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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)
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.
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'm removing the following paragraphs:
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)
Does anyone else see a potential problem with the following sentence?