The line of succession for the king (or lord) of a castle seems to be a major feature in three of the first four books. For cultures with a royal family of its own, this may not need a great deal of explanation, but for others it may be a mystery.
The line of succession is the order in which heirs to the throne are decided. In most cultures there is a rule which is laid down in the depths of the codes of behaviour, whatever they might be called. In this world the code is agreed by all the castles; they sign up to a single code on all things that happen in the realms, with some items being reserved for the king to decide in his own castle or kingdom. The entity ‘the realms’ is therefore a sort of federation of kingdoms.
The line of succession to the throne is from father to eldest son. This is common in most cultures today. The difficulty comes when the eldest son has disappeared, or does not exist e.g. there is only a daughter, or many sons arguing that they have a better claim (multiple births are common in this world). As we have seen, some do not choose to take up their role as king. The simplest way to avoid the duty is to leave the castle. In the distant past the rule was made that anyone who has left the castle for more than twelve months is deemed to have given up his claim to his place in the line. Exceptions were made in the past if the person had left in the line of duty e.g. the Crusades.
A few centuries ago there were considerable problems where a princeling well down the line of succession argued that he was (for whatever reason) the rightful heir to the throne. If this was not accepted but he had gained sufficient support there were murders and other ‘disappearances’ to engineer the favoured princeling into the line of direct inheritance. This caused so many problems for the wellbeing of society that the Council of Kings was held to codify the rules. This of course gave rise to the occupation of legal expert, to advise on the tortuous language and issues of precedence in any given case.
At the start of The Princelings of the East the most relevant of the many elements of the code were as follows:
- The eldest qualifying son takes precedence
- The direct eldest son of the eldest son takes precedence over the brother of the eldest son (grandson precedes uncle)
- If there are no sons, the eldest son (grandson of the king) of the eldest daughter takes precedence (the daughter cannot rule in her own right)
- If there are no male heirs at the first or second level of descent, the eldest remaining brother of the king, or his son or grandson take precedence according to the rules above (fraternal line)
- If the fraternal line does not provide an heir, then the line of the eldest uncle of the king is examined for the uncle, son, and grandson in that order. (avuncular line)
- The son of an aunt of the king has no status in the line of succession
- The following actions disqualify the person from the line of succession:
- Failure to reside in the castle of inheritance for a period of twelve months (thirteen moons) save in the line of duty of the castle
- Occupation in a senior capacity in the armed forces
- Proven existence as a vampire or werewolf
- Marriage to a proven vampire or werewolf
- Where a king has formally recognised his successor (named a Crown Prince) the Prince is not bound by the residence qualification
- If a king has not reigned for a period of three successive months, the line of succession reverts to the previously established king (the principle of tenancy)
- For castles ruled by a Baron, the same precedence rules apply save that instead of a Crown Prince or Prince, the title Lord is used
That sums up the contents of a 500 page tome bound in leather that is kept in the registry of every castle in the realms.
At the start of The Princelings and the Lost City (book 3), the females are starting to ask why they can’t inherit. Good question!