[LMB] Paladin discussion questions no. 2

Tony Zbaraschuk tonyz at eskimo.com
Wed May 9 16:17:14 BST 2012

On Wed, May 09, 2012 at 09:34:47AM -0400, Walter Bushell wrote:
> On May 8, 2012, at 10:04 PM, Pat Mathews wrote:
> > Back when Paladin first came out, I raised that issue and the 
> > problems it would cause, being quite familiar with the way the 
> > Tudor family got its start in English politics. To be brief -  
> > Iselle would have a fit! Because while her mother and stepfather 
> > wouldn't cause any succession problems, two generations down the 
> > road it could be a civil war waiting to happen. 
> Ista's late child would be way down the order of legitimacy compared 
> to a younger brother, which you have to have. 

The problem is, particularly for the early period, that just about
anybody with royal blood _could_ be a contender under certain
circumstances.  If they were a strong forceful leader-type and
the guy ahead of them in the line of succession was stupid and
indecisive, odds went way up.  Early in the Middle Ages, for
instance, the Scandinavian monarchies were elective from among
anyone of the royal kin (which usually meant civil wars after
the death of one king).  The whole theory of "legitimate" heirs
and "line of succession" originated in an attempt to formalize
the royal rules to avoid those civil wars.  

This also varied by time and place.  In many areas you had kings
attempting to secure the choice/election of their chosen heir
(not always the _oldest_ son) before their death to avoid a
succession crisis afterwards.  Sometimes it even worked.  But
as late as the 15th century, a vaguely blood-connected nobody
like Henry Tudor could show up with an army, win a battle, 
and take the crown off the head of the previous heir.  (It
got tried in the 16th century, too, with Lady Jane Grey in
England, but by then everyone had gotten sick of the idea,
hence she was a Nine Days' Queen.)

Hence, if (say) one of Ista's grandchildren is a particularly
driving sort, and Iselle's grandson is a weak and mousy type,
there could be a war floating around.  Hard to see how that
gets avoided no matter what, though I think Her Ladyship
commented at one point that while Ista would probably have a
couple of children, they'd be dedicated to the B*stard to avoid
just such a possibility.

> Today the plan is an heir and a spare, but in those days you 
> really needed more for insurance, because childhood mortality 
> was so high. 

If you don't have enough kids, there's a chance none of them
will succeed.  If you have a lot, chances go up dramatically
that one or several of them will make a bid for the crown.
You can't win, short of blind luck.  (One common Germanic 
solution was to divide the monarchy among the heirs -- this
had problems of its own, as well... but look at Henry III
and his sons in England, or Louis the Pious earlier in France
and Germany...)

> We already saw one such attempt in _Chalion_, oops that was a son, 
> dangerous to have children even. Ista married way up and so brings 
> no blood legitimacy. But you know the Ottomans managed the brother 
> problem by strangling all the brothers of the new sultan.

That was actually a later development -- the original version had
all of them fighting it out on the death of the previous Sultan.
May the best general win.  Which at least kept the throne in the
hands of someone who knew how to win wars, but was rather bloody.
Then they developed the custom of strangling all but one (let's
hope he was the best one.)  Then they developed the habit of
putting them all in the harem and just bringing out one when
the previous Sultan died (which meant that the heirs were
feckless wastrels who didn't know _anything_ about war or
international relations... one may date the decline of the
Ottoman state to not very long after, though more was going
on than just the method of heir raising.)

> Of course, this kind of thing probably happened in Byzantium and 
> Egypt too, but *everything* happened in both those societies.

Last long enough, and lots of things happen...

Tony Z

Saying X = Bad is easy; whats hard is deciding what to do 
when you are confronted with X. -- Leigh Kimmel

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