Post by David
How is semi-Salic succession supposed to work? I know that the
inheritance is supposed to go to a surviving female of the house by
degree of kinship to the last surviving male of the dynasty, but how
is the degree of kinship measured?
Suppose the last male dynast has no daughters, but has the
a) An elder sister
b) A younger sister
c) An elder brother's daughter
d) A younger brother's daughter
e) An aunt older than his father
f) An aunt younger than his father
g) A daughter of an uncle older than his father
h) A daughter of an uncle younger than his father
What would be their order of succession? And am I missing any other
relatives who would come between them?
It depends on the particular type of semi-Salicism -- which (unlike
Salicism or male-preferred primogeniture) is not uniform in practice.
And, for the most part, it has been largely non-applicable throughout
The common thread, it seems, is emphasis on DIRECT DESCENT, to
determine the female most "closely" related to the last male --
meaning that daughters and granddaughters take precedence over sisters
or aunts. But even then, the position of heiress is not always
clear. Suppose, for instance, that the last male sovereign fathered
several daughters -- the eldest of whom predeceased him, having
married but produced only daughters herself? Would he be succeeded by
HER own eldest daughter (his senior granddaughter) -- or his own
second daughter (who might have sons)?
While it is generally understood that a last male sovereign would be
succeeded by his senior female descendant in the direct line, it's not
always clear whether it's the eldest SURVIVING daughter who is
implied. To compound matters further, if an eldest daughter were to
predecease a father who dies as the last male sovereign, having
married and produced SONS, it is almost always certain that the said
sovereign would be succeeded by his eldest grandson through that
In the Netherlands, these questions were clarified by Parliament in
1884 -- the year Prince Fredrik (uncle of King Willem III) died,
thereby leaving the dynastic male line extinct (excepting the king).
As it was clear that Willem III would die as the last male of the
House of Orange, Princess Wilhelmina (his only daughter) was confirmed
as heiress presumptive to the Dutch throne.
Beyond her, the relative places of other female members were
determined by direct descent from the LAST kings in succession. By
which I mean: as Wilhelmina was an only daughter, unmarried and
childless, her aunt Sophie (by marriage the grand duchess of Saxe-
Weimar-Eisenach) was heiress presumptive to the Dutch throne from 1890
(the year Willem III died) until her own death in 1897, by virtue of
being the daughter of the last king before Willem III -- his own
father, Willem II. After Princess Sophie's descendants came the
descendants of Princess Marianne, the daughter of the last king before
Willem II -- his father Willem I.
Finally, there were the descendants of Prince Fredrik (who himself
never became king) -- the second son of King Willem I, as well as the
brother of King Willem II and the uncle of King Willem III. Fredrik
had produced two daughters -- the elder of whom (Princess Louise of
the Netherlands, by marriage the queen of Sweden and Norway)
predeceased him, leaving an only child, a daughter also named Louise
(born a princess of Sweden and Norway, she would become the queen of
Denmark as the consort of King Frederik VIII). According to the Dutch
system of semi-Salicism, girls could represent their mothers:
therefore, Queen Louise of Denmark and her descendants had precedence
over the descendants of her aunt, Princess Marie of Wied -- the second
daughter of Prince Fredrik.
But like I said: this was the semi-Salic law as applicable to the
Netherlands -- where the succession had the daughter of the last king,
followed by the daughter of the last king before him, etc (if
Wilhelmina had had a younger sister named Helene, this hypothetical
princess would not have had a place in the line to the throne even
after the death of great-uncle Fredrik in 1884: only the heiress would
have been in line. Princess Helene would have assumed her place as
first in line only in 1890 -- when King Willem III died. For
according to the logic of semi-Salicism, Wilhelmina would then have
become the "last king" of the House of Orange: since she had no
daughters of her own until 1909, her younger sister would have been
heiress by virtue of being the daughter of the last king before
Wilhelmina -- meaning their own father, Willem III).
Other royal houses undoubtedly had variations of the law.