Re: marriage and steads

From: Alex Ferguson <>
Date: Wed, 20 Sep 2000 17:32:31 +0100 (BST)

Ian Cooper:
> I still see distinguishing between the legal
> definition of a clan - the patrilineal line and the
> practical notion of who comprises it - both the
> patrilineal bloodline (the legal clan) and the women
> who are its wives, mothers, unmarried daughters as
> being the way out of this Gordian know we have tied.

I agree (again). ;-)

> Going back to what I said earlier where clans are
> patrilineal a woman's vested interest is her
> husband/father/son's.

Which may of course conflict, which is why I think it's rash to generalise about which one is 'clearly' the key interest to any given woman, at any given time, in any given set of circumstances (to say nothing of personal inclination and choice).

> It iscreates trust in her participation in the clan's afairs.

Ah, but which one? ;-)

> (As an aside one thought on the exogamy debate is that
> bloodlines are prescriptively exogamous (you must
> marry outside your bloodline) and clans are
> permissively exogamous (that person may be from
> another clan). Maybe the writer of KoS just failed to
> make this clear.

That's pretty much my thinking. Plus a further vague, not entirely fleshed out idea that intraclan 'marriages' are more 'legalism-lite'. (Or come to that, 'legalism redundant'.)

> A bacheleor is given a share of those resources his
> father has surplus (for argument's sake one-level
> below his own i.e. cottars for half-carls, half-carls
> for carls, carls for thanes). If his father had
> sufficient resources or had few dependants he might
> have remained at his father's stead ; if not he will
> form part of the labour pool at another stead (quite
> possibly within the same bloodline).

In a very informal way, of course: the property probably isn't actually going anywhere, just having its 'use' changed somewhat.

> He would gain
> more at marriage from his bride. Again marriage might
> lead to him leaving the stead of his father or might
> not . If he leaves the stead it may not be to a stead
> where he is a carl or even half-carl (prhaps with his
> brothers) but a cottar, or a labourer.

There's a middle case, though, where a new hearth (I'm avoiding the term 'household' like the plague, you'll note) is established, without leaving the stead entirely. (Either a new lodge is physically thrown up, or quite commonly I suspect lodges which were unoccupied (or under-unoccupied) have their contents re-established or rejigged). This might eventually lead to 'hamlet-like' steads, but as often as not steads are contracting rather than expanding, so most steads however around the low end of the 1-10 spectrum John mentioned.

> Note that the stead holds an extended family from a
> bloodline and labourers from that or other bloodlines
> with their families; that a person may be rsident in
> more than one stead during their lifetime and that
> issues such as who runs the stead are very much down
> to resolving the complexities of relationships within
> a stead and not law.

Say rather a _lodge_ does, IMO. In some cases a stead may be rather larger than this. (In other cases, the two are in practice identical, but mythically they're clearly different...)

> >There may be some 'stead property' used by everyone
> but I think it will
> >only be trivial items.
> If we all inherit dad's plough it belongs to the
> bloodline (us brothers). Of course if you don't like
> that you could cut it up and give everyone a part ,
> but that is the start of kinstrife.

Not necessarily to 'the bloodline' per se: it could include many other people besides, for example. (All depending how bloodlines are 'defined', obviously, i.e. from which (real or IMO very occassionally fictive.) While the brothers all live in the same lodge, or at least, the same stead, the issue of how it's "shared" (either Solomonicly, or timewise) can to an extent be deferred (i.e., moves into that big nasty grey area of 'custom and practice'). That why I think 'stead property' or 'hearth property' has a sort of de facto existence, regardless of whether it has a legal basis, and not necessarily meaning it's communal in a strong sense (i.e. a stickpicker of a different bloodline stying in your stead has a 'lesser' claim, at best).

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