Salic law

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Related to Salic law: Salique law

Salic law:

see Germanic lawsGermanic laws,
customary law codes of the Germans before their contact with the Romans. They are unknown to us except through casual references of ancient authors and inferences from the codes compiled after the tribes had invaded the Roman Empire.
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Salic law

(sā`lĭk), rule of succession in certain royal and noble families of Europe, forbidding females and those descended in the female line to succeed to the titles or offices in the family. It is called the Salic law on the mistaken supposition that it was part of the Lex Salica (see Germanic lawsGermanic laws,
customary law codes of the Germans before their contact with the Romans. They are unknown to us except through casual references of ancient authors and inferences from the codes compiled after the tribes had invaded the Roman Empire.
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); provisions of that code forbade female succession to property but were not concerned with titles or offices. The rule was most prominently enforced by the house of ValoisValois
, royal house of France that ruled from 1328 to 1589. At the death of Charles IV, the last of the direct Capetians, the Valois dynasty came to the throne in the person of Philip VI, son of Charles of Valois and grandson of Philip III.
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 and the succeeding house of BourbonBourbon
, European royal family, originally of France; a cadet branch of the Capetian dynasty (see Capetians). One branch of the Bourbons occupies the modern Spanish throne, and other branches ruled the Two Sicilies and Parma.
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 in France. At the time of Philip VPhilip V,
1683–1746, king of Spain (1700–1746), first Bourbon on the Spanish throne. A grandson of Louis XIV of France, he was titular duke of Anjou before Charles II of Spain designated him as his successor.
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 it was introduced to Spain; when it was rescinded there in favor of Isabella IIIsabella II,
1830–1904, queen of Spain (1833–68), daughter of Ferdinand VII and of Maria Christina. Her uncle, Don Carlos, contested her succession under the Salic law, and thus the Carlist Wars began (see Carlists).
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, the CarlistsCarlists,
partisans of Don Carlos (1788–1855) and his successors, who claimed the Spanish throne under the Salic law of succession, introduced (1713) by Philip V. The law (forced on Philip by the War of the Spanish Succession to avoid a union of the French and Spanish
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 rose in revolt on the grounds of the law. The rule was also involved in the rivalry of StephenStephen,
1097?–1154, king of England (1135–54). The son of Stephen, count of Blois and Chartres, and Adela, daughter of William I of England, he was brought up by his uncle, Henry I of England, who presented him with estates in England and France and arranged his
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 and MatildaMatilda
or Maud,
1102–67, queen of England, daughter of Henry I of England. Henry arranged a marriage for her with Holy Roman Emperor Henry V, and she was sent to Germany, betrothed, and five years later (1114) married to him.
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 for the throne of England and in the claim of Edward IIIEdward III,
1312–77, king of England (1327–77), son of Edward II and Isabella. Early Life

He was made earl of Chester in 1320 and duke of Aquitaine in 1325 and accompanied his mother to France in 1325.
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 to the French succession (one cause of the Hundred Years WarHundred Years War,
1337–1453, conflict between England and France. Causes

Its basic cause was a dynastic quarrel that originated when the conquest of England by William of Normandy created a state lying on both sides of the English Channel. In the 14th cent.
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). Because the GuelphsGuelphs
, European dynasty tracing its descent from the Swabian count Guelph or Welf (9th cent.), whose daughter Judith married the Frankish emperor Louis I. Guelph III (d. 1055) was made (1047) duke of Carinthia and margrave of Verona.
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 followed the Salic law, the union of Great Britain and Hanover—begun when the elector of Hanover ascended the British throne as George IGeorge I
(George Louis), 1660–1727, king of Great Britain and Ireland (1714–27); son of Sophia, electress of Hanover, and great-grandson of James I. He became (1698) elector of Hanover, fought in the War of the Spanish Succession, and in 1714 succeeded Queen Anne
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—had to be discontinued when VictoriaVictoria
(Alexandrina Victoria) , 1819–1901, queen of Great Britain and Ireland (1837–1901) and empress of India (1876–1901). She was the daughter of Edward, duke of Kent (fourth son of George III), and Princess Mary Louise Victoria of Saxe-Coburg-Saalfeld.
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 ascended the British throne.
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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Salic Law


(Latin Lex Salica), the written code of common law of the Salian Franks, one of the earliest barbarian law codes. At the behest of King Clovis, the Salic Law was written in the early sixth century in Vulgar Latin, with the inclusion of Frankish words and expressions. It was expanded and reworked by Clovis’ successors.

The Salic Law is divided into chapters and contains a list of crimes and the corresponding penalties, chiefly in the form of fines. The code reflects various stages in the development of archaic legal procedure; it was not noticeably influenced by Roman legal practice, and it preserved the norms of Germanic common law virtually unchanged. It reflects the evolution of Frankish society from the first communal stage to the beginnings of the feudal order.

The Salic Law shows traces of the tribal order among the Franks (chapters concerning inheritance by kinsmen, the payment by kinsmen of wergild, and conjurators representing the clan). It protected individual and family ownership of property, which had already become established among the Franks (penalties for the theft of livestock, slaves, grain, and fodder), and documented the appearance of individual and family ownership of land (authorization of the inheritance of arable land by male descendants). In the chapter “On Migrants,” the code gives a clear picture of the village commune, inhabited by neighbors possessing equal rights. At the same time, there are indications of differentiation in Frankish society and of the existence not only of freemen but also of semifree individuals and slaves, as well as of an aristocracy—individuals of the king’s entourage. The differences between the social and legal status of these categories of the population are reflected in the different wergilds set by the Salic Law. The code contains indications that a process of differentiation on the basis of wealth had begun among freemen and that some members of the stratum had become poor. Later additions and reworkings make it possible to trace the changes that occurred within Frankish society over several centuries, such as the transformation of the land into absolute alodium and the evolution from a commune system to that of a neighborhood community—the mark.


Salicheskaia pravda. Edited by V. F. Semenov. Moscow, 1950.
See also publications under barbarian law.


Neusykhin, A. I. Vozniknovenie zavisimogo krest’ianstva kak klassa ran-nefeodal’nogo obshchestva v Zapadnoi Evrope VI-VII I vv. Moscow, 1956.
Neusykhin, A. I. “Novye dannye po istochnikovedeniiu Salicheskoi Pravdy.” In the collection Srednie veka, issue 17, Moscow, 1960; issue 21, Moscow, 1962; issue 25, Moscow, 1964; issue 30, Moscow, 1967.
The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
References in periodicals archive ?
One answer is provided in 1.2, when Henry asks the Archbishop of Canterbury for clarification on the Salic Law. According to Canterbury, that law says 'No woman shall succeed in Salic land (39), but he then goes on to proclaim that the law is not even applicable to France because the Salic land is located in Germany.
He is especially good on Henry V's relation to politics in the 1590s, to military propaganda, the succession problem, French Salic Law which rears its head again, and Shelley's Case of 1579-81.
The mercenary motives behind Canterbury's speech, and their influence on how we view Henry's decision to fight for dominion of France, have been much debated; nevertheless, most critics have found it difficult to construe this speech itself as anything but a throwaway, a purely legalistic discussion that merely gives Henry the excuse to act.(2) But I will argue that in fact Henry V is deeply concerned with Salic law, and--the Archbishop to the contrary--interested in how the English might safely take the French side of th Salic-law issue: that is to say, how an English king might legitimately claim political power without having derived any of that power from a woman.
Two years ago the Belgian Parliament considered the possible succession of Princess Astrid, the king's niece, thus effectively abrogating the Salic law, which has cast its spurious shadow for many centuries.
Heredity has no Salic law. Each girl child inherits from her father a certain increasing percentage of human development, human power, human tendency; and each boy as well inherits from his mother the increasing percentage of sex-development, sex-power, sex-tendency.
Giesey revisits the story of the Salic Law in order to show that contrary to common belief, the exclusion of women from the French throne was not rooted in pure misogyny--which was not, therefore, the inexorable companion of the emergence of the modern state--but was the result of a series of circumstantial power games and interests.
Richard Dutton makes a convincing case for dating the folio text of Shakespeare's 'Henry V' to 1602, with the Battle of Kinsale (24 December 1601) functioning as a kind of Elizabethan equivalent of Agincourt, with the Archbishop of Canterbury's disquisition on Salic Law in the play as intensely relevant to the urgent question of the Elizabethan succession, and with Shakespeare's 'Captain Jamy' and 'Montjoy' scarcely concealed code names for James VI of Scotland and Mountjoy, the newly victorious commander in the Irish wars.
In an age when, in accordance with Salic law, women had no right in France to occupy the throne, it is perhaps ironic, but not surprising, that between 1560 and 1793 there were four regencies and proposals for a fifth (Marie-Antoinette).
It might be different if our monarchy operated under what's known as Salic Law - like those of Japan, Jordan, Nepal - which excludes all females and their descendents from the succession.
In the beginning, Liev Schrieber's Henry was cold and enigmatic, a trimly suited executive planning a corporate takeover in the Salic Law scene.
Hanley blends exposing the deceptions surrounding the development and use of the Salic Law, showing yet one more aspect of what she calls the "misogynist litany"; a valuable side-benefit is to reinforce the profound significance of Christine de Pizan, whose feminist research and writing is here shown to have had potential, if aborted, political significance beyond the usual reading of her oeuvre.