Restrictions of Irish Kings

From A Smaller Social History of Ancient Ireland 1906

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CHAPTER II....continued

6. Limitations and Restrictions.

Irish kings were not despotic: they were all, from the supreme monarch down to the king of the tuath, in every sense, limited monarchs; they were subject to law like their own free subjects. We have seen that at their inauguration they had to swear that they would govern their people with strict justice, and in accordance with the ancient customs of the kingdom; and their duties, restrictions, and privileges were strictly laid down in the Brehon code. This idea pervades all our literature, from the earliest time.

There were certain things which a king was forbidden to do, as being either dangerous or unbecoming. He was neither to do any work nor concern himself about servile work of any kind. It was not permitted to a king, or even to a noble, to keep pigs: that is to have them managed for him round or near his house by any of his immediate dependents. But swineherds living in their own homes at a distance from the palace, fed great herds of swine in the woods for the king.

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