A note about The Cuddlywumps Chronicles

This blog is written and maintained by Miss Cuddlywumps, a fluffy-tailed calico cat who is both classically educated and familiar with mysteries. Comments or complaints should be addressed to Miss C rather than to author Roby Sweet. Ms. Sweet accepts no responsibility for Miss C's opinions.

Friday, August 29, 2014

Divorce in the 10th Century: Who Got the Cat?



Miss Cuddlywumps considers another old Welsh law about cats


Divorce can be a messy business, and the messiness often extends to a separating couple’s cats. While modern couples might bicker over who should get custody of the cats, those living in West Wales back in the 10th century did not have this problem. That is because the Dimetian Code, one of three codes of Welsh law assembled under King Hywel Dda (Howel the Good), spelled out exactly who got to keep the cat.

The Dimetian Code (also known as the Book of Blaegwyrd) was simple on this point: If the separating couple had only one cat, it went to the husband. If they had multiple cats, one cat went to the husband and the others went to the wife. Their “goods and chattels” were to be divided.


If a divorcing Welsh couple had this many cats,
which one would the husband get?
Photo credit: Rsgranne - Cats cats cats!
(Arrow Rock, Missouri, 20050703) 03 (by-sa)
by Scott Granneman from St. Louis, MO, USA
 - Flickr. Licensed under Creative Commons
Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons.
Now you may be wondering (as I am), If the couple had three cats, how did they decide which one went to the husband? That, my friends, is a question I have not been able to answer. Did the husband get the oldest cat? The best mouser? Whichever one he wanted? We do not know. So it seems that the Book of Blaegwyrd left room for bickering after all.

For more on Hywel Dda’s laws concerning cats, see “It Took a Cat to Make a 10th-century Welsh Hamlet.”  

Sources

Van Vechten, Carl. Cats! The Cultural History. Kindle edition. Burslem Books, 2010. First published as The Tiger in the House, 1936. Location 2002.

Encyclopædia Britannica Online, s. v. "Hywel Dda," accessed August 11, 2014, http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/273547/Hywel-Dda.

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