done to the corporate body of the clan was so egregious that itsrnmembers never ceased to “have war in their hearts.”rnGovernments before the modern era did not see it as thernbusiness of the state to intervene in matters of justice that werernlocal in nature. In fact, there was a widespread belief that thernstate’s right to enforce its writ was restricted by private rights andrnancient traditions. Even when governments did attempt to enforcernjustice within the localities, as James VI of Scotland did inrnthe late 16th and early 17th centuries, it was to preserve socialrnpeace rather than to undermine local traditions by means ofrnstate aggrandizement. Throughout the ages, the local Celticrnnobility jealously guarded its prerogatives against any attempt atrnstate-building that would result in a system of publicly administeredrnjustice.rnThe administration of justice in Ireland historically wasrnbased on the fine (joint family), the island’s pivotal social unit.rnThe fine, for instance, was responsible for the misdeeds of itsrnmembers and assumed the duty of blood-vengeance if anyrnmember was insulted, injured, or murdered. In order to keeprnbloodshed to a minimum, however, the cenn-fine (chief) wouldrnoften agree to accept an eraic—a payment of blood money—rnfrom the offending fine. In Wales, the cenedl (or kindred, an organizationrnsimilar to the Irish fine) operated along much thernsame lines. As with the Irish, the Welsh developed a system ofrnblood-money compensation to prevent the galanas (bloodrnfeud) from resulting in a constant state of private warfare. GiraldusrnCambrensis (Gerald of Wales) observed on his travelsrnthrough Wales in the 12th century that the Welsh were everrnready “to avenge not only new and recent injuries but also ancientrnand bygone ones as though but recently received.”rnIn all these Geltic countries, a clan’s honor and the life of thernoffender were safeguarded by a fine of an amount fixed preciselyrnaccording to the rank and worth of the aggrieved party. Arnman’s status was expressed in material terms by his enechlann orrn”honor-price.” The eraic was determined by this “honor-price”rnand a man could not sue or be sued for more than his enechlannrnand could not make a legal contract that exceeded thatrnamount or swear an oath in a case in which damages wererngreater than his “honor-price.”rnSince the Celtic chiefs counted their power in terms of thernnumber of warriors they could field, they sought to keep internecinernstrife to a minimum. The practice of payingrnblood money tended to mollify the violence of a warrior society,rnbut there was one crime for which there was no remedy of legalrnvengeance or compensatory damages—fingal, the killing ofrnone’s own kin. This usually occurred when a competitor forrnthe chiefship killed a rival kinsman, a situahon that frequentlyrnled to all-out warfare within a fine. Such violahons, however,rnwere the exception rather than the rule. All in all, the Celticrnworld was an orderly and civilized place when compared tornother areas of medieval Europe.rnFor an illustration of the often humane nature of internecinernconflict among the Celts, we need look no frirtherrnthan the epic Red Branch cycle tale, the Tain Bo Cualinge,rnin which Cuchulain, the youthful champion of Ulster, makes arnmagnificent Homeric stand on a ford, allowing his compatriotsrnto escape from the invading host. One after another, the greatrnwarriors of the enemy army go out against Cuchulain. The actionrnculminates with a three-day bout of single combat with hisrnold comrade Ferdiadh (similar to that between Hector andrnAchilles), in which the two contestants meet nightly at the fordrnto exchange soothing balms. When Cuchulain finally triumphs,rnhe lays Ferdiadh’s body gendy on the northern side ofrnthe river so that his vanquished foe will be the victor in death.rnBy such tales were the heroic qualities of courage, loyalfy, andrnhonor passed from one generation to the next.rnBy the 1 Ith century, the aristocratic Red Branch warlords ofrnthe legendary “heroic age” were gone, replaced by the popularrnfolk heroes of the Fenian cycle. Ireland and much of Highlandrnand Hebridean Scotland were ruled, according to the Annals ofrnClonmacnois, “more like a free state than a kingdom.” Indeed,rnthe Irish Gaelic term for “free state”—saor-f/iuaf/i—literallyrnmeans a non-tributary community, thus implying local autonomy.rnThe idea of the chief maintaining intimate contact withrnhis people as he ruled them presents a picture of a small, independentrnpastoral community. Indeed, for several centuries thernbasic political and social organization had been the tuath (pettyrnkingdom) in Ireland, the clainn in Scotland, and the cantrefirn(hundreds) in Wales, all units of rather small size.rnWhile the medieval chiefs primary duty was still that of arnwarrior, he was different from the great heroes of the RedrnBranch cycle. The Cuchulains of the Celtic realm werernsupreme individuals, living and fighting recklessly for the sakernof personal honor and glory. The great warrior’s motto was: “Irncare not if I live but a day, so only that my deeds live after me.”rnIn contrast, the later Celtic chief, who was the model for the Fenianrncycle, was primus inter pares within a “band of brothers.”rnTo him, virtue was not only strength of hand, but cleanness ofrnheart and truthfulness of speech as well. He was to be the fatherrnof his people and a comrade-in-arms to his fighting men. Hernwillingly shared the joys, sorrows, and hardships of military lifernwith his subordinates, and by his actions he was expected to exemplifyrnall that was right and just.rnTo understand how the Celtic idea of private justice hasrnevolved up to the current century, it is instructive to look at thernmythical origins of the Fiana Erieann during the early MiddlernAges. The romantic exploits of these roving bands of warriorsrnare captured best in the Psalter of Cashel (c. A.D. 900), in whichrnthe blood feud {fich bunaid) came to epitomize the idea of privaternjustice within well-established communities. This particularrnFenian saga pits the clan of Fionn against that of Morna inrnthe days before there was an acknowledged Ard-ri (high king) inrnIreland. Whereas the Red Branch cycle incorporated a singlernage and was written for an aristocratic caste of warrior-kings, thernFenian cycle portrays an organic, agricultural community andrnattempts to instill in its audience a sense of local patriotism.rnSuch patriotism would serve the Celtic peoples well in therncoming struggle with both the Normans and the English.rnBy the 17th century, the Fenian cycle had reached its maturity,rnand Celtic Ireland and Scotland, struggling to expel thernEnglish invader who employed the Caesarean strategy of “dividernand conquer,” drew from it an inspired fighting spirit thatrnmirrored that of Fionn, Oisin, and other intrepid Fenianrnheroes: generous and brave, yet subtie and treacherous. Unfortrmately,rnthe Celtic clans (both Irish and Scottish) from 1500 torn1750 often found themselves facing off against one another (insteadrnof being united against the Sassanach invader). While atrnwar simultaneously with the English and their own fellowrnCelts, the clans employed among themselves standards of privaternjustice usually absent from the interclan conflicts that occurredrnin “times of peace” (i.e., the absence of an outside invader).rnThe practice of house-burning is perhaps the best example ofrn14/CHRONICLESrnrnrn