Cattle Lords and Clansmen : The Social Structure of Early Ireland

Cattle Lords and Clansmen : The Social Structure of Early Ireland


Cattle Lords and Clansmen, Nerys T. Patterson provides an analysis of the social structure of medieval Ireland, focusing on the pre-Norman period. By combining difficult, often fragmentary primary sources with sociological and anthropological methods, Patterson produces a unique approach to the study of early Ireland - one that challenges previous scholarship. Patterson begins by exploring the pastoral-agricultural base of Irish society to see how seasonal demands, especially of the cattle herds, shaped the social organization of the community. This approach provides insight into the daily life of the people and the annual cycles of their political and social relations. The book then examines kinship relations - focusing on such aspects as marriage, sexual relations, and the care of children and other dependents - and clientship, which was the power network built by wealthy cattle lords through the loan of cattle to supporters. Patterson illuminates the complex interweaving of legal status, economic worth, and social responsibility, which determined the individual's 'honor-price,' set requirements of hospitality, and both empowered and constrained the political order. This new edition includes a chapter on seasonal rhythm, material derived from Patterson's post-1991 publications, and an updated bibliography.

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Nerys Thomas Patterson
Paperback | 448 pages
153.67 x 230.12 x 24.38mm | 603.28g
Publication date
31 May 1994
University of Notre Dame Press
Publication City/Country
Notre Dame IN, United States
Edition Statement
Second Edition
Bestsellers rank