social custom is reflected by the lack of laws
governing rights of children? ( as childrens rights
and laws governing them are very modern)
> Such things (and their dispensation under law) would
> have been determined by
> the type of "blemish" that they involved (i.e. for
> temporary distress, a
> lasting mark, a wound or death).
F/|\ And the status of the parents of the child?
ie a child who may inherit large estates, or high
social position may have been more important in law
than the child of a bo-aire?
The extent to which
> this could be proven
> and there was testimony that it was against the will
> of the individual,
> determined whether a body price or eraic was paid to
> the individual, their
> family or their mother's family. If the action
> caused one to not be able to
> perform one's duties, then "sick maintenance" was
> also required to be
> paid/provided until one was cured. In general, child
> were considered to be
> the property of their families, so what happened
> within families most
> probably was dealt with according to the justice of
> its chieftain. This
> would vary from person to person and from family to
F/|\ So the general law applies then...
The tract that
> describes these arrangements (outside of families
> primarily) is known as
> "The Book of Achill." My copy of it is contained
> within a multivolume work
> known as _Ancient Laws and Institutes of Ireland_,
> Volume III.ISBN
> 1-57588-572-7, William S. Hein & Co., Inc., Buffalo,
> New York, 2000. The
> organization of these volumes does not readily lend
> itself to a quick
> inspection for specific individual topics. Be
F/|\ Was this purchased thru Books for Scholars by any
> I note that one reason given for allowable divorce
> is when the husband
> chooses to sleep with the servant boys rather than
> cohabiting with his wife.
> This seems to imply that both homosexuality and
> sexual acts with youths were
> not considered to be a blemish in early Irish
> secular society.
F/|\ There is also some brief allusion to a similar
scenario among the Fianna in one of the legends...but
off the top of my head, I cannot recall which one. It
seems that homosexuality and acts with youths did not
become anathema until the enactment of the
> mention of penances for Churchmen who performed such
> acts. These were
> lumped in with all manner of sexual prohibitions
> mainly with women) by the
> Church for its priests, monks and church orders. You
> might be better served by
> looking in early Church penitential.
F/|\ Actually, I am hoping to avoid the penitentials
as the canon law is a foreign system imposed upon an
indigenous system. And what may have been anathema to
the early Xns, may not have been so to the indigenous
And yes, I do realize that the body of Brehon law was
largely codified in the Xn era, and so may be a biased
and inaccurate portrayal of pre-Xn law in Ireland.
I suspect that
> early Irish society did
> not do any better job of protecting children against
> predator adults that is
> currently done in modern society.
F/|\ Highly likely.
I also suspect
> that more credence was
> placed on physical circumstances or damage than on
> emotional suffering or
> mental damages. That is to say, that people were
> expected to tolerate much
> more in these areas than is presently considered the
F/|\ Mental damages probably did not enter into it
all, as most likely the focus would remain on...could
the child do thier work, and did the act effect their
marriageability in the long run.
Thanks for your input Searles, I shall continue the
hunt! And as Edward said in his post, we must always
caution ourselves not to impose modern ideation and
emotions on past societies and social mores...
Thanks for your input!
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