Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Droit du Seigneur: The Connection Between Women and Land

From Barbara G. Walker's The Woman's encyclopedia of Myths and Secrets:

Droit du Seigneur
"The Lord's Right," also called jus primae noctis, "the law of the first night."  An outgrowth of the feudal system that equated ownership of land with ownership of women.  The droit du seigneur meant that every serf's bride must be deflowered on her wedding night not by her bridgroom but by the lord of the land.

As laid down by Ewen III of Scotland in the 9th century, the law said wives of common folk could be raped by any nobleman at any time; and "the lord of the ground shall have the maidenhead of all virgins dwelling on the same." (1)

The church upheld the droit du seigneur as a God-given right of the nobility.  For a vassal bridegroom to consummate his marriage within three nights after the wedding was declared blasphemous "to the holy benedictin" and tantamount to "carnal lust."(2)  The overlord's lust, however, was right and proper.  The eastern church provided legal penalties for a man who tried to consummate his marriage before his master could rape his bride.(3)

Droit du seigneur was a general rule throughout the feudal period and continued in Russia up to the 19th century.(4)

The system also continued in America's slaveholding south before the civil war, unofficially but generally acknowledged.  Every black woman was the sexal property of her master, whether she was married to another slave or not.(5)  Slave marriages could be legally ignored if plantation owners cared to do so.  In 1757, Peter Fontaine said plantation owners begot so many children on their female slaves that "the country swarms with mulatto vastards."  Thomas Anburey praised the system, calling it "a pleasant method to procure slaves at a cheap rate."(6)


(1)  Bullough, 168. 
(2)  Brasch, 74.
(3)  Briffault 3, 242.
(4)  Felding, 155.
(5)  Brasch, 72.
(6)  Bullough, 300;  Rogoff, 325-26.
I'm surprised that Walker did not pick up on the "old switcheroo" as 'Sis calls it.  In the way old days, twice a year a willing male was sacrificed after a night or orgiastic sex with the Priestess-representative of the Mother Goddess in order to ensure the fecundity of the land for the coming growing season and as a sacrifice to the Mother Goddess after a growing season, to ensure that it would come again. Sometimes the male victim was simply laid out on an altar stone within a sacred grove and, while he was under the influence of a drugged drink, his throat was slit; but sometimes he was physically torn apart in a frenzy by dozens of female acolytes.  The sacrifice was usually accepted by the Goddess, either way.

Under the patriarchal system that became firmly entrenched in just about every spot on the globe over the ensuing thousands of years after the advent of the warrior god (fraud) Marduk (but particularly accelerated with the advent of the patriarchal god representative in the West, Jesus Christ, and in the Middle East, Muhammed), the blessing of fecundity was perverted to sexual excess on the part of the "lord of the land" in his eagerness to deflower all virginal brides.  The link between women and fecundity in the land was maintained, but its true meaning was lost and the rite was perverted to the benefit of one male, rather than extending the benefit of the concept of "sacred union" to an entire locality/people/nation. 

Perhaps the sacred link between women and land remains, but the Mother Goddess has turned Her back on us.  There is a reason there are droughts in some lands, and excessive rains and flooding in others. Either condition is a killer of people, because crops cannot grow. No food - no life.  It doesn't take long for famine to set in, even in 2011. Crops die. Animals die.  Children die.  Women die. Finally, the men die, too.  The men usually survive the longest only because they steal what food and potable water there is from those weaker than they are - the animals, the children and the women.  Disrespect the women - kill the land.  It's simple.  But few "get it." 

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