Joseph McCabe (1867-1955) was one of the most prolific authors of all time. He was brought up as a Roman Catholic, worked on Latin documents, and made himself very well-informed about Christianity, but turned against it. But he was extremely naive about Jews; bear this in mind.

Click for Detailed notes on McCabe - scroll down for selections from A Rationalist Encyclopaedia (1948).

Here's the full A Rationalist Encyclopaedia (about 1.3 MBytes; Word format; includes notes on some of its limits)

Jus Primae Noctis.

J. McCabe, Rationalists Encyclopaedia

A mediaeval Latin phrase meaning the right to the first night, that is to say, the right of the feudal lord to have the bride of one of his serfs to sleep with him on the wedding night. The readiness of some modern historians to repeat that this is another wicked myth of the Rationalist historians of the last century is amusing. They have adopted an entirely false estimate of medieval regard for chastity as scorces [sic; scores? RW] of articles in this work prove, and seem to be unaware that in some parts of the Catholic world today a husband considers it a praiseworthy act to lend his wife to a visiting traveller. The present writer travelling in Mexico proposed to visit a western district but found that there were no hotels or inns and any peasant who put him up would insist on this courtesy. It was common in the Middle Ages. Instead of being a Rationalist discovery the right was learnedly discussed early in the last century by the zealous Catholic writer Louis Veuillot who (fully admitting it) traced it fantastically to the pious zeal of early Church Councils in ordering married folk to abstain on the "first night" or "night of the Lord" (Sunday). In French historical literature the Droit du seigneur is as commonly noted as any other right, and there are plenty of documents referring to the redemption of this and of equally indelicate rights (see, especially, Dufour's Histoire de la prostitution, 6 vols., 1851-61). Bede tells how English nobles in his time took the serf-women whenever they pleased, and sold them when they became pregnant. Frazer's inquiry in his Folk-Lore in the Old Testament (1918) shows only that it was not stipulated in Scottish law, and Schmidt's Jus Primae Noctis proves only that it was not universally recognized. The discussion is otiose, as during the greater part of the Feudal Age serfs were not protected by Law, and the noble or his chief officials took any woman that pleased them.


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