Use of the Salic Law
A Salic Law (dating from c.507-11) stated, among other things, that a kingdom must be inherited agnatically. Women are to be excluded from the Crown, as are men who would only inherit through the male line. How did this affect different European countries?
FRANCE: applied more rigidly as time went on, precedents being created in 1316 and 1328. Retained.
SCOTLAND: operated a system of tanistry until the Dunkeld restoration (1057), whereby a male representative of one branch or other was preferred. However, Alexander III’s fatal accident in 1286 left only a granddaughter – her death in 1290 left a series of claimers (or Contenders), all through the female line. Abolished.
ENGLAND: had exclusively male monarchs until 1553 although there was a female claimant from 1135-54. Edward III’s large family was almost extinct in the male line by late 1485 – thus Henry VII also claimed through his mother and wife. Abolished if ever applied.
HANOVER: rigidly applied. In 1837, Victoria’s uncle Grand Duke Ernst became its elector. Retained.
SPAIN: applied until shortly after the end of the Bonapartist occupation but the Carlist wars saw it reversed.
RUSSIA: had no Salic Law until c.1800. Catherine, having deposed her husband, was one of several female monarchs. The ill-health of the Tsarevitch Alexis, in contrast to his four sisters, required unorthodox care – this could be argued to have precipitated the end of Romanov rule. Retained, with tragic results.