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Property and Honour-price in the Brehon Law Glosses and Commentaries

McLeod, N. (1996) Property and Honour-price in the Brehon Law Glosses and Commentaries. Irish Jurist, 31 . pp. 280-295.


In the native Irish system of Brehon law, one's status and legal capacity were measured by one's honour-price. This article discusses the basic rules which governed the allocation of honour-price in Brehon law. In summary those rules are as follows. Honour-price was usually derived from the ownership of property used to generate independent wealth. For the property-less, honour-price was derived from the person on whom they were dependent. Dependent honour-price was lost when the relationship of dependency was severed. Honour-price based on property was lost when the property itself was lost, or when it was no longer being used to generate independent wealth. Both kinds of honour-price were impaired by the commission of offences against the law. This basic framework seems to have held good for the entire period covered by the Brehon Law manuscripts, namely from the mid seventh to the early seventeenth centuries.

Item Type: Journal Article
Murdoch Affiliation(s): School of Law
Publisher: Royal Irish Academy
Copyright: Royal Irish Academy
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