Interpreting Early Irish Law: Status and Currency (Part 2)
McLeod, N. (1987) Interpreting Early Irish Law: Status and Currency (Part 2). Zeitschrift für celtische Philologie, 42 (1). pp. 41-115.
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The threefold division of kings is clearly functional rather than fanciful - the lowest grade is the king of a single tuath, the next is in addition owed fealty by several kings of other tuatha, and the highest is the king of a Fifth (or Province) who is owed fealty by all the other kings in that conglomeration of tuatha. If the divisions of lord are not to be fanciful we must also find some basis for the distinction drawn between them. The discussion under each grade of Lord in Crith Gablach gives almost no hint as to any functional distinction between the aire deso, aire tuise, aire ard and aire forgill. They are all described in terms of their clients and the difference between them is a question of degree merely - the number of those clients.
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