All the bishops in a coenobium were subject to the abbot; but besides the bishop in the monastic families, every tuath or tribe had its own bishop. The church in Ireland having been evolved out of the monastic nuclei already described the tribe bishop was an episcopal development of a somewhat later period.
The tuath bishop in later centuries corresponded to the diocesan bishop as closely as it was possible in two systems so different as tribal and municipal government.
When diocesan jurisdiction was introduced into Ireland in the 12th century the tuath became a diocese.
The tuath or territory of a ri (represented roughly by a modern barony) was divided among the septs.
Aire), or, as we should say, had the franchise, and might fulfil the functions of bail, witness, &c. As the chief sought to extend his power in the tuath, he also endeavoured to aggrandize his position at the expense of other tuatha by compelling them to pay tribute to him.