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 Notes Regarding Female Succession

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Melisende
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PostSubject: Notes Regarding Female Succession   Tue Oct 28, 2008 3:07 pm

Notes Regarding Female Succession

Succession through a female and the female line was not unheard of nor was it the exception to the rule. There are many instances of females succeeding to landownership either directly as an heiress (ie: no male heir) or following the deaths of male heirs.

In many instances, females assumed the role of regent for their children following the death of their husband, taking upon the role of their husband. There are many notable examples of this throughout medieval and contemporary history.

During the medieval period, the life of the people was more often than not dominated by warfare whether on a local or international scale. The need for strong leadership and the ability to lead an army into battle often took precedence. And whilst the right to succession through primogeniture was common, this did not necessarily mean that it was male dominated or exclusive to males and the male line.

There are instances of medieval women raising armies to personally defend their own lands. The most notable of these women are: Matilda of Canossa, Joan or Arc, Isabella of Castile, Yolande d'Anjou, Eleanor of Aquitaine, and Margaret of Anjou to name but a few. Many women in power were obliged to employ a male to lead their army : however, this was not the sole domain of the female. Many Renaissance male rulers employed others to lead their armies into battle for them - Condotierres. And there was no shame in this - after all following the death of King Richard III on the battlefield of Bosworth, no other English monarch actually took to the battlefield and led his army into battle in person.

In the Crusader Kingdoms, succession could and did pass through the female line: however, there was an additional codicil to succession to landownership. In the East, landownership was linked with the provision of military service. And thus, despite succeeding in her own right, a female was obliged to take a husband in order to fulfill this obligation.

Whether we agree or not, it was the common held view that succession through primogeniture was through the senior male line. Following the extinction of all male lines, succession was through the female line. There are many instances in which daughters have been overlooked instead of their sons, sisters instead of a nephew, and so on.

It would appear, at first glance, that the application of Salic Law with regard to succession was more particular to the area of land once occupied by King Clovis' Merovingian Empire - the forerunner of both the Carolingian and Holy Roman Empire. This would include the area of land encompassing much of modern France, Germany, Austria and northern Italy. Thus the idea of Salic Law would be introduced through inter-marriage between the Royal Houses of these Kingdoms, becoming codified with national laws to become the norm.

However, as can be witnessed today, succession through the female line was never eradicated. There are many countries today that recognize the rights of females to succeed not only in their own right but also in the absence of a direct male heir. I have no doubt that it was not the intention of those praticising Salic Law to eradicate female succession, but to restrict its application to what were then considered to be the dominant monarchies of the time.

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PostSubject: Re: Notes Regarding Female Succession   Mon Nov 03, 2008 4:29 pm

Female Inheritance


An heiress could expect her husband to exercise her military obligations. A female’s ability to inherit often depended upon what male support she could rally in her favour. Strength and protection were sought through marriage, and this often dominated the lives of women and girls of rank.

During the anarchy of of the civil war following the death of Henry I of England, Matilda, like Stephen, was showing herself incapable of handling the restless, self-seeking baronage of England. This baronage took advantage of the prevalent anarchy to demand grants of land and other favours from each side in turn.

The laws of inheritance fell by the wayside during this period.

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PostSubject: Re: Notes Regarding Female Succession   Tue Nov 04, 2008 9:21 am

Women & Feudalism in the Crusader States


Women of noble birth could marry where they wished - except when landholding was linked with military service. In Medieval society, military service was a condition of survival of the state; therefore, aristocratic heiresses were not obliged to follow their hearts.

The Law of the Kingdom of Jerusalem was much more liberal toward women landholders. It was not uncommon for noble women to purchase landed estates in their own right. Where women held title by right of being a widow or as an heiress on the death of her father, she could only be required to marry of the fief carried the obligation of military service. Women who refused could legally be deprived of their fief.

Church opinion at the time was against second marriages, especially for widows - but in the Crusader States, military obligations and requirements took priority. Marriageable ages in Europe were typically 12yo for girls and 14yo for boys. In the Kingdom of Jerusalem, marriageable ages for both was 13yo.

In the Kingdom of Jerusalem, dowries were protected and widows enjoyed rights of revenues from the estate of her dead husband.

Standard feudal practice often witnessed the liege lord of an heiress (as her legal guardian) asserting pressure upon her to force her into a marriage as would-be suitors would be expected to pay fro the privilege of marriage.

The Laws of the Kingdom of Jerusalem set limits to a lord's rights - he could not require a female vassal to marry if her fief was not subject to military obligations - and he must nominate at least three candidates for her to choose from, suitable to both her rank and social position.

Even if there was no military obligation attached to the fief, a woman still needed her lord's permission to marry where she wished - and the Laws state that permission could not be withheld indefinitely or unreasonably.

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