Same-sex marriage in 13thC ireland ?

Viking, Saxon, and Early Christian Irish cultures

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Same-sex marriage in 13thC ireland ?

Postby the_power on Sat Dec 12, 2009 10:39 pm

I was reading http://colfaxrecord.com/detail/91429.html# and came across;

Such same gender Christian sanctified unions also took place in Ireland in the late 12th and early 13th century, as the chronicler Gerald of Wales (‘Geraldus Cambrensis’) recorded.


Has anyone come across that reference before ?

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Re: Same-sex marriage in 13thC ireland ?

Postby brendan on Sun Dec 13, 2009 12:59 am

well, if gerald says it, it must be true :lol:
seriously though, I have not heard any other reference to it; pretty sure it is forbidden under Brehon law
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Re: Same-sex marriage in 13thC ireland ?

Postby oleg on Sun Dec 13, 2009 10:44 am

brendan wrote:I have not heard any other reference to it; pretty sure it is forbidden under Brehon law

May be monks just skipped the subject, had better or more unusual topics;)
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Re: Same-sex marriage in 13thC ireland ?

Postby brendan on Sun Dec 13, 2009 11:05 am

not likely - the Brehon texts are essentially secular in terms of who wrote them down and transmitted them and do cover things such as divorce and multiple wives - not exactly in keeping with standard church teaching either. I cant find the reference right now, but I am pretty sure that marriage laws allowed a wife to divorce her husband if he was homosexual - though this does not prove anything in and of its self.

Of course, there is the possibility that one of the untranslated texts might deal with this question, but I think that is unlikely.
If there is a text/law that deals with this issue I would really like to see it, but Gerald is a dangerous source to use without back up.

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Re: Same-sex marriage in 13thC ireland ?

Postby bannerman on Sun Dec 13, 2009 2:38 pm

I dont ever remember coming across any references to same sex unions when I read Gerald of Wales description of Ireland years ago - but I seem to remember him stating that paint scraped from an illuminated gospel book he had seen (surely not the work of man but of angels) would cure snake bite. There being no snakes in Ireland of course before the opening of Dunlin Zoo im curious to know how Gerald tested this?

Ive seen people interpret refernces to gaelic Irish nobility's "bedwarmers" as homosexual lovers. However just because Queen Maedhb had a female bed warmer does not indicate they were in bed at the same time - or that there was anything carnal involved if they were. Surley we should consider the fact that the bedwarmers job was simply to warm the bed before the beds owner got in. Any of you who have lived in a house on the atlantic coast with no central heating as I have will know how cold even a comfortable modern bed can be when you first get in. 'The Encyclopedia of Ireland', remember that huge hardback silver covered tombe that was published aboutfive years ago, - mentioned this interpretation in the entry on homosexuality.

Very early christian attitudes to sex and sexuality are worth having a look at. For example while homosexuality was frowned upon by the church, male homosexuality was considered a far graver sin than female homosexuality. The theory being in such a sexist society that for women to want to be like men was more acceptable, and they argued more understandable than for men to want to 'lower' them selves by being womanly.
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Re: Same-sex marriage in 13thC ireland ?

Postby Dave Mooney on Sun Dec 13, 2009 2:53 pm

Sure them women were just riddled with sin anyway so who cared. They just went round corrupting pure men form day one.

I would say this is a lot of nonsense to try make it once ok with the church in order to try take it out of their hands or just controversy to keep the debate moving.
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Re: Same-sex marriage in 13thC ireland ?

Postby Jess de Búrca Monty on Sun Dec 13, 2009 10:21 pm

Sounds like a load of revisionist ballsology.
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Re: Same-sex marriage in 13thC ireland ?

Postby bannerman on Mon Dec 14, 2009 12:45 am

"a load of revisionist ballsology" - at last a technical term I can use to describe what some 'historians' and media commentators write about early 20th century Irish history!
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Re: Same-sex marriage in 13thC ireland ?

Postby Jess de Búrca Monty on Mon Dec 14, 2009 12:55 am

ha ha, lán cead agat é a úsáid, bain taitneamh 'gus sult as ;)
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Re: Same-sex marriage in 13thC ireland ?

Postby finnobreanan on Mon Dec 14, 2009 4:45 pm

I love how the author sites Gerald of Wales as a source for this practise and then doesn't say which of his two books they get it from or even a quote. I've read both History and Topography of Ireland and Conquest of Ireland several times, and never came across this topic (I do remember the woman who married a goat, though!). As pointed out earlier, hardly a reliable source for customs and practices of the Irish!
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