Feudalism in Ireland

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Feudalism in Ireland

Postby finnobreanan on Sun Nov 11, 2012 4:26 am

Someone posted a question about feudalism in Ireland, but I can't find the post even after using the search tool with several key phrases.

"Irish Medieval History" posted this little tidbit on facebook and I thought it was well worth sharing concerning this topic.:

Following the Anglo-Norman invasion, feudalism was introduced into Ireland, along with Norman law, which was particularly rigid in its insistence that a landowner’s son could only inherit his father’s estate if he was born after the canonically legitimate marriage of his parents. However, it soon became obvious that Norman/English law would apply in Ireland only to the settlers of Norman / English descent. An attempt by Irish church leaders to bribe King Edward I to extend the law to all native Irishmen living south of Ulster was blocked by the Anglo-Irish barons, and the Irish continued to be ruled by their own customary law, or "brehon law." Since this allowed illegitimate sons to inherit land along with those born of a church marriage, there was no economic incentive for Irish nobles to reform their marital habits. Arbitrary divorce followed by a remarriage that was invalid in the eyes of the church continued to be common, together with legally recognized contracts of concubinage, sealed by a bride-price paid by the man to the girl’s family. It was open to a divorced wife to appeal to a church court to have her marriage declared still valid, but aristocratic erring husbands were normally able to demonstrate, through the arguments of their advocates, that the marriage in question had never been valid because they were too closely related to their wife, or they had already been married to a former repudiated wife who was still living when the second marriage took place.

"Norman/English law would apply in Ireland only to the settlers of Norman / English descent." I think that covers how feudalism was limited in Ireland and never really took hold throughout the entire island.
Finn O'Breanan
Wood Kerne

"...The O'Brennans, a sept of thieves without any right or title, ... were a perpetual disturbance to the peace of the county,"
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Re: Feudalism in Ireland

Postby brendan on Mon Nov 12, 2012 6:55 pm

It is fascinating alright. AFAIK one of the big factors in the demise of Brehon law was due to inheritance - with women in particular making use of the differential inheritance regimes to their own benefit in the 16th century. The fact that the crown was trying to get rid of the contesting legal system at that time was only one factor.
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