Brehon Law and Status
Based on A Guide to Early Irish Law by Fergus Kelly

Gaining Status

There are three ways in which status can be gained under Brehon Law

  1. Ownership (Control) of land
  2. Profession or office
  3. Hospitality

 Values

 

In order to understand the table it is necessary to know the following Values:

Value

Equates to

1 Cumal

3 Milch Cows (With calf)

or 1 female slave

1 Sét

½ Milch Cow

1 Dairt

1 Yearling Heifer

 Status Levels

 

Landed Rank

Honour Price

Non-Landed Rank

Honour Price

Kings

 

 

 

Rí Ruaireach or Rí Cóicid

Provincial King

14 Cumal

Bishop/Abbot

14 Cumal

Rí Túath

Tribute from 3 or 4 Kings

8 Cumal

 

 

Rí Túaithe

Overlord of a Túath

7 Cumal

Suí litre (Ecclesiastical Expert)

Ollam Fili

7 Cumal

Nemed: Flaith (Lord)

 

 

 

Aire Forgill

40 Clients

30 Séts  (5 Cumal)

 

 

Aire Tuíseo

27 Clients

20 Séts  (3 Cumal)

Sáer Ollam

20 Séts  (3 Cumal)

Aire Aird

20 Clients

15 Séts  (2 Cumal)

Brithem Ollam

Sáer (All Crafts)

15 Séts

Aire Déso

5 Sóer Chéile (Free)

5 Dóer Chéile (Base)

10 Séts  (1 Cumal)

Brithem (Trad Law and Poetry)

10 Séts  (1 Cumal)

 

(After 3 Generations)­

Brithem Óes Dána (Craftsmen)

Physician

Sáer (Any)

Blacksmith

Silversmith

Coppersmith

7 Séts

Flaith Aithig

(Aire iter dá airig)

2xWealth

Can Support Clients

 

 

 

Freemen

(Can be either Base/Free Doér chéile/Sóer chéile)

(Sóer with 3x Required Wealth) ­

 

 

Bó Aire

Granted 30 Séts (Owned after 7 years rent)

5 Sét

Max Rank for Druid or Cáinte

Harpist

5 Séts

Ócaire

Granted 16 Séts (Owned after 7 years rent)

3 Sét

Chariot Builder

Engraver

3 Sét

Dóer cheile

 

Turner

Ring Maker

Leather Worker

Comb Maker

1 Dairt

Fuidir (Departed from kin)

¼ Lord

 

 

 

(After 3 Generations)¯

 

 

Senchléithe (Bound to land)

 

 

 

Bothach

 

 

 

 

Dependents and Status

  • Immediate family are normally half the honour price
  • 1st (Senior) Wife is ½ Honour Price.  Others have lesser value.
  • Senior Servants are ½ Honour Price
  • Fuidir are ¼ Honour Price

 

Hospitality (Briugu) and Status

  • Only applies to freemen
  • Can reach status equal to a Rí Túath by “100 fold wealth”.  Normally 2 x Landed status wealth is required and a willingness to spend it.

Losing Status

A King Loses honour when he:

  • Is defeated in battle
  • Expels a synod without cause
  • Fingal (Kin Slaying)
  • Commits Extortion

A King loses respect when he:

  • Works with Spade, Mallet or Axe
  • Travels without a retinue
  • Defaults on an Oath
  • Tolerates Satire
  • Does not have Hostages (No tribute)

The King must be free of Blemish