What really makes history

I suspect that things like marriage customs are ultimately more important in the formation of a people than the more visible things like constitutions and ideologies.  In support, here’s an intriguing claim from hbd chick, quoted by Steve Sailer:

No, being tribal is not necessarily the natural state of affairs, but it IS biologically driven. as is being non-tribal. 

Europeans used to be tribal, but that’s because they used to marry their cousins, too, just like the afghanis or iraqis or saudis or libyans of today. the church put an end to all that and then some — it also put an end to all sorts of endogamous practices like polygamy and marrying your dead brother’s wife. first- and second-cousin marriage was banned in 506 a.d., and by the 11th century the church had banned marriage up to SIXTH cousins. 

This forced exogamy resulted in, as steve describes it, “broad but shallow regional blood ties.” almost all of european (and western) history hinges on these loose genetic ties. the whole evolution of european societies from tribes to city-states (think of the venices and the hamburgs of europe) to the nationalistic movements — this was made possible because extended family ties were continually loosened over centuries of european history (from the fall of rome onwards). the broadening of political structures (tribe, city-state, national-state) mirrors the underlying broadening of the genetic ties.

Yes, I know, lots of exceptions in the Middle Ages and afterwards.  Still, the fact that something that is a rule in much of the world was an exception–albeit not a very uncommon one–in Europe is bound to leave an impression on a people.

2 Responses

  1. The canonical prohibition on cousin-marriages was of capital importance during the Dark Ages.

    The Barbarian Invasions are, of course, a myth. With the breakdown of central authority, power passed to the regional military commanders, usually commanders of barbarian auxiliary forces. Clovis is a good example; he was a third-generation commander of the Frankish auxiliaries, stationed at Amiens – about 5,000 men, in a province of some 2m or 3m inhabitants.

    Had the custom of cousin marriages prevailed, the Franks, Burgundians, Goths and so on might well have remained a small ruling caste, like the Mughal conquerors of India. In fact, their integration with the Gallo-Roman population took place over about three generations, or one very long lifetime – about 90 years.

  2. […] to deny that tribal structures have endured for many centuries in many Muslim lands, and there is a good argument to be made that Christianity’s extreme exogamy rules worked to break down European tribes and draw them […]

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