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Celtic Law

To maintain law and order in any land, a certain legal system should always rule over its people. As for the Celtics, there are no concrete dates as to when their law system become in existence but an intellectual estimate of its date of origin was gathered from historian's extensive research. Celtic law was said to be formed sometime during the Early Bronze Age and the Neolithic Period. It may have developed during the Iron Age where legal systems were greatly influenced by the Mediterranean culture.

Druids play an integral role in the Celtic law system. These are Celtic priests of the Druidism religion. Druidism is a pre-Christian religion that exercises human sacrifices and nature worships. Druids have power of the Celtic empire as they give counsel with regards to both private and public affairs. They have the authority to judge social issues and legal issues and were given high respects. Issues for persecution that may arise among Celts are the usual crimes of theft, murder, rape and other crimes. The law also rules over disputes on personal damage, property ownership, marital laws and contractual laws.

Druids have absolute power over the accused and his or her entire family. Families are imposed accountability to the misdeed of any member of their family. Celtic law created a system that empowers it to have total control over the wrongdoers including their families until their fourth generation.

In any law system, there are units of jurisdiction. For the Celts, a Tuath, or tribe, is one regional and legal unit. People outside of a tuath are referred to as outsiders or deorad. The one person who has legal standing among the tuath is the aurrad. As a general rule, one tuath is separated from all of the other tribes. This means if an aurrad was killed inside another tuath, then the tribe where he was killed has no legal obligations to the outsider, unless a kind of treaty or agreement is established between the two tribes.

Kinship plays an integral role in Celts legal issues. A male descendant through a common great-grandfather within one family is called a derbfine or true kin. Derbfine carries legal responsibilities. A kin is responsible for any legal offence committed by anyone of its kin group. A kin is also responsible for making important decisions. Each family owns at least some land as their property, referred to as fintui. Fintui can only be sold with a kin's approval. The head of the kin is known as the agae fine or cenn fine. The person with most material wealth, higher stature and good public disposition is usually chosen as the cenn fine.

Ranking is also an important concept in understanding the Celtic law system. A person with a higher rank has a better legal standing. To illustrate this, if a person with a higher rank was killed, the killer would have a graver penalty as compared if he killed a person of a lower rank. The social structure of Celtic law is basically based on honour. An offence that may corrupt the honour of one person has a greater penalty than that of property theft and crimes such as robbery or theft. Honour-price is greatly related to a person's ranking. Servants generally have only half of the honour-price of their lords and slaves, unfortunately, are stripped off any legal rights.

Original Authors: Jennifer Tumanda
Edit Update Authors: RPN
Updated On: 25/01/2007



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