Primogeniture, a principal of seniority exists in many cultures even today. It is considered an important aspect of social organization and cosmology. It has two closely related meanings – one is the principal of seniority and authority which automatically the eldest son of the family receives and the other is the principle of inheritance which again is automatically given to the firstborn child of the parents. The child is preferably male. However, the rule has been interpreted often in history.
Britain is an example of following primogeniture and even though in recent past nobility has declined to stay involved in politics, the important influence is still retained. A large proportion of the best places in church, army, navy and diplomacy is still occupied and continues, directly or indirectly, to influence and control the governing classes of England.
What is the need of Primogeniture?
The aristocracy needs to be kept small to retain primogeniture. Since only one child is going to inherit the prime honours and possessions of the family, others are well aware of their inferior ranks and consequence from birth and they accept their fate as inevitable.
This rule is more rigorously enforced in English aristocracy than any other in the world. The siblings, though bred in luxury and tender when in their father’s house, descend one day to comparative indigence and insignificance. Most of them stay prepared for this as they are aware that one day this has to come.
What is the impact of Primogeniture on the family?
The difference of treatments showed to eldest brother and other children of the same household led to an unhappy effect on the family relation. The eldest son knows right from his childhood that everything belongs to him and he considers himself superior. The younger children are also taught that the future master and the head of the family is their eldest brother. One of the saddest things is that even if the younger brother is handsome, well-mannered and intelligent, the elder one is preferred just because of primogeniture.
The fate of mothers and daughters is more disgraceful and shocking. The treatment of women is the most vicious thing because the ladies are delicately reared and all are accustomed to profusion and magnificence since childhood. Suddenly these women get reduced to a pittance for an income. For the daughters the escape from this pathetic condition is marriage. The
For the daughters the escape from this pathetic condition is marriage. The high-born women have to find husbands or they become enforced to receive the pension their brother and distant relatives offer.
Primogeniture is a matter of law in England and cannot be avoided. If a man dies without making his will, the entire property goes to the eldest son automatically. However, many sudden deaths in history have prevented the heirs of significant families from succeeding the property. However, it is this principle which is
However, many sudden deaths in history have prevented the heirs of significant families from succeeding the property. However, it is this principle which is the base of all importance of English aristocracy. In fact, if all the members of a nobleman inherited the rank, the rank would lose the significance one day. Similarly, if all the children shared the wealth equally, the splendour and context of the peerage would soon disappear. This law has maintained the dignity of noble families and if it is abolished, the aristocracy will see the downfall.