Thursday, January 28, 2010

Cadet Positions Available (More Terms)

I said I would finish the story so here I go. After that, I have a few more terms, but they should be fairly simple; no male-preference cognatic primogeniture this time around. Right, so where was I?...

Oh yes. At the end of the unrecorded portion of history, it seems males had already won out in the political dominance arena. Why and how is anyone's guess, but the traditional sexist views are still probably the most adequate: women are physically weaker than men, have menstrual periods partially incapacitating them (at least traditionally) for a week each month, and spent much of their post-pubescent years making babies (again, traditionally and the average life expectancy for hunters and gatherers probably was around 30). This caused them unintentionally to appear weaker and the men somehow took over. It's really rather unknown how precisely this happened, but if you look at pretty much all animal species, one sex dominates the other. It took millenia of self-control to achieve the relative equality we have in the United States today, and even that is no where near complete.

Back off the soap box, the first civilizations that we have records of are Babylonia-Sumer, Xia Dynasty China, and pre-dynastic Egypt. All of them from very early on produced male-dominated kingships. The traditional history of Sumer establishes a long history of male rule with the first relatively historical king appearing c. 2900 BCE. The traditional kings lists in China date entirely male lines since before 2800 BCE, although the first king with historical evidence wasn't until the 800s BCE. Egypt is the earliest civilization with which we have archaeological evidence and it dates male rulers earlier than 3200 BCE. Thus, the three oldest known civilizations all report male dominance in their earliest entries into the history books. Women, were consorts (wives without hereditary right) in almost all cases.

Another thing, though, that these three cases introduce is the concept of dynasties. Even before history was recorded, dynasties in some form probably existed through the concept of hereditary succession. The Sumerians were descended father-to-son in most cases, as were the Chinese. It is uncertain with the earliest Egyptians, but the earliest Egyptians of the Old Kingdom had at least some form of hereditary succession. Thus, dynasties were alive and well centuries or even millenia before history first records them. And most importantly, although unfortunately, male-preferential descent was the general succession procedure even then. Thus the origins of dynastology begin here.

The story goes on, but I will finish it at a later point in time. A few more terms have come up that need explaining to better understand the current history of dynasties. These relate specifically to forms of descent from a senior dynastic line:

Cadency occurs when a dynast (monarch) has multiple children. This create a situation in which only one can be the senior child. Sure different succession systems work in different ways, but the first born is always important. If the first born is a female, she is usually married off to the most important person the dynast can get for her, hopefully a king or better. She also is usually first-in-line if all her brothers die. The first born male, though, is especially important because he establishes what is called the senior line. In any given dynasty, the eldest son of the eldest son of the eldest son, &c., is the senior line. But wait! What if there are more sons than just the eldest?!

That is where cadency comes in. A cadet (or cadet branch) is a secondary line or, better yet, not the senior line. For every senior line, there can be an infinite number of cadets (poor wives!). Cadets don't have precedent and their children (even their eldest son's eldest son's eldest son) are not next in line to the throne. That doesn't mean they are barred from the throne, they just have rival lines to contend with. Many dynasties even have standard names for cadet lines: French kings usually title the their second eldest son the Duke of Orléans. If the Duke then has a son, he will become the next Duke of Orléans. Britain titles the second son the Duke of York. A cadet line develops when those brothers produce their own descendants, in a sense a sub-dynasty. Where the entire family is generally called a dynasty, though, individual cadet branches are usually called houses or sub-houses. Thus the House of Bourbon-Cadiz (which current rules Spain) is a sub-house of the House of Bourbon which is a cadet branch of the House of Capet or the Capetian Dynasty. You see, it gets confusing the more surviving children a monarch has.

One last thing about cadets, they require descent to be established. While I may be the eldest son in my family (the House of Whaley!), if I had a brother he wouldn't automatically become a cadet branch of the House of Whaley (although he would still be a cadet); even if he had a son, it is arguable. It takes a few generations to really establish a cadet branch. I set it usually at three generations; if someone has a second son, who has a son, who has a son, then that is a cadet branch. Otherwise, it just is a couple generations of a cadet's family. Obviously there are special cases, but this rule pretty much is good for me.

One other case that occurs and is directly related to cadency is bastardy. That's right, say it with me: bastardy. It isn't a swear word, at least not here. It is a fully-usable academic term. A bastard is a cadet, it just is one that was produced illegitimately. Illegitimacy is pretty easy to define because the Bible did it for us: it's when a child is produced by two unwed, unbetrothed individuals. Bastards have always caused dilemmas to historians. For the sake of dynastology, bastards are treated as any other cadet except they have (usually) lost their succession rights. Many, if not most, of them gain titles and lands and, in Britain at least, could sit in Parliament. As long as the father recognized the son, all went well. Except for that whole bastard thing.

The problem with a bastard is that they too can produce children, and while the first in the line may be illegitimate, the rest of them can be perfectly legitimate. Why punish the children for the father's crime? Unfortunately, most countries historically don't recognize bastards. William the Conqueror was a bastard, but his father really had no one else to give his land to in Normandy and William conquered England, not really inherited it. Pippin, King of Italy was a bastard, but Charlemagne was a kindly king when it came to his sons so he didn't persecute (plus he had at least three wives throughout his life). Portugal, though, is the only semi-modern state to allow illegitimate succession. When war broke out in 1580 after the death of Henry the Cardinal, the legitimate Portuguese line of kings ended. Actually, that's not entirely true, the legitimate line ended in 1383. The 1383-1580 house was an illegitimate branch of the legitimate one since there were no male heirs left. After a period of 60 years during which the Habsburgs ruled Portugal, a second illegitimate house called Bragança took control of Portugal. Thus, twice within 500 years Portugal chose bastardy over having a female line rule.

Regardless, bastardy in all reality is just another form of cadency with limited, if any, right to the throne. Cadency is the delegation of junior branches of a family into their own houses and sub-houses to better keep track of them. And male dominance of dynasties has been around since at least 3200 BCE and certainly earlier than that. Until next time!

Thursday, January 21, 2010

The Problem of Succession (Types of Successions)

Okay, I will continue last time's history next time. For the moment, I need to complete the more important task of establishing some important terms that in dynastic research. Dynasties are made up of many things but some general terms that most people understand are descent and marriage.

Descent is the obvious one: to be a part of a dynasty, you generally have to be descended from another member of a dynasty. For the sake of most of my research, you have to be descended from another male of the dynasty, through another male of the dynasty. Thus Edward -> John -> Henry would be a descent, or Edward -> John -> Elizabeth would be a descent. Again, think of surnames. They are important. In the previous example, add in the surname Plantagenet and you have the descent of two members of the British royal family circa 1400: Edward III Plantagent -> John Plantagenet, Duke of Lancaster -> Elizabeth, Duchess of Exeter. See how they all have the same surname? It is just like modern times. Many dynasties, especially those before the 1800s, didn't adopt formal surnames but other patterns developed to help trace lineage. For women it can be easy, just see what they were known by: Marie of France is probably a French princess. Men can be a bit harder, but for upper royalty they still often have predictable titles such as Duke of Berri, Duke of Orléans. They may take more work to realize, but the patterns are still there.

Marriage is the other important aspect of dynasties. Remember that in most western culture since early Medieval times or before, women were commodities. I know, nothing anyone wants to hear, but it has much truth to it. In our modern times, when a couple get married they get engaged, have a wedding, and then move in together (or something close to that). In medieval times, royalty and nobility generally were betrothed, often at a young age, and the woman moved in with the man when the she was old enough to have sex, about the age of 13 or so depending on the region. They may not have a formal wedding for years or not at all; the betrothal was in all essence the wedding and it required very little pomp. The marriage was strictly a public exercise to make the couple legitimate to the public and to place them in the public (church) record. Children of betrothed people were considered legitimate in the church's eyes even without a wedding ceremony. When the wife married a man, she became a de facto member of his dynasty. In many cases, she would even take on his surname, which in medieval times was generally "of" someplace. Thus, Marie of France may confusingly also be an English princess who married a French royal. While she generally retained her rights as a member of her birth dynasty, her status basically shifted to that of her husband. The reverse was almost never true: husbands rarely became members of their wife's dynasties. The only exception was when a prominent woman wed someone of lesser stature and it is often done through official decree. Queen Maria Theresa of Austria in 1740 proclaimed her children Habsburgs despite the fact that her husband was of the House of Lorraine; she continued her dynasty despite a technical dynastic shift. Queen Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom did a similar thing when she wed Philip of Greece, a member of the House of Oldenburg. Her dynasty, the House of Windsor, should end when she dies, but it will continue under formal decree. Thus a woman can bring a husband into her dynasty, but it is generally rare. Nobility are known to do it much more frequently, however.

With those terms under control, lets move on to the last subject for today: succession. Succession in dynastology is when one person inherits, conquers, or marries into the position of a predecessor. To be a monarch or noble, you pretty much have to succeed someone else unless you are the founder (or refounder). It should seem pretty simple but it is very much not. Dynastic succession is in fact one of the most difficult things to do and, depending on the importance and/or questionableness of the succession, can lead to warfare. Indeed, virtually every type of succession has led to a succession war. Here are the major forms of dynastic succession in Europe historically:
  • Male-preference Cognatic Primogeniture — This is the most standard format practiced in Europe even today. Basically, a monarch has children, boys and girls. When they die, their eldest son inherits everything and the others are left under the care of their elder brother or their spouses (or military careers or religious organizations, &c.). If that son dies without issue (children), then the next-eldest brother inherits. If there are no other brothers, then the eldest daughter inherits, &c. In most cases, it doesn't come to all that. Most of the time, a son is either born to the dynast or one of his brothers. Dynastic shifts, though, are much more common in this form of succession because if a dynast only has daughters, they inherit before any brothers. This happened with Queen Victoria, the daughter of Edward of Kent. Edward had a younger brother, Ernest, but his daughter had precedence over him. The majority of succession wars occur because this form of succession leaves open problems when you have to go back multiple generations looking for the closest-related cousin.
    Suo Uxoris Primogeniture — I place this as a subset of the previous because it really is no different in function, just the result. In normal male-preference primogeniture, the woman is the legal heir and successor in cases of female succession. In suo uxoris, the husband of the heiress inherits the titles while the woman just happily strolls on with her life. This was the case with Juana of Spain who, when she became Queen of Castile in 1504, gave her rights to her husband who became Philip I of Castile suo uxoris ("in right of his wife").
  • Salic Law — Salic law is often also called agnatic primogeniture. It is a very specific type of descent quite different than the previous. The Salic Law was probably established by the Salian Franks in the 600s or earlier. It stated that a dynast must be a male in the male line; a male who passes through a female has no rights. Thus, even though King Henry III had a surviving sister (which he did), his distant cousin Henry III of Navarre was his heir because the French practiced Salic Law (as did most of Germany). The Wars of Religion in France was partly due to the fact that a Protestant (Henry of Navarre) was heir to the Catholic throne of France.
    Partible Inheritance — Quite possibly the most annoying and destructive form of succession in terms of posterity, this method usually follows Salic Law but instead of granting the entire inheritance to the eldest son, it grants it equally to all the sons. Thus the Duchy of Saxony becomes Saxe-Gotha, Saxe-Coburg, the Electorate of Saxony, &. It often takes generations, if it happens at all, for all the lines to die off allowing one dynast to once again rule the entire hereditary land. Management of these realms is often as confusing, but luckily outside the scope of dynastology (although not dynastic politics).
  • Proximity of Blood — With proximity of blood, you start getting into dangerous grounds. It is basically what it sounds like: whoever is most closely related to you gets the title. In reality, it is chaos and one of the reasons why proper care must be kept in maintaining the other forms of succession. If one form of succession breaks down, Proximity of Blood takes over. It basically works like this: King Charles IV of France dies. France has not yet established formally how they want to handle difficult successions but tradition established the Salic Law, thus Philip VI of Valois, his father's brother's son, becomes king. The only problem is that Edward III of England is the son of Isabella, Charles IV's sister. Edward claims that he is closer in proximity of blood to Charles because he is Charles' nephew rather than his first cousin. The result: the Hundred Years War. THAT is why proximity of blood doesn't work.
  • Tanistry — This old law was most dysfunctional, hence why it went away. It argued that the most senior member of a dynasty should rule, regardless of descent. That means that you have King Kenneth I of Scotland who has two sons. When the first son dies, his brother becomes king despite the fact that the first son has a son. When that son dies, the first son's son becomes king. When he dies, the second son's son becomes king. You can probably guess how confusing this gets when kings have multiple sons that have multiple sons. It's really not that pretty and it took Malcolm III a lot of courage to overthrow this old system in Scotland. The war between Macbeth and Duncan I was based mostly on the ambiguity of this system.
  • Election — It is not unheard of that monarchs be elected. This was especially common in the Holy Roman Empire and the late period of the Kingdom of Poland, and is still practiced by the Papacy today. Basically, a council of nobles chosen from the land come together and choose their leader. There may or may not be any prerequisites, although the elect is often the heir of the predecessor. While the candidates may still inherit and do what they will with their hereditary lands, the elective title must be conferred by the nobles and generally cannot be claimed without that support. A civil war in the 1200s was fought between three rival Holy Roman Emperors (all received an inadequate number of votes by the Electoral College) until Rudolf I of Austria defeated them all and was elected sole emperor.
  • Equal Cognative Primogeniture — This is obviously a spin-off of the first item on this list, but it deserves its own place. This is quickly becoming the popular form of succession among European royals. Tradition has always placed the men in the front of the line of succession, but Scandinavian and Low Country royalty have almost all adopted equal primogeniture, now, meaning that the eldest child, regardless of sex, inherits the title. That means that Victoria of Sweden is first in line to the throne despite the existence of her younger brother, Carl Philip (who was bumped in 1980 when he was just an infant). This practice has never really been mainstream until 1980.
Those are the main means of succession. I apologize for the long list but the examples are important for all of you to help you understand. There are other, in fact many other, forms of succession, but these are the ones you will encounter the most in both royal and noble succession law. Next time I will try to wrap up the story of surnames. Cheers!

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Adventures in Dynastology (Terms)

As I stated in my last note, I have much to say about dynasties and the study of them. They are a vast and complex web of individuals, families, and relationships that have never been properly examined. Even the word "dynastology" has only been used fleetingly in a few Chinese and Egyptian history books. But that doesn't negate the function and importance of the term, or the possibility of its derivatives. In fact, dynastology is really the perfect word to describe the study of dynasties since, in Latin and Greek, that is precisely what it would mean:

"Dynastology" is the combining of a Late Latin word, "dynastia", which came from the Ancient Greek word, "δυναστεία" (dunasteia) which means "power" or "dominion", with a basic Ancient Greek suffix "-λογία" (-logia), which simply means "study of". Thus, dynastology is the "study of power or dominion", or more specifically, the people behind that power.

Other words related to dynasty and dynastology include:
• "dynast", which means an individual member of a dynasty, generally one who holds power or authority of some kind;
• "dynastic", an adjective that is used to describe connections within and between a dynasty;
• "dynasticism", which describes a form of government ruled by a dynasty. Some consider dynasticism akin to an absolute monarchy, but that is not necessarily true.

Therefore, what I think transforms dynastology from a conceptual term into a historically relevant concept is this idea of dynasticism throughout the millennia. Until only recent times, dynasties were the core foundation of virtually any government. In ancient times it was the only logical form of government. That is because dynasticism is nearly identical to monarchy. Tradition holds that long ago, before history was ever written, groups of people merged together and formed tribes, choosing from among themselves a leader. Generally speaking, this leader was male, although there are some traditions that suggest women did prehistorically hold the status of leader in some regions. Regardless, the dominance of males arose early and was already present in virtually all recorded history.

Before I move on with the origins of dynastology, I need to point out an aspect of dynasticism that permeates throughout almost all Americans, Europeans, and many other cultures. That aspect is the surname, or the "last" name. Surnames in the modern sense are quite new creations. In most cultures, surnames arise from tribal affiliations (Kennedy as in Clan Ó Ceannéidigh), professions (Smith as in blacksmith), places of origin (Hann as in Hannover, Germany), saints and Biblical characters (St. Clair as in St. Clare of Assisi), or ancestral names (Anderson as in Anders' son). All of these reflect a lineage of some sort and, in modern times, they are generally passed down through a patrilineal, agnatic descent to you from some ancestor. Depending on your name's origin, the descent could be recent or ancient. Regardless, it is a little bit of dynasticism reaching from the past to you.

Why I bring this topic of surnames up is that the entire concept of a surname is a way of tracking the descent of a dynasty. While royal families are not often thought of as having surnames, they actually do. In almost all cases, they are either based off of the geographic region from which they arose or named after a distant ancestor. Most royal dynasties today are named after the former while most early medieval dynasties are based on the latter. Windsor (Castle), Habsburg (Castle), Hohenzollern (Castle), (the Duchy of) Oldenburg are all named after places, while (Hugh) Capet, Romanov (as in Tsar Roman), and Grimaldi are named after individuals.

My surname is Whaley. That in itself is not much more than an interesting word. But during the 1640s there was a guy in England named Edward Whalley who was the third signature on the death warrant of King Charles I. This man was my distant ancestor. His surname, in slightly simplified form, is my surname today. No, I have no Whale in my ancestry and my paternal family is not from Wales, but this Edward Whalley established, in a sort, a dynasty which descends to my relatives and me today. I say all this not because I believe I am an heir to this legacy, but simply to state that surnames mean something. They are a clue, and while my primary focus is on royal and noble dynasties, that doesn't mean dynasticism stops at a tiara.

Since I am running overlong, I will resume the history of dynasticism next time. But remember my most important point, while royalty and nobility lives and breathes a rich dynastic life involving all sorts of dynastological connections, that doesn't mean you aren't a part of that too. Dynasties produce descendants, surnames change, and histories are forged out of legitimacy and illegitimacy. Who knows? Maybe you just have a bit of dynasticism yourself. Your surname is your first clue, your parents and grandparents are your keys, the internet is open to you. Discover your ancestral past. It could surprise you.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Introduction to Dynastology

A few years ago I began a long quest to determine what exactly can be learned from royal and noble dynasties. By dynasties, I mean the general concept of a family and its descendants. For generations, the very term "dynasty" has come to be associated mostly with the 30-odd Egyptian and many Chinese dynasties. Sure, many other Mesopotamian royal families also have been classified as dynasties, but they are often labeled by their family name such as Pahlavi, Abbasid, Neo-Chaldean, etc. For some odd reason, the term dynasty never has really stuck to any historical family outside Egypt and China. Why is that?

China makes some sense. Traditionally, at least, it has a history of families ruling for hundreds of years. The Zhou Dynasty is said to have ruled for more than 800 years (and still had surviving descendants when it lost its land in 221 BCE). The problem with China is that dynasty almost always equates to Royal House, as it is called in the rest of the world. This is most apparent in the short Xin Dynasty (9 - 23 CE) which only produced a single, quasi-usurping emperor. Thus, in China, a dynasty equates to a Royal House.

Egypt, then, make less sense. But then in a strange way, it may make more sense. Whereas China equates dynasty to Royal House, Ancient Egyptian dynasties were only sometimes equatable to a family. In fact, Egyptian dynasties often split families into multiple dynasties despite the fact that the original compiler of the dynastic tradition in Egypt knew many family genealogies. This example is apparent in the Egyptian XVII and XVIII dynasties, where the last Pharaoh of the XVII Dynasty was the brother of the first Pharaoh of the XVIII Dynasty. This occurred in a similar fashion in the succeeding two dynasties where the pharaohs of the XX Dynasty were male-line (although unknown descent) descendants of the XIX Dynasty pharaohs. Perhaps, then, dynasties are not family trees at all, but rather periodic pinpoints noting the start and end of an era.

Oxford English Dictionary's definition is at most cryptic and at least establishes what a dynasty is not. The OED states that a dynasty is "a line of hereditary rulers of a country : the Tang dynasty." Alternatively, it also defines it as " a succession of people from the same family who play a prominent role in business, politics, or another field : the Ford dynasty." In other words, the dictionary is not certain. It sets the standard as a set of hereditary rulers, implying a genealogical relationship but not necessarily a descent from a common agnatic ancestor. Almost adverse to that definition, the second definition suggests that any family of prominence can be a dynasty, regardless of any royal or noble position. I believe that the true definition is somewhere in the middle.

To me, a dynasty is a sort of map of relationships. The Royal House is the center of that but not the whole. I personally do not consider the Ford family, as exampled above, a dynasty; rather they are just an influential American family. I believe that to be a true dynasty, a value of nobility must be present. The founder of a dynasty need not be a king or emperor or even a nobleman, but somewhere in that long line there must be someone of nobility present to establish the legitimacy of the line. Furthermore, the spouses of a dynasty are important. Not all of them, but many of them. The choice of bride or groom determines much in dynastic politics and creates the framework in which dynasties can truly be observed. Women, especially, serve as centerpoints of dynastic politics not only because they bring with them dowries and money, but because they too can sometimes bring titles of nobility. Georg Ludwig of Hanover would never had become King George I of Great Britain had his father, Ernest, not married the English heiress Sophia. Such seemingly minor details have caused wars, murder, and rebirth. How dynasties interact with other dynasties, therefore, is the most important issue in the area of dynastology.

As I stated at the beginning, this has been a long process and I am working to expand and improve upon it. The relationships between dynasties are vast, so I have created an entirely new area of historical study to examine it. Check my notes often for more posts as I will try to write on dynastology again whenever the muse strikes. Also, check my Wiktionary definition for a better explanation of this topic: Cheers!

P.S. I will work to define all my terms better next time. For those confused, Agnatic means descended from a male line. Think of your last name. That is usually from an agnatic descent.


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