Talk:Agnatic Seniority
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Talk:Agnatic Seniority
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Inquiring minds... want to know

I feel that the article doesn't make sufficiently clear why agnatic succession "means basically the complete exclusion of females of the dynasty". Is there some masculine connotation to the term 'agnatic' that I'm missing? Other readers might have the same problem. — mark 10:42, 21 December 2005 (UTC)

I totally agree. Notwithstanding the following contribution, I still can't make sense of the article as it stands. Does 'agnaticness' inherently refer to male succession, or just customarily? And does the sentence 'Its one form is agnatic seniority or patrilineal seniority, ....' mean that it has only one form, that is 'agnatic seniority', or that 'agnatic seniority' is just one form of agnatic succession (there may be others).

Bathrobe 08:54, 9 January 2006 (UTC)

Agnatic really refers to the male line. There are situations where agnate means males of the patriline. So, to answer to that question "masculine connotation?", yes, there is the total masculine connotation. And, agnatic succession refers to male succession. Extremely rarely there are patrilineal successions where a woman is allowed to succeed, but not her children. Usually the successon stops to males, and if it does not stop to males only, then children of females quite usually are also allowed to succeed in their turn, not only their mother. And, yes, patrilineal seniority is only one form of agnatic or patrilineal succession, other possibilities being, for example (and most notably), agnatic primogeniture. Big diffrence is whether you are succeeded by your next brother or your own son. Hope these helps inquiring minds. Maed 20:31, 16 June 2006 (UTC)
Agnatic succession does not refer to inheritance by males only. It refers to inheritance by a person, male or female, who is successor by virtue of descent exclusively through males. For example, Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom is legally a member of and the Head of the House of Windsor as an agnatic descendant of King George V and as his dynastic heir according to the British monarchical principle of male-preferred primogeniture: Because she lacked brothers, elder or junior, she was heir to the throne ahead of her (younger sister, Margaret, and) uncle, Prince Henry, Duke of Gloucester, the next younger brother of George VI, who himself inherited the throne when his elder brother, Edward VIII, abdicated to marry Mrs. Simpson. Elizabeth is an agnate of George V, as well as his agnatic heir. She is not an agnate of George I, however, because she descends from him through a female -- Queen Victoria. See Michael Dean Murphy's A Kinship Glossary: Symbols, Terms, and Concepts
Currently Agnatic succession re-directs to this article, which is incorrect because agnatic seniority is being used therein to refer to fraternal inheritance (which does usually exclude females), whereas by far the most historically common European form of agnatic succession is agnatic primogeniture whereby the succession goes from father to son, then to brothers, uncles, cousins in the male-line only in the absence of 1. direct patrilineal male descendants, such as male-line grandsons (aka Salic law), or 2. direct patrilineal descendants when the succession is "mixed", i.e. male-preferred rather than Salic. This re-direct should be corrected. Lethiere 23:04, 6 December 2006 (UTC)

Text to merge into this article from Salic law

Preference for males, existing in most systems of hereditary succession comes mostly from the perceived nature of the tasks and role of the monarch: A monarch most usually was, firstly and foremostly, a military protector.

  • Tribal chiefs, proto-monarchs, themselves were required to participate, personally, in violent activities such as warring, marauding, robber expeditions and duels.
  • His income was very dependent on protection money collected from those people he was in office of protecting against wars, violence, crimes, other injustices (already in those times, this sort of protection money, more or less extorted from people by use or threat of the violent powers of the protector himself, was referred to by the more acceptable terms "tax" and "duty", forms of revenue-collecting which remain in modern times).
  • It was very useful, or even requisite, that the monarch be a warrior, and a commander of military. And, also, war troops (consisting typically only of males) were perceived to approve only males as their commanders, or even warriors.
  • Additionally, in some monarchies (such as France), the monarch held a certain mystical position, some task best described as priestly position (high priest or demigod). That sort of position was, depending on the tradition in question, often denied of females. In the French monarchy, one of the official explanations for the Salic Law was that the monarch was obliged to use certain sacred instruments, which females are forbidden even to touch.

In later Middle Ages, violence decreased, at least touching lords and their heirs, who slowly decreased their personal participation in violent activities such as warring, marauding, robber expeditions and duels. Sons were much more likely to survive longer than in previous centuries, when almost any noble family lost sons in their teens to constant warfare. Also, living conditions, food and overall health of higher classes (such as high nobility) improved, leading to fewer miscarriages, deaths of babies, and deaths young, as well as lead to higher fertility. The number of sons reaching adulthood and marriage, as well as the average lifespan, increased. Thus, daughters were needed only increasingly rarely to carry on inheritance. Perhaps in every second or every third generation in average, male line became extinct and females were needed so that the fief will not become extinct. In medieval culture, male lines tended become extinct relatively soon (males engaged much in dangerous warfare, and private wars were common), thus fully agnatic primogeniture (so-called Salic Law) would have been impractical (impossible) to maintain (almost every generation, an exception must have been made or the succession went to relatively distant male, such as second cousin).

Slowly in Middle Ages, Europe became more and more congested. There were no more lands available. As societies became more fixed and stable, migration grew rarer. Lands were strictly divided among noble families and tended to remain fixed. This scarcity lead to reinvigorate the ancient tradition of clannishness within agnate heirs. In earlier medieval society, lordships and properties were not as fixed as in, say, 1400-1900. Feudal lords as individuals often made their own position, or it was inherited from a not very ancient ancestor. Therefore, a very distant male was not regarded as justified to inherit instead of close female who descended from more several of those individuals who had created the inheritance. During say 1400-1900, scarcity of free lands had lead to situation where landed properties were inherited rather untouched from ancestors centuries ago. Descendants of the male line of those ancient ancestors were more often regarded fully justified to receive the forefathers' inheritance, over females who would have brought it to an alien family (husbands controlled properties of their wives). Therefore increasingly, succession preferably going to the eldest son of the monarch, if the monarch however had no sons, the throne would pass to the nearest male relative through the male line. Salic Law and operation of totally agnatic succession became thus much more common during those centuries, when lands were strictly divided among noble families and tended to remain fixed. Certain 'xenophobia' also lead to try to exclude those as heirs who have gone or may go to "another clan" - which easily meant exclusion of females from scarce inheritance.

The fully agnatic succession usually was not in interests of individual lords who favored usually and quite naturally close female relatives over very distant males. In earlier medieval times, male lines tended become extinct relatively soon.

In very many cultures, surnames have been most usually agnatically determined. This has been true in many oriental civilizations as well as in Europe - two regions which earlier had almost no interaction. Sort of an outcome of the usualness of clan membership to be determined typically based on agnatic kinship.

Matrilineal Succession is the precise analogy (and, in some sense, the opposite) of agnatic succession. It is precisely the same as agnatic succession when "male" is changed into "female". As in agnatic succession, only males in male line are allowed to inherit, correspondingly in matrilineal succession, only females in female line are allowed to inherit.

Practically everything that -in regard to gender- falls between these two extremes, can be classified into the group of various forms of cognatic succession. Cognatic succession may give some preference to males (as happens in succession of Spain and Britain), or some preference to females, or it may be totally and absolutely neutral regarding gender, as happens for example in primogeniture.

I believe this is nonsense

I'm removing the following paragraphs:

Succession from a brother to another brother (or to other male relatives within the same generation) was of necessity very useful in historical periods when the average lifespan (even in the wealthier classes) was so short that even the eldest children of a parent were usually not yet adults at the time of the parent's death. This was usual when living conditions and nutrition were poorer, leading to early health problems, and when monarchs themselves personally participated in violent activities such as duels, raiding, and war.
When the average human lifespan sufficiently increased, primogeniture began to dominate as order of succession. Primogeniture is the practical opposite of agnatic seniority, as younger brothers are excluded in favor of the first-born son and his heirs.

They're unnecessarily vague, but the basic statement they make (that the average life span was so short parents usually died before their children reached adulthood) appears simply incorrect to me, particularly since "parent" usually refers to the father.

Let me explain: life expectancy at birth is irrelevant to this - the question is whether, having reached sufficient age to have kids themselves, the median father still lived another 14-20 years. That's a much weaker statement that life expectancy at birth being age to have kids + 14-20 years.

Keep in mind that even before the advent of hygiene and public health, some 5% of the population were older than 60 at any given time, which just doesn't mash with high infant mortality and the statement in the article.

If you can actually provide estimates, time periods, and a verifiable statement, put it in, but this really looks like a typical misunderstanding of what life expectancy is to me.

RandomP 15:28, 12 January 2007 (UTC)


If the father generally survived until at least one of sons was of age to succeed in their monarchy, the succession system would likely have been agnatic primogeniture, and not this. Agnatic seniority was common because generally sons of predecessor were not old enough to succeed, and a brother succeeded instead. There may well have existed occasional fathers who survived longer. But not generally. Their life was dangerous - perhaps more dangerous than the life of a craftsman or a peasant-miller. Nobles and rulers participated violent activities: from tournaments to actual battles. In this context, the context of agnatic seniority, its explanation in terms of usual lifespans is useful and truthful. Shilkanni (talk) 08:08, 28 January 2008 (UTC)

The unsatisfied dead?

Does anyone else see a potential problem with the following sentence?

Sons of princes who did not live long enough to succeed to the throne were of course unsatisfied with such limits.

~ Jeff Q (talk) 09:15, 14 January 2013 (UTC)

I see what you mean, but it is not literally wrong. How would you improve it? --Tamfang (talk) 17:58, 14 January 2013 (UTC)
Insert "those", i.e. Sons of those princes who did not ... -- Preceding unsigned comment added by 2001:569:BD09:D500:99FA:6897:BF75:D41A (talk) 13:51, 2 December 2018 (UTC)

Ibn Saud and number of sons.

On the Ibn Saud page it says he has 45 sons, but on this one it says he has 37 which one is correct. -- Preceding unsigned comment added by 86.2.131.5 (talk) 07:14, 14 November 2018 (UTC)


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