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The Catholic Church and the Black Death in the 14th Century Essay

Table of Contents Introduction

Religious interpretation of the Black Death

Strategies used by the Catholic church to contain Black Death

Flagellants and religious movements

Effects of Black Death on the Catholic Church

Conclusion

Bibliography

Footnotes

Introduction Termed as Europe’s greatest ecological disaster, Black Death plague swept the continent at an amazing magnitude. Evidence shows that Black Death plague became prevalent in the West during the middle years of the 14th century[1]. Generally, when the plague struck no one knew how to prevent or treat the disease but many people resorted to bloodletting, prayers, and concoctions, which proved to be unsuccessful[2]. Estimates show that almost 50 per cent of the Europe’s population was destroyed by the disease affecting government, trade, and commerce activities, which literally came to standstill.

The effects of the disease for a long time affected the European society where for about 200 years; this society lived under the scary effects and implications of the disease. Religion’s role in interpreting the causes and cures for the disease became evident during this period for instance religion became a focal point in providing assurance to the people while at the same time explaining to the people that the disease did not just happen in vacuum but had a genuine cause[3].

For example, one of the earliest written tractate by James of Agramont who was a doctor in 1348 indicated that the disease had come as a result of sins people had committed against God, citing Deuteronomy 24, the doctor noted that, “God promised prosperity to those who keep his commandments, and plague to those who do not”[4].

Therefore, the essence of this research paper is to investigate the role of Catholic Church during the Black Death, specifically paying attention to the steps the church used to prevent the disease, the Flagellants and religious movements involved and lastly the effects of the disease on the Catholic Church.

Religious interpretation of the Black Death Religion interpretation of the plague was that it was a punishment that God was instituting and directing to humans as a result of pride[5]. According to Konrad von Megenburg who wrote the Regensburg, human in general had become sinful and that the plague was a culmination of God’s anger to the sinful behavior of humankind[6].

The position adopted by of other writers almost indicate similarities to these earlier positions in that they view the plague to be as a result of gross wickedness of human kind and that this wickedness had increased to annihilate God’s universal principles that held the society together. At the same time, other religious sentiments have held the notion that Black Death was inevitable in order to cure the fragmentation of the society that was being witnessed together with sin that existed in large scale[7].

Medieval Christians on their part associated Black Death with the book of Revelation and its aspects of the “Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse-pestilence, war, famine and death”[8]. The understanding of these Christians was that there was no much human effort could do to save or prevent the disease since it was a biblical prediction.

Get your 100% original paper on any topic done in as little as 3 hours Learn More While other were contenting with this biblical fact, other groups of Christians were of the view that the plague largely signaled the coming of Jesus Christ to reign the earth and other groups blamed women expressing a lot of pride together with Jews who were fraudsters to be responsible for the plague in Europe[9].

Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies note that European Christians viewed the Black Death to be God’s punishment for humankind due to immense sinful actions man was engaging in with his fellow Christians[10]. This view persisted for a long time although other opinions tried to postulate the role of other causative factors apart from religious ones.

The basis of this argument is that there were many plain communal sins that took place in most societies of Europe; hence, for God to restore His glory on earth, humankind had to undergo severe punishment for his actions[11].

The greater role of religion in interpreting the causes of the plague remain evidenced in contemporary European art and literature, furthermore the chronicles of the 14th century have largely associated the occurrence of the plague to the afflictions to divine retribution for the wickedness of European society.

For instance, Langland puts everything in summary and observes that, “these pestilences were for pure sin”[12].

Strategies used by the Catholic church to contain Black Death Upon the plague becoming dangerous, the church especially Catholic, which was the main church during the period, put in place some measures that intended to prevent or contain the plague. First, the church limited and regulated movements of people from one city to the other.

This was done through laws that were established and required every citizen of the affected areas to abide and failure to do so attracted fine[13]. For instance, to avoid contracting contaminated substances anybody from the nearby cities and regions bordering Pistoia were not to be allowed into the region.

We will write a custom Essay on The Catholic Church and the Black Death in the 14th Century specifically for you! Get your first paper with 15% OFF Learn More Violation of this law resulted into a penalty of fine amounting to 50 pounds. At the same time those given the responsibility to guard the gates were given further instruction to ensure that no one is permitted from going or coming out of Pistoia especially from severely affected cities of Pisa and Lucca[14].

Anyone flouting this additional law was required to pay a fine of 10 pounds while at the same time citizens of Pistoia contemplating or planning to travel to the affected regions were required to obtain a license from the Council of the People, which was the highest organ responsible in making decisions.

The second measure instituted by the church manifested itself in a kind of order and obligatory obligation that anyone had to observe. For example, the law made it clear that no any citizen of the regions within the jurisdiction of Pistoia were to bring or participate in activities aimed at importing either linen or woolen materials that could be used as clothing by the two genders or that could be used for bedclothes. Flouting of this order or any attempt to disregard this law attracted a penalty of 200 pounds.[15]

In the same measure, citizens of Pistoia coming back to the country were provided with directives in that they were only allowed to carry with them linen or woolen cloths they had on their bodies and any extra clothing was to be carried in a bag or a small parcel weighing not more than 30 pounds. Those found to go against this order were required to remove or export the extra clothing within a maximum of three days[16].

The third preventive measure postulated that all dead bodies were to remain in their spot untouched until when such bodies have been placed into wooden caskets and covered tightly by a closure that is secured by nails. Anybody family member or close kinsmen of the deceased found or discovered to have flouted the order were required to pay a fine of up to 50 pounds.

At the same time, the dead body was to remain in the casket until when it is buried, and before any burial could take place, officials from the city of Pistoia together with rectors of the parishes found in the city were to report immediately to the government officials of the city of death cases as they occurred. They were to identify the locations in which the dead person lived and did and if any contravention of the order was found to have taken place, these officials were liable for the fine on the dead person[17].

Immediately the report reaches the government about the dead person, the podesta or captain, in whose capacity the reporting takes place, should immediately send an official to the said location where the dead person is and ensure that all contents and other law statutes are being observed in ensuring the funeral takes place within the statutes explained and any flouting of the statutes to be punished.

On a lighter note, the penalty prescribed in the law relaxed on those who were perceived to be poor and miserable in accordance to the declarations and statutes of the city concerning poor people[18].

Not sure if you can write a paper on The Catholic Church and the Black Death in the 14th Century by yourself? We can help you for only $16.05 $11/page Learn More The fourth law was to be implemented within precepts of ensuring bad smell from the dead bodies was not affected the general surviving population. As a law, all dead bodies were required to be buried in a ditch that was dug to a depth of 2.5 braccia and it was to be within the stated measures prescribed by the city of Pistoia[19]. At the same time, carrying dead bodies to the city of Pistoia regardless of the status, age or role of the person in society was prohibited.

In addition, any person with less regards to his or her authority position was to ensure that no dead body is returned or carried back to the city of Pistoia without first being placed in a casket and upon flouting this requirement the affected individuals were required to pay a fine not less than 25 pounds.

At the same time, gatekeepers from the various cities were instructed to ensure there were no such incidences of returning bodies before first being put tightly in a casket, and when any gatekeeper was found to have allowed such dead body to pass without fulfilling the requirements the affected gatekeeper was also fined[20].

The fifth law outlined and required those who had come for the burial of the deceased to avoid any conduct with the deceased body or close family members of the deceased person except and only in limited measure as to a time when procession to the church was taking place and to the burial location of the deceased. Furthermore, all people were instructed not to go back or come close to the house in which the deceased occupied before he or she died. Going against this order attracted a penalty of 10 pounds[21].

Putting more weight on this law, another additional law was constituted which required that all no any form of gift before or after burial was to be taken the deceased person place and no meals were to be served to those attending the burial except to the family members of the deceased. An abrogation of this law attracted a penalty of 25 pounds[22].

Other measures instituted by the church included a law that banned all gatherings or groupings with intentions of bringing the widow of the deceased person to outside the house unless such gathering was only taking place when returning from church or the cemetery location.

However, the law provided roofer the family members in company of four women to bring the widow out. All those operating butchers were required to exercise and maintain highest level of hygiene by operating in non-smelling environment and failure to observe this attracted a fine of 10 pounds[23].

Flagellants and religious movements Black Death plague resulted into the development, rise, and spread of flagellants’ religious movements. It is believed flagellants movements started in Northern Italy before spreading to other European nations[24]. This movements attracted and appealed most to the monks who from their tradition had embraced self-mortification which top them was a way of identifying with the sufferings of Jesus Christ[25].

Many monks would whip themselves for thirty-three days, which resembled the years Jesus Christ lived and carried out his work and as atonement for the sins that had resulted into the Black Death. Early literatures on flagellant movements indicates that all classes participated and generally put on white robes and marched in barefoot in procession from one particular town to another while engaged in singing hymns and wielding iron-tipped scourges[26].

After the Black Death, the Jews became victims to the movement anger where the movement would associate the Jews to poisoning of wells[27]. Many members of the movement in instituting the punishing seen and believed to be carried out in order to avert the world from experiencing another disastrous plague would meet in market places and participate in burning up the Jews[28]. Describing the movement after the Black Death, a religious historian, remarked that, “as the fervor mounted the messianic pretensions of the Flagellants became more pronounced.

They began to claim that the movement must last for thirty-three years and end only with the redemption of Christendom and the arrival of the Millennium. Possessed by such chiliastic convictions they saw themselves more and more not as mortals suffering to expiate their own sins and humanity’s but as a holy army of Saints”[29].

The historian further note that the flagellant movement during this period graduated into a complex social phenomenon as its apocalyptic desires largely became manifested as motivation to personal mysticism, anticlericalism, and social revolutionary ideas that among its many issues pivoted on destruction of private wealth.

Further, the movement became the bear or the symbol of European view and reaction to pandemic where they believed it was due to sinful acts of the Jews hence the movement took a greater part in persecuting the Jews[30].

Effects of Black Death on the Catholic Church Prior to the Black Death plague many Christians were undergoing persecution but a story detailing the tribulation of Sebastian who was a Roman soldier indicate that, after the plague many people resorted to accepting Christianity and abandoning their paganism nature[31].

When the Black Death plague struck, the Catholic Church accelerated efforts to raise money through the sell of masses for the dead and indulgences, which were believed, to pardon dead individual’s sins. Due to these activities, the church became a victim of heavy criticism where many religious leaders not in support of this move accused the church of hypocrisy[32].

In addition, the plague had a long-lasting effect on the religious thought as it resulted into despair throughout the entire family of Christianity. Many people re-visited their relationship with God and looked up to the church to mitigate the effects of the disease but more shocking to the Christianity family was the fact that even clerics died in great number from this disease.

As a sign of lack of faith in church, the Catholic Church lost its earlier “prestige, breaking down blind allegiance to the church and setting the stage for the Protestant Reformation”[33].

As a result of the Black Death plague, the number and the quality of clergy decreased in number as more clergies succumbed to the deaths of the disease leading to the church to scramble in trying to fill the positions[34]. Lastly, the Catholic Church became largely to be associated with scandals that made its followers to severe relationship with the church.

Many looked for new ways of how morality of societal values could be restored and in away to show their lack of faith and trust in the church they explored others avenues[35].

Conclusion Black Death plague has for a long time remained a significant period in the history of humankind. Its significance is traced to the devastating effects of the plague to the population of the humankind, the art world, and the literature materials. This is a period that Christianity foundations were shaken and severed, leading protestant reformation in later years.

At the same time, this was the period when the flagellant movements translated its values and it become more involved in social issues; while at the same time, promoting persecution of the Jews. What became important feature of this plague is that the role and position of the church in society underwent tremendous transformation. People doubted the powers of the church since prayers seemed not to work and miracles to save people became scarce.

Further, the responsibility of the church to take it upon itself the collection of tithes and sell of masses resulted in more discontent as more reports of corruption and misappropriation of funds became more pronounced among the followers. Attempts to rectify these anomalies failed as struggle for power and enrichment through corruption of alms and tithes heightened, the Catholic Church was unable to glue its fabrics that put it together, and reformations became inevitable which culminated in the split of the church.

Bibliography Byrne, Joseph Patrick. The Black Death. CT, Greenwood Press, 2004. Web.

Capinera, John. Encyclopedia of entomology. NY: Springer, 2008. Web.

Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies. Viator. Volume 5. CA: University of California Press, 1975. Web.

Clarke, Howard. The Gospel of Matthew and its readers: a historical introduction to the first Gospel. IN: Indiana University Press, 2003. Web.

Hatty, Suzanne and Hatty, James. The disordered body: epidemic disease and cultural transformation. NY: SUNY Press, 1999. Web.

Horrox, Rosemary. The Black Death. UK: Manchester University Press, 1994. Web.

Plague and Public Health in Renaissance Europe. Pistoia ‘Ordinances for Sanitation in a time of mortality’, 1994. Web.

Stewart, Cynthia. The Catholic Church: A Brief Popular History. Saint Mary’s Press. 2009. Web.

Religious Interpretations of the Causes of the Plague. Italian Studies Department, Brown University, 2010. Web.

Vidmar, John. The Catholic Church through ages: a history. NJ: Paulist Press, 2005. Web.

Footnotes Joseph, P. Byrne, The black death, (CT, Greenwood Press, 2004), p.33

Joseph, P. Byrne, ibid, p.33

The Decameron Web, Religious Interpretations of the Causes of the Plague (Italian Studies Department, Brown University, 2010.

The Decameron Web, ibid

The Decameron Web, ibid

The Decameron Web, ibid

The Decameron Web, ibid

The Decameron Web, ibid

The Decameron Web, ibid,par.4

Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies, Viator, Volume 5 (CA, University of California Press, 1975) p.272

Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies, ibid

Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies, ibid, p.272

Plague and Public Health in Renaissance Europe, Pistoia ‘Ordinances for Sanitation in a time of mortality’ 1994.

Plague and Public Health in Renaissance Europe, ibid

Plague and Public Health in Renaissance Europe, ibid

Plague and Public Health in Renaissance Europe, ibid

Plague and Public Health in Renaissance Europe, ibid

Plague and Public Health in Renaissance Europe, ibid

Plague and Public Health in Renaissance Europe, ibid

Plague and Public Health in Renaissance Europe, ibid

Plague and Public Health in Renaissance Europe, ibid

Plague and Public Health in Renaissance Europe, ibid

Plague and Public Health in Renaissance Europe,ibid,par.6

Suzanne Hatty and James Hatty, The disordered body: epidemic disease and cultural transformation (NY, SUNY Press, 1999) p.118

Howard W. Clarke, The Gospel of Matthew and its readers: a historical introduction to the first Gospel (IN, Indiana University Press, 2003) p.229

Howard W. Clarke, ibid, p.229

Rosemary Horrox, The Black Death (UK, Manchester University Press, 1994) p.157

Howard W. Clarke, ibid

Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies, ibid, p.273

Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies, ibid

Louise C. Slavicek, The Black Death (NY, Infobase Publishing, 2008) p.98

Louise C. Slavicek, ibid, p.98

John L. Capinera, Encyclopedia of entomology (NY, Springer, 2008) p.1814

John Vidmar, The Catholic Church through ages: a history (NJ, Paulist Press, 2005) p.157

Cynthia Stewart, The Catholic Church: A Brief Popular History (Saint Mary’s Press, 2009) p.221

The Question of African Agency in Colonial courts and Social Conflict Term Paper

Nursing Assignment Help Table of Contents Colonial Courts and Social Conflicts

Eloping (Run Away) Women and African Societies

Abductions

Colonial State Representatives and marriage Disputes

Women Initial Reactions to the New Courts

Bibliography

Footnotes

This study of African agency in colonial courts and subsequent social conflicts in Africa applied law to establish and maintain its rule. Looking critically at these aspects, I intend to approach Law as a coercive force that assisted colonial state power to help in securing order, enhancing capitalist development, and restructuring of social relations. [1]

Significantly, I examine how colonialists enforced new sets of rules and regulations to enable a general process of societal and cultural change. This process was a mission of civilization of colonialism. I critically look at how the mission was legitimized by importing Western set of laws that replaced traditional customs and rules.

While historians were almost certain that Western laws were assumed to be more civilized, majority of colonial societies are still dealing with the effects this process and the legacy of this legal pluralism[2].

In Africa, colonialists enforced dual legal system in which colonialist law was superimposed in existing legal system. However, both sets of law depended on colonial state legal system.

The establishment and maintenance of the legal system was a central feature European colonialist for many years. Majority of colonial societies are still dealing with the effects this process and the legacy of this legal pluralism. [3]

In this context, I argue that it is important for the reader to understand that law was necessary for establishment of colonial order as it was the central mechanism of defining relationships between state and society. I guess colonial states were able to set boundaries of behaviour and control spectrum of private transactions through both criminal and civil law regulations. [4]

More importantly, although the law was vital in the colonizing process, there existed some conflict concerning the ways in which this process actually affected those colonized. The law application of the law in strict sense perpetuated colonial interests and limited demands placed on the colonized land and labour[5].

Get your 100% original paper on any topic done in as little as 3 hours Learn More I try to explain how the law was applied by both the colonized and the colonizer to resolve important disputes concerning authority and legitimacy. [6]/sup>

In addition, I maintain that the entrenched state system of governance include established laws and institutions adopted in African colonies. Historians explore modes of control that recognize customary rules as well as state laws imported from colonizer states. I argue that it is important for historical scholars to understand that customary law referred to the law of colonized people as accepted by colonial administrations.

Customary law was established by colonial administrations to guide disputes concerning non Europeans only. Many historians have justified the need by colonial administrations to have customary law as a method of providing autonomy and self governance to people they thought were not ready to appreciate the benefits of civilization.

In addition, I argue that customary law enabled colonial powers to use limited human and financial resources to effectively control its conquered territories. Furthermore, I intend to reveal the purpose customary laws were codified by colonial administrations into fixed, formal and written rules enforced by colonial courts. [7]

Colonial Courts and Social Conflicts The study of “Girl Cases: marriage and colonists in Gusiiland, Kenya, 1890-1970” requires people to understand the question of African Agency in colonial courts and the resultant social conflicts. While examining this context, I aim to trace the changes and explain; the intersections of the colonial trends in social and legal thinking, colonial administrative policies in Kisii, colonial political economy, and the ideals and actions of individual Gusii people that shaped this history.

This study analyzes the importance of African courts, that is, “the cornerstone to indirect rule by colonies”[8]. Despite the importance of these African courts, little work has been encouraged by historians.

Following widely publications in the 1950s and 1960s on African courts, historical appreciation of African law emerged in the 1980s. I argue that colonial administrators sought customary law of each tribe they wished to govern; I feel that indirect rule performed better if officials could implement legitimate laws accepted by those ruled.

We will write a custom Term Paper on The Question of African Agency in Colonial courts and Social Conflict specifically for you! Get your first paper with 15% OFF Learn More Whereas most African societies had not adopted an alterable, uncomplicated set of laws, colonial officials were not deterred. The study relies heavily on both civil and criminal records from the council of elders that served Gusiiland. The council of elders adjudicated many cases every year. Shadle examined court cases relating to marriage disputes in Gusii, Kenya.

The scholar was more concerned with criminal cases of adultery, elopement (runaway Women), indecent assault and abduction. I use the court records to effectively apply to uncover the question of African agency in colonial courts and resultant social conflicts[9].

Eloping (Run Away) Women and African Societies Since historians indicate years of interwar as problematic for African women the earliest period of colonization, African women found colonial masters sympathetic to their suffering[10]. I deduce that this scenario changed in the early 1920s and 1930s.

History indicates that colonialists had discovered women in rural areas as important for agricultural production. Prior to this period, women were important for social and physiological reproduction of men for wage labour. I conclude that they were confined to their rural farms to serve colonial interests as well as rural patriarchs[11].

From the study, I also reveal that; rural patriarchs at that time sought avenues to maintain authority over their women (wives and daughters). For these colonialists to use customary law (indirect rule) to maintain social stability and keep colonial rule, they required African rulers’ (senior men) to operate.

They discovered the importance of cooperating with African elders in maintaining social order. African elders similarly asked for state help to control their womenfolk. Historians allude that colonial administrations strengthened these laws and monitored women movements with the sole aim of establishing authority and loyalty of African elders. Historians argue that African courts were established by colonial states to solve intra-African conflicts.

African courts adopted customary laws which were interpreted by senior elders as court officials in ways interestingly beneficial to themselves. I agree that these courts applied their authority to regulate the actions of women and youthful men. [12]

This historiography tries to prove that the subordinated under colonialism contested efforts that empowered their superiors. As we examine the studies of peasants, slaves and workers during colonialism in Africa, we realise the majority contested exploitation by either Europeans of fellow Africans.

Not sure if you can write a paper on The Question of African Agency in Colonial courts and Social Conflict by yourself? We can help you for only $16.05 $11/page Learn More As scholars project, every power nexus expects the subordinated to contest the relations that empower their superiors. Elaborate studies of peasants, slaves and workers proved that Africans resisted their exploitation, whether by Europeans or other Africans. [13]

Abductions In this book, I wish to examine the effects of colonialism and how it was felt in Gusiiland, Kenya. I believe, colonialists thought there rule functioned only with the support of “tribal” leaders[14].

The necessity of such thinking will become apparent when we consider; “temperament of colonial administrators, their social and educational backgrounds, made them to appreciate strong patriarchal authority.” [15] Men in Gusiiland resorted to abduction to acquire wives in the later 1800s. [16]

I argue that this evoked pitched conflicts between clans in Gusiiland. An abductor capable to hold his catch long enough so his gambles pay off. Historians allude that accumulating bride-wealth in the 1890s was virtually difficult as disease destroyed large herds; as a result this led to escalation on the number of abductions in Gusiiland. [17]

After 1900, the number of cattle rose and marriage became affordable. Consequently, the number of abductions decreased remarkably. Ultimately, abductors and men taking in runaway women had the intension of marriage. Abductors employed the mode of violence and rape against their subjects. Shadle avers that they threatened and used physical assault to break the woman’s spirit. Popular brutal means they used included punches, knives, clubs, and others on women. [18]

Besides brutality, abductors raped their victims as well. They sought to impregnate their victims as soon as possible. Although premarital pregnancy did not ruin a girl’s chance of marriage, it was impaired. The affected women were intimidated through unjust branding. Abductees who became pregnant through this brutality so few options.

Majority resigned to the forced unions. As court records reveal admission of one woman, after having been abducted for three months, “now I am pregnant and I don’t know what to do.” [19] Still in a desperate position, she later admitted agreeing to marry the abductor even though he had no cattle to settle the marriage. In essence, I deduce that maintenance of encouraged patriarch authority created marital conflicts in Gusiiland.

Colonial State Representatives and marriage Disputes This study of “colonial state representatives and marriage disputes in Gusiiland” requires readers to examine the powers granted to chiefs, headsmen and other indirect rulers that made it possible for men looking for their abducted women easy.

I approach the study by explaining that there was no overreaching authority in Gusii highlands during pre-colonial period; and this made it difficult for tracking down women who had run away to any clans. The power conferred to colonial state representatives enabled men to move with relative safety between clans when tracking down the runaway women.

Litigants were encouraged by administrators to meet the council of elders (etureti) before going to court (ritongo)[20]. The status of the council of elders was contradictory. The colonial administration viewed the council of elders as a resuscitation of indigenous authorities; Gusii people on the other hand, regarded the council of elders as an invention of the colonial era. The book notes that they continued to seek guidance of their home elders (abanyamaiga).

This elders pre-dated colonial rule and included all the elders from the lineage. In contrast, the council of elders were few, elected and appointed as headsmen. They also had a jurisdiction of a large geographical area rather than lineages.[21]

The study of “Slavery and the Birth of an African City” reiterates that colonial administrations established law to enable them engage with Africans who resisted access to resources, labour, and colonial power and authority[22].

I believe Africans contested European morality and culture. In the process of this interaction, Africans experienced the realities of colonialism. In away, both Africans and Europeans shaped the law and institutions during colonial period. Historians allude that Africans used law as a resource of resistance against colonialism.

By looking at this study, readers should discover that they used legal rules and procedures as weapons of African resistance.[23]/sup>

Buoyed with African resistance to direct intervention and in the interest of checking the costs of administration, indirect rule by colonialists retreated from aggressive legal and governmental reform. [24] Colonial masters still endeavoured to civilize African institutions gently and through remote control.

They did not wish to rush the process to avoid the risk of losing the stability of native society. The native society had political and social organization that was well ordered. In this system, all members had definite series of responsibilities to one another.

Thus, the British administrator was then tasked with responsibility of reforming indigenous administration from within indigenous institutions. [25]

Indirect rule was appropriate to the British to provide a solution to the challenge of administering the vast African empire. A wave of administrative reforms encouraged the spread of native administration across the British Empire. The historical account of this reforms incorporated indigenous systems of law and government, and this helped identify these indigenous systems and governing through local authorities. [26

This also required colonial administrator to identify pliable candidates. Roberts and Mann historical account found the British social anthropologists ready to tackle challenges. They found Africans to be best suited to serve the British, due rewards that accompanied the office. I discovered that native administration was easy to implement where stable states existed. However, the system created difficulties in areas as well.

Indirect rule in practice encouraged instability. Mann and Roberts note that, although colonial administrators failed to notice it, colonialists imposed themselves on societies engrossed in tussles over leadership and power and the terms under which they were executed. The British built their colonial rule on conflict and change through traditional systems of authority as central to their strategies. [27]

Some of the kind of authorities the British sought did not exist in some places. Where local rulers could not be found by administrators, they established them, for instance; the Igbo of Nigeria. In Igbo land, the British established native administration around Macdonald and Moor’s warrant chiefs.

They reaffirmed there executive authority as well as judicial authority. Combining these responsibilities and resting them in single individuals went contrary to Igbo pre-colonial political systems[28]. As a result, authorities in Igbo-land lacked legitimacy of their counterparts in Northern Nigeria. The British social anthropologist sent to unmask the source of Aba women’s war, blamed in part the enforcement of indirect rule. [29]

According to the anthropologist, native authorities were seen to be more powerful than pre-colonial village councils. In addition, these authorities used their judicial and executive powers to serve their personal interests. This generated widespread hostility. Women in Igbo-land protested when chiefs were empowered to collect taxes. [30]

History provides that British were not the only ones who incorporated Africans into colonial law and government. The Portuguese, French and Belgians as well incorporated Africans into their colonial law and government. The French West African government faced a similar conflict faced by the British administration when its indirect rule model resulted to Aba women’s conflict in South-eastern Nigeria. [31]

The French also faced conflicts over authority and customs as it codified native jurisdictions and procedures in the French West African government. The period that followed immediately colonial conquests witnessed sizeable migration, urbanization and social change. I am confident that this resulted in rapid growth in urban centres and reorganization in rural societies of different ethnic groups. These groups engaged in domestic relationships, and took their grievances to native courts.

The government introduced laws specifying customs prevailed in different circumstances in response to growing number of civil conflicts over marriage, divorce, inheritance and succession fronted by litigants practicing different customs. Nevertheless, it was not easy to find qualified assessors to help both Africans and Europeans who presided over the tribunals[32].

In sum, we must know that the British and the French adopted the policy of governing their colonies through local systems of law. This became an ideological template to the British and French for the transformation of African societies that conformed to their model of colonial rule.

I discovered that the executive and judicial authority was linked by this template. The competence of native authorities depended in the concept of indirect rule. Yet, customary law was established out of collaboration of Africans who sought to establish new forms of access to resources and labour.

In addition, Europeans were looking for local authorities to occupy positions generated by their concepts of African societies. [33]

Accordingly, the study portrays colonial beliefs as not standing alone. They faced African representatives and their own administrators at every point. The need of colonial administrators to rule their subjects through native legal and political systems produced opportunities for indigenous people through custom representation. Colonial administrators strived to civilize African institutions through indirect rule. [34]

The study of “Litigants and Household African Disputes in French Soudan” on the other hand, takes a historical look at the relationship between the formations of a new system of native courts in the French Soudan in 1905. It also examines how women responded to this new system of native courts.

Further, it enlightens readers to understand how the French colonial government charged with responsibility of managing the operations of these courts was mesmerized with the vast numbers of women requiring divorce. Two interpretations are provided as to why African women through these new courts sought divorce during the early colonial period.

As a result, this influenced court practices and drove native policy. The first interpretation explains many cases of women seeking divorce due to wretched circumstances in marriage; and second interpretation provided divorce as undermining the authority of the household head and family stability.[35]

Women Initial Reactions to the New Courts The French administrators were caught off guard by the vast numbers of women requiring divorces when new courts were implemented in 1905. [36] The court records available indicate frequent incidences of divorce cases sought by women before the provincial tribunal. Women in the French Soudan realized initially that the new courts addressed their grievances.

The new courts acted favorably to them as they were able to accept their requests to end marriages they did not prefer. Plaintiffs needing divorce in the French Soudan were required to articulate their reasons for needing to dissolve their marriages. [37]

Reasons such as abandonment, mistreatment, non-payment of bride wealth, spouse illnesses, incompatibility and others were cited as the main trigger for divorce[38].

The examination of the history of custom and Islamic law in the native courts of the French Soudan looks at customary and Islamic family law in native courts in relation to establishment of new courts in 1905. [39]

By this I was able to trace emergence of these conflicts to the late eighteenth and early nineteenth century. We also discover that reforms in French colonial policies and subsequent revolutionary reforms occurred in France at that period.

The study examines extensively the conflicts as a result of French colonial policy, and looks at how African litigants applied new courts to confound expectations of their colonial master. [40]

This study requires readers to comprehend the colonial legal system as established in 1903 and implemented in 1905. The legal system had procedural problems affecting legal policy and cultural issues in the West African colonial establishment[41].

I argue that the established legal system presented thoughts harbored by the French administrators in relation to Islamic law and also African culture. Sharia law aspects in this law enabled custom and Muslim family law to function together and also guided on how non-Muslims solved their disputes. [42]

It also provides procedure for African judges in making judgments. They did not put into consideration the extent of African customs variability. Furthermore, we discover that they did not anticipate litigants to new courts would cause the need for cultural strategies.

Historically, colonial legal system was established to enforce uniformity and regularity in administration of justice in the French Soudan. I believe the system mandated establishment of courts and provide regular forms of reporting. While Richard Roberts suggested “codification of customs to allow use of customs to solve problems”, this was not fully realized[43] .

Ii is necessary to understand that the new courts could not complete improvisation. More importantly, I argue, the colonial administration while establishing the new legal system did not project the enormity of social changes.

The system was established on social changes that were profound. It politicized the courts by establishing new opportunities for litigants to apply native courts to solve disputes in new ways. [44]

Bibliography Mann, Kristin. 2007. Slavery and the Birth of an African City, Lagos, 1760-1900. Indiana: Indiana UP, 2007.

Roberts, Mann K. 1991. Introduction: Law in Colonial Africa. London: Heinemann.

Robert, Richard. 2005. Litigants and Household African Disputes and Colonial Courts in the French Soudan. London: Heinemann.

Shadle, Brett. Girl Cases: Marriage and Colonialism in Gusiiland. London: Heinemann

Footnotes Roberts Richards and Mann Kristin. Law in Colonial Africa. (Ndiana: Indiana UP,1991), 5.

Roberts Richards and Mann Kristin. Law in Colonial Africa. (Ndiana: Indiana UP,1991), 6.

Roberts Richards and Mann Kristin. Law in Colonial Africa. (Ndiana: Indiana UP,1991), 8.

Roberts Richards and Mann Kristin. Law in Colonial Africa. (Ndiana: Indiana UP,1991), 4.

Roberts Richards and Mann Kristin. Law in Colonial Africa. (Ndiana: Indiana UP,1991), 6.

Roberts Richards and Mann Kristin. Law in Colonial Africa. (Ndiana: Indiana UP,1991), 5.

Roberts Richards and Mann Kristin. Law in Colonial Africa. (Ndiana: Indiana UP,1991), 8.

Shadle Brett. Girl Cases: marriage and Colonialist in Gusiiland, Kenya (London: Heinemann, 2006), xxi.

Shadle Brett. Girl Cases: marriage and Colonialist in Gusiiland, Kenya (London: Heinemann,2006), xxvi.

Shadle Brett. Girl Cases: marriage and Colonialist in Gusiiland, Kenya (London: Heinemann,2006), xxvi.

Shadle Brett. Girl Cases: marriage and Colonialist in Gusiiland, Kenya (London: Heinemann,2006), xxvi.

Shadle Brett. Girl Cases: marriage and Colonialist in Gusiiland, Kenya (London: Heinemann,2006), xxvii..

Shadle Brett. Girl Cases: marriage and Colonialist in Gusiiland, Kenya (London: Heinemann,2006), xxvi.

Shadle Brett. Girl Cases: marriage and Colonialist in Gusiiland, Kenya (London: Heinemann,2006), xxvi.

Shadle Brett. Girl Cases: marriage and Colonialist in Gusiiland, Kenya (London: Heinemann,2006), xxv.

Shadle Brett. Girl Cases: marriage and Colonialist in Gusiiland, Kenya (London: Heinemann,2006), xxvi.

Shadle Brett. Girl Cases: marriage and Colonialist in Gusiiland, Kenya (London: Heinemann,2006), xxvi.

Shadle Brett. Girl Cases: marriage and Colonialist in Gusiiland, Kenya (London: Heinemann,2006), xxvii.

Shadle Brett. Girl Cases: marriage and Colonialist in Gusiiland, Kenya (London: Heinemann,2006), xxvi.

Shadle Brett. Girl Cases: marriage and Colonialist in Gusiiland, Kenya (London: Heinemann,2006), xxiii.

Shadle Brett. Girl Cases: marriage and Colonialist in Gusiiland, Kenya (London: Heinemann,2006), xxiv.

Mann Kristin. 2007. Slavery and the birth of an African City (Indiana: Indianapolis UP, 2007), 4.

Roberts Richards and Mann Kristin. Law in Colonial Africa. (Ndiana: Indiana UP,1991), 3.

Roberts Richards and Mann Kristin. Law in Colonial Africa. (Ndiana: Indiana UP,1991), 5.

Roberts Richards and Mann Kristin. Law in Colonial Africa. (Ndiana: Indiana UP,1991), 5.

Roberts Richards and Mann Kristin. Law in Colonial Africa. (Ndiana: Indiana UP,1991), 7.

Roberts Richards and Mann Kristin. Law in Colonial Africa. (Ndiana: Indiana UP,1991), 9.

Roberts Richards and Mann Kristin. Law in Colonial Africa. (Ndiana: Indiana UP,1991), 5.

Roberts Richards and Mann Kristin. Law in Colonial Africa. (Ndiana: Indiana UP,1991), 37.

Roberts Richards and Mann Kristin. Law in Colonial Africa. (Ndiana: Indiana UP,1991), 11.

Roberts Richards and Mann Kristin. Law in Colonial Africa. (Ndiana: Indiana UP,1991), 6.

Roberts Richards and Mann Kristin. Law in Colonial Africa. (Ndiana: Indiana UP,1991), 6.

Roberts Richards and Mann Kristin. Law in Colonial Africa. (Ndiana: Indiana UP,1991), 5.

Roberts Richards and Mann Kristin. Law in Colonial Africa. (Ndiana: Indiana UP,1991), 2.

Roberts Richards. Itigants and Household African Disputes and Colonial Courts (London:Heinemann, 2005), 84.

Roberts Richards. Itigants and Household African Disputes and Colonial Courts (London:Heinemann, 2005), 85.

Roberts Richards. Itigants and Household African Disputes and Colonial Courts (London:Heinemann, 2005), 86.

Roberts Richards. Itigants and Household African Disputes and Colonial Courts (London:Heinemann, 2005), 85.

Roberts Richards. Itigants and Household African Disputes and Colonial Courts (London:Heinemann, 2005), 86.

Roberts Richards. Itigants and Household African Disputes and Colonial Courts (London:Heinemann, 2005), 87.

Roberts Richards. Itigants and Household African Disputes and Colonial Courts (London:Heinemann, 2005), 90.

Roberts Richards. Itigants and Household African Disputes and Colonial Courts (London:Heinemann, 2005), 85.

Roberts Richards. Itigants and Household African Disputes and Colonial Courts (London:Heinemann, 2005), 91.

Roberts Richards. Itigants and Household African Disputes and Colonial Courts (London:Heinemann, 2005), 92.

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