Narratives in early Irish law tracts

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Qiu, Fangzhe
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University College Cork
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This thesis presents a study of the 112 narratives collected from the Corpus Iuris Hibernici. The selection of narratives is based on criteria informed by modern narratological theories. The significant presence of narratives in early Irish law tracts appears at odds with the normal conception of law texts as consisting solely of provisions, and therefore needs to be accounted for. Since no systematic study has been conducted of these legal narratives, this thesis serves as an introduction by giving firstly an index of narratives and secondly a categorisation of them in terms of distribution, dates and functions. It then carries out a general analysis of the relationship between legal narratives and early Irish literature, and a selected case study of the relationship between legal narratives and the legal institutions in the context of which the narratives are located. It has become clearer, with the progress of argument, that the use of narratives was an integral part of legal writing in medieval Ireland; and the narratives, though having many idiosyncratic features of themselves, are profoundly connected with the learned tradition at large. The legal narratives reveal the intellectual background and compositional concerns of medieval Irish jurists, and they formed a crucial part of the effort to accommodate law tracts into the dynamic tradition of senchas. Two appendices are included at the end: one consists of translations of 34 narratives from the index, and the other is a critical edition of one of the narratives discussed in detail, together with translations of some relevant passages.
Early Irish law , Early Irish literature , Narrative , Traditionalisation , Senchas
Qiu, F. 2014. Narratives in early Irish law tracts. PhD Thesis, University College Cork.
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