Thursday, May 13, 2010

Fidelma of Cashel—a Book Review

By Chuck
Fidelma is a nun and advocate of Brehon law in 7th century Ireland. She is extremely competent at what she does and is the daughter of, and sister to, kings. She is no virgin; and, she is hot—what’s not to like?

I previously mentioned an early book in the series by Peter Tremayne, scholar and author of 21 books on the peripatetic sister; he also has written a host of nonfiction on related topics regarding early Irish history and culture. I have now completed all 6 books given to us by Pat and Brian, a generous English couple we met in Greece. Thanks for the introduction! I look forward to the remaining 15.

I enjoy the books for the mystery—there is always a murder (or more) to solve; but, it also portrays the culture and legal system of Ireland in that time. Finally, it presents the religious conflicts and issues of that period, as Christians from Rome and Ireland strive to sort out the relative roles of religion and secular interests. [Back on Paros, we encountered a couple who were Greek Orthodox; they had an interesting take on the way the Roman Catholic church separated from the various Orthodox churches, moving unilaterally from a system of consensus to one of sublimation.]

I found it quite interesting that, apparently, women had more rights in that society at that time than in any other Western culture until the very recent past—they could hold office, own property and divorce, for example. And, religious houses were sometimes co-ed—couples, who were members of religious orders, would raise their children in service to God.

I apologize for (partly) repeating myself; but, I wanted to recommend this delightful series to anyone fascinated by the topics covered therein. This was great preparation for our trip to Ireland.

A good book has no ending. ~ R.D. Cumming

1 comment:

Elisabetta said...

Wow, Chuck, talk about synchronicity: I just re-opened a book entitled:
Women in Medieval Life
Margaret Wade LaBarge

She's a Canadian Univ. Prof, and a good read for eggheads like me! She deals with the most archived period, the late medieval ~ b/c there's just not a lot of data for 480-900 a.d.
She does touch on EXACTLY what you said: women had more rights going into the chaos following the disintegration of Roman organization, (460) b/c they needed every good mind and sound body available to rebuild society; additionally, they were in awe of women for the much-needed miracle of childbirth ~ to keep the human race going!
Clergy was allowed to marry, then ~ that was prohibited after land-greed came back into style.

There is an argument made by a Prof Hilton in,
"The English Peasantry in the Later Middle Ages"
that it wasn't a woman's sex which depreciated her, but that class standing was the key element... consistent with the heroine in your book review!

Good day, m'lord!