Prima Nocta – Fact, Fiction & Today

Most Americans had never heard the term ‘prima nocta’ prior to the 1995 Mel Gibson film Braveheart. The term literally means ‘first night’.

In the movie, British King Edward, known as Longshanks, is determined to put down any and all rebellion in Scotland to the north. There is a scene where Longshanks is speaking with his advisor about the problem of the Scots:

Longshanks: Nobles. Nobles are the key to the door of Scotland. Grant our nobles lands in the north. Give their nobles estates here in England, and make them too greedy to oppose us.
Advisor: But sire, our nobles will be reluctant to uproot. New lands mean new taxes, and they are already taxed for the war in France.
Longshanks: Are they? Are they? The trouble with Scotland is that it’s full of Scots. Perhaps the time has come to reinstitute an old custom. Grant them prima noctes. First night, when any common girl inhabiting their lands is married, our nobles shall have sexual rights to her on the night of her wedding. If we can’t get them out, we breed them out. That should fetch just the kind of lords we want to Scotland, taxes or no taxes.
Advisor: A most excellent idea, sire.
LongshanksIs it?

Prima nocta played a key role in Gibson’s movie, but in reality, there doesn’t seem to be any historical fact to support this really happening. According to one source, which seems to agree with a number of other sources:

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“The phrase prima nocta, based on the Latin ‘first night,’ is a shortened and corrupted from jus primae noctis, ‘right of the first night.’ It generally names an ancient tradition in which all noble lords, whether kings or dukes, had the right to have sex with any of their female subjects—regardless of their will and even with a virgin bride—on her wedding night.”

“One of the earliest first known references to this feudal, misogynistic tradition appears in the second-millennium BCE Mesopotamian Epic of Gilgamesh, though the term prima nocta itself isn’t used. It’s also mentioned, though again not as prima nocta, in the fifth-century BCE Histories by Ancient Greek historian Herodotus.”

“While there are many references to the custom throughout the centuries, scholars since the 1800s have questioned whether such a law ever truly existed or was practiced, with many believing it was simply a trope used to make rulers seem more barbaric. It is possible that prima nocta may have been real, and because its victims had no or low social status, the instances were never recorded. There’s also no clear-cut evidence that the phrase jus primae noctis was ever used as the formal name of any law.”

“A traditional phrase for prima nocta is the French droit du seigneur (‘right of the lord’), but by the late 1800s, it was going by the Latin jus primae noctis, whose particular origins are unclear. It evolved to jus prima noctae by the 1900s and prima nocta by the end of the century. The phrase is not considered grammatically correct in Latin.”

While prima nocta is not practiced today, the concept described by Longshanks in Braveheart is.

Over the years, I’ve had several former Muslims work for me and they shared a lot about what they were taught growing up. One former Muslim was born and raised in Pakistan and converted to Christianity in his mid-20s. His conversion came at a great cost and risk, namely the loss of everything he owned and a death sentence. He escaped one night and over several months, made his way to the United States, legally.

Another former Muslim, now a Christian, was born and raised in Iran. He went to university and became a doctor, but when he, his wife and family converted to Christianity, they fled Iran for fear of their lives. At cost of over $80,000 US (back in the early 1980s), he was able to smuggle his family out of Iran in the middle of the night and came to the US as refugees. Both men told of similar Islamic teachings.

I asked them, one day, as they both worked for me at the same time, about why Muslim men so often rape non-Muslim women and girls. They both said that the Quran teaches that they must either convert non-Muslims to Islam or kill them. Not in the Quran, but taught in many Islamic areas, is that by raping non-Muslim girls and women, they hope to breed the infidels out of existence. In other words, they rape not just for the sex, but to breed more future Muslims from the non-Muslims. By getting an infidel pregnant, in the eyes of Islam, makes the girl/woman Muslim along with her offspring.

It’s not exactly the same as prima nocta as it doesn’t occur on the wedding night, but the concept expressed in the movie, ‘we breed them out’ is real in today’s world.

If what both of these former Muslims told me is true, this explains why in so many areas where Muslim refugees have re-located to in parts of Europe, you find that sexual assaults and rapes of non-Muslims have skyrocketed, making many areas unsafe for females of any age.


The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Barb Wire.

R.L. David Jolly holds a B.S. in Wildlife Biology and an M.S. in Biology – Population Genetics. He has worked in a number of fields, giving him a broad perspective on life, business, economics and politics. He is a very conservative Christian, husband, father and grandfather who cares deeply for his Savior, family and the future of our troubled nation.

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