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Primogeniture ( ) is the right, by law or custom, of the firstborn legitimate child to
inherit Inherit may refer to: * Inheritance, passing on of property after someone's death * Heredity, passing of genetic traits to offspring * Inheritance (object-oriented programming), way to compartmentalize and re-use computer code * Inherit (album), '' ...

inherit
the parent's entire or main
estate Estate or The Estate may refer to: Law * Estate (law), a term in common law for a person's property, entitlements and obligations * Estates of the realm, a broad social category in the histories of certain countries. ** The Estates, representative ...
in preference to shared inheritance among all or some children, any illegitimate child or any collateral relative. In most contexts it means the inheritance of the firstborn son (agnatic primogeniture); it can also mean by the firstborn daughter (matrilineal primogeniture).


Description

The common definition given is also known as male-line primogeniture, the classical form popular in European jurisdictions among others until into the 20th century. In the absence of male-line offspring, variations were expounded to entitle 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). Variations have tempered the traditional, sole-beneficiary, right (such as French
appanage An appanage, or apanage (; french: apanage ), is the grant of an estate, title, office or other thing of value to a younger child of a sovereign, who would otherwise have no inheritance under the system of primogeniture Primogeniture ( ) i ...
) or, in the West since World War II, eliminate the preference for males over females (absolute male-preference primogeniture). Most monarchies in Western Europe have eliminated this, in succession:
Belgium Belgium ( nl, België ; french: Belgique ; german: Belgien ), officially the Kingdom of Belgium, is a country in Western Europe Western Europe is the western region of Europe. The region's countries and territories vary depending on cont ...
,
Denmark Denmark ( da, Danmark, ) is a Nordic country The Nordic countries, or the Nordics, are a geographical and cultural region In geography, regions are areas that are broadly divided by physical characteristics ( physical geography), hu ...
,
Luxembourg Luxembourg ( ; lb, Lëtzebuerg ; french: link=no, Luxembourg; german: link=no, Luxemburg), officially the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg, ; french: link=no, Grand-Duché de Luxembourg ; german: link=no, Großherzogtum Luxemburg is a landlocked ...
,
Netherlands ) , national_anthem = ( en, "William of Nassau") , image_map = EU-Netherlands.svg , map_caption = , image_map2 = BES islands location map.svg , map_caption2 = , image_map3 ...
,
Norway Norway, officially the Kingdom of Norway,Names in the official and recognised languages: Bokmål Bokmål (, ; literally "book tongue") is an official written standard for the Norwegian language Norwegian (Norwegian: ''norsk'') is a Nort ...
,
Sweden Sweden ( sv, Sverige ), officially the Kingdom of Sweden ( sv, links=no, Konungariket Sverige ), is a Nordic country The Nordic countries, or the Nordics, are a geographical and cultural region In geography, regions are areas that ...
and the
United Kingdom The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, commonly known as the United Kingdom (UK) or Britain,Usage is mixed. The Guardian' and Telegraph' use Britain as a synonym for the United Kingdom. Some prefer to use Britain as shorth ...
. English primogeniture endures mainly in titles of nobility: any first-placed direct male-line descendant (e.g. eldest son's son's son) inherits the title before siblings and similar, this being termed "by right of substitution" for the deceased heir; secondly where children were only daughters they would enjoy the fettered use (life use) of an equal amount of the underlying real asset and the substantive free use (such as one-half inheritance) would accrue to their most senior-line male descendant or contingent on her marriage ( moieties); thirdly, where the late estate holder had no descendants his oldest brother would succeed, and his descendants would likewise enjoy the rule of substitution where he had died. The effect of English primogeniture was to keep estates undivided wherever possible and to disinherit real property from female relations unless only daughters survived in which case the estate thus normally results in division. The principle has applied in history to inheritance of land as well as inherited titles and offices, most notably monarchies, continuing until modified or abolished. Other forms of inheritance in monarchies have existed or continue. The
Holy Roman Emperor The Holy Roman Emperor, originally and officially the Emperor of the Romans ( la, Imperator The Latin word "imperator" derives from the stem of the verb la, imperare, label=none, meaning 'to order, to command'. It was originally employed as ...
was selected for enthronement by a small number of powerful
prince elector Choosing the king. Above: the three ecclesiastical princes choosing the king, pointing at him. Middle: the Count Palatine of the Rhine hands over a golden bowl, acting as a servant. Behind him, the Duke of Saxony with his marshal's staff and th ...
s from among Europe's Christian males of inherited
nobility Nobility is a social class normally ranked immediately below Royal family, royalty and found in some societies that have a formal aristocracy (class), aristocracy. Nobility has often been an Estates of the realm, estate of the realm that p ...
. Currently,
succession to the Saudi Arabian throne The order of succession to the Saudi Arabian throne is determined by, and within, the House of Saud The House of Saud ( ar, آل سُعُود, ʾĀl Suʿūd ) is the ruling royal family A royal family is the immediate family of kings/ q ...
uses a form of lateral
agnatic seniority Agnatic seniority is a patrilineal Patrilineality, also known as the male line, the spear side or agnatic kinship, is a common kinship In , kinship is the web of social relationships that form an important part of the lives of all human ...
, as did the
Kievan Rus' Kievan Rus' ( orv, , Rusĭ, or , , "Rus' land") or Kyivan Rus', was a loose federation A federation (also known as a federal state) is a political entity A polity is an identifiable political entity—any group of people who have a ...
(see
Rota system The rota (or rotation) system or the lestvitsa system, from the Old Church Slavonic Old Church Slavonic or Old Slavonic (, ) was the first Slavic literary language. Historians credit the 9th-century Byzantine missionaries Saints Cyril and M ...
), the early
Kingdom of Scotland The Kingdom of Scotland ( gd, Rìoghachd na h-Alba; sco, Kinrick o Scotland) was a sovereign state in northwest Europe traditionally said to have been founded in 843. Its territories expanded and shrank, but it came to occupy the northern thi ...
(see
Tanistry Tanistry is a Gaelic Gaelic is an adjective that means "pertaining to the Gaels". As a noun it refers to the group of languages spoken by the Gaels, or to any one of the languages individually. Gaelic languages are spoken in Ireland, Scotland, ...
), the
Mongol Empire The Mongol Empire of the 13th and 14th centuries was the List of largest empires, largest contiguous land empire in history and the second largest empire by landmass, second only to the British Empire. Originating in Mongolia in East Asia, the ...
(see lateral succession) or the later
Ottoman Empire The Ottoman Empire (; ', ; or '; )info page on bookat Martin Luther University) // CITED: p. 36 (PDF p. 38/338). was an empire that controlled much of Southeastern Europe, Western Asia, and North Africa, Northern Africa between the 14th ...
(see succession practices). Research shows that authoritarian regimes that rely on primogeniture for succession were more stable than forms of authoritarian rule with alternative succession arrangements. Scholars have linked primogeniture to a decline in
regicide Regicide is the purposeful killing of a monarch or sovereign of a polity and is often associated with Usurper, the usurpation of power. A regicide can also be the person responsible for the killing. The word comes from the latin roots of ''re ...
, as clear rules of succession reduce the number of people who could replace a ruler and disincentivize the killing of the ruler.


Order of succession in monarchies today


Absolute primogeniture

''Absolute'', ''equal'', or ''lineal primogeniture'' is a form of primogeniture in which sex is irrelevant for inheritance; the oldest surviving child without regard to sex inherits the throne.


History

No monarchy implemented this form of primogeniture before 1980, when
Sweden Sweden ( sv, Sverige ), officially the Kingdom of Sweden ( sv, links=no, Konungariket Sverige ), is a Nordic country The Nordic countries, or the Nordics, are a geographical and cultural region In geography, regions are areas that ...

Sweden
amended its Act of Succession to adopt it in royal succession. This displaced King
Carl XVI Gustaf Carl XVI Gustaf (Carl Gustaf Folke Hubertus; born 30 April 1946) is King of Sweden. He ascended the throne on the death of his grandfather, King Gustaf VI Adolf, on 15 September 1973. He is the youngest child and only son of Prince Gustaf Adolf ...
's infant son,
Prince Carl Philip A prince is a Monarch, male ruler (ranked below a king, grand prince, and grand duke) or a male member of a monarch's or former monarch's family. ''Prince'' is also a title of nobility (often highest), often hereditary title, hereditary, in som ...
, in favor of his elder daughter,
Princess Victoria
Princess Victoria
. Several monarchies have since followed suit: the
Netherlands ) , national_anthem = ( en, "William of Nassau") , image_map = EU-Netherlands.svg , map_caption = , image_map2 = BES islands location map.svg , map_caption2 = , image_map3 ...

Netherlands
in 1983,
Norway Norway, officially the Kingdom of Norway,Names in the official and recognised languages: Bokmål Bokmål (, ; literally "book tongue") is an official written standard for the Norwegian language Norwegian (Norwegian: ''norsk'') is a Nort ...

Norway
in 1990,
Belgium Belgium ( nl, België ; french: Belgique ; german: Belgien ), officially the Kingdom of Belgium, is a country in Western Europe Western Europe is the western region of Europe. The region's countries and territories vary depending on cont ...

Belgium
in 1991,
Denmark Denmark ( da, Danmark, ) is a Nordic country The Nordic countries, or the Nordics, are a geographical and cultural region In geography, regions are areas that are broadly divided by physical characteristics ( physical geography), hu ...

Denmark
in 2009,
Luxembourg Luxembourg ( ; lb, Lëtzebuerg ; french: link=no, Luxembourg; german: link=no, Luxemburg), officially the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg, ; french: link=no, Grand-Duché de Luxembourg ; german: link=no, Großherzogtum Luxemburg is a landlocked ...

Luxembourg
in 2011. In 2011, the governments of the 16
Commonwealth realm A Commonwealth realm is a sovereign state A sovereign state is a polity, political entity represented by one centralized government that has sovereignty over a geographic area. International law defines sovereign states as having a perma ...
s which have a common monarch—Elizabeth II at that date—announced the
Perth Agreement The Perth Agreement is an agreement made by the prime ministers of those sixteen countries of the Commonwealth of Nations A commonwealth is a traditional English term for a political community founded for the common good. Historically it has so ...
, a plan to legislate changes to absolute primogeniture. This came into effect with the necessary legislation on 26 March 2015. Other monarchies have considered changing to absolute primogeniture: * With the birth of
Infanta Leonor of Spain Leonor, Princess of Asturias * ast, Lleonor * Basque, GalicianGalician may refer to: * Something of, from, or related to Galicia (Spain) ** Galician language ** Galician people ** Gallaeci, a large Celtic tribal federation who inhabited Gal ...
on 31 October 2005 to the then heir apparent
Felipe, Prince of Asturias Felipe VI or Philip VI (; Felipe Juan Pablo Alfonso de Todos los Santos de Borbón y Grecia; born 30 January 1968) is the King of Spain , coatofarms = Coat of Arms of Spanish Monarch.svg , coatofarms_article = Coat of arms of the King ...

Felipe, Prince of Asturias
, and
Princess Letizia Letizia Ortiz Rocasolano (; born 15 September 1972) is Queen consort of Spain, Queen of Spain, the wife of King Felipe VI. She came from a middle-class family and worked as a journalist for ''ABC (newspaper), ABC'' and EFE before becoming a ne ...
, the Spanish Prime Minister
José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero
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 A dynasty (, ) is a sequence of rulers from the same family,''Oxford English Dictionary'', "dynasty, ''n.''" Oxford University Press (Oxford), 1897. usually in the context of a feudalism, feudal or monarchy, monarchical system, but sometim ...
; 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
Nepal Nepal (; ne, नेपाल ), officially the Federal Democratic Republic of Nepal ( ne, सङ्घीय लोकतान्त्रिक गणतन्त्र नेपाल ), is a landlocked country in South Asia. It is ma ...

Nepal
ese government proposed adopting absolute primogeniture, but the monarchy was abolished in 2008 before the change could be effected. * In
Japan Japan ( ja, 日本, or , and formally ) is an island country An island country or an island nation is a country A country is a distinct territory, territorial body or political entity. It is often referred to as the land of an in ...

Japan
, it has been debated whether or not to adopt absolute primogeniture, as Princess Aiko is the only child of
Emperor Naruhito is the Emperor of Japan The Emperor of Japan is the monarch and the head of the Imperial House of Japan, Imperial Family of Japan. Under the Constitution of Japan, he is defined as the symbol of the Japanese state and the unity of the J ...

Emperor Naruhito
. However, the birth in 2006 of
Prince Hisahito is the youngest child and only son of Fumihito, Prince Akishino, Prince Fumihito and Kiko, Princess Akishino, Princess Kiko. He is the nephew of Emperor Naruhito and Line of succession to the Japanese throne, second in line to the throne after ...

Prince Hisahito
, a son of Prince Akishino (the younger brother of Naruhito, and next in line to the
Chrysanthemum Throne The is the throne A throne is the seat of state of a potentate or dignitary {{Short pages monitor until 2015, when the
Succession to the Crown Act 2013 The Succession to the Crown Act 2013 (c. 20) is an Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom The Parliament of the United Kingdom is the supreme legislative body A legislature is a deliberative assembly with the authority to make law ...
changed it to absolute primogeniture. This rule change was simultaneously adopted by all
Commonwealth realm A Commonwealth realm is a sovereign state A sovereign state is a polity, political entity represented by one centralized government that has sovereignty over a geographic area. International law defines sovereign states as having a perma ...
s that have the British monarch as their head of state. Male-preference primogeniture is currently practised in succession to the thrones of
Monaco Monaco (; ), officially the Principality of Monaco (french: Principauté de Monaco; Monégasque Ligurian: ''Prinçipatu de Mu̍negu''), is a sovereign Sovereign is a title which can be applied to the highest leader in various categories. The ...

Monaco
and
Spain , image_flag = Bandera de España.svg , image_coat = Escudo de España (mazonado).svg , national_motto = , national_anthem = , image_map = , map_caption = , image_map2 ...

Spain
(before 1700 and since
1830 It is known in European history as a rather tumultuous year with the Revolutions of 1830 The Revolutions of 1830 were a revolutionary wave in Europe which took place in 1830. It included two "Romantic nationalism, romantic nationalist" revolu ...
). With respect to
hereditary title Hereditary titles, in a general sense, are nobility Nobility is a social class normally ranked immediately below Royal family, royalty and found in some societies that have a formal aristocracy (class), aristocracy. Nobility has often bee ...
s, it is usually the rule for Scotland and
baronies by writ The hereditary peers form part of the peerages in the United Kingdom, peerage in the United Kingdom. As of 2021 there are 810 hereditary peers: List of dukes in the peerages of Britain and Ireland, 30 dukes (including six royal dukes), List of mar ...
in the United Kingdom, but baronies by writ go into
abeyance Abeyance (from the Old French Old French (, , ; Modern French French ( or ) is a Romance language of the Indo-European family. It descended from the Vulgar Latin of the Roman Empire, as did all Romance languages. French evolved from ...
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.


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 Queen Modjadji, or the Rain Queen, is the hereditary Queen regnant, queen of lobedu people, Balobedu, a people of the Limpopo Province of South Africa. The succession to the position of Rain Queen is matrilineal succession, matrilineal, so her d ...
is an example in an
Africa Africa is the world's second-largest and second-most populous continent A continent is any of several large landmass A landmass, or land mass, is a large region In geography Geography (from Greek: , ''geographia'', ...

Africa
n culture of
matrilineal Matrilineality is the tracing of kinship through the female line. It may also correlate with a social system in which each person is identified with their matriline – their mother's Lineage (anthropology), lineage – and which can inv ...
primogeniture: not only is
dynastic A dynasty (, ) is a sequence of rulers from the same family In human society, family (from la, familia) is a group of people related either by consanguinity (by recognized birth) or affinity (by marriage or other relationship). Th ...
descent reckoned through the female line, but only females are eligible to inherit. The Khasi Community of
Meghalaya Meghalaya (, or , meaning "abode of clouds"; from Sanskrit , "cloud" + , "abode") is a states and union territories of India, state in northeastern India. Meghalaya was formed by carving out two districts from the state of Assam: the United Kha ...

Meghalaya
, India is an example of matrilineal,
ultimogeniture Ultimogeniture, also known as postremogeniture or junior right, is the tradition of inheritance Inheritance is the practice of passing on private property, Title (property), titles, debts, entitlements, Privilege (law), privileges, rights, and ...
inheritance where the youngest daughter inherits all or the largest chunk of the ancestral estate. Elder sisters may also inherit shares of the family estate, but their shares are much lesser when compared to the share of the youngest sister. The sons may inherit a relatively small portion, or in most cases, they do not inherit any immovable property at all. In South India, the throne of the erstwhile
Kingdom of Travancore#REDIRECT Asterisk The asterisk , from Late Latin , from Ancient Greek Ancient Greek includes the forms of the Greek language used in ancient Greece and the classical antiquity, ancient world from around 1500 BC to 300 BC. It is often ...
was inherited only by the sons of the Queen of Attingal.


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/
prince A prince is a Monarch, male ruler (ranked below a king, grand prince, and grand duke) or a male member of a monarch's or former monarch's family. ''Prince'' is also a title of nobility (often highest), often hereditary title, hereditary, in so ...

prince
(the latter means in Latin, chieftain) most usually was, first and foremost, a military leader, as in the millennia-old
Book of Numbers The Book of Numbers (from Greek#REDIRECT Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, , ), officially the Hellenic Republic, is a country located in Southeast Europe. Its population i ...
. Social norms pointing to kings further flow from making clear, first-generation survivors, so to avoid
civil war A civil war, also known as an intrastate war in polemology, is a war between organized groups within the same Sovereign state, state (or country). The aim of one side may be to take control of the country or a region, to achieve independen ...
. Lacking advanced healthcare and resource-conscious
family planning Family planning services are “the ability of individuals and couples to anticipate and attain their desired number of children and the spacing and timing of their births. It is achieved through use of contraceptive methods and the treatment of i ...
, mothers faced high risk in enduring such regular childbirth. Also in pre-20th century medicine about 10% of women could not have children. Added to this, on any necessary remarriage from death in childbirth, the king would have socially entrenched powers over his new spouse:
financial Finance is a term for the management, creation, and study of money and investments. Pamela Drake and Frank Fabozzi (2009)What Is Finance?/ref> Specifically, it deals with the questions of how an individual, company or government acquires money ...
and any rivalry of a new queen consort by her personal and companions' physical strength was within the chivalric norm far-fetched so far as it might present a challenge to her ruling husband, if proving relatively able. Times of turbulence were more likely when a queen regnant/female main heir allowed to inherit was married to or remarried to a similar-status foreign leader, as was conventional for high-status women for their family security and diplomacy. Such a situation was a major source of civil wars; one example is the
Spanish Armada The Spanish Armada ( es, Grande y Felicísima Armada, links=no, lit=Great and Most Fortunate Navy) was a Habsburg Spanish fleet of 130 ships that sailed from Lisbon Lisbon (; pt, Lisboa ) is the capital and the largest city of Portugal ...

Spanish Armada
.
Henry VIII of England Henry VIII (28 June 149128 January 1547) was King of England from 22 April 1509 until his death in 1547. Henry is best known for Wives of Henry VIII, his six marriages, including his efforts to have his first marriage (to Catherine of Aragon ...
did not wait until death and remarried twice on the basis of lack of producing a male heir, on the second occasion beheading his queen "for witchcraft". A small minority of monarchs in many countries have openly made their heir an illegitimate child; stories abound of others as newborns brought to the expectant queen consort such as to
James II of England James II and VII (14 October 1633Old Style and New Style dates, O.S.16 September 1701) was King of England and King of Ireland as James II, and King of Scotland as James VII from the death of his elder brother, Charles II of England, Charles II ...

James II of England
"in a bedpan". Under any of these considerations: sons, some of whose lives were in times of war likely to be lost in battle, could be expected to produce more heirs. Eldest daughters could find themselves under a situation of duress on remarriage, and the concept of the trophy bride if the husband were slain is one resonant in many cultures especially before the 20th century. 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.
Japanese empresses The Empress of Japan is the title given to the wife of the Emperor of Japan. In Japanese, the empress consort is called . The current empress consort is Empress Masako, who ascended the throne with her husband on 1 May 2019. The term "Empress of J ...
such as
Empress Genshō was the 44th monarch of Japan,Imperial Household Agency (''Kunaichō'') 元正天皇 (44)/ref> according to the traditional order of succession An order of succession or right of succession is the line of individuals entitled to hold a high ...

Empress Genshō
(680–748), who succeeded her mother the (661–721) on the throne (but only because she was a Princess of the Imperial family, daughter of
Prince Kusakabe was a Japan , image_flag = Flag of Japan.svg , alt_flag = Centered deep red circle on a white rectangle , image_coat = Imperial Seal of Japan.svg , alt_coat = Golde ...
), remain the sole exceptions to this conventional argument.


Arguments


Arguments in favour

Primogeniture by definition prevents the subdivision of estates. This lessens family pressures to sell property, such as if two (or more) children inherit a house and cannot afford to buy out the other(s). In much of Europe younger sons of the nobility had no prospect of inheriting by death any property, and commonly sought careers in the Church, in military service (see
purchase of commissions in the British Army The purchase of officer commissions in the British Army was the practice of paying money to the Army be made an officer of a cavalry or infantry regiment of the English and later British Army The British Army is the principal Army, land warf ...
), or in government. Some wills made
bequest A bequest is property Property is a system of rights that gives people legal control of valuable things, and also refers to the valuable things themselves. Depending on the nature of the property, an owner of property may have the right to con ...
s to a
monastic order Monasticism (from Ancient Greek Ancient Greek includes the forms of the Greek language used in ancient Greece and the classical antiquity, ancient world from around 1500 BC to 300 BC. It is often roughly divided into the following periods ...
for an already suitably educated, disinherited son. Many of the Spanish
Conquistador Conquistadors (, ) or conquistadores (, ; meaning 'conquerors') were the invaders, knights, soldiers, and explorers of the Spanish Empire, Spanish and the Portuguese Empires. During the Age of Discovery, conquistadors sailed beyond Europe to t ...

Conquistador
s were younger sons who had to make their fortune in war. In the late 17th and early 18th centuries, many younger sons of
English English usually refers to: * English language English is a West Germanic languages, West Germanic language first spoken in History of Anglo-Saxon England, early medieval England, which has eventually become the World language, leading lan ...

English
aristocrats specifically chose to leave England for
Virginia Virginia (), officially the Commonwealth of Virginia, is a state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine published by the U.S. Department of State * The State (newspaper), '' ...

Virginia
in the Colonies. Many of the early Virginians who were
plantation A plantation is a large-scale estate, generally centered on a plantation house, meant for farming that specializes in cash crops. The crops that are grown include cotton, coffee, tea, cocoa, sugar cane, opium, sisal, oil seeds, oil pa ...

plantation
owners were younger sons of landed gentry who had left Britain and Ireland fortuneless due to primogeniture. These were key ancestors of the
Founding Fathers The following list of national founding figures is a record, by country, of people who were credited with establishing their nation. National founders are typically those who played an influential role in setting up the systems of governance, ...
of the
United States of America The United States of America (U.S.A. or USA), commonly known as the United States (U.S. or US) or America, is a country Continental United States, primarily located in North America. It consists of 50 U.S. state, states, a Washington, D.C., ...

United States of America
.


Arguments against

That the eldest son "scooped the pool" often led to ill-feeling amongst daughters and younger sons. 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 ''De La Démocratie en Amérique'' (; published in two volumes, the first in 1835 and the second in 1840) is a classic French text by Alexis de Tocqueville Alexis Charles Henri Clérel, comte de Tocqueville (; 29 July 180516 April 1859), col ...
'',
Alexis de Tocqueville#REDIRECT Alexis de Tocqueville Alexis Charles Henri Clérel, comte de Tocqueville (; 29 July 180516 April 1859), colloquially known as Tocqueville (), was a French aristocrat, diplomat, political scientist, political philosopher and historia ...

Alexis de Tocqueville
observes that abolition of primogeniture and
entail In English common law In law, common law (also known as judicial precedent or judge-made law, or ) is the body of law created by judges and similar quasi-judicial by virtue of being stated in written opinions. ' is the most-used legal dictiona ...
as to property results in faster division of land. However primogeniture's forcing landless people to seek wealth outside the family estate to maintain their
standard of living Standard of living is the level of income, comforts and services available, generally applied to a society or location, rather than to an individual. Standard of living is relevant because it is considered to contribute to an individual's quality ...
accelerated the death of the landed
aristocracy Aristocracy ( grc-gre, ἀριστοκρατία , from 'excellent', and , 'rule') is a form of government A government is the system or group of people governing an organized community, generally a state State may refer to: A ...
and, in his view, thus, quickened the shift to
democracy Democracy ( gr, δημοκρατία, ''dēmokratiā'', from ''dēmos'' 'people' and ''kratos'' 'rule') is a form of government in which people, the people have the authority to deliberate and decide legislation ("direct democracy"), or to cho ...

democracy
.


Other terms


Salic law

An
agnatic Patrilineality, also known as the male line, the spear side or agnatic kinship, is a common kinship In , kinship is the web of social relationships that form an important part of the lives of all humans in all societies, although its exact ...
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#REDIRECT Salic law The Salic law ( or ; la, Lex salica), or the was the ancient Salian Franks, Salian Frankish Civil law (legal system), civil law code compiled around AD 500 by the first Frankish King, Clovis I, Clovis. The written text is in La ...
" (see '' Terra salica''). This is something of a misnomer; although Salic law excludes female lines, it also mandates
partible inheritance Partible inheritance is a system of inheritance Inheritance is the practice of passing on private property Private property is a legal designation for the ownership of property by non-governmental legal entities. Private property is dist ...
, rather than primogeniture. This rule developed among successions in France in the later Middle Ages. In 1316, , the only surviving child of
Louis X of France Louis X (4 October 1289 – 5 June 1316), called the Quarrelsome, the Headstrong, or the Stubborn (french: le Hutin), was King of France The monarchs of the Kingdom of France ruled from the establishment of the West Francia, Kingdom of th ...

Louis X of France
, was debarred from the throne in favor of her uncle, . After this it was declared that women could not inherit the French throne. Then in 1328, after the death of
Charles IVCharles IV may refer to: * Charles IV of France (1294–1328), "the Fair" * Charles IV, Holy Roman Emperor (1316–1378) * Charles IV of Navarre (1421–1461) * Charles IV, Duke of Anjou (1446–1481) * Charles IV, Duke of Alençon (1489–1525) * C ...

Charles IV
, (Charles IV's paternal cousin), became king, notwithstanding the claims of
Edward III of England Edward III (13 November 1312 – 21 June 1377), also known as Edward of Windsor before his accession, was King of England This list of kings and queens of the begins with , who initially ruled , one of the which later made up modern En ...

Edward III of England
. By
proximity of blood Proximity of blood, or proximity by degree of kinship In , kinship is the web of social relationships that form an important part of the lives of all humans in all societies, although its exact meanings even within this discipline are often d ...
, Edward was closest related as eldest son of the sister of Charles, . 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 The Hundred Years’ War (french: link=yes, La guerre de Cent Ans; 1337–1453) was a series of armed conflicts between the kingdoms of and during the . It originated from disputed claims to the between the English and the French roy ...

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 Napoleon Bonaparte ; co, Napulione Buonaparte. (born Napoleone di Buonaparte; 15 August 1769 – 5 May 1821) was a French military and political leader who rose to prominence during the French Revolution The French Revolution ( ) r ...

Napoleon Bonaparte
's conquests, Salic law was adopted, including the
French Empire#REDIRECT French Empire {{Redirect shell , {{R from ambiguous page {{R from other capitalisation ...
, the
Kingdom of Westphalia The Kingdom of Westphalia was a kingdom in Germany, with a population of 2.6 million, that existed from 1807 to 1813. It included territory in Hesse Hesse (, , ) or Hessia (, ; german: Hessen ), officially the State of Hessen (german: links=n ...
, the
Kingdom of Holland The Kingdom of Holland ( nl, Holland (contemporary), ''Koninkrijk Holland'' (modern), french: Royaume de Hollande) was set up by Napoléon Bonaparte as a puppet kingdom for his third brother, Louis Bonaparte, in order to better control the N ...
and, under Napoleonic influence, the
House of Bernadotte The House of Bernadotte is the royal house of Sweden Sweden (; sv, Sverige ), officially the Kingdom of Sweden ( sv, links=no, Konungariket Sverige ), is a Nordic countries, Nordic country in Northern Europe.The United Nations Group of Exp ...
'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 Albania ( ; sq, Shqipëri or Shqipëria), officially the Republic of Albania ( sq, Republika e Shqipërisë), is a country in Southeastern Europe Southeast Europe or Southeastern Europe () is a geographical subregion A subregion is a par ...
,
Bulgaria Bulgaria (; bg, България, Bǎlgariya), officially the Republic of Bulgaria ( bg, Република България, links=no, Republika Bǎlgariya, ), is a country in Southeast Europe. It is bordered by Romania to the north, Serbia ...
,
Montenegro Montenegro (; cnr, Crna Gora, , , ; sq, Mali i zi) is a country in Southeastern Europe Southeast Europe or Southeastern Europe () is a geographical subregion A subregion is a part of a larger region In geography Geography (fro ...
,
Romania Romania ( ; ro, România ) is a country at the crossroads of Central Central is an adjective usually referring to being in the center (disambiguation), center of some place or (mathematical) object. Central may also refer to: Directions ...
, and
Serbia Serbia (, ; Serbian Serbian may refer to: * someone or something related to Serbia, a country in Southeastern Europe * someone or something related to the Serbs, a South Slavic people * in both meanings, depending on the context, it may ref ...
. During this era, Spain (in the Carlist conflicts) fought a
civil war A civil war, also known as an intrastate war in polemology, is a war between organized groups within the same Sovereign state, state (or country). The aim of one side may be to take control of the country or a region, to achieve independen ...
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 female dynasts to inherit, but not women themselves, an example being the
Francoist Francoist Spain ( es, España franquista), known in Spain as the Francoist dictatorship ( es, dictadura franquista), was the period of Spanish history between 1936 and 1975, when Francisco Franco ruled Spain with the title '' Caudillo''. Afte ...

Francoist
succession to the throne of Spain that was applied in 1947–1978.


British and French titles of nobility

Many descend by Salic, male primogeniture so have a greater average rate of extinction. Many others if the title is otherwise to be extinct pass to the closest elder sister or a line of descendants to the last holder, as abeyant holders, such being parents or ancestors to whichever direct male descendant is first born to 'settle the abeyance'. Some senior agnatic
cadets A cadet is an officer trainee or candidate. The term is frequently used to refer to those training to become an officer in the military, often a person who is a junior trainee. Its meaning may vary between countries. Usage by country Antig ...
are granted from the outset
courtesy Courtesy (from the word ''courteis'', from the 12th century) is gentle politeness and courtly manners. In the Middle Ages In the history of Europe, the Middle Ages or medieval period lasted from the 5th to the late 15th century. It ...
or
subsidiary A subsidiary, subsidiary company or daughter company is a company (law), company owned or controlled by another company, which is called the parent company or holding company. Two subsidiaries that belong to the same parent company are called sis ...
titles. Notable English exceptions are the
Duchy of Lancaster The Duchy of Lancaster is the private estate of the British sovereign The monarchy of the United Kingdom, commonly referred to as the British monarchy, is the constitutional monarchy A constitutional monarchy is a form of monarch ...
, which is merged with the
British Crown The Crown is the state (polity), state in all its aspects within the jurisprudence of the Commonwealth realms and their subdivisions (such as the Crown Dependencies, British Overseas Territories, overseas territories, Provinces and territorie ...

British Crown
which has included women in inheritance since the 16th century, and the
Dukedom of Marlborough Duke of Marlborough (pronounced ) is a title in the Peerage of England. It was created by Anne, Queen of Great Britain, Queen Anne in 1702 for John Churchill, 1st Duke of Marlborough, John Churchill, 1st Earl of Marlborough (1650–1722), the not ...
, which has done so since its establishment in 1702.


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. Such were the cases of
Bourbon SpainBourbon may refer to: Food and drink * Bourbon whiskey, an American whiskey made using a corn-based mash * Bourbon barrel aged beer, a type of beer aged in bourbon barrels * Bourbon biscuit, a chocolate sandwich biscuit * A beer produced by Brass ...
until 1833 and the dominions of
Austria-Hungary Austria-Hungary, often referred to as the Austro-Hungarian Empire or the Dual Monarchy, was a constitutional monarchy A constitutional monarchy, parliamentary monarchy, or democratic monarchy is a form of monarchy in which the monarch exe ...

Austria-Hungary
, as well as most realms within the former
Holy Roman Empire The Holy Roman Empire ( la, Sacrum Romanum Imperium; german: Heiliges Römisches Reich) was a multi-ethnic complex of territories in Western Western may refer to: Places *Western, Nebraska, a village in the US *Western, New York, a town i ...
, i.e. most German monarchies. This was also the law of
Russia Russia ( rus, link=no, Россия, Rossiya, ), or the Russian Federation, is a country spanning Eastern Europe Eastern Europe is the eastern region of . There is no consistent definition of the precise area it covers, partly because th ...

Russia
under the
Pauline Laws The Pauline Laws are the house laws of the House of Romanov The House of Romanov (also transcribed Romanoff; rus, Рома́новы, Románovy, rɐˈmanəvɨ) was the reigning dynasty, imperial house of Russia from 1613 to 1917. The Romanovs ...
of 1797 and of
Luxembourg Luxembourg ( ; lb, Lëtzebuerg ; french: link=no, Luxembourg; german: link=no, Luxemburg), officially the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg, ; french: link=no, Grand-Duché de Luxembourg ; german: link=no, Großherzogtum Luxemburg is a landlocked ...

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 Consanguinity ("blood relation", from Latin '':wikt: consanguinitas, consanguinitas'') is the characteristic of having a kinship with another person (being descended from a common ancestor). Many jurisdictions have laws prohibiting people who ar ...

consanguinity
or
proximity of blood Proximity of blood, or proximity by degree of kinship In , kinship is the web of social relationships that form an important part of the lives of all humans in all societies, although its exact meanings even within this discipline are often d ...
the dynasty's
house law House law or House laws (''Hausgesetze'') are rules that govern a royal family A royal family is the immediate family of kings/ queens, emirs/emiras, or sultans/ sultanas, and sometimes their extended family. The term imperial family approp ...
defines who among female relatives is "nearest" to the last male.


Quasi-Salic law

During
High Medieval The High Middle Ages, or High Medieval Period, was the period Period may refer to: Common uses * Era, a length or span of time * Full stop (or period), a punctuation mark Arts, entertainment, and media * Period (music), a concept in musical c ...
period there arose a trend where the extinction of agnatic lineage forced the consideration of women's claim, but the desire for a male heir saw the women themselves excluded from the succession in favor of their sons so that women could transmit claims but not inherit themselves. Such a system was called "quasi-Salic". In 1316, to illegitimize
Joan II of NavarreJoan may refer to: People and fictional characters *Joan (given name) Joan () is mainly a female name in English and a male name in Catalan language, Catalan/Valencian (, ) and Occitan (). It is related to the names John (name), John, Jane (given n ...

Joan II of Navarre
's claim on France,
Philip V of France Philip V (c. 1293 – 3 January 1322), known as the Tall (french: Philippe le Long), was King of France and Navarre Navarre (; es, Navarra ; eu, Nafarroa ; oc, Navarra ), officially the Chartered Community of Navarre ( es, Comunidad Fora ...

Philip V of France
declared "women do not succeed to the throne of France". In 1328, Philip's successor,
Charles IV of France Charles IVIn the standard numbering of French Kings, which dates to the reign of Charlemagne Charlemagne (; ) or Charles the Great or ''Carolus'', whence in English or in German (for this individual, specifically ''Karl der Große''). ...

Charles IV of France
also died sonless, Charles' sister,
Isabella of France Isabella of France ( – 22 August 1358), sometimes described as the She-Wolf of France (), was Queen of England as the wife of King Edward II Edward II (25 April 1284 – 21 September 1327), also called Edward of Caernarfon, ...

Isabella of France
, claimed the throne not for herself, but through her to her son,
Edward Edward is an English English usually refers to: * English language English is a West Germanic languages, West Germanic language first spoken in History of Anglo-Saxon England, early medieval England, which has eventually become the World ...

Edward
, however
Philip VI of France Philip VI (french: Philippe; 17 November 1293 – 22 August 1350), called the Fortunate (french: le Fortuné, link=no) and of Valois, was the first King of France from the House of Valois, reigning from 1328 until his death. Philip's reign was ...

Philip VI of France
took the throne and added another rule to illegitimate Edward, that being – one cannot transmit a right that she does not possess.


History

In Christian Europe, the
Catholic Church The Catholic Church, also known as the Roman Catholic Church, is the largest Christian church, with 1.3 billion baptised Baptism (from the Greek language, Greek noun βάπτισμα ''báptisma'') is a Christians, Christian ...

Catholic Church
originally had a monopoly on the authority to sanction marriage. Its teachings forbid polygamy and state divorce is an impossibility ''per se''. Consequently, in Europe, given morbidity and infertility succession could not be assured solely by direct male descendants or even direct male or female progeny. In
Islam Islam (; ar, اَلْإِسْلَامُ, al-’Islām, "submission o God Oh God may refer to: * An exclamation; similar to "oh no", "oh yes", "oh my", "aw goodness", "ah gosh", "ah gawd"; see interjection An interjection is a word or ex ...
ic and Asian cultures, religious officials and customs either sanctioned
polygyny Polygyny (; from Neoclassical Greek πολυγυνία from Wiktionary:πολύς, πολύ- ''poly-'' "many", and Wiktionary:γυνή, γυνή ''gyne'' "woman" or "wife") is the most common and accepted form of polygamy, entailing the marri ...
, 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

The earliest account of primogeniture to be known widely in modern times is that of
Isaac Isaac, ''Isaák''; ar, إسحٰق/إسحاق, ; am, ይስሐቅ is one of the three patriarchs The highest-ranking bishop A bishop is an ordained, consecrated, or appointed member of the Clergy#Christianity, Christian clergy who is gener ...

Isaac
's sons
Esau Esau ''Ēsaû''; la, Hesau, Esau; ar, عِيسَوْ ''‘Īsaw''; meaning "hairy"Easton, M. ''Illustrated Bible Dictionary'', (, , 2006, p. 236 or "rough".Mandel, D. ''The Ultimate Who's Who in the Bible'', (.), 2007, p. 175 is the elder son o ...

Esau
, who was born first, and
Jacob Jacob (; ; ar, يَعْقُوب, Yaʿqūb; gr, Ἰακώβ, Iakṓb), later given the name Israel Israel (; he, יִשְׂרָאֵל, translit=Yīsrāʾēl; ar, إِسْرَائِيل, translit=ʾIsrāʾīl), officially the State ...

Jacob
, who was born second. Esau was entitled to the "birthright" (''bekhorah'' בְּכוֹרָה), but he sold the right to Jacob for a
mess of pottage A mess of pottage is something immediately attractive but of little value taken foolishly and carelessly in exchange for something more distant and perhaps less tangible but immensely more valuable. The phrase alludes to Esau's sale of his Primog ...
, i. e. a small amount of lentil stew. This passage demonstrates that primogeniture was known in the
Middle East The Middle East ( ar, الشرق الأوسط, ISO 233 The international standard An international standard is a technical standard A technical standard is an established norm (social), norm or requirement for a repeatable technical task whi ...

Middle East
prior to the
Roman Empire The Roman Empire ( la, Imperium Rōmānum ; grc-gre, Βασιλεία τῶν Ῥωμαίων, Basileía tôn Rhōmaíōn) was the post-Republican Republican can refer to: Political ideology * An advocate of a republic, a type of governme ...

Roman Empire
. A woman's right and obligation to inherit property in the absence of a male heir in the family was recorded in the case of the
Daughters of Zelophehad The Daughters of Zelophehad ( he, בְּנוֹת צְלָפְחָד) were five sisters - Mahlah, Noa, Hoglah, Milcah, and Tirzah - mentioned in the Hebrew Bible The Hebrew Bible or Tanakh (; Hebrew: , or ), is the Biblical canon, canonical co ...
in Numbers 27.


Roman law

During the
Roman Empire The Roman Empire ( la, Imperium Rōmānum ; grc-gre, Βασιλεία τῶν Ῥωμαίων, Basileía tôn Rhōmaíōn) was the post-Republican Republican can refer to: Political ideology * An advocate of a republic, a type of governme ...

Roman Empire
,
Roman law Roman law is the law, legal system of ancient Rome, including the legal developments spanning over a thousand years of jurisprudence, from the Twelve Tables (c. 449 BC), to the ''Corpus Juris Civilis'' (AD 529) ordered by Eastern Roman emperor J ...
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 Intestacy is the condition of the estate of a person who dies without having in force a valid will Will may refer to: Common meanings * Will and testament A will or testament is a legal document that expresses a person's ( testator) wishe ...
.HN.psu.edu
Smith, Adam (1776), Penn State Electronic Classics edition, republished 2006, p. 312.
Although admission to the two highest '' ordines'' (orders), i.e. the Roman Senate, senators and equestrian order, equestrians, potentially brought lifelong privileges that the next generation could inherit, the principle of inherited rank in general was little used. 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. Although the eldest son typically carried Roman naming conventions, his father's name in some form, he was expected to construct his own cursus honorum, career based on competence as an legatus, administrator or general and on remaining in favor with the emperor and his council at court. 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 (Roman concept), dignitas'' ("esteem") that attended on senatorial or equestrian rank was refined further with additional titles, such as ''vir illustris'', that were not inherited. Most Roman emperors indicated their choice of successor, usually a close family member or Adoption in ancient Rome, 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. 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 Fiefdom, 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. Adam Smith, in his book ''The Wealth of Nations, An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations'', explains the origin of primogeniture in Europe in the following way:


Historical examples

A case of agnatic primogeniture is exemplified in the France, 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 Salic law#The succession in 1316, dispute over the legitimate successor of John I of France, the short-lived son of deceased
Louis X of France Louis X (4 October 1289 – 5 June 1316), called the Quarrelsome, the Headstrong, or the Stubborn (french: le Hutin), was King of France The monarchs of the Kingdom of France ruled from the establishment of the West Francia, Kingdom of th ...

Louis X of France
in favour of
Philip V of France Philip V (c. 1293 – 3 January 1322), known as the Tall (french: Philippe le Long), was King of France and Navarre Navarre (; es, Navarra ; eu, Nafarroa ; oc, Navarra ), officially the Chartered Community of Navarre ( es, Comunidad Fora ...

Philip V of France
(brother of Louis and uncle of John) over
Joan II of NavarreJoan may refer to: People and fictional characters *Joan (given name) Joan () is mainly a female name in English and a male name in Catalan language, Catalan/Valencian (, ) and Occitan (). It is related to the names John (name), John, Jane (given n ...

Joan II of Navarre
(daughter of Louis and sister of John), the ruling that "Women do not succeed the kingdom of France". In 1328 it was further elaborated to solve the Salic law#The succession in 1328, dispute over the legitimate successor of Philip V's brother,
Charles IV of France Charles IVIn the standard numbering of French Kings, which dates to the reign of Charlemagne Charlemagne (; ) or Charles the Great or ''Carolus'', whence in English or in German (for this individual, specifically ''Karl der Große''). ...

Charles IV of France
, in favour of
Philip VI of France Philip VI (french: Philippe; 17 November 1293 – 22 August 1350), called the Fortunate (french: le Fortuné, link=no) and of Valois, was the first King of France from the House of Valois, reigning from 1328 until his death. Philip's reign was ...

Philip VI of France
(the son of Charles’ uncle Charles of Valois) over
Edward III of England Edward III (13 November 1312 – 21 June 1377), also known as Edward of Windsor before his accession, was King of England This list of kings and queens of the begins with , who initially ruled , one of the which later made up modern En ...

Edward III of England
(the son of Charles’ sister Isabella). While Edward had a stronger claim by
proximity of blood Proximity of blood, or proximity by degree of kinship In , kinship is the web of social relationships that form an important part of the lives of all humans in all societies, although its exact meanings even within this discipline are often d ...
, the court ruled "Women cannot transmit a right which they do not possess", reinforcing agnatic primogeniture. 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 Miguelist, 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 of the United Kingdom, William IV: his niece Victoria of the United Kingdom, 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 Family Pact, 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 I of the Netherlands, 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 William I of the Netherlands, 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 Wilhelmina of the Netherlands, Queen Wilhelmina, whereas Luxembourg still had an agnatic heir from a distant branch of the dynasty left to succeed; ex-Adolphe, Grand Duke of Luxembourg, Duke Adolf of Nassau, who became reigning Grand Duke, thus ending the personal union of the Netherlands and Luxembourg. Since the Middle Ages, the quasi-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 male-preference 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, ruling in right of his wife (''jure uxoris''), though on her death the title would not remain with him but pass to her heir. In more complex medieval cases, the sometimes conflicting principles of
proximity of blood Proximity of blood, or proximity by degree of kinship In , kinship is the web of social relationships that form an important part of the lives of all humans in all societies, although its exact meanings even within this discipline are often d ...
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 Philip I of Burgundy, Burgundian succession in 1361 was resolved in favor of John II of France, 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 Joan II of Navarre, Jeanne. John was only one generation of consanguinity removed from the late duke instead of two for Charles. * In dispute over the Competitors for the Crown of Scotland, Scottish succession, 1290–1292, the Bruce family pleaded tanistry and
proximity of blood Proximity of blood, or proximity by degree of kinship In , kinship is the web of social relationships that form an important part of the lives of all humans in all societies, although its exact meanings even within this discipline are often d ...
, whereas John of Scotland, Balliol argued his claim based on primogeniture. The arbiter, Edward I of England, decided in favor of primogeniture. But later, the Wars of Scottish Independence, Independence Wars reverted the situation in favor of the Bruce, due to political exigency. * The Earl of Gloucester, Earldom of Gloucester (in the beginning of 14th century) went to full sisters of Gilbert de Clare, 8th Earl of Gloucester, 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 Gustavus Adolphus of Sweden, Gustav II Adolf. In England all land passed to any widow strictly for life, then by primogeniture. Until the Statute of Wills was passed in 1540, a will could control only personal property. Real estate (land) passed to the eldest male descendant by operation of law. The statute gave power to landowners to "devise" land by the use of a new device, part of any will, including heading "testament". The default setting of such primogeniture applying absent express written words in England was not changed until the Administration of Estates Act 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 the 1540 Act permitted the oldest son to be entirely cut off from inheriting, and in the 17th century military tenure was abolished; primogeniture is, nevertheless, a fading custom of the gentry and farm owners in England and Wales. An ancient and alternative way in which women succeeded to power, especially without displacing the direct male line descendants of the first monarchs, was consortium or coregency between husband and wife or other relatives. The most notable are the Egyptian cases of Hatshepsut and Thutmose III, and the monarchs of the Ptolemaic Dynasty.


United States and Canada

In British North America, 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. 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. Canada had the same law but repealed it in 1851. When Winston Churchill and Franklin Roosevelt met at Placentia Bay in August 1941, Roosevelt said he could not 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.


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.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.


United Kingdom

A bill to reform hereditary peerage inheritance law was tabled in 2013 for absolute primogeniture. The Equality (Titles) Bill was socially dubbed the "Downton law/bill" in reference to the British television drama ''Downton Abbey'', in which the Earl's eldest daughter cannot inherit her father's estate as entrusted, unless all of the adult beneficiaries amend the trust (a legal position established in the 1841 case ''Saunders v Vautier''). A Lords' Committee was chosen for Committee Stage, which rejected it.


See also

* Order of succession * List of monarchies by order of succession * Contrasting systems of succession: ** Proximity of blood ** Agnatic seniority,
Rota system The rota (or rotation) system or the lestvitsa system, from the Old Church Slavonic Old Church Slavonic or Old Slavonic (, ) was the first Slavic literary language. Historians credit the 9th-century Byzantine missionaries Saints Cyril and M ...
and
Tanistry Tanistry is a Gaelic Gaelic is an adjective that means "pertaining to the Gaels". As a noun it refers to the group of languages spoken by the Gaels, or to any one of the languages individually. Gaelic languages are spoken in Ireland, Scotland, ...
** Elective monarchy * Issue (genealogy) * Royal bastard


References

{{Authority control Inheritance Legal history Real property law Succession