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formalized private warfare, especially between family groups. The blood feud (see vendettavendetta
[Ital.,=vengeance], feud between members of two kinship groups to avenge a wrong done to a relative. Although the term originated in Corsica, the custom has also been practiced in other parts of Italy, in other European countries, and among the Arabs.
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) is characteristic of those societies in which a strong central government either has not arisen or has decayed. In modern times the feud, outlawed in most countries, has persisted where public justice cannot be easily enforced and private means are a simpler recourse. A famous example is the 19th-century feud of the Hatfields and McCoys in the mountain regions of the southern United States. The frontier in U.S. history was also characterized by private justice and the feud.


See Waller, A. L., Feud: Hatfields, McCoys, and Social Change in Appalachia, 1860–1900 (1988).


relations of continuing mutual hostility between groups where one group has been wronged by the other (e.g. one of its number has been murdered) and retribution is sought. Usually different LINEAGE groups or clans are involved. Feuding relationships occur in situations of kin solidarity, in which an individual can rely on support from relatives. They occur particularly in societies (e.g. SEGMENTARY SOCIETIES) which lack central political or legal authority, but where the fear of being involved in a feud acts as a major deterrent against wrongdoing. A retaliatory killing may end a feud, but other resolutions, such as the payment of compensation, may also bring it to an end.


, feod
Feudal law land held in return for service
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