Medieval courtship dating
The church reflected this division and was split into two sections, one inter Ang/icos (among the Anglo-Irish), the other inter Hibernicos (among the Gaelic Irish).We must therefore investigate marital behaviour in the two parts of Ireland, the section of the country under English law, and the Gaelic Irish area where the old brehon law still held sway.Church law on marriage was defined and clarified during thetwelfth and early thirteenth centuries.Basic Christian teaching was straightforward – what God has united, man must not divide (Mark ).Thus Irish law on marriage permitted a man to keep a number of concubines, allowed divorce at will followed by the remarriage of either partner, and took no account of canonical prohibitions regarding consanguinity or affinity.It is not surprising to find, therefore, that one of the benefits which Pope Alexander III hoped might accrue from Henry II’s visit to Ireland in 1171-2 was a reformation In Irish marriage customs. 1395), had twenty sons by eight mothers and Toirdhealbach 6 Domhnaill, lord of Tir Conaill had eighteen sons by ten different women.
How were the regulations observed in Ireland between the thirteenth and sixteenth centuries? The records of ecclesiastical courts do not survive for any Irish diocese, therefore we are forced to rely on the incomplete and haphazard records of marriage litigation which appear among the registers of the medieval archbishops of Armagh.In a letter to the pope in July 1469 seeking a dispensation from impediments of consanguinity to permit Enri 6 Neill to marry Johanna Mac Mahon, archbishop Bole of Armagh made the general point that several of the leading men in Ireland ‘are living in incestuous relationships, because they can rarely find their equals in nobility, with whom they can fittingly contract marriage, outside the degrees of consanguinityand affinity’.The impact of the church regulations on affinity and consanguinity was naturally much greater in smallscale societies like those in Gaelic Ireland, and the frequency with which dispensations were sought is an indication of their effect.The church also forbade marriage between those who were considered to be too closely related.The regulations on marriage were designed for universal application throughout the western church.