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Social Network Theory Applied to Medieval Irish Text

Thursday, January 25, 2018

Ireland Viking battleCOVENTRY, ENGLAND—Live Science reports that researchers from Coventry, Oxford, and Sheffield Universities have used the mathematical techniques of social network theory to analyze a nineteenth-century translation of Cogadh Gaedhel re Gallaibh, a medieval Irish text describing warfare between an army led by Irish king Brian Boru, regional Irish kingdoms, and Viking invaders. Boru succeeded in unifying Ireland by 1011, but rebellion in Leinster and Viking-controlled Dublin led to the Battle of Clontarf in 1014. Boru’s army was victorious, although the king was killed during the battle. Recent scholarship has suggested that most of the fighting during this period could be characterized as civil war among the Irish. Yet statistical analysis of the contacts between the hundreds of Irish and Viking characters, and the more than 1,000 connections between them in Cogadh Gaedhel re Gallaibh, indicates that overall, the conflict was between the Irish and Vikings. Ralph Kenna of Coventry University said the network was complex, however, and Irish-on-Irish conflict did exist. For more, go to “The Vikings in Ireland.”

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