The Earl of Kildare’s Blood Money
Irish History From The Annals

In 1554 the Earl of Kildare demanded and received a vast blood price for the killing of his foster-brother Robert Nugent.

Gaelic Ireland operated under a legal system known as Brehon Law after the often hereditary Irish judges, the breitheamh or Brehon, who arbitrated between the parties in disputes. There was no separate branch of criminal law and acts such as murder, arson or theft were dealt with by the payment of compensation to the injured party. In the case of murder the amount of the blood price or eraic was based on the social rank of the deceased and whether the murder was intentional or not and was often paid in cattle with a portion going to the family of the deceased and part to the deceased individual’s lord. One of the largest eraics paid was in 1554 when Art Mac Coghlan killed Robert Nugent the foster-brother of Gerald FitzGerald the Earl of Kildare. The Earl demanded and received 340 cattle from the Mac Coghlans which was an enormous sum.

A great fine in cows, namely, three hundred and forty cows, was apportioned upon and obtained from Delvin-Eathra by the Earl of Kildare, as an eric for his foster-brother, Robert Nugent, who had been slain by Art, the son of Cormac Mac Coghlan.

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