Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Scotland Gone Wild!

The rumour is that Scotland will be voting for independence in the next few days. This sounds like a perfect opportunity to discuss the Scottish royal system.

If the Scottish vote for independence, it would serve them well not to name Elizabeth II "Queen of Scots". There are multiple reasons for this:

  • First, the Scots are an ethnic group. That's right, they actually are a group of people that migrated to Scotland from Ireland in the fifth and sixth centuries. They founded a kingdom along the Western Isles called Dal Riata and eventually conquered/merged with the indigenous people of Scotland—or more appropriately, Alba—the Picts. Second, the ruler of Scotland was never truly the "King" or "Queen of Scots" because the nation was multinational. It included Scots, Picts, Norwegians, Anglo-Saxons, and Britons. The united kingdom by around 800 was quite multiethnic and multilingual. After the Norman Conquest in 1066, many French and Norman settlers found homes in territories that would soon fall into the Scottish fold. 
  • Second, there are a lot of modern-day immigrants to Scotland that would not even remotely consider themselves "Scots" such as Africans, Indians, Asians, and the English. None of these would really be "Scots" so naming Elizabeth such would alienate them.
  • Third, some may argue that "Scot" is more a political term than an ethnic term. I disagree. "Belgian" is a political term. Belgium did not exist until 1830 and really has no roots in, well, anything. It is a political construct. For that matter, "Niederlander" (a person from the Netherlands) is also a political term since that nation came up the same way and the term simply means "Low Lander" anyway. "Scot" refers to a very specific ethnic group from which the royal family derived. Elizabeth certainly has some Scots blood. Heck, she even has the "Scot" blood, but it would serve her well to not call it out anyway. There are a lot of non-Scots in Scotland.
  • Fourth, "Queen of Scotland" just makes sense. It's a geographical area that is internationally recognised. No one would really dispute its existence. People who are citizens of Scotland would be "Scottish" because that's the name of a citizen. Notice, it's not "Scot". That's because Scots are an ethnic group. The Scottish are a geopolitical entity. There is a difference. I could never be a Han, a member of the dominant Chinese ethnic group, but I could become Chinese if I became a citizen of China (or Taiwan). One is an ethnic group, one is a geopolitical entity.
  • Finally, Scotland really needs to redefine itself if it gains independence. Falling back to "Queen of Scots" would be trying to reverse 307 of union with England. That can't be undone, I hate to tell you. Scotland and England have been joined for three centuries and no revision of history will successfully deny that. Heck! Both countries technically ceased to exist—they became "Great Britain" and later the "United Kingdom" once Ireland got in on the game (read was forcibly coerced with threats of violence). Scotland is the modern entity. There is no need to go back three hundred years and try to start where you left off. There are reasons you unified back then. Remember?

On some further points regarding the queen and Scottish independence, let's bring up her regnal number: II. Queen Elizabeth is the second Elizabeth to rule England. When England and Scotland unified in 1707, it was decided that monarchs would take the next number from either the English or the Scottish lists of kings and queens, whichever number were higher. Thus a King Henry would be Henry IX rather than Henry II, as he would have been in Scotland. Meanwhile, King Malcolm would be Malcolm V rather than Malcolm I as he would be in England. This system, so far, has only be used four times, once with William IV (he would be William III of Scotland), twice with Edward VII and Edward VIII (who would have been Edward I and Edward II of Scotland, claims of Edward Balliol notwithstanding), and once with Elizabeth II (who would be Elizabeth I of Scotland). As can be seen, Scotland has been shafted with none of the British monarchs continuing the Scottish numbering. Neither England nor Scotland had its own Georges or Victorias, and all the Jameses came before the Act of Union in 1707 so have both numbers. Elizabeth has kept her II in the British Commonwealth, but Scotland may choose to reverse the Act of Union by renumbering her Elizabeth I, thereby confusing history students forevermore. We'll see, I suppose.

Then there is the succession to consider. Scotland would naturally want to keep Elizabeth as its queen, assuming they choose to stay in the Commonwealth or keep a monarch at all. Either situation is possible, though Elizabeth does so love her Holyrood Palace in Edinburgh. .:.sigh.:. Anyway, technically Elizabeth isn't really the heir to the Scottish throne, though. There are various claimants with arguably better rights. First, there is the Jacobite claimant, Franz, titular duke of Bavaria. He has a brother, Max-Emanuel Ludwig Maria, and a niece, Sophie Elisabeth Marie Gabrielle of Bavaria, who is married to the crown prince of Lichtenstein. Together, these three individuals have the senior genealogical right to the throne as successors of James II who was deposed in 1688 in the Oh-So-Overglorified Revolution that saw England briefly conquered by the military dictator of the Netherlands, William of Orange. To be honest, though, they aren't going to rule in Scotland unless some dynastic marriage brings the families together again (hook Prince George up with Sophie's future child!).

The better contender is actually the senior heir to the house of Hamilton, the family that was next in line to claim the Scottish inheritance after all other Protestant families were eliminated from the succession. The first family was Sophia of Hanover's. Her son inherited Great Britain in 1714 after Anne died and just a few months after Sophia died. The Scots tried desperately in 1704 to bypass Sophia and go for the next heir via the Act of Security, but the heir, James, 4th Duke of Hamilton, wasn't really interested in the title and there were no other Scots with a decent claim to the throne alive. It was a rather disappointing situation. When the Act of Union was voted on in the Scottish Parliament in 1707, James absented himself claiming to have the sniffles. His senior heir, according to British succession standards, is a bit difficult to pinpoint, but the dowager duchess of Hamilton, Kay Carmichael, supports independence just for the sake of Scottish identity. Smartly, the actual Hamilton heir, Alexander, 16th duke, has not made a statement

I should go back and show a bit of a progression of royal arms in England and Scotland. 

England began in 1603 with three lions resplendent in the top-right and bottom-left quarters with fields of fleur-de-lis in the opposite corners. This reflected the two proclaimed realms of England: England and France. Wales was subsumed into England as a territory, so had no independent status, while Ireland was a lordship until the 1530s and afterwards was a client kingdom. The fleurs-de-lis got reduced to simple trios in 1406, but remained until 1800.

Meanwhile, Scotland's flag went relatively unchanged for four hundred years until the physical merger of the crowns in 1603 under James VI/I. 

Things got complicated under James I. He wanted to properly represent all his kingdoms, so added Scotland and Ireland to the grid. That sent the old English/French flag to the corners. But he kept them quartered within their two quarters, so we get little mini arms everywhere. The French claims were still maintained during his reign, so they stayed on the arms.

After the 1707 act of union, Scotland and England became united, so they moved Scotland into the quarters with England, and pulled France out to be its own quarter again. Bloody nice of them since France had its own secure monarchy for about 250 by that date.

The Hanoverians in 1714 switched out the bottom-right corner to put their own German territories on the arms, but I'm not going to bother putting that one up since it doesn't matter here.

In 1801, Ireland joined the union as the third kingdom of the "United Kingdom" with the name "Great Britain" becoming reduced to a component of the longer name. At the same time, all claims to France were finally dropped since France wasn't even a kingdom in 1801, it was a republic. Thus England and Scotland got their own quarters again. And just to be nice, in Scotland, the Scottish lion gets the two quarters and England takes the one.

An independent Scotland would once again screw up heraldry but getting knocked off the royal flag. In fact, Britain may well boot Ireland off too since the remaining bit, Northern Ireland, isn't even legally a kingdom so doesn't really belong on the flag to begin with.

That brings me to my last point. An independent Scotland means an independent England. The United Kingdom would be over officially (rather than its unofficial breakup after most of Ireland seceded) and England's claim to being "Great Britain" would end. England would be England again (with that Welsh bit still hanging on) and Scotland would be Scotland again. Ireland is a bloody bugger of a confusing state, but that's a different rant. With the breakup of 307 years of union, both countries would have to enter the world anew. England would retain residual rights over many international things, but both states may have to reapply for entry into organisations and legal names may have to change. For the Conservative Party in England, they will also lose their coalition and the country will vote and replace them.

Many things may change with Scottish independence and not all of them are good. Scotland is an ancient kingdom but it will be better off as a part of Great Britain. It doesn't lose its heritage in either case, that's something that globalisation will inevitably do. If you can vote, vote no because Scotland will truly revert to a time before England would come and save it, and that's not good for anybody.

Monday, March 31, 2014

The Piasts and Polish Succession Rules

Today begins a new phase of Dynastology articles based on my ever- expanding series of genealogies I have been creating...for no apparent purpose. What can I say: I'm devout! That being said, welcome to the confusing and problematic genealogy of the Piast Dynasty which ruled over Poland from at least 960 CE to 1370 CE, the majority of the Medieval Era. The Piasts faced Vikings invasions from Scandinavia, Magyar and Slav invasions from Hungary and Bohemia, and Mongol invasions from the Russias. In the end, though, it was the unique characteristics in their hereditary succession laws that allowed the dynasty to end its leadership of Poland.

First though, let's examine the primary ruling line:
For a high-resolution version in PDF, go here.
The early succession of the Piast line followed normal conventions of the time. It was nominally elective and somewhat agnatic in nature. To remind everyone, an agnatic succession law follows male-line descent when possible (Salic Law, an extreme, follows it until the male line is extinct). The early Piasts were all males—indeed, few females fit into the line and the Polish language never had a term for "queen regnant"—and the descent of the Piasts followed mostly normal succession laws of the time. The eldest member of the family generally succeeded to the throne while granting his male siblings subsidiary titles. Indeed, Poland's monarchy was dependent on the Holy Roman Empire until it became permanent with Władysław I. Three kings of Poland reigned during the first century of the country's existence, though none of them passed the title down to their successor.

Bolesław II the Generous
Things went sour, though, when in 1138 Bolesław II died, dividing the lands between his five sons. He created a truly elective monarchy in which the only requirement seemed to be that the High Duke (the holder of the city of Krakow and the titular leader of the Poles) be a male-line member of the Piast Dynasty. This, at least, held until the elevation of the duchy to a kingdom. But such a vague succession system broke down almost immediately. Poland was fragmented for over 200 years with many parts never reuniting with the mother country. The sheer number of titles some members of the family bore during their reigns were ridiculous, with Konrad I of Oleśnica holding jointly the titles Duke of Namysłów, Ścinawa, Żagań, Poznań, Gniezno, Kalisz, Oleśnica, Koźle, and Bytom (many of these falling under the overarching title, Duke of Silesia).

During this time, the High Dukeship was to pass to the senior-most capable member of the family. But when the family is divided between literally a dozen or more branches of people, all technically in the same generation, such a system does not hold up. Scotland had a similar system known as tanistry, and it failed miserably with only three rival lines of descent. In Poland, the first to get the shaft was the Silesian line, which not surprisingly outlived all the others. The family was so expansive that it took three PDFs just to draw the entire family into the tree:

For a high-resolution version in PDF, go here.
For a high-resolution version in PDF, go here.

For a high-resolution version in PDF, go here.
The Silesian Piasts suffered greatly during the time of Poland's division. Because of the succession practices of the day, the family was forced to divide and subdivide their individual properties until some were no larger than a town. A somewhat unusual system was also in place that allowed surviving wives of dukes to inherit, in both title and fact, one of her husband's former domains. Thus you have multiple instances of women that are not descended from the Piasts, often of noble German families, inheriting for their lifetimes duchies. Naturally, upon their deaths, these passed to their surviving sons or, lacking such heirs, to close male-line relatives of the deceased duke. Like the kingship itself, there was no title for a duchess regnant, but the term oprawa wdowia (widow's land) was used heavily to describe the situation.

Jerzy Wilhelm, Duke of Legnica
Over the decades and centuries, the Silesian Piasts were forced to cede and forfeit much of their land to Bohemia or the rulers of Bohemia, the House of Luxemburg (who were also Holy Roman Emperors much of this time). Indeed, the last member of the family to rule a portion of Silesia was not Jerzy Wilhelm, the duke of Legnica and Brzeg, but rather his mother, Louise, the duke of Oława and Wołow. Another interesting thing happened to the longest-surviving branch of the family, their frequent marriages into German nobility, specifically the Hohenzollern dynasty of Brandenburg, changed the very nature of their names. No longer were people named Władysław, Bolesław, Mieszko, and Kazimierz. Now they were named Jerzy (Georg), Jaochim Fryderyk (Joachim Friedrich), Jan Chyrstian (Johann Christian), Ludwig (Ludwig), Henryk (Henry), and Wilhelm. These were German names, ones very frequent especially in the Hohenzollern family. The rulers spoke German as much as married Germans, and their lands were considered just as much German as Polish. It came as no surprise that Austria and Bavaria both fought to take over Silesia in later wars with Poland. The lands were, to a large extent, German through multiple generations of intermarriage.

Back to the royal lines, though. With the Silesian Piasts mostly out of the picture (they claimed the High Dukedom a few times, but never for long), the other branches of the family were able to consolidate power. The two rival lines that fought over the tiles ruled, among other things, Greater Poland and Masovia respectively. The Greater Poland branch succeeded in having three High Dukes, with the last, Przemysł II, securing the kingship for himself. Unfortunately for him, not only did he not have any heirs, but he also lacked close cousins. He tried desperately to secure the throne for his son-in-law, Wenceslaus II of Bohemia (as Wacław II) but the reign was short-lived and attempts to enthrone his son (from a non-Piast wife) failed.

Kazimierz III the Great
The Masovia line succeeded where the rival line did not. Indeed, the title "High Duke" almost became hereditary, though it did pass to a cadet line briefly. That cadet line, like its Silesian cousins, outlived the senior Masovia line and even had one of its members elected King of Galicia, a small neighboring kingdom east of Poland (and later incorporated into Poland). From Władysław I to the end of the dynasty, the title remained with the Masovia line. Władysław's son, Kazimierz managed to negotiate with the Holy Roman Empire for a permanent title of king, which he succeeded in obtaining. Regretably, he was the last of his line to rule, though. His cousin, Władysław of Gniewkowo, was the next closest male-line relative but was passed over in favor of Kazimierz's nephew, Louis I, a member of the French House of Capet-Anjou. Louis himself failed to sire a son and the title passed to his own daughter, Hedwig, who took the Polish name Jadwiga and became the first female king of Poland. Her husband, Jogaila of Lithuania, brought together the Polish and Lithuanian crowns and it is from him that the next two century's kings descent. When Jogaila died, he did marry Kazimierz's granddaughter, Anna, but no further dynastic unions were necessary to justify his claim to the Polish throne.

The Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth at the time of its creation, 1436. Poland is in red (dark and light) and Lithuania is in pink (both dark and light). They were formally unified in 1440.
Kazimierz IV
Thus, dynastic politics ruined Poland, allowing an outsider to take both the throne and the lands from the Polish people. While the resulting Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, officially established by Jogaila's son, Kazimierz IV, unified two neighboring lands and created one of the largest Early Modern state in Europe, it did so at the expense of the Piast Dynasty, which continued to live for another two centuries as vassals of Polish, Bohemian, and Imperial rulers. The many failures of the family demonstrates the need for firm succession rules that are both easy to follow and acceptable to all parties. Had Bolesław III in 1138 realized the chaos that would ensue because of his succession system, perhaps he would have divided his lands differently and accepted that a unified country is stronger than dividing lands to satisfy one's sons.


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