Celtic Snakes



From The Brehon Laws by Laurence Ginnell, 1894

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Celtic I
N further pursuance of our plan the next class to be considered is that composed of persons who were free but had little or no property, and consequently little or no power. Strictly speaking the collateral branches of most families, and persons thrust out of their fines by the operation of the law, and having no property, would fall within this description; but the persons I wish more particularly to gather within this convenient group, in order to separate them from those above them and from those below, were simply men who had become poor as the result of ordinary adverse circumstances, or of war, or of fines imposed for offences, or of want of industry. Their numbers fluctuated from various causes. They had rights by birth as members of their respective clans; but their want of property rendered and kept many of those rights in abeyance, unavailable, ineffectual. This was the only primary difference between them and their fellow clansmen who had property; but in effect it was productive of many important differences; so much so that in reality there was more in common between those people and the non-free than there was between them and propertied freemen, and many of them, abandoning all hope of recovering lost ground, deliberately threw up their clan status and their claims which poverty rendered practically worthless, and joined one or other of the non-free classes. Until they had done this, however, they were entitled to take part in the military muster of the clan, and had a number of other rights which any acquisition of property might enable them to realise, but which without property were empty. For example, they were entitled to feed stock on the Fearan Fine; but so long as they had no stock the right was quite useless.

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