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Old 07-26-2018, 09:26 AM   #421
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Originally Posted by ericthered View Post
Also, this unfortunately encourages a certain level of incest. Not that cousin-marrying is particularly uncommon in the annals of royalty.
Whether cousin marriage is incest is culturally variable. A lot of cultures have favored it, and not just royalty. If you look at Louisa May Alcott's Eight Cousins and Rose in Bloom, the happy ending is Rose marrying her bookworm cousin—and his rival suitor was a different cousin, not someone unrelated. Those were popular stories for children published in 1875 and 1876, by an immensely popular author; cousin marriage doesn't seem to have been looked at askance back then the way it often is now.

If you want to call it "inbreeding" I'd say that was accurate; as I understand it, there is a modest fitness depression associated with it.
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Old 07-26-2018, 10:10 AM   #422
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Whether cousin marriage is incest is culturally variable. A lot of cultures have favored it, and not just royalty. If you look at Louisa May Alcott's Eight Cousins and Rose in Bloom, the happy ending is Rose marrying her bookworm cousin—and his rival suitor was a different cousin, not someone unrelated. Those were popular stories for children published in 1875 and 1876, by an immensely popular author; cousin marriage doesn't seem to have been looked at askance back then the way it often is now.

If you want to call it "inbreeding" I'd say that was accurate; as I understand it, there is a modest fitness depression associated with it.

It also encourages sibling-incest, as practiced by the Egyptians.


but yes, cousin-marrying is historically extremely common, and I've heard claims that historically kissing cousins is closer to average than second cousins. This is what comes of never going more than 10 miles from your village, or of being on edge with all the other roving bands. From what I understand, its only bad if you let it compound by having a society that can keep 95% of all people to breeding age.
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Old 07-26-2018, 12:11 PM   #423
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Really not sure how this conversation got here, but to clear it up- if one doubts a noble woman's virginity, one may wish to check her hymen. If one doubts that a noble child was born of a particular noble mother, you check the doctors, nurses, midwives and noble hangers-on as witnesses to the pregnancy and birth. Checking the noble mother's hymen serves no purpose that I can see.
The hymen, as I noted before, has been noted in scholarly articles to be capable of stretching and suviving childbirth, and is neither a reliable indication of virginity nor of absence of prior childbirth.

Likewise, the pelvic changes require visualization; before x-ray, that pretty much means highly invasive and dangerous physical exam, surgery, or posthumous examination. Those changes, however, can also be caused by hysterical pregnancy.... they are, however, very reliable indicators of having had a pregnancy or a hysterical pregnancy.
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Old 07-26-2018, 02:15 PM   #424
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Likewise, the pelvic changes require visualization; before x-ray, that pretty much means highly invasive and dangerous physical exam, surgery, or posthumous examination. Those changes, however, can also be caused by hysterical pregnancy.... they are, however, very reliable indicators of having had a pregnancy or a hysterical pregnancy.
Interesting, but I'm still in the dark on the purpose of these x-rays and physical exams. Are we for some reason doubting that the royal mother was pregnant?
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Old 07-26-2018, 06:58 PM   #425
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Interesting, but I'm still in the dark on the purpose of these x-rays and physical exams. Are we for some reason doubting that the royal mother was pregnant?
It's more in proving that the siblings haven't been.
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Old 07-26-2018, 07:14 PM   #426
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but yes, cousin-marrying is historically extremely common, and I've heard claims that historically kissing cousins is closer to average than second cousins.
In a *lot* of societies, particular cousins are the favored choice of marriage partner - quite often it's your cross first cousins (your father's sister's daughter or mother's brother's son). The principle social advantage of this scheme is that it tends to keep inherited property in the family even when you dole some of it out as dowery - stuff that went to your sister ends up back in the main family line when it serves as the dower for her daughter who's marrying your son.

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From what I understand, its only bad if you let it compound by having a society that can keep 95% of all people to breeding age.
Pretty much. The genetic risk from incest is actually quite a bit smaller than most people think it is anyway (the risk of significant genetic issues is about 2% for unrelated couples, apparently around 8% for first degree relations (full siblings or parent and child), 4% for first cousins, and 2.5% for second cousins. Children of third to seventh cousins actually appear to have slightly *improved* fitness, it's showed up in more than one study, though we aren't quite sure why). In domestic animals you do start to see more severe issues in lineages with so much interbreeding that some individuals are *more* closely related than siblings (e.g. where you breed parents or siblings for several generations), and arguably the Hapsburg dynasty provides some human examples of that, but for most of history seeing an effect in a society that is going to have a high infant mortality rate even for healthy infants, let alone genetically defective ones, is going to be difficult.
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Old 07-26-2018, 08:21 PM   #427
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In a *lot* of societies, particular cousins are the favored choice of marriage partner - quite often it's your cross first cousins (your father's sister's daughter or mother's brother's son). The principle social advantage of this scheme is that it tends to keep inherited property in the family even when you dole some of it out as dowery - stuff that went to your sister ends up back in the main family line when it serves as the dower for her daughter who's marrying your son.



Pretty much. The genetic risk from incest is actually quite a bit smaller than most people think it is anyway (the risk of significant genetic issues is about 2% for unrelated couples, apparently around 8% for first degree relations (full siblings or parent and child), 4% for first cousins, and 2.5% for second cousins. Children of third to seventh cousins actually appear to have slightly *improved* fitness, it's showed up in more than one study, though we aren't quite sure why). In domestic animals you do start to see more severe issues in lineages with so much interbreeding that some individuals are *more* closely related than siblings (e.g. where you breed parents or siblings for several generations), and arguably the Hapsburg dynasty provides some human examples of that, but for most of history seeing an effect in a society that is going to have a high infant mortality rate even for healthy infants, let alone genetically defective ones, is going to be difficult.
There is also the advantage that you can count on which side they will take in the event of a feud.

On the other hand, if the society is patrilocal and if it recognizes the immunity of women, exogamy can be an advantage in wartime, or indeed in any other diplomatic crisis because in-laws are handy ambasadresses. I do not know of any society that has that particular custom but I have read of traditionally using women as diplomats.

Sometimes I have wondered if Vorwomen on Barrayar did that back in the days of strife. Alys serving as the powerbroker may not be as surprising as some readers might think.
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Old 07-26-2018, 08:53 PM   #428
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The New York Genome Center used geni.com to build large family trees. Largest was 13 million people.
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People’s marriage habits, on the other hand, changed drastically in the 19th century. From 1650 to about 1800, the average married couple in Europe and North America were fourth cousins, and most had been born within eight kilometers of each other.
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People did start marrying farther from home as everyone started moving around more. The average person born in 1850 would marry someone born 19km away from their own birthplace. And by 1950, the average couple was born a whopping 100km apart.

But people born between 1800 and 1850, who would have been old enough to marry between about 1820 and 1875—just at the peak of the rapid spread of transportation technologies like railroads and steamships—actually showed a slightly increased tendency to marry relatives than their predecessors. That’s true even though the cousins they married had been born farther from their own birthplaces.

That only began to change for people born in about 1850, who were much less likely to marry a relative than earlier generations. Because of the 50-year lag between the increase in people’s mobility and their shift to marrying non-relatives, Erlich and his colleagues say the shift probably had more to do with changing cultural taboos about marrying cousins.
I rea somewhere that the current average is 7th cousin.
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Old 07-26-2018, 09:37 PM   #429
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There is also the advantage that you can count on which side they will take in the event of a feud.

On the other hand, if the society is patrilocal and if it recognizes the immunity of women, exogamy can be an advantage in wartime, or indeed in any other diplomatic crisis because in-laws are handy ambasadresses. I do not know of any society that has that particular custom but I have read of traditionally using women as diplomats.

Sometimes I have wondered if Vorwomen on Barrayar did that back in the days of strife. Alys serving as the powerbroker may not be as surprising as some readers might think.
There is a bit in Komaar where a Vor woman's duty is to her husband before even the empire. Which means if he commits treason, she cannot be punished for supporting him. (I don't think his armsmen can either, though that may not be of as much practical use since they have to defend him against arrest.)
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Old 07-26-2018, 09:59 PM   #430
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There is a bit in Komaar where a Vor woman's duty is to her husband before even the empire. Which means if he commits treason, she cannot be punished for supporting him. (I don't think his armsmen can either, though that may not be of as much practical use since they have to defend him against arrest.)
The Portland Protective Association in SM Stirling's Emberverse has similar practice. Only the lord sworn to the Crown can commit treason. That lord's retainers and vassals, who are sworn to THE LORD, aren't as long as they are dutifully obeying their lord.

I think this is one reason that in the Third Imperium of Traveller nobility is created by, and sword directly to, the Emperor himself. Despite intervening levels of nobility between a baron and the Emperor the baron is ultimately sworn to the Emperor and not the count and duke in between.

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On the other hand, if the society is patrilocal and if it recognizes the immunity of women, exogamy can be an advantage in wartime, or indeed in any other diplomatic crisis because in-laws are handy ambasadresses. I do not know of any society that has that particular custom but I have read of traditionally using women as diplomats.
The practice of marrying off noble daughters to other kingdoms or noble houses was a limited form of this.

Last edited by tanksoldier; 07-26-2018 at 10:03 PM.
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