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Princes who aren't heirs

Discussion in 'Research' started by Jabrosky, Jul 11, 2012.

  1. Jabrosky

    Jabrosky Banned

    If a king has multiple male children but only one of them inherits the throne, what typically happens to the rest (I'm assuming a patriarchal society a la the standard Middle Ages)? Do they stay at home with the king or do they leave and govern other parts of the kingdom?
  2. Butterfly

    Butterfly Auror

    They become dukes and earls of other parts of the kingdom. Depending on your era, they'd govern them also. The heir would also be made a duke as well, just to get the training and practice in for his eventual rise to the throne.
    Aravelle, Taro and Jabrosky like this.
  3. ScipioSmith

    ScipioSmith Sage

    ^ Mostly this, but personality would play a huge role as well. A younger son (or brother) would be treated according to the level of his trustworthiness. In Edward IV's time Richard, Duke of Gloucester, was considered a loyal and reliable man and so was sent to govern the north in the King's name; George, Duke of Clarence was considered a conniving little toerag and so was kept close where the King could keep an eye on him. A prince who was obviously untrustworthy would not be given any responsibilities.
  4. JonSnow

    JonSnow Troubadour

    Historically speaking, they would usually be sent to rule other provinces. But a creative author can find other ways to utilize them... such as leading rogue factions against the throne due to feelings of betrayal or jealousy... or maybe an honor-bound son would serve in the King's guard, or take a seat among the high council... or maybe even lead an army into war. A respected prince could greatly boost an army's morale, by courageously leading them himself.

    Keep in mind the King's perspective, though... he wouldn't want to risk the #2 son too much, in case the #1 son died. He might get a cushy job while the 3rd and 4th sons might get more risky, or less desirable duties.
  5. Sheilawisz

    Sheilawisz Queen of Titania Moderator

    You should read all about the legendary King Edward III and his family like Edward the Black Prince, John of Gaunt, Princess Isabella, Princess Joan of course (I am writing a Fantasy trilogy about her!) Queen Philippa of Hainault and all the others, the Plantagenet Kings and especially Edward III are fascinating!!

    John of Gaunt was never Heir to the Crown, but still he was one of the most rich, powerful, feared and famous men of 14th Century Europe =)

    Edward the Black Prince was the Heir but he never became a King, anyway he was a legend...
  6. Jabrosky

    Jabrosky Banned

    That's what I would have guessed, but wouldn't this often lead to displacing the previous dukes of the assigned provinces? Or would the princes carve out a new province for themselves?
  7. Graylorne

    Graylorne Archmage

    No, they wouldn't replace anyone. Royal Families had lands and titles of their own to share around. All medieval English Dukes were members of the Royal Family. In France it worked the same.

    Princes could become Generals, Governors of unruly area's or make lucky marriages (with their father/brother's consent ofc) and seek their fortune in their wives' lands. Or they could just loaf around, like Prince John of ill repute (the Lionheart's brother). As long as they remained loyal.
    Jabrosky likes this.
  8. ALB2012

    ALB2012 Maester

    Haha indeed:)
    It would depend as well if the king had other provinces. Sometimes they would get married off to suitable princesses to extend territory. Sometimes the sons would even go invade elsewhere (WIlliam of Normandy- although he was a bastard.) I would say for story purposes it depends on the setting- is the younger son liked by the king, is he competent things like that.
  9. ALB2012

    ALB2012 Maester

    Oh and yes, second sons were the "spare". Henry VIII was never meant to be King, but his brother died before his father so he became heir, George VI became king when his brother abdicated.
    The royal family could often make dukes or earls of anywhere. The dukes were usually sons/brothers or cousins of the king. not always but often. Of course kings and other dukes could be deposed.
  10. Jess A

    Jess A Archmage

    I think what Jabrosky means is this: The King has X amount of land. There is no land left to grant (unlikely, to be honest). What if the King has six sons whom he wants to grant a dukedom/duchy or an earldom to? He could give them the title, sure, but what about a duchy - land? In my novel, having certain titles but no land is not a favourable outcome.

    I suppose some Kings might kick someone else out if they were no longer in favour. The heir in my story is given a duchy on land which was previously home to unruly people, border lords etc. To train him for kingship/give him an income. Another duke gets kicked out of a different, established duchy (treason). The king's relatives are earls, dukes and some are just styled as 'lord' (probably fishing about for a better title, too).

    Most of the dukes are generally princes or descended from princes (as lands given in my story are hereditary in most cases - with one or two exceptions). An exception is the King's first wife's father - he gave his father-in-law a duchy because he favoured him/political reasons/needed a duke there. They are related to the King but more distantly. Kings could give titles/lands out where they saw advantage. If the dukes have lots of children/grandchildren, they may become earls or lords or gentry/minor nobility, but they may be gifted with titles, too.

    Marriage - most would be expected to marry advantageously and against their will. The heir in my novel is forced into an arranged marriage.
    Last edited: Jul 22, 2012
  11. Ivan

    Ivan Minstrel

    Not so much for royals, but for, lesser families (esp. in England), third and fourth (and fifth and sixth and...) sons sometimes gave up on their nobility and used what money they had to become merchants. This of course brought shame and disgrace as nobles should never have to do anything productive to earn money, and was more or less a forfeiture of noble title. Possible plot lines ensue.

    It is possible that a king could "suggest" that a duke or two give up some land to create a new duchy without booting either of them outright. They might agree to gain influence with the young prince and the king, or they might not.
  12. Shockley

    Shockley Maester

    Depends on the culture. To that end, some examples from history:

    1. In the Ottoman Empire, it was a tradition for the Sultan, upon taking the throne, to have all of his male siblings murdered. This was a political necessity, as the Byzantine Empire (and their successor state, Trebizond) was always looking for an opportunity to scoop up any rogue Ottomans to use against the reigning Sultan.

    2. By tradition, an English monarch would appoint his children to certain positions. For instance, we currently have Charles, Prince of Wales and Prince Andrew, Duke of York and Prince Edward, Earl of Wessex. So in that one line, we have three princes running the gamut of noble titles.

    3. The Holy Roman Empire was set up so that the Emperor was elected. Because of this, it was possible that you'd have an Emperor whose brothers were kings in their own right or even lowly counts.
    Taro likes this.
  13. Taro

    Taro Minstrel

    most of the time, any one prince becomes heir to the throne. while any of the younger siblings would then become earls, dukes or counts; all this is depending on what you want to achieve.
  14. Varamyrr

    Varamyrr Minstrel

    What you can also do is give your princes a goal/meaning in life. Example given: He could be a religious fanatic and launch/join a crusade against the infidels. I wouldn't create too much princes. Take also note that 'back in the days' they used to fight a lot of wars, in which thousands were slain. Among them princes without a doubt.
    But some good examples were already given: counselor/advisor, general, king's guard, political leverage, tradesman, outcast?, ...
  15. Astner

    Astner Guest

    Princes and princesses often kept their titles and had the influence and social status comparable to dukes, they were different titles but not mutually exclusive. Some historical figures were both princes and dukes, however offsprings of non-heir royalty got different titles depending on their relationship with main royal family, which could always be softened up with coin.

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