Brehon Law: The Troscad

Stair na hÉireann/History of Ireland

A method of exerting authority, available to all members of Celtic society, was the ritual fast, the troscad. As a legal form of redressing a grievance, this act emerged in the Brehon law system. That it was an ancient ritual can be demonstrated by the fact that it bears almost complete resemblance to the ancient Hindu custom of dbarna. This custom is not only found in the Laws of Manu but as prayopavesana (‘waiting for death’) it occurs in ancient Vedic sources. The troscad was ‘Identical with the eastern custom, and no doubt it was believed in pagan times to be attended by similar supernatural effects’; that is, that if the one fasted against ignores the person fasting then they would suffer fearful supernatural penalties. The troscad was the means of compelling justice and establishing one’s rights. Under law, the person wishing to compel justice had to notify the person…

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