Prof. Jaroslav Skira (Regis College)



Note: The full electronic versions of most of the texts can be found at Early Church Fathers (CCEL). These readings are adapted from the translations found at this site.

WEEK # 11: Christological Disputes Continue & Invasions in East & West (6th - 7th)
- England & Ireland; Benedict; Gregory the Great; Islam -

Textbook reading:
1. Gonzalez. Story of Xianity. Chps. Chp. 26.
2. Tim Dowley, ed. Introduction to the History of Christianity (Minneapolis: Fortress, 2002). Excerpts: "Columba" (p.202); "Monasticism in the West" (pp.216-224); "The West in Crisis" (pp.228-234). [Link to PDF file given in Week 11 background & readings].

Some Study Guidelines / Questions:
By now you should have honed your historical-critical skills in analyzing the primary-source texts. So, ...what types of questions would you ask if you were a teacher? a historian? etc.


Primary Source texts include"Life in Benedict's Monastery," p.220-221 in the above T. Dowley reading.


St. Benedict (c.480?-547)

Benedict's Rule

... We are about to found therefore a school for the Lord's service; in the organization of which we trust that we shall ordain nothing severe and nothing burdensome. But even if, the demands of justice dictating it, something a little irksome shall be the result, for the purpose of amending vices or preserving charity; --- you shall not therefore, struck by fear, flee the way of salvation, which cannot be entered upon except through a narrow entrance. But as one's way of life and one's faith progresses, the heart becomes broadened, and, with the unutterable sweetness of love, the way of the mandates of the Lord is traversed. Thus, never departing from His guidance, continuing in the monastery in his teaching until death, through patience we are made partakers in Christ's passion, in order that we may merit to be companions in His kingdom.

1.a. Concerning the Kinds of Monks and Their Manner of Living: It is manifest that there are four kinds of monks. The cenobites are the first kind; that is, those living in a monastery, serving under a rule or an abbot. Then the second kind is that of the anchorites; that is, the hermits---those who, not by the new fervour of a conversion but by the long probation of life in a monastery, have learned to fight against the devil, having already been taught by the solace of many. They, having been well prepared in the army of brothers for the solitary fight of the hermit, being secure now without the consolation of another, are able, God helping them, to fight with their own hand or arm against the vices of the flesh or of their thoughts.

1.b But a third very bad kind of monks are the sarabaites, approved by no rule, experience being their teacher, as with the gold which is tried in the furnace. But, softened after the manner of lead, keeping faith with the world by their works, they are known through their tonsure to lie to God. These being shut up by twos or threes, or, indeed, alone, without a shepherd, not in the Lord's but in their own sheep-folds, their law is the satisfaction of their desires. For whatever they think good or choice, this they call holy; and what they do not wish, this they consider unlawful. But the fourth kind . . . a school for the monks is the kind which is called gyratory. During their whole life they are guests, for three or four days at a time, in the cells of the different monasteries, throughout the various provinces; always wandering and never stationary, given over to the service of their own pleasures and the joys of the palate, and in every way worse than the sarabaites. Concerning the most wretched way of living of all such monks it is better to be silent than to speak. These things therefore being omitted, let us proceed, with the aid of God, to treat of the best kind, the cenobites.

2.a. What the Abbot Should Be Like: An abbot who is worthy to preside over a monastery ought always to remember what he is called, and carry out with his deeds the name of a Superior. For he is believed to be Christ's representative, since he is called by His name, the apostle saying: "Ye have received the spirit of adoption of sons, whereby we call Abba, Father." And so the abbot should not---grant that he may not---teach, or decree, or order, any thing apart from the precept of the Lord; but his order or teaching should be sprinkled with the ferment of divine justice in the minds of his disciples. Let the abbot always be mindful that, at the tremendous judgment of God, both things will be weighed in the balance: his teaching and the obedience of his disciples. And let the abbot know that whatever the father of the family finds of less utility among the sheep is laid to the fault of the shepherd. Only in a case where the whole diligence of their pastor shall have been bestowed on an unruly and disobedient flock, and his whole care given to their morbid actions, shall that pastor, absolved in the judgment of the Lord, be free to say to the Lord with the prophet: "I have not hid Thy righteousness within my heart, I have declared Thy faithfulness and Thy salvation, but they despising have scorned me." And then at length let the punishment for the disobedient sheep under his care be death itself prevailing against them.

2.b. Therefore, when any one receives the name of abbot, he ought to rule over his disciples with a double teaching; that is, let him show forth all good and holy things by deeds more than by words. So that to ready disciples he may propound the mandates of God in words; but, to the hard-hearted and the more simpleminded, he may show forth the divine precepts by his deeds. But as to all the things that he has taught to his disciples to be wrong, he shall show by his deeds that they are not to be done; lest, preaching to others, he himself shall be found worthy of blame, and lest God may say at some time to him a sinner: "What have you to do to declare my statutes or that you should take my covenant in thy mouth. Seeing that you hate instruction and castes my words behind yourself; and why behold you the sliver that is in thy brother's eye, but considers not the beam that is in your own eye?" He shall make no distinction of persons in the monastery. One shall not be more cherished than another, unless it be the one whom he finds excelling in good works or in obedience. A free-born man shall not be preferred to one coming from servitude, unless there be some other reasonable cause. But if, justice demanding that it should be thus, it seems good to the abbot, he shall do this no matter what the rank shall be. But otherwise they shall keep their own places; for whether we be bond or free we are all one in Christ; and, under one God, we perform an equal service of subjection; for God is no respecter of persons. Only in this way is a distinction made by Him concerning us: if we are found humble and surpassing others in good works.

2.c. Therefore let him (the abbot) have equal charity for all: let the same discipline be administered in all cases according to merit. In his teaching indeed the abbot ought always to observe that form laid down by the apostle when he says: "reprove, rebuke, exhort." That is, mixing seasons with seasons, blandishments with terrors, let him display the feeling of a severe yet devoted master. He should, namely, rebuke more severely the unruly and the turbulent. The obedient, moreover, and the gentle and the patient, he should exhort, that they may progress to higher things. But the negligent and scorners, we warn him to admonish and reprove. . . .

3. About Calling in the Brethren to Take Council: As often as anything especial is to be done in the monastery, the abbot shall call together the whole congregation, and shall himself explain the question at issue. And, having heard the advice of the brethren, he shall think it over by himself, and shall do what he considers most advantageous. . . .

5. Concerning Obedience: The first grade of humility is obedience without delay. This becomes those who, on account of the holy service which they have professed, or on account of the fear of hell or the glory of eternal life, consider nothing dearer to them than Christ: so that, so soon as anything is commanded by their superior, they may not know how to suffer delay in doing it, even as if it were a divine command. Concerning whom the Lord said: "As soon as he heard of me he obeyed me."

22. How the Monks Shall Sleep: They shall sleep separately in separate beds. They shall receive positions for their beds, after the manner of their characters, according to the dispensation of their abbot. If it can be done, they shall all sleep in one place. If, however, their number do not permit it, they shall rest, by tens or twenties, with elders who will concern themselves about them. A candle shall always be burning in that same cell until early in the morning. They shall sleep clothed, and girt with belts or with ropes; and they shall not have their knives at their sides while they sleep, lest perchance in a dream they should wound the sleepers. And let the monks be always on the alert; and, when the signal is given, rising without delay, let them hasten to mutually prepare themselves for the service of God with all gravity and modesty, however. The younger brothers shall not have beds by themselves, but interspersed among those of the elder ones. And when they rise for the service of God, they shall exhort each other mutually with moderation on account of the excuses that those who are sleepy are inclined to make.

39 Concerning the Amount of Food: We believe, moreover, that, for the daily refection of the sixth as well as of the ninth hour, two cooked dishes, on account of the infirmities of the different ones, are enough for all tables: so that whoever, perchance, can not eat of one may partake of the other. Therefore let two cooked dishes suffice for all the brothers: and, if it is possible to obtain apples or growing vegetables, a third may be added. One full pound of bread shall suffice for a day, whether there be one refection, or a breakfast and a supper... But to younger boys the same quantity shall not be served, but less than that to the older ones; moderation being observed in all things. But the eating of the flesh of quadrupeds shall be abstained from altogether by every one, excepting alone the weak and the sick.

40. Concerning the Amount of Drink: Each one has his own gift from God, the one in this way, the other in that. Therefore it is with some hesitation that the amount of daily sustenance for others is fixed by us. Nevertheless, in view of the weakness of the infirm we believe that a he mina [just less than half a litter] of wine a day is enough for each one. Those moreover to whom God gives the ability of bearing abstinence shall know that they will have their own reward. But the prior shall judge if either the needs of the place, or labour or the heat of summer, requires more; considering in all things lest satiety or drunkenness creep in. Indeed we read that wine is not suitable for monks at all. But because, in our day, it is not possible to persuade the monks of this, let us agree at least as to the fact that we should not drink till we are sated, but sparingly...

55. Concerning Clothes and Shoes: Vestments shall be given to the brothers according to the quality of the places where they dwell, or the temperature of the air. For in cold regions more is required; but in warm, less. This, therefore, is a matter for the abbot to decide. We nevertheless consider that for ordinary places there suffices for the monks a cowl and a gown apiece---the cowl, in winter hairy, in summer plain or old-and a working garment, on account of their labours. As clothing for the feet, shoes and boots.


St. Patrick (c.389-461)

[Adapted from a text found at:].

[After his capture by pirates, and his working for a pig-farmer]

17. . . .And it was there of course that one night in my sleep I heard a voice saying to me: 'You do well to fast: soon you will depart for your home country.' And again, a very short time later, there was a voice prophesying: 'Behold, your ship is ready.' And it was not close by, but, as it happened, two hundred miles away, where I had never been nor knew any person. And shortly thereafter I turned about and fled from the man with whom I had been for six years, and I came, by the power of God who directed my route to advantage (and I was afraid of nothing), until I reached that ship.

18. And on the same day that I arrived, the ship was setting out from the place, and I said that I had the wherewithal to sail with them; and the steersman was displeased and replied in anger, sharply: 'By no means attempt to go with us.' Hearing this I left them to go to the hut where I was staying, and on the way I began to pray, and before the prayer was finished I heard one of them shouting loudly after me: 'Come quickly because the men are calling you.' And immediately I went back to them and they started to say to me: 'Come, because we are admitting you out of good faith; make friendship with us in any way you wish.' (And so, on that day, I refused to suck the breasts of these men from fear of God, but nevertheless I had hopes that they would come to faith in Jesus Christ, because they were barbarians.) And for this I continued with them, and forthwith we put to sea.

19. And after three days we reached land, and for twenty-eight days journeyed through uninhabited country, and the food ran out and hunger overtook them; and one day the steersman began saying: 'Why is it, Christian? You say your God is great and all-powerful; then why can you not pray for us? For we may perish of hunger; it is unlikely indeed that we shall ever see another human being.' In fact, I said to them, confidently: 'Be converted by faith with all your heart to my Lord God, because nothing is impossible for him, so that today he will send food for you on your road, until you be sated, because everywhere he abounds.' And with God's help this came to pass; and behold, a herd of swine appeared on the road before our eyes, and they slew many of them, and remained there for two nights, and the were full of their meat and well restored, for many of them had fainted and would otherwise have been left half dead by the wayside. And after this they gave the utmost thanks to God, and I was esteemed in their eyes, and from that day they had food abundantly. They discovered wild honey, besides, and they offered a share to me, and one of them said: 'It is a sacrifice.' Thanks be to God, I tasted none of it.

20. The very same night while I was sleeping Satan attacked me violently, as I will remember as long as I shall be in this body; and there fell on top of me as it were, a huge rock, and not one of my members had any force. But from whence did it come to me, ignorant in the spirit, to call upon 'Helias'? And meanwhile I saw the sun rising in the sky, and while I was crying out 'Helias, Helias' with all my might, lo, the brilliance of that sun fell upon me and immediately shook me free of all the weight; and I believe that I was aided by Christ my Lord, and that his Spirit then was crying out for me, and I hope that it will be so in the day of my affliction, just as it says in the Gospel: 'In that hour', the Lord declares, 'it is not you who speaks but the Spirit of your Father speaking in you.'

21. And a second time, after many years, I was taken captive. On the first night I accordingly remained with my captors, but I heard a divine prophecy, saying to me: 'You shall be with them for two months.' So it happened. On the sixtieth night the Lord delivered me from their hands.

22. On the journey he provided us with food and fire and dry weather every day, until on the tenth day we came upon people. As I mentioned above, we had journeyed through an unpopulated country for twenty-eight days, and in fact the night that we came upon people we had no food.

23. And after a few years I was again in Britain with my kinsfolk, and the welcomed me as a son, and asked me, in faith, that after the great tribulations I had endured I should not go anywhere else away from them. And, of course, there, in a vision of the night, I saw a man whose name was Victoricus coming as . . . from Ireland with innumerable letters, and he gave me one of them, and I read the beginning of the letter: 'The Voice of the Irish', and as I was reading the beginning of the letter I seemed at that moment to hear the voice of those who were beside the forest of Foclut which is near the western sea, and the were crying as if with one voice: 'We beg you, holy youth, that you shall come and shall walk again among us.' And I was stung intensely in my heart so that I could read no more, and thus I awoke. Thanks be to God, because after so many ears the Lord bestowed on them according to their cry.


Gregory the Great (c.590-614)

Gregory the Great, Epistle LXIV: To Augustine, Bishop of the Angle,

1. Through my most beloved son Laurent us, the presbyter, and Peter the monk, I received thy Fraternity's letter, in which you have been at pains to question me on many points. But, inasmuch as my aforesaid sons found me afflicted with the pains of gout, and on their urging me to dismiss them speedily were allowed to go, leaving me under the same painful affliction; I have not been able to reply, as I ought to have done, at greater length on every single point.

2. Augustine's first question: I ask, most blessed father, concerning bishops, how they should live with their clergy. And concerning the offerings of the faithful which are received at the altars, both into what portions they should be divided, and how the bishop ought to deal with them in the Church.

3. Answer of Saint Gregory, pope of the city of Rome: Holy Scripture, which no doubt you know well, bears witness, and especially the epistles of the blessed Paul to Timothy, in which he studied to instruct him how he ought to behave himself in the house of God. Now it is the custom of the Apostolic See to deliver an injunction to bishops when ordained, that of all emoluments that come in four divisions should be made: to wit, one for the bishop and his household on account of hospitality and entertainment; another for the clergy; a third for the poor; and a fourth for the reparation of Churches. But, inasmuch as thy Fraternity, having been trained in the rules of a monastery, ought not to live apart from thy clergy in the Church of the Angle, which by the guidance of God has lately been brought to the faith, it will be right to institute that manner of life which in the beginning of the infant Church was that of our Fathers, among whom none said that aught of the things which he possessed was his own, but they had all things common (Acts 4).

4. Augustine's second question: I wish to be taught whether clerics who cannot contain may marry; and, if they marry, whether they should return to the world.

5. Answer of the blessed pope Gregory: If, however, there are any clerics, not in sacred orders, who cannot contain themselves, they ought to take to themselves wives, and receive their stipends separately, since we know that it is written of those same Fathers whom we have before mentioned, that distribution was made unto every man according as he had need. Wherefore thought should be taken and provision made for their stipends, and they should be kept under ecclesiastical rule, that they may lead good lives, and give attention to the singing of psalms, and by the help of God preserve their heart and tongue and body from all that is unlawful. But as to those who live in community, what is there more for us to say with regard to assigning portions, or showing hospitality, or executing mercy, seeing that what remains over and above their needs is to be expended for pious and religious uses, as the Lord and Master of us all says, "Of what is over give alms, and behold all things are clean unto you (Luke 11.41)"?

6. Augustine's third question: Since there is but one faith, why are the uses of Churches so different, one use of Mass being observed in the Roman Church, and another in the Churches of Gaul?

7. Answer of the blessed pope Gregory: Thy Fraternity knows the use of the Roman Church, in which you have been nurtured. But I approve of thy selecting carefully anything you have found that may be more pleasing to Almighty God, whether in the Roman Church or that of Gaul, or in any Church whatever, and introducing in the Church of the Angli, which is as yet new in the faith, by a special institution, what you have been able to collect from many Churches. For we ought not to love things for places, but places for things. Wherefore choose from each Church such things as are pious, religious, and right, and, collecting them as it were into a bundle, plant them in the minds of the Angli for their use. . . .

8. Augustine's tenth question: Whether a pregnant woman should be baptized, or, when she has brought forth, after what length of time she should be allowed to enter the church. Or, to guard also against her issue being surprised by death, after how many days it may receive the sacrament of holy baptism. Or after what length of time her husband may have carnal intercourse with her. Or, if she is in her sickness after the manner of women, whether she may enter the church, or receive the sacrament of sacred communion. Or whether a man after intercourse with his wife, before he has been washed with water, may enter the church, or even go to the mystery of sacred communion. All these things it is right we should have made known to us for the rude nation of the Angli.

9. Answer of the blessed pope Gregory: I doubt not that thy Fraternity has been asked these questions, and I think that I have supplied you with answers to them. But I believe that you wish what you are able of yourself to say and think to be confirmed by my reply. For why should not a pregnant woman be baptized, fecundity of the flesh being no fault before the eyes of Almighty God? For, when our first parents had transgressed in paradise, they lost by the just judgment of God the immortality which they had received. Therefore, because Almighty God would not utterly extinguish the human race for their fault, He took away immortality from humanity for its sin, and yet, in the kindness of God's pity, reserved to them fruitfulness in offspring. With what reason then can what has been preserved to the human race by the gift of Almighty God be debarred from the grace of holy baptism? For indeed it is very foolish to suppose that a gift of grace can possibly be inconsistent with that mystery wherein all human sin is entirely extinguished.

Gregory the Great, Epistle XXVII, To Anthemius, Subdeacon of Campania.

1. As often as we hear things of our brethren and fellow-bishops that show them to be to blame and cause us sadness, necessity compels us in no slight degree to take thought for their amendment. Seeing, then, that it has been reported to us that the bishops of Campania [s. Italy] are so negligent that, unmindful of the dignity and character of their office, neither towards their Churches nor towards their sons do they show the care of paternal vigilance, nor concern themselves about monasteries, nor bestow their protection on the oppressed and the poor, we therefore enjoin you and hereby give you authority to call them together, and strictly admonish them in virtue of our mandate, that they be not any longer idle, but so evince their priestly zeal and solicitude, and be so vigilant in what it becomes them justly and according unto God to do, that no murmur concerning them may exasperate us any more. If, however, you should find any one of them to be negligent after this being done, send him to us without allowing any excuse, that by regular exercise of discipline they may be made to feel how serious a matter it is to refuse to be corrected in things that are reprehensible and exceedingly to be condemned.


Cain Adamnain:
An Old-Irish Treatise on the Law of Adamnan (c.9th)

[Adapted from a text found at:]

[Translator's comments: This law treatise is found in only two manuscripts, both late, but derived from the lost Book of Raphoe, written in Old Irish probably in the ninth century. The book of Raphoe is believed to have been a collection of materials on St. Adomnan. The Canons of Adamnan are also believed to have been copied from it. The Annals of Ulster dates the promulgation of this law to 696/7 at the Synod of Birr. This treatise seeks to explain the law and is not a copy of the actual law code that was enacted at Birr in 697. Note: (?) in the text indicate corrupted text.]

1. Five ages before the birth of Christ, to wit, from Adam to the Flood, from the Flood to Abraham, from Abraham to David, from David to the Captivity in Babylon, from the Babylonian Captivity to the birth of Christ. During that time women were in bondage and in slavery, until Adamnan, son of Ronan, son of Tinne, son of Aed, son of Colum, son of Lugaid, son of Setne, son of Fergus, son of Conall, son of Niall, came.

2. Cumalach [female slave, bondmaid] was a name for women till Adamnan come to free them. And this was the cumalach , a woman for whom a hole was dug at the end of the door so that it came over her nakedness. The end of the great spit was placed upon her till the cooking of the portion was ended. After she had come out of that earth-pit she had to dip a candle four man's hands in length in a plate of butter or lard; that candle to be on her palm until division of food and distribution of liquor and making of beds, in the houses of kings and chieftains, had ended. That women had no share in bag or in basket, nor in the company of the house-master; but she dwelt in a hut outside the enclosure, lest bane from sea or land should come to her chief.

3. The work which the best women had to do, was to go to battle and battlefield, encounter and camping, fighting and hosting, wounding and slaying. On one side of her she would carry her bag of provisions, on the other her babe. Her wooden pole upon her back. Thirty feet long it was, and had on one end an iron hook, which she would thrust into the tress of some woman in the opposite battalion. Her husband behind her, carrying a fence-stake in his hand, and flogging her on to battle. For at that time it was the head of a woman, or her two breasts, which were taken as trophies.

4. Now after the coming of Adamnan no woman is deprived of her testimony, if it be bound in righteous deeds. For a mother is a venerable treasure, a mother is a goodly treasure, the mother of saints and bishops and righteous men, an increase in the Kingdom of Heaven, a propagation on earth.

5. Adamnan suffered much hardship for your sake, O women, so that ever since Adomnan's time one half of your house is yours, and there is a place for your chair in the other half; so that your contract and your safeguard are free; and the first law made in Heaven and on earth for women is Adamnan's Law. …

28. This is the enactment of the Law of Adamnan of Hi [Iona]. At Birr this enactment was enjoined by the men of Ireland and Britain as a perpetual law by order of their nobles, clerics and laymen, both their chiefs and ollaves and bishops and sages and confessors, [what follows is a lengthy list names]. …

29. All then, both laymen and clerics, have sworn to fulfill the whole Law of Adamnan till Doom. They have offered up the full eric of their female stock to Adamnan, and to every coarb who will be in his seat till Doom, nor does Adamnan, take way fines from chieftain and church and family to whom they are due.

30. Now, all the holy churches of Ireland together with Adamnan have besought the unity of the Godhead of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, and the heavenly hosts, and the saints of the earth, that whoever fulfills this Law, both as a claim and levy and fulfillment and Eric, may have a long and prosperous life, and may be honoured in the eyes of God and of men, may be exalted in Heaven and on earth.

31. The holy churches of Ireland, together with Adamnan, have also besought God with the orders of Heaven and the saints of the earth, that whoever shall break the Law of Adamnan, both laymen and clerics, whoever shall not claim it, and shall not fulfill it to the best of his power, and shall not levy it from every one, both chieftain and church, -- his life may be short with suffering and dishonour, without any of their offspring attaining Heaven or earth.

32. Adamnan has also set down an order of malediction for them, to wit, a psalm for every day up to twenty days and an apostle or a noble saint for every day to be invoked with it, to wit, 'Quare' and Peter, 'Domine quid multiplicati' and John, 'Verba mea' and Philip, 'Domine deus meus' and Bartholomew, 'Dixit insipieus' and Thomas, . . .etc.

33.a. Here begins the speech of the angel to Adamnan: After fourteen years Adamnan obtained this Law of God, and this is the cause. On Pentecost eve a holy angel of the Lord came to him, and again at Pentecost after a year, and seized a staff, and struck his side and said to him; 'Go forth into Ireland, and make a law in it that women be not in any manner killed by men, through slaughter or any other death, either by poison, or in water, or in fire, or by any other beast, or in a pit, or by dogs, but that they shall die in their lawful bed. You shall establish a law in Ireland and Britain for the sake of the mother of each one, because a mother has borne each one, and for the sake of Mary mother of Jesus Christ, through whom all are. Mary besought her Son on behalf of Adamnan about this Law. For whoever slays a woman shall be condemned to a twofold punishment, that is, his right hand and his left foot shall be cut off before death, and then he shall die, and his kindred shall pay seven full cumals, and one-seventh part of the penance. If, instead of life and amputation, a fine has been imposed, the penance is fourteen years, and fourteen cumals shall be paid.

33.b. But if a host has done it, every fifth man up to three hundred shall be condemned to that punishment; if few, they shall be divided into three parts. The first part of them shall be put to death by lot, hand and foot having been first cut off; the second part shall pay fourteen full cumals; the third shall be cast into exile beyond the sea, under the rule of a hard regimen; for the sin is great when any slays the mother and sister of Christ's mother and the mother of Christ, and her who carries a spindle and who clothes every one. But he who from this day forward shall put a woman to death and does not do penance according to the Law, shall not only perish in eternity, and be cursed for God and Adamnan, but all shall be cursed that have heard it and do not curse him, and do not chastise him according to the judgement of this Law'.

34. This is the speech of the angel to Adamnan: This is the enactment of Adamnan's Law in Ireland and Britain: exemption of the Church of God with her people and her emblems and her sanctuaries and all her properties, live and dead, and her law-abiding laymen with their lawful wives who are obedient to Adamnan and to a lawful, wise and pious confessor. The enactment of this Law of Adamnan is a perpetual law on behalf of clerics and women and innocent children until they are capable of slaying a man, and until they take their place in the tribe, and their (first) expedition is known.

35. Whoever wounds or slays a young clerical student or an innocent child under the ordinance of Adamnan's Law, eight cumals for it for every hand (engaged), with eight years of penance, up to three hundred cumals; and one year of penance for it for each one from three hundred to three thousand or an indefinite number; and it is the same fine for him who commits the deed and for him who sees it and does not save to the best of his ability. If there is neglect or ignorance, half the fine for it, and . . . that is neglect and that it is ignorance.

36. A further enactment of this Law: full due to every Church which is in good behaviour; half-due to her for her lands outside the green; full due to her for every degree, both for wounding and theft and burning; half-due for her sanctuaries; half-due for merely touching the hair (?) of clerics without wounding or theft. It is all due to every church for violating her emblems wherever it is done.

37. These are the judges of Adamnan's Laws in every church and in every tribe, to wit, the clerics whom the community of Adamnan chooses and to whom they commit the enactment of the Law.

38. These are the pledges of this Law: one-third of the pledge in bronze or silver, according to the estimation of every territory, out of the property of every case. The pledge (to be redeemed) on the third day, judgement on the fifth day, payment on the tenth in all other cases; in this case the pledge (is to be redeemed) at once (?), judgement on the third day and payment on the fifth.

39. A further enactment of the Law, that in every suit a hostage is to be adjudged (?) both for the ranks of the laity and those of the church, within the territories inside and outside, for small and large dues, in obedience to Adamnan or his communities. There is a legal notice and impounding, and the Law of Adamnan or his communities shall not become extinct.

40. A further enactment of the Law: If innocent children or clerics are slain, it is to their tombs of burial their dues come, and their urradas [under native law]---dues to their chiefs within their kindred.

41. A further enactment of the Law, that payment in full fines is to be made to Adamnan for every woman that has been slain, whether a man has a share in it, or cattle or hound or fire or a ditch or a building, -- for everything that is made liable under the Law, both ditch and pit and bridge and fire-place and (door-)step and pools and kilns, and every other danger, except the woman deserves it. But one third is left to be kept. If it is a witless person, the other two thirds shall die. The one-third is his who has the right to it.

42. Whatever violent death a woman dies, except it be (by) the hand of God, or (in consequence of) rightful lawful cohabitation, it is paid in full fines to Adamnan, both slaying and drowning and burning and poison and breaking and perishing in a quagmire and death by tame beasts and pigs and cattle. If, however, it is a first crime a folath (foluth?) or on the part of pigs or hounds, they shall be killed at once, and half due to the human hand for it; if it is not a first crime, full due is paid.

43. There shall be no cross-case or balancing of guilt in Adamnan's Law, but each one pays for his crimes for his own hand. Every trespass which is committed in Adamnan's Law, the communities of Adamnan are [entitled?] of it, apart from women, whether it be innocents, or clerics, or anyone to whom they commit it, viz. a cumal forbaich to the community of Hii where seven cumals are paid, and half a cumal from seven half-cumals. Six sets on thirty sets, three sets on five sets ["set"=a basic unit of value].

44. One-eighth of everything small and great to the community of Adamnan from the slaying of clerics or innocent children. If it be a life-wound any one inflicts on a woman or a cleric or an innocent, seven half-cumals are due from him, fifteen sets upon the nearest and remoter kindred as being accomplices. Three sets for every white blow, five sets for every drawing of blood, seven sets for every wound requiring a tent, a cumal for every confinement to bed, and payment of the physician besides. If it be more than that, it goes upon half-dues for killing a person. If the blow with the palm of the hand or with the fist, one ounce of silver (is the fine) for it. If there be a green or red mark, or a swelling, an ounce and six scruples for it. For seizing women by the hair, five wethers. If there is a fight among women with outrage (?), three wethers.

45. Men and women are equally liable for large and small dues from this on to (any) fights of women, except outright death. For a woman deserves death for the killing of a man or woman, or for giving poison whereof death ensues, or for burning, or for digging under a church, that is to say, she is to be put in a boat of one paddle as a sea-waif (?) upon the ocean to go with the wind from the land. A vessel of meal and water to be given with her. Judgement on her as God deems it.

46. If it be charms from which death ensues that any one give to another, the fines of murder followed by concealment of the corpse (are to be paid) for it. Secret plunderings and . . . which are traced (?) to (one of ) the four nearest lands, unless these four nearest lands can lay them on any one particularly, they swear by the altbu (?) of their soul that they do not to lay it upon any one and pay it themselves. If they suspect any one and prove it, it is he who shall be liable. If the probability lie between two or a greater number, let their names be written on leaves; each leaf arranged around a lot, and the lots are put into a chalice upon the altar. He on whom the lot falls is liable.

47. If the offenders who violate the Law do not pay, their kindred pay full fines according to the greatness of the crime, and after that (the offender) becomes forfeited, and is banished until the end of the law. One-half of seven cumals for accomplices upon every direct and indirect kindred afterwards. If there be assistance and shelter and connivance, it is death for it; but such as the fine (of the principals) was such shall be that of accomplices.

48. A further enactment of the Law: they shall feed the stewards of Adamnan's Law, whatever their number, with the good food of their people, viz. five men as guarantors, and the feeding of every one who shall levy the dues of the Law shall be according to the wealth of every one, both chieftain and church and people. A cumal for leaving any one of them fasting, while fines are being levied, and offenders with regard to feeding, and they sustain a joint contract of debts unless they feed them. Two cumals to them from offenders.

49. This is the exemption of every guarantor who come to levy this tribute, viz. the guilt of their family does not come upon them so long as they support guarantors and while they are in possession and do not escape; but their own guilt (comes upon them) or the guilt of their offspring and their children and of their retainers.

50. If it be rape of a maiden, seven half-cumals (is the fine) for it. If a hand (is put) upon her or in her girdle, ten ounces for it. If a hand (is put) under her dress to defile her, three ounces and seven cumals for it. If there be a blemish or her head or her eyes or in the face or in the ear or nose or tooth or tongue or foot or hand, seven cumals are (to be paid) for it. If it be a blemish on any other part of her body, seven half-cumals are (to be paid) for it. If it be tearing of her dress, seven ounces and one cumal for it.

51. If it be making a gentlewoman blush by imputing unchastity to her or by denying her offspring, there are seven cumals (to be paid) for it until it comes to (the wife of) an aire désa. For her onwards to a muiri [local chief] seven ounces.

52. If women be employed in an assault or in a host or fight, seven cumals for every hand as far as seven, and beyond that it is to be accounted as the crime of one man. If a woman has been got with child by stealth, without contract, without full rights, without dowry, without betrothal, a full fine for it. Whatever . . . which is of hand-produce, great or small, whatever of dye-stuff, or woad or beans. If it be red dye of a cloak, ... of a cloak for it.

53. Three guarantors for every chief church for the Law of Adamnan, viz. the prior and the cook and the steward; and a guarantor of the Law from (every) parent-family throughout all Ireland; and two guarantors of the Law from high chieftains, and hostages to be held for its payment, if there be the proof of a woman.


[Book of Kells, "The Four Evangelists." An illuminated manuscript of
the Gospels from mid-8th century Ireland. Click here for a larger image.
Can you tell which figure is which evangelist? Hint: We read about this in Irenaeus.]