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Túath (plural túatha) is an Old Irish word, often translated as "people, tribe or nation". It is cognate with the Old English word theod people, nation, the Welsh and Breton tud (people), and the German root of word deutsch. "Túath" referred to both the people who lived in a shared territory, and the territory they controlled.[1] In Modern Irish it is spelled tuath, without the fada.

In ancient Irish terms, a household was reckoned at about thirty people per dwelling. A tríca cét ("thirty hundreds"), was an area comprising a hundred dwellings or, roughly, three thousand people. A túath consisted of a number of allied tríca céta, and therefore referred to no fewer than 6,000 people. Probably a more accurate number for a túath would be no fewer than 9,000 people.[2]

Contents

Social organization

The organization of túatha is covered to a great extent within the Brehon laws, Irish laws written down in the 7th century, also known as the Fénechas.

The social structure of ancient Irish culture was based around the concept of the fine (plural finte), or family kin-group. All finte descended from a common ancestor out to four generations comprised a social unit known as a dearbhfine (plural dearbhfhinte). These dearbhfhinte comprised the basic foundations of the overall túath. Túatha have often been described as petty kingdoms or clans, but such comparisons are not entirely accurate. Due to the complex and ever-changing political nature of ancient Ireland, túatha ranged from being sovereign, autonomous "kingdoms" to states comprising a much larger sovereign kingdom, such as Connacht or Ulaid, and thus describing their place in the socio-political structure of Ireland is varied depending on what era one is referring to.

   what exactly was a tuath ?

Historical examples

  • Osraige - túath that later became the kingdom of the same name in the Christian era.
  • Dál Riata - the túath that became a confederation of túatha and eventually settled in Alba, creating the modern nation of Scotland.

See also

References

  1. ^ The Royal Irish Academy (1990). Dictionary of the Irish Language. Antrim, N.Ireland: Greystone Press. p. 612. ISBN 0-901714-29-1.  
  2. ^ Dillon, Myles (1994). Early Irish Literature. Blackrock, Dublin, Ireland: Four Courts Press. xiv. ISBN 1-85182-177-5.  
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