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253833.  Mon Jan 07, 2008 11:02 am Reply with quote

Which, while it might prove useful to someone like George W Bush, might be a tad unfair to someone like Rolf Mengele.

253860.  Mon Jan 07, 2008 11:37 am Reply with quote

I believe that the Pictish Kings had a matrilinear succession.
I suppose that meant any family member from that side.
One could always prove who the mother was!

253866.  Mon Jan 07, 2008 11:42 am Reply with quote

sheenareid wrote:
One could always prove who the mother was!

Mother's intuition?

253867.  Mon Jan 07, 2008 11:42 am Reply with quote

Annoyingly, I took the book about Picts I was reading recently back to the library even more recently, and I therefore cannot readily consult it. However, I think I'm right in saying that it asserted that the idea of Pictish matrilineal succession was most probably a myth. It is a myth, if myth it be, with considerable antiquity; it was something that was said about them by the Romans. The bit I can't remember is why it's likely to be untrue. However, I'll be back near the library tomorrow, so I shall try to remember to pop in and check this one out further.

254421.  Tue Jan 08, 2008 11:30 am Reply with quote

I would like to take ths opportunity to apologise unreservedly to any Romans who may have passed by this corner of the interweb. The source for matrilineal succession among Picts was not them, but our old friend the Venomous Bede.

However, having consulted a relevant book*, it seems I was right to be sceptical. Hurrah. Bede refers to a particular instance when matrilineal succession occurred, but does not say that it was ever standard practise. Further, Pictish kings are referred to in king lists in patronymic form, i.e. "King, son of Bloke's Name, Next King, son of Different Bloke's Name" etc.. The king lists, what with no Pictish documents surviving, are Irish rather than Pictish in and of themselves, but if it was matrilineal descent that mattered, one would imagine that the list's compilers would have had better information about maternity than paternity, and that this, combined with maternity's greater importance in such a set up, would have led them to use matronymics, which they didn't. Even further, the absence of any other comments about what would have been a distinctly unusual practise is also suggestive, even with the usual caveats about arguments ex silentio.

The idea seems to belong with the idea that the Pictish language was non Indo European as one that was born of the notion that the Picts were a bizarre, peculiar, enigmatic people quite unlike any other in British history, which has always been a popular one.

*Picts, Scots and Gaels, Sally Foster.


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