Primogeniture

Primogeniture (English: /praɪməˈdʒɛnɪtʃər/) is the right, by law or custom, of the firstborn legitimate son to inherit his parent's entire or main estate, in preference to shared inheritance among all or some children, a child other than the eldest male, a daughter, illegitimate child or a collateral relative. In some cases the estate may instead be the inheritance of the firstborn child or occasionally the firstborn daughter. The descendant (often the son) of a deceased elder sibling (typically elder brother) inherits before a living younger sibling by right of substitution for the deceased heir. In the absence of any children, brothers succeed, individually, to the inheritance by seniority of age (subject to substitution). Among siblings, sons usually inherit before daughters. In the absence of male descendants in the male-line, there are variations of primogeniture which allocate the inheritance to a daughter or a brother or, in the absence of either, to another collateral relative, in a specified order (e.g. male-preference primogeniture, Salic primogeniture, semi-Salic primogeniture).

The principle has applied in history to inheritance of real property (land) as well as inherited titles and offices, most notably monarchies, continuing until modified or abolished.

Variations on primogeniture modify the right of the first-born son to the entirety of a family's inheritance (see appanage) or, in the West since World War II, eliminate the preference for males over females (absolute primogeniture). Most monarchies in Western Europe have eliminated male preference in succession: Belgium, Denmark, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Norway, Sweden and the United Kingdom.

Primogeniture has not been the only form of inheritance in monarchies. The Holy Roman Emperor was selected for enthronement by a small number of powerful prince electors from among Europe's Christian males of inherited nobility. Currently, succession to the Saudi Arabian throne uses a form of lateral agnatic seniority, as did the Kievan Rus' (see Rota system), the early Kingdom of Scotland (see Tanistry), the Mongol Empire (see lateral succession) or the later Ottoman Empire (see succession practices).

Order of succession in monarchies today

Order of succession (Primogeniture) in European monarchies
European monarchies by succession.
  Absolute primogeniture
  Agnatic primogeniture
  Male-preference primogeniture
Order of succession (Primogeniture) in African monarchies
African monarchies by succession.
  Agnatic primogeniture
  Male-preference primogeniture
Order of succession (Primogeniture) in Southeast Asia monarchies
Southeast Asian monarchies by succession.
  Absolute primogeniture
  Elective and Agnatic primogeniture
  Agnatic primogeniture
  Male-preference primogeniture
Order of succession (Primogeniture) in Middle Eastern monarchies
Middle Eastern monarchies by succession.
  Absolute primogeniture
  Elective and Agnatic primogeniture
  Agnatic primogeniture
  Male-preference primogeniture

Absolute primogeniture

Absolute, equal, or lineal primogeniture is a form of primogeniture in which sex is irrelevant for inheritance. No modern monarchy before 1980 practiced this form of primogeniture.[1]

However, according to Poumarede (1972), the Basques of the Kingdom of Navarre transmitted title and property to the firstborn regardless of sex.[2] The higher nobility and free families of the early and high middle ages followed this custom.[2] The Navarrese monarchy, however, was inherited by dynasties from outside of Navarre, which followed different successional laws, usually male preference primogeniture. Eventually only the Basque lower nobility and free families of the Basque country and other regions continued to follow this custom, which persisted as late as the 19th century.[2]

An ancient and alternative way in which women succeeded to power, especially without displacing the direct male line descendants of the first monarchs, is the historical consortium or coregency between husband, and wife or other relatives. The most notable of these are the Egyptian cases of Hatshepsut and Thutmose III, and the monarchs of the Ptolemaic Dynasty.

In 1980, Sweden amended its constitution to adopt royal succession by absolute primogeniture, displacing King Carl XVI Gustaf's infant son, Prince Carl Philip, in favor of his elder daughter, Princess Victoria, in the process. Several monarchies have since followed suit: the Netherlands in 1983, Norway in 1990, Belgium in 1991, Denmark in 2009, Luxembourg in 2011, and the United Kingdom and the other Commonwealth realms in 2015.

Monaco, the Netherlands, and Norway also deviated from traditional primogeniture in the late 20th or early 21st century by restricting succession to the crown to relatives within a specified degree of kinship to the most recent monarch.

Recently, other monarchies have changed or considered changing to absolute primogeniture:

  • With the birth of Infanta Leonor of Spain on 31 October 2005 to the then heir apparent Felipe, Prince of Asturias and Princess Letizia, the Spanish Prime Minister José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero reaffirmed the intention of the government to institute, by amendment of the Spanish constitution, absolute primogeniture. Zapatero's proposal was supported by the leader of the main opposition party, the conservative Partido Popular, making its passage probable. However, Zapatero's administration ended before an amendment was drafted, and the succeeding government has not pursued it. The Prince counseled reformers that there was plenty of time before any constitutional amendment would need to be enacted because the expectation was to leave him next in line to succeed his father despite his elder sisters' continued status as dynasts; equal primogeniture was expected to apply first to his children. Felipe succeeded to the throne as Felipe VI upon his father's abdication in 2014, by which time he had two daughters. Felipe VI has no son that would, absent the constitutional amendment, displace Leonor as heir apparent.
  • In July 2006, the Nepalese government proposed adopting absolute primogeniture,[3] but the monarchy was abolished in 2008 before the change could be effected.
  • In 2011, the governments of the 16 Commonwealth realms which have a common monarch announced the Perth Agreement, a plan to legislate changes to absolute primogeniture.[4] This was implemented when the necessary legislation came into effect on 26 March 2015.
  • In Japan, it has been debated whether or not to adopt absolute primogeniture, as Princess Aiko is the only child of Crown Prince Naruhito. However, the birth in 2006 of Prince Hisahito, a son of Prince Akishino (the younger brother of Crown Prince Naruhito, and next in line to the Chrysanthemum Throne following Naruhito) has suspended the debate.

Agnatic primogeniture

Under agnatic primogeniture, or patrilineal primogeniture, the degree of kinship (of males and females) is determined by tracing shared descent from the nearest common ancestor through male ancestors.[5] Those who share agnatic kinship (through solely male ancestors) are termed "agnates"; those whose shared lineage includes a female ancestor are "cognates".

There were different types of succession based on agnatic primogeniture, all sharing the principle that inheritance is according to seniority of birth among siblings (compare to ultimogeniture) and seniority of lineage among the agnatic kin, firstly, among the sons of a monarch or head of family, with sons and their male-line issue inheriting before brothers and their issue. Females and female-line descendants are excluded from succession.

Male-preference primogeniture

Male-preference primogeniture accords succession to the throne to a female member of a dynasty if and only if she has no living brothers and no deceased brothers who left surviving legitimate descendants. A dynast's sons and their lines of descent all come before that dynast's daughters and their lines. Older sons and their lines come before younger sons and their lines. Older daughters and their lines come before younger daughters and their lines.

It was practiced in the succession to the once-separate thrones of England and Scotland (until their union under James VI and I) and then the United Kingdom until 2015, when the Succession to the Crown Act 2013 changed it to absolute primogeniture. The rule change also applies to all Commonwealth realms that have the British monarch as their head of state.

Male-preference primogeniture is currently practiced in succession to the thrones of Monaco and Spain (before 1700 and since 1830).

With respect to hereditary titles, it is usually the rule for Scotland and baronies by writ in the United Kingdom, but baronies by writ go into abeyance when the last male titleholder dies leaving more than one surviving sister or more than one descendant in the legitimate female line of the original titleholder.

Salic law

An agnatic seniority primogeniture system that excludes any female from inheritance of a monarch's principal possessions is generally known in western Europe as an application of the "Salic law" (see Terra salica). This rule of succession developed in the course of a series of successions in France in the later Middle Ages. In 1316, Joan, the only surviving child of Louis X of France was debarred from the throne in favor of her uncle, Philip, Count of Poitiers. After this it was declared that women could not inherit the French throne. Then in 1328, after the death of Charles IV, Philip, Count of Valois (Charles IV's paternal cousin) became king, notwithstanding the claims of Edward III of England. By proximity of blood, Edward was the closest relative to the dead king, as he was the son of the king's sister Isabella. The assemblies of the French barons and prelates and the University of Paris resolved that males who derive their right to inheritance through their mother should be excluded. This ruling became a key point of contention in the subsequent Hundred Years War. Over the following century, French jurists adopted a clause from the 6th century Pactus Legis Salicae, which asserted that no female or her descendants could inherit the throne, as a governing rule for the French succession.

In the lands of Napoleon Bonaparte's conquests, Salic law was adopted, including the French Empire, the Kingdom of Westphalia, the Kingdom of Holland and, under Napoleonic influence, the House of Bernadotte's Sweden. Other states adopted Salic primogeniture as well, including Belgium, Denmark (in 1853) and all of the eastern European monarchies except Greece, i.e. Albania, Bulgaria, Montenegro, Romania, and Serbia. During this era, Spain (in the Carlist conflicts) fought a civil war which pitted the Salic and female-line heirs of the ruling dynasty against one another for possession of the crown.

A variation of Salic primogeniture allowed the sons of women to inherit, but not women themselves, an example being the Francoist succession to the throne of Spain that was applied in 1947–1978.

Most British and French titles of nobility descend to the senior male by primogeniture, to the exclusion of females, and agnatic cadets may bear courtesy or subsidiary titles. Notable exceptions in England include the Duchy of Lancaster, which is merged with the British Crown (which has included women in inheritance since the 16th century), and the Dukedom of Marlborough, which has included women in inheritance since its establishment in 1702.

Preference for males

The preference for males existing in most systems of primogeniture (and in other mechanisms of hereditary succession) comes mostly from the perceived nature of the tasks and role of the monarch: A monarch most usually was, first and foremost, a military protector.

An alternative theory posits that the preference for males arose out of a desire to maximize reproductive success. It was thought that because of a sexual double standard, in which males were able to produce illegitimate children as well as legitimate children, a son would ultimately increase one's posterity more than a daughter.

Arguments in favour

Primogeniture prevents the subdivision of estates and diminishes internal pressures to sell property (for example, if two children inherit a house and neither can afford to buy out the other's share). In Western Europe, most younger sons of the nobility had no prospect of inheriting property, and were obliged to seek careers in the Church, in military service, or in government. Wills often included bequests to a monastic order who would take the disinherited son.

Many of the Spanish Conquistadors were younger sons who had to make their fortune in war. In the late 17th and early 18th centuries, many younger sons of English aristocrats specifically chose to leave England for Virginia in the Colonies. Many of the early Virginians who were plantation owners were such younger sons who had left England fortuneless due to primogeniture laws. These Founding Fathers of the United States of America were nearly universally descended from the landed gentry of England.

In Japan, the Imperial chronologies include eight reigning empresses from ancient times up through the Edo period; however, their successors were most often selected from amongst the males of the paternal Imperial bloodline, which is why some conservative scholars argue that the women's reigns were temporary and that male-only succession tradition must be maintained.[6] Japanese empresses such as Empress Genshō (680-748), who succeeded her mother the Empress Gemmei (661-721) on the throne (but only because she was a Princess of the Imperial family, daughter of Prince Kusakabe), remain the sole exceptions to this conventional argument.

Arguments against

The fact that the eldest son "scooped the pool" often led to ill-feeling amongst younger sons (and of course daughters). Through marriage, estates inherited by primogeniture were combined and some nobles achieved wealth and power sufficient to pose a threat even to the crown itself. Finally, nobles tended to complain about and resist rules of primogeniture.

In Democracy in America, Alexis de Tocqueville argues that the abolition of the laws of primogeniture and entail in the law of inheritance of private property (as opposed to inheritance of a monarchy) result in the more rapid division of land, forcing landless people to seek wealth outside the family estate in order to maintain their previous standard of living, accelerating the death of the landed aristocracy and also quickening the shift to democracy.[7]

Historical examples

A case of agnatic primogeniture is exemplified in the French royal milieu, where the Salic law (attributed to the Salian Franks) forbade any inheritance of a crown through the female line. This rule was adopted to solve the dispute over the legitimate successor of Charles IV of France (Edward III of England or Philip VI of France, though the former would have a stronger claim should proximity of blood be considered). Conflict between the Salic law and the male-preferred system was also the genesis of Carlism in Spain.

The 1837 divergence of the crowns of Hanover and Great Britain upon the death of William IV of the United Kingdom resulted in the succession of his eldest surviving brother Ernest I to Hanover, while the United Kingdom was inherited by his niece, Queen Victoria, was due to the operation of semi-Salic law in Hanover and to male-preference primogeniture in the British Empire.

In 1890, the divergence of the thrones of Luxembourg and the Netherlands, both ruled by  semi-Salic law, was caused by the fact that the Luxembourg line of succession went back more generations than the Dutch one. The Luxembourg succession was ruled by the provisions of the Nassau House Treaty of 1783. Where the succession is concerned, Luxembourg is the successor state to the Principality of (Orange-) Nassau-Dietz. The Dutch succession only went back to King William I (1815-1840). Therefore Luxembourg still had agnatic heirs from another branch of the House of Nassau left to succeed, while in the Netherlands the male line starting with William I was depleted.

Since the Middle Ages, the semi-Salic principle was prevalent for the inheritance of feudal land in the Holy Roman Empire: inheritance was allowed through females when the male line expired. Females themselves did not inherit, but their male issue could. For example, a grandfather without sons was succeeded by his grandson, the son of his daughter, although the daughter still lived. Likewise, an uncle without sons of his own was succeeded by his nephew, a son of his sister, even if the sister still lived.

Common in feudal Europe outside of Germany was land inheritance based on a form of primogeniture: A lord was succeeded by his eldest son but, failing sons, either by daughters or sons of daughters. In most medieval Western European feudal fiefs, females (such as daughters and sisters) were allowed to succeed, brothers failing. But usually the husband of the heiress became the real lord, assuming his wife's title with the suffix jure uxoris.

In more complex medieval cases, the sometimes conflicting principles of proximity of blood and primogeniture competed, and outcomes were at times unpredictable. Proximity meant that an heir closer in degree of kinship to the lord in question was given precedence although that heir was not necessarily the heir by primogeniture.

  • The Burgundian succession in 1361 was resolved in favor of John, son of a younger daughter, on basis of blood proximity, being a nearer cousin of the dead duke than Charles, grandson of the elder daughter. Proximity sometimes favored younger lines (directly contrary to the outcome from applying primogeniture), since it was more probable that from a younger line, a member of an earlier generation was still alive compared with  the descendants of the elder line.
  • The Earldom of Gloucester (in the beginning of 14th century) went to full sisters of the dead earl, not to his half-sisters, though they were elder, having been born of the father's first marriage, while the earl himself was from second marriage. Full siblings were considered higher in proximity than half-siblings.

However, primogeniture increasingly won legal cases over proximity in later centuries.

Later, when lands were strictly divided among noble families and tended to remain fixed, agnatic primogeniture became usual: succession going to the eldest son of the monarch; if the monarch had no sons, the throne would pass to the nearest male relative in the male line.

Some countries however accepted female rulers early on, so that if the monarch had no sons, the throne would pass to the eldest daughter. For example, Queen Christina of Sweden succeeded to the throne after the death of her father, King Gustav II Adolf.

In England, primogeniture was mandatory for inheritance of land. Until the Statute of Wills was passed in 1540, a will could  control only the inheritance of personal property. Real estate (land) passed to the eldest male descendant by operation of law. The statute added a provision that a landowner could "devise" land by the use of a new device called a "testament". The rule of primogeniture in England was not changed until the Administration of Estates Act in 1925.

In law, the rule of inheritance whereby land descends to the oldest son. Under the feudal system of medieval Europe, primogeniture generally governed the inheritance of land held in military tenure (see knight). The effect of this rule was to keep the father’s land for the support of the son who rendered the required military service. When feudalism declined and the payment of a tax was substituted for military service, the need for primogeniture disappeared. In England, consequently, there was enacted  the Statute of Wills (1540), which permitted the oldest son to be entirely cut off from inheriting, and in the 17th century military tenure was abolished; primogeniture is, nevertheless, still customary in England. In the United States primogeniture never became widely established.

Semi-Salic law

Another variation on agnatic primogeniture is the so-called semi-Salic law, or "agnatic-cognatic primogeniture", which allows women to succeed only at the extinction of all the male descendants in the male line.[8] Such were the cases of Bourbon Spain until 1833 and the dominions of Austria-Hungary, as well as most realms within the former Holy Roman Empire, i.e. most German monarchies. This was also the law of Russia under the Pauline Laws of 1797 and of Luxembourg until equal primogeniture was introduced on 20 June 2011.

There are various versions of semi-Salic law also, although in all forms women do not succeed by application of the same kind of primogeniture as was in effect among males in the family. Rather, the female who is nearest in kinship to the last male monarch of the family inherits, even if another female agnate of the dynasty is senior by primogeniture. Among sisters (and the lines of descendants issuing from them), the elder are preferred to the younger. In reckoning consanguinity or proximity of blood the dynasty's house law defines who among female relatives is "nearest" to the last male.

Uterine primogeniture

Under uterine primogeniture, succession to the throne or other property is passed to the male most closely related to the previous titleholder through female kinship.[5] A male may also inherit a right of succession through a female ancestor or spouse, to the exclusion of any female relative who might be older or of nearer proximity of blood (see above for Spain's mid-twentieth century dynastic succession law). In such cases, inheritance depends on uterine kinship,[5] so a king would typically be succeeded by his sister's son. This particular system of inheritance applied to the thrones of the Picts of Northern Britain and the Etruscans of Italy. Some kingdoms and ethnic groups in Africa follow the same practice. This usage may stem in part from the certainty of the relationship to the previous king and kings: sons and daughters of a sister are his relations (mater semper certa est), even if they do not have the same father.

Matrilineal primogeniture

Matrilineal primogeniture, or female-preference uterine primogeniture, is a form of succession practised in some societies in which the eldest female child inherits the throne, to the total exclusion of males. The order of succession to the position of the Rain Queen is an example in an African culture of matrilineal primogeniture: not only is dynastic descent reckoned through the female line, but only females are eligible to inherit.

History

In Christian Europe, the Roman Catholic Church originally had a monopoly on the authority to sanction marriage. It forbade polygamy and taught that divorce was an impossibility per se, as it still does. Consequently, in Europe, it was very difficult to ensure succession solely by direct male descendants or even direct male or female progeny. In Islamic and Asian cultures, religious officials and customs either sanctioned polygyny, use of consorts, or both, or they had no authority of marriage; monarchs could consequently ensure sufficient numbers of male offspring to assure succession. In such cultures, female heads of state were rare.

Biblical

Figures Esau Sells His Birthright for Pottage of Lentils
Esau Sells His Birthright for Pottage of Lentils, a 1728 engraving by Gerard Hoet.

The earliest account of primogeniture to be known widely in modern times is that of Isaac's sons Esau, who was born first,[9] and Jacob, who was born second.[10] Esau was entitled to the "birthright" (bekhorah בְּכוֹרָה), but he sold the right to Jacob for a mess of pottage, i. e. a small amount of food.[11] Although the veracity of this account is not corroborated by other sources, its widespread acceptance demonstrates that primogeniture was sufficiently common in the Middle East for the account to seem plausible to the people living there prior to the Roman Empire.

Roman law

During the Roman Empire, Roman law governed much of Europe, and the laws pertaining to inheritance made no distinction between the oldest or youngest, male or female, if the decedent died intestate.[12] Although admission to the two highest ordines (orders), i. e. the senators and equestrians, potentially brought lifelong privileges that the next generation could inherit, the principle of inherited rank in general was little used.[13] Rather, Roman aristocracy was based on competition, and a Roman family could not maintain its position in the ordines merely by hereditary succession or title to land.[14] Although the eldest son typically carried his father's name in some form, he was expected to construct his own career based on competence as an administrator or general and on remaining in favor with the emperor and his council at court.[15] Other than meeting requirements for personal wealth, the qualifications for belonging to the senatorial or equestrian orders varied from generation to generation, and in the later Empire, the dignitas ("esteem") that attended on senatorial or equestrian rank was refined further with additional titles, such as vir illustris, that were not inherited.[16]

Most Roman emperors indicated their choice of successor, usually a close family member or adopted heir, and the presumption that the eldest or even a natural son would inherit was not enshrined. The death of an emperor led to a critical period of uncertainty and crisis. In theory, the Senate was entitled to choose the new emperor, but did so mindful of acclamation by the army or the Praetorian Guard.[17] Thus, neither an emperor nor his heir had an inherent "right" to rule, and did so through military power and the Senate's symbolic consent.

Reemergence in medieval and modern times

The law of primogeniture in Europe has its origins in Medieval Europe; which due to the feudal system necessitated that the estates of land-owning feudal lords be kept as large and united as possible to maintain social stability as well as the wealth, power and social standing of their families.[12]

Adam Smith, in his book An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations, explains the origin of primogeniture in Europe in the following way:

[W]hen land was considered as the means, not of subsistence merely, but of power and protection, it was thought better that it should descend undivided to one. In those disorderly times, every great landlord was a sort of petty prince. His tenants were his subjects. He was their judge, and in some respects their legislator in peace and their leader in war. He made war according to his own discretion, frequently against his neighbours, and sometimes against his sovereign. The security of a landed estate, therefore, the protection which its owner could afford to those who dwelt on it, depended upon its greatness. To divide it was to ruin it, and to expose every part of it to be oppressed and swallowed up by the incursions of its neighbours. The law of primogeniture, therefore, came to take place, not immediately indeed, but in process of time, in the succession of landed estates, for the same reason that it has generally taken place in that of monarchies, though not always at their first institution.[18]

Historical examples

A case of agnatic primogeniture is exemplified in the French royal milieu, where the Salic Law (attributed to the Salian Franks) forbade any inheritance of a crown through the female line. This rule was adopted to solve the dispute over the legitimate successor of John I of France, the short-lived son of deceased Louis X of France in favour of Philip V of France (brother of Louis and uncle of John) over Joan II of Navarre (daughter of Louis and sister of John), the Estates-General of 1317 ruling that "Women do not succeed the kingdom of France". In 1328, it was further elaborated, with the statement that "Women cannot transmit a right which they do not possess", to solve the dispute over the legitimate successor of Philip V's brother Charles IV of France (Edward III of England or Philip VI of France), though the former would have a stronger claim should proximity of blood be considered, which had never been the case in France since 987, instead as well of both agnatic-cognatic primogeniture or male-preference cognatic primogeniture and the resulting heirs. This dispute was among the factors behind the Hundred Years' War, which broke out in 1337.

Conflict between the Salic law and the male-preferred system was also the genesis of Carlism in Spain and Miguelism in Portugal.

The crowns of Hanover and Great Britain, which had been in personal union since 1714, were separated in 1837 upon the death of King William IV: his niece Victoria inherited the British crown under male-preference primogeniture but, because of semi-Salic law, was not the heir to that of Hanover, which passed to William's eldest surviving brother, Ernest Augustus, King of Hanover.

The divergence in the late 19th century of the thrones of Luxembourg and the Netherlands, both subject to semi-Salic law, resulted from the fact that the Luxembourg line of succession went back more generations than did the Dutch line. The Luxembourg succession was set by the Nassau House Treaty of 1783, which declared each prince of the House of Nassau to be a potential heir to the territories of every branch of the dynasty. Insofar as the succession is concerned, the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg is the successor state to the Principality of (Orange-)Nassau-Dietz, which was given in exchange to William VI of Nassau, Prince of Orange in 1813. Succession to the new Kingdom of the Netherlands was recognised by the Congress of Vienna in 1815 as belonging exclusively to the descendants of Prince William VI, who became King William I of the Netherlands. In 1890, William I's agnatic line of male descendants died out, leaving the Netherlands to his female descendant Queen Wilhelmina, whereas Luxembourg still had an agnatic heir from a distant branch of the dynasty left to succeed; ex-Duke Adolf of Nassau, who became reigning Grand Duke, thus ending the personal union of the Netherlands and Luxembourg.

Since the Middle Ages, the semi-Salic principle was prevalent for the inheritance of feudal land in the Holy Roman Empire: inheritance was allowed through females when the male line expired. Females themselves did not inherit, but their male issue could. For example, a grandfather without sons was succeeded by his grandson, the son of his daughter, although the daughter still lived. Likewise, an uncle without sons of his own was succeeded by his nephew, a son of his sister, even if the sister still lived.

Common in feudal Europe outside of Germany was land inheritance based on a form of primogeniture: A lord was succeeded by his eldest son but, failing sons, either by daughters or sons of daughters. In most medieval Western European feudal fiefs, females (such as daughters and sisters) were allowed to succeed, brothers failing. But usually the husband of the heiress became the real lord, assuming his wife's title (jure uxoris).

In more complex medieval cases, the sometimes conflicting principles of proximity of blood and primogeniture competed, and outcomes were at times unpredictable. Proximity meant that an heir closer in degree of kinship to the lord in question was given precedence although that heir was not necessarily the heir by primogeniture.

  • The Burgundian succession in 1361 was resolved in favor of King John II, son of a younger daughter, on basis of blood proximity, being a nearer cousin of the dead duke than Charles II of Navarre, grandson of the elder daughter and son of Jeanne. John was only one generation of consanguinity removed from the late duke instead of two for Charles.
  • In dispute over the Scottish succession, 1290–92, the Bruce family pleaded tanistry and proximity of blood, whereas Balliol argued his claim based on primogeniture. The arbiter, Edward I of England, decided in favor of primogeniture. But later, the Independence Wars reverted the situation in favor of the Bruce, due to political exigency.
  • The Earldom of Gloucester (in the beginning of 14th century) went to full sisters of the dead earl, not to his half-sisters, though they were elder, having been born of the father's first marriage, while the earl himself was from second marriage. Full siblings were considered higher in proximity than half-siblings.

However, primogeniture increasingly won legal cases over proximity in later centuries.

Later, when lands were strictly divided among noble families and tended to remain fixed, agnatic primogeniture (practically the same as Salic Law) became usual: succession going to the eldest son of the monarch; if the monarch had no sons, the throne would pass to the nearest male relative in the male line.

Some countries, however, accepted female rulers early on, so that if the monarch had no sons, the throne would pass to the eldest daughter. For example, in 1632 Christina, Queen of Sweden succeeded to the throne after the death of her father, King Gustav II Adolf.

In England, primogeniture was mandatory for inheritance of land. Until the Statute of Wills was passed in 1540, a will could control only the inheritance of personal property. Real estate (land) passed to the eldest male descendant by operation of law. The statute added a provision that a landowner could "devise" land by the use of a new device called a "testament". The rule of primogeniture in England was not changed until the Administration of Estates Act in 1925. In law, primogeniture is the rule of inheritance whereby land descends to the oldest son. Under the feudal system of medieval Europe, primogeniture generally governed the inheritance of land held in military tenure (see knight). The effect of this rule was to keep the father's land for the support of the son who rendered the required military service. When feudalism declined and the payment of a tax was substituted for military service, the need for primogeniture disappeared. In England, consequently, there was enacted the Statute of Wills (1540), which permitted the oldest son to be entirely cut off from inheriting, and in the 17th century military tenure was abolished; primogeniture is, nevertheless, still customary in England.

United States and Canada

In the United States, the colonies followed English primogeniture laws. Carole Shammas argues that issues of primogeniture, dower, curtesy, strict family settlements in equity, collateral kin, and unilateral division of real and personal property were fully developed in the colonial courts. The Americans differed little from English policies regarding the status of widow, widower, and lineal descendants.[19] The primogeniture laws were repealed at the time of the American Revolution. Thomas Jefferson took the lead in repealing the law in Virginia, where nearly three-fourths of Tidewater land and perhaps a majority of western lands were entailed.[20] Canada had the same law but repealed it in 1851.[21]

When Winston Churchill and Franklin Roosevelt met at Placentia Bay in August 1941, the latter said he couldn’t understand the British aristocracy’s concept of primogeniture, and he intended to divide his estate equally between his five children; Churchill explained that an equal distribution was nicknamed the “Spanish Curse” by the British upper classes: “We give everything to the eldest and the others strive to duplicate it and found empires. While the oldest, having it all, marries for beauty. Which accounts, Mr President, for my good looks”. But as Churchill’s father was a younger son, there may have been more modesty than mock-vanity than Roosevelt realised.[22]

Noble titles

Spain

In 2006, King Juan Carlos I of Spain decreed a reform of the succession to noble titles from male-preference primogeniture to absolute primogeniture.[23][24]

The order of succession for all noble dignities is determined in accordance with the title of concession and, if there is none, with that traditionally applied in these cases. When the order of succession to the title is not specified in the nobility title creation charter, the following rules apply:

  • Absolute preference is given to the direct descending line over the collateral and ascending line, and, within the same line, the closest degree takes precedence over the more remote and, within the same degree, the elder over the younger, combined with the principles of firstborn and representation.
  • Men and women have an equal right of succession to grandeeship and to titles of nobility in Spain, and no person may be given preference in the normal order of succession for reasons of gender.

United Kingdom

Since 2013, there has been a revived movement to reform hereditary peerage inheritance law for equal primogeniture. The Equality (Titles) Bill and its successive legislation have been referred to as the "Downton law" in reference to the British television drama Downton Abbey where the earl's eldest daughter is unable to inherit the family seat because it is entailed and can be passed only to a male heir.[25]

See also

References

  1. ^ SOU 1977:5 Kvinnlig tronföljd, p. 16.
  2. ^ a b c Arrizabalaga, Marie-Pierre (2005). "Succession strategies in the Pyrenees in the 19th century: The Basque case". The History of the Family. 10 (3): 271–292. doi:10.1016/j.hisfam.2005.03.002.
  3. ^ "New Kerala".
  4. ^ Watt, Nicholas (28 October 2011). "Royal equality act will end succession of firstborn male – rather than older sister". The Guardian. Retrieved 28 October 2011.
  5. ^ a b c Murphy, Michael Dean. "A Kinship Glossary: Symbols, Terms, and Concepts". Retrieved 5 October 2006.
  6. ^ "Life in the Cloudy Imperial Fishbowl," Japan Times. 27 March 2007.
  7. ^ de Tocqueville, Alexis (1835). "3-The Social Condition of the Anglo-Americans". Democracy in America.
  8. ^ Nordisk familjebok, Tronföljd, 1920; SOU 1977:5 Kvinnlig tronföljd.
  9. ^ Genesis 25:25
  10. ^ Genesis 25:26
  11. ^ Genesis 25:31–34
  12. ^ a b HN.psu.edu Smith, Adam, (1776), Penn State Electronic Classics edition, republished 2006, p. 312.
  13. ^ Millar, Fergus (1983). "Empire and City, Augustus to Julian: Obligations, Excuses and Status". Journal of Roman Studies. 73: 87–88. doi:10.2307/300073. JSTOR 300073.
  14. ^ Hopkins, Keith (2000). "The Political Economy of the Roman Empire," in The Dynamics of Ancient Empires: State Power from Assyria to Byzantium (Oxford University Press), p. 188.
  15. ^ Hopkins, The Political Economy of the Roman Empire, p. 188.
  16. ^ Millar. "Empire and City". p. 90, calls them "status-appellations".
  17. ^ Winterling, Aloys. Politics and Society in Imperial Rome. (John Wiley & Sons, 2009, originally published 1988 in German). p. 16.
  18. ^ HN.psu.edu Smith, Adam (1776), Penn State Electronic Classics edition, republished 2005, pp. 312–313.
  19. ^ Shammas, Carole (1987). "English inheritance law and its transfer to the colonies". American Journal of Legal History. 31 (2): 145–163. doi:10.2307/845880. JSTOR 845880.
  20. ^ Brewer, Holly (1997). "Entailing Aristocracy in Colonial Virginia:" Ancient Feudal Restraints" and Revolutionary Reform". William and Mary Quarterly. 54 (2): 307–346. doi:10.2307/2953276. JSTOR 2953276.
  21. ^ Gerald Hallowell, ed., The Oxford Companion to Canadian History (2004), p 502.
  22. ^ Roberts, Andrew (2009). Masters and Commanders: The Military Geniuses who Led the West to Victory in World War II. London: Penguin. p. 53. ISBN 978-0-141-02926-9.
  23. ^ "Nobility and Grandee Titles". Spanish Ministry of Justice. Archived from the original on 2009-08-03. Retrieved May 31, 2009.
  24. ^ According to the Spanish Ministry of Justice, the default custom of succession is absolute primogeniture, but the titleholder may designate his or her successor or distribute titles among children, provided that the eldest inherits the highest title unless he waives that right.
  25. ^ Graham, Georgia (29 December 2013). "Ladies who could soon be a leaping". The Telegraph.
Cadet branch

In history and heraldry, a cadet branch consists of the male-line descendants of a monarch or patriarch's younger sons (cadets). In the ruling dynasties and noble families of much of Europe and Asia, the family's major assets—realm, titles, fiefs, property and income—have historically been passed from a father to his firstborn son in what is known as primogeniture; younger sons—cadets—inherited less wealth and authority to pass to future generations of descendants.

In families and cultures in which this was not the custom or law, as in the feudal Holy Roman Empire, equal distribution of the family's holdings among male members was eventually apt to so fragment the inheritance as to render it too small to sustain the descendants at the socio-economic level of their forefather. Moreover, brothers and their descendants sometimes quarreled over their allocations, or even became estranged. While agnatic primogeniture became a common way of keeping the family's wealth intact and reducing familial disputes, it did so at the expense of younger sons and their descendants. Both before and after adoption of inheritance by primogeniture, younger brothers sometimes vied with older brothers to be chosen their father's heir or, after the choice was made, sought to usurp the elder's birthright.

Crown prince

A crown prince is the male heir apparent to the throne in a royal or imperial monarchy. Its female form is crown princess, which may refer either to an heir apparent or, especially in earlier times, the wife of the person styled crown prince.

Crown prince as a descriptive term has been used throughout history for the prince being first in line to a throne and is expected to succeed (i.e. the heir apparent) barring any unforeseen future event preventing this. In certain monarchies, a more specific substantive title may be accorded and become associated with the position of heir apparent (e.g. Prince of Asturias in Spain, Prince of Wales in the United Kingdom). In these monarchies, the term crown prince may be used less often than the substantive title (or never).

Until the late twentieth century, no modern monarchy adopted a system whereby females would be guaranteed to succeed to the throne (i.e. absolute primogeniture). A crown princess would therefore more likely refer to the spouse of a crown prince and would be styled crown princess not in her own right but by courtesy.

Danish Act of Succession

The Danish Act of Succession of 27 March 1953 was accepted after a 1953 referendum in Denmark and dictates the rules governing the line of succession to the Danish throne. The 1953 referendum changed the act so that it became possible for a woman to inherit the throne in the event that she has no older or younger brothers, a system known as male-preference cognatic preference primogeniture. As the reigning King Frederick IX had three daughters and no sons, this meant that Princess Margrethe became the heir presumptive instead of her uncle Prince Knud. As Frederick IX's wife Ingrid of Sweden was not expected to (and in fact did not) have any more children, this effectively ensured that Princess Margrethe would become Queen of Denmark, which she did.

Following a referendum in 2009 the Act of Succession was amended so that primogeniture no longer puts males over females. In other words, the first-born child would become heir to the throne regardless of the child's gender. The expected result of the referendum was on the balance, since 40% of the entire electorate had to vote yes in order to make the change. However the succession amendment was confirmed by a larger turnout especially in rural areas. The change of the act had no effect on the actual line of succession at that time, but it does affect the current (as of 2018) line of succession: it puts Princess Isabella ahead of her younger brother Prince Vincent (who was born in the year 2011).

Heir apparent

An heir apparent or heiress apparent is a person who is first in a line of succession and cannot be displaced from inheriting by the birth of another person. An heir presumptive, by contrast, is someone who is first in line to inherit a title but who can be displaced by the birth of a more eligible heir.

Today these terms most commonly describe heirs to hereditary titles (e.g. titles of nobility) or offices, especially when only inheritable by a single person. Most monarchies refer to the heir apparent of their thrones with the descriptive term of crown prince but these heirs may also be accorded with a more specific substantive title, such as Prince of Orange in the Netherlands, Duke of Brabant in Belgium, Prince of Asturias in Spain, or Prince of Wales in the United Kingdom and the other Commonwealth realms. In France the title was le Dauphin, in Imperial Russia it was Tsesarevich.The term is also used metaphorically to indicate an "anointed" successor to any position of power, e.g. a political or corporate leader.

This article primarily describes the term heir apparent in a hereditary system regulated by laws of primogeniture—as opposed to cases where a monarch has a say in naming the heir.

Line of hereditary succession

Successor to hereditary title, office or like, in case of the heritage being indivisible, goes to one person at a time. There are also other sorts of order of succession than hereditary succession (such as line of non-hereditary succession to democratic state offices).

The hereditary line of succession may be limited to heirs of the body, or may pass also to collateral lines, in case of extinction of heirs of the body, depending on the succession rules. These concepts are in use in English inheritance law.

Main concepts for hereditary succession are usually either heir male or heir general – see further primogeniture (agnatic, cognatic, and also equal).

Certain types of property pass to a descendant or relative of the original holder, recipient or grantee according to a fixed order of kinship. Upon the death of the grantee, a designated inheritance such as a peerage, or a monarchy, passes automatically to that living, legitimate, non-adoptive relative of the grantee who is most senior in descent, regardless of the relative age; and thereafter continues to pass to subsequent successors of the grantee, according to the same formula, upon the death of each subsequent heir.

Each person who inherits according to this formula is considered an heir at law of the grantee and the inheritance may not pass to someone who is not a natural, lawful descendant or relative of the grantee.

Collateral kin, who share some or all of the grantee's ancestry, but do not directly descend from the grantee, may inherit if there is no limitation to heirs of the body.

There are other kinds of formulae for inheritance, if the heritage can be divided: heirs portioners and partible inheritance.

"Heir male" is a genealogical term which specifically means "senior male by masculine primogeniture in the legitimate descent of an individual"

Line of succession to the Luxembourger throne

Since 2011, the crown of Luxembourg descends according to absolute primogeniture among Grand Duke Henri's descendants and according to agnatic primogeniture among other dynasts.

List of English monarchs

This list of kings and queens of the Kingdom of England begins with Alfred the Great, King of Wessex, one of the seven Anglo-Saxon kingdoms (Heptarchy) which made up modern England. Alfred styled himself King of the Anglo-Saxons from about 886, and while he was not the first king to claim to rule all of the English, his rule represents the start of the first unbroken line of kings to rule the whole of England, the House of Wessex. The last monarch of a distinct kingdom of England was Anne, who became Queen of Great Britain when England merged with Scotland to form a union in 1707.

Arguments are made for a few different kings deemed to control enough of the Heptarchy to be deemed the first king of England. For example, Offa, king of Mercia, and Egbert, king of Wessex, are sometimes described as kings of England by popular writers, but it is no longer the majority view of historians that their wide dominions are part of a process leading to a unified England, as highlighted by historian Simon Keynes stating, for example, that "Offa was driven by a lust for power, not a vision of English unity; and what he left was a reputation, not a legacy." This refers to a period in the late 8th century when Offa achieved a dominance over many of the kingdoms of southern England, but this did not survive his death in 796.In 829 Egbert of Wessex conquered Mercia, but he soon lost control of it. It was not until the late 9th century that one kingdom, Wessex, had become the dominant Anglo-Saxon kingdom. Its king, Alfred the Great, was overlord of western Mercia and used the title King of the Angles and Saxons, but he never ruled eastern and northern England, which was then known as the Danelaw, having earlier been conquered by the Danes from Scandinavia. His son Edward the Elder conquered the eastern Danelaw, but Edward's son Æthelstan became the first king to rule the whole of England when he conquered Northumbria in 927, and he is regarded by some modern historians as the first true king of England. The title "King of the English" or Rex Anglorum in Latin, was first used to describe Æthelstan in one of his charters in 928.

The Principality of Wales was incorporated into the Kingdom of England under the Statute of Rhuddlan in 1284, and in 1301 King Edward I invested his eldest son, the future King Edward II, as Prince of Wales. Since that time, except for King Edward III, the eldest sons of all English monarchs have borne this title.

After the death of Queen Elizabeth I without issue, in 1603, King James VI of Scotland also became James I of England, joining the crowns of England and Scotland in personal union. By royal proclamation, James styled himself "King of Great Britain", but no such kingdom was actually created until 1707, when England and Scotland united to form the new Kingdom of Great Britain, with a single British parliament sitting at Westminster, during the reign of Queen Anne.

List of heirs to the Swedish throne

This page is a list of heirs to the Swedish throne. The list includes all individuals who were considered to inherit the throne of the Kingdom of Sweden, either as heir apparent or as heir presumptive, since the accession of the House of Holstein-Gottorp on 25 March 1751. Those who succeeded as King of Sweden are shown in bold.

In 1809 a coup d'état against King Gustav IV replaced him with his uncle Karl XIII. As the new king was childless, he and the ruling government arranged for the adoption of an heir to succeed him The new constitution also suppressed male-preference primogeniture in favour of strict male-line primogeniture.

Lists of monarchs in the Americas

This list of monarchs in the Americas includes all monarchs who have reigned the various kingdoms and territories that have existed in the Americas throughout recorded history.

Monarch

A monarch is a sovereign head of state in a monarchy. A monarch may exercise the highest authority and power in the state, or others may wield that power on behalf of the monarch. Typically a monarch either personally inherits the lawful right to exercise the state's sovereign rights (often referred to as the throne or the crown) or is selected by an established process from a family or cohort eligible to provide the nation's monarch. Alternatively, an individual may become monarch by conquest, acclamation or a combination of means. A monarch usually reigns for life or until abdication.

If a young child is crowned the monarch, a regent is often appointed to govern until the monarch reaches the requisite adult age to rule. Monarchs' actual powers vary from one monarchy to another and in different eras; on one extreme, they may be autocrats (absolute monarchy) wielding genuine sovereignty; on the other they may be ceremonial heads of state who exercise little or no direct power or only reserve powers, with actual authority vested in a parliament or other body (constitutional monarchy).

A monarch can reign in multiple monarchies simultaneously. For example, the monarchy of Canada and the monarchy of the United Kingdom are separate states, but they share the same monarch through personal union.

Monarchies of Malaysia

The monarchies of Malaysia refer to the constitutional monarchy system as practised in Malaysia. The political system of Malaysia is based on the Westminster parliamentary system, with the features of a federation.

Nine of the states of Malaysia are constitutionally headed by traditional Malay rulers, collectively referred to as the Malay states. State constitutions limit eligibility for the thrones to male Malay Muslims of royal descent. Seven are hereditary monarchies based on agnatic primogeniture: Kedah, Kelantan, Johor, Perlis, Pahang, Selangor and Terengganu. In Perak, the throne rotates among three branches of the royal family loosely based on agnatic seniority. One state, Negeri Sembilan, is an elective monarchy; the ruler is elected from male members of the royal family by hereditary chiefs. All rulers, except those of Perlis and of Negeri Sembilan, use the title of Sultan. The ruler of Perlis is styled the Raja, whereas the ruler of Negeri Sembilan is known as the Yang di-Pertuan Besar.

Every five years or when a vacancy occurs, the rulers convene as the Conference of Rulers (Malay: Majlis Raja-Raja) to elect among themselves the Yang di-Pertuan Agong, the federal constitutional monarch and head of state of Malaysia. As the Yang di-Pertuan Agong is elected among the rulers, Malaysia, as a whole, is also an elective monarchy.

Monarchy

A monarchy is a form of government in which a group, generally a group of people comprising a dynasty, embodies the country's national identity and its head, the monarch, exercises the role of sovereign. The power of the monarch may vary from purely symbolic (crowned republic), to partial and restricted (constitutional monarchy), to completely autocratic (absolute monarchy). In most cases the monarch's position is inherited and lasts until death or abdication. In contrast, elective monarchies require the monarch to be elected. Both types have further variations as there are widely divergent structures and traditions defining monarchy. For example, in some elected monarchies family history is the only criterion for eligibility to be monarch, whereas many hereditary monarchies impose requirements regarding the religion, age, gender, or mental capacity. Occasionally this can result in more than one rival claimants, whose legitimacy is subject to election. There have been cases where the term of a monarch's reign either is fixed in years or continues until certain conditions are satisfied: an invasion being repulsed, for instance.

Monarchic rule was the most common form of government until the 20th century. Nowadays most monarchs are constitutional monarchs, who retain a unique legal and ceremonial role, but exercise limited or no political power, as under the nation's constitution others have governing authority. Currently, 45 sovereign nations in the world have monarchs acting as heads of state, 16 of which are Commonwealth realms that recognise Queen Elizabeth II as their head of state. Most modern European monarchies are constitutional and hereditary with a largely ceremonial role. Exceptions are the Vatican City, which is an elective theocracy, and the Principalities of Liechtenstein and Monaco where the monarchs exercise partly restricted authority. The monarchies of Cambodia and Malaysia are constitutional with a largely ceremonial role, despite possessing significantly more social and legal clout than their European counterparts. The monarchs of Brunei, Morocco, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Eswatini have more political influence than any other single source of authority in their nations, either by tradition or by a constitutional mandate.

Order of succession

An order of succession or right of succession is the sequence of those entitled to hold a high office such as head of state or an honor such as a title of nobility in the order in which they stand in line to it when it becomes vacated. This sequence may be regulated through descent or by statute.Hereditary government form differs from elected government. An established order of succession is the normal way of passing on hereditary positions, and also provides immediate continuity after an unexpected vacancy in cases where office-holders are chosen by election: the office does not have to remain vacant until a successor is elected. In some cases the successor takes up the full role of the previous office-holder, as in the case of the presidency of many countries; in other non-hereditary cases there is not a full succession, but a caretaker chosen by succession criteria assumes some or all of the responsibilities, but not the formal office, of the position. For example, when the position of President of India becomes vacant, the Vice-President of India carries out the essential functions of the presidency until a successor is elected; in contrast, when the position of President of the Philippines is vacant, the Vice-President of the Philippines outright assumes the presidency itself for the rest of the term.

Organizations without hereditary or statutory order of succession require succession planning if power struggles prompted by power vacuums are to be avoided.

Queen regnant

A queen regnant (plural: queens regnant) is a female monarch, equivalent in rank to a king, who reigns in her own right, as opposed to a queen consort, who is the wife of a reigning king, or a queen regent, who is the guardian of a child monarch and reigns temporarily in the child's stead.

An empress regnant is a female monarch who reigns in her own right over an empire.

A queen regnant possesses and exercises sovereign powers, whereas a queen consort shares her husband's rank and titles, but does not share the sovereignty of her husband. The husband of a queen regnant traditionally does not share his wife's rank, title or sovereignty. However, the concept of a king consort is not unheard of in both contemporary and classical periods.

A queen dowager is the widow of a king. A queen mother is a queen dowager who is also the mother of a reigning sovereign.

Succession to the Dutch throne

Since 1983, the crown of the Netherlands passes according to absolute primogeniture. From 1814 until 1887, a monarch could only be succeeded by their closest female relative if there were no eligible male relatives. Male-preference cognatic primogeniture was adopted in 1887, though abolished when absolute primogeniture was introduced in 1983. Proximity of blood has been taken into consideration since 1922, when the constitution was changed to limit the line of succession to three degrees of kinship from the current monarch.

Succession to the Spanish throne

Spain uses the system of male-preference cognatic primogeniture. Dynasts who marry against the express prohibition of the monarch and the Cortes are excluded from the succession together with their descendants. A prohibition expressed only by the monarch or only by the Cortes will have no consequences to the succession. Disputes about the succession are to be settled by legislation.

Upon his succeeding to the throne, the monarch is required by article 61(1) of the 1978 constitution to take an oath on the occasion of his being proclaimed before the Cortes Generales.

Succession to the Swedish throne

The line of succession to the Swedish throne is determined by the Act of Succession (Swedish: Successionsordningen), originally approved jointly by the Riksdag of the Estates assembled in Örebro and King Charles XIII in 1810.In 1979, the Riksdag introduced absolute primogeniture, meaning that the eldest child of the monarch, regardless of gender, is first in the line of succession. The change entered into force on 1 January 1980, making Sweden the first country to adopt absolute primogeniture. The Swedish crown had previously (since 1810) descended according to agnatic primogeniture, meaning that only males could inherit it.

Swedish Act of Succession

The 1810 Act of Succession (Swedish: 1810 års successionsordning; in English literally The 1810 order of succession) is one of four Fundamental Laws of the Realm (Swedish: rikets grundlagar) and thus forms part of the Swedish Constitution. The Act regulates the line of succession to the Swedish Throne and the conditions which eligible members of the Swedish Royal Family must abide by in order to remain in it.

It was jointly adopted by the Riksdag of the Estates, convened in Örebro on 26 September 1810, and Charles XIII, as a logical consequence following the election on 21 August of Jean Baptiste Bernadotte as Crown Prince.

The actual contents of the Act, save the solemn preamble, has been thoroughly rewritten over the years: the most notable change occurred in 1980 when the core principle of agnatic primogeniture (male succession only) was changed in favor of absolute primogeniture (eldest child regardless of sex).

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