Salic law

Salic law

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Salic law (ˈsælɨk or ˈseɪlɨk; ) was a body of traditional law
Law
Law is a system of rules and guidelines which are enforced through social institutions to govern behavior, wherever possible. It shapes politics, economics and society in numerous ways and serves as a social mediator of relations between people. Contract law regulates everything from buying a bus...

 codified for governing the Salian Franks
Salian Franks
The Salian Franks or Salii were a subgroup of the early Franks who originally had been living north of the limes in the area above the Rhine. The Merovingian kings responsible for the conquest of Gaul were Salians. From the 3rd century on, the Salian Franks appear in the historical records as...

 in the early Middle Ages
Early Middle Ages
The Early Middle Ages was the period of European history lasting from the 5th century to approximately 1000. The Early Middle Ages followed the decline of the Western Roman Empire and preceded the High Middle Ages...

 during the reign of King Clovis I
Clovis I
Clovis Leuthwig was the first King of the Franks to unite all the Frankish tribes under one ruler, changing the leadership from a group of royal chieftains, to rule by kings, ensuring that the kingship was held by his heirs. He was also the first Catholic King to rule over Gaul . He was the son...

 in the 6th century. Although Salic Law reflects ancient usage and practices, the Lex Salica likely was first compiled only sometime between 507 and 511.

The best known tenet of Salic law is agnatic succession, the rule excluding females from the inheritance of a throne or fief. Indeed, "Salic law" has often been used simply as a synonym
Synonym
Synonyms are different words with almost identical or similar meanings. Words that are synonyms are said to be synonymous, and the state of being a synonym is called synonymy. The word comes from Ancient Greek syn and onoma . The words car and automobile are synonyms...

 for agnatic succession. But the importance of Salic law extends beyond the rules of inheritance, as it is a direct ancestor of the systems of law in many parts of Europe today.


General law


The law of Charlemagne
Charlemagne
Charlemagne was King of the Franks from 768 and Emperor of the Romans from 800 to his death in 814. He expanded the Frankish kingdom into an empire that incorporated much of Western and Central Europe. During his reign, he conquered Italy and was crowned by Pope Leo III on 25 December 800...

 was based on Salic Law, an influence as great as that of Greece
Greece
Greece , officially the Hellenic Republic , and historically Hellas or the Republic of Greece in English, is a country in southeastern Europe....

 and Rome
Rome
Rome is the capital of Italy and the country's largest and most populated city and comune, with over 2.7 million residents in . The city is located in the central-western portion of the Italian Peninsula, on the Tiber River within the Lazio region of Italy.Rome's history spans two and a half...

. Through that connection, Salic law has had a formative influence on the tradition of statute law that has extended since then to modern times
Modern Times
Modern Times can refer to modern history.It may also refer to:* Modern Times , a 1936 Charlie Chaplin film* Modern Times , a 1975 album by Al Stewart...

 in Central Europe
Central Europe
Central Europe or alternatively Middle Europe is a region of the European continent lying between the variously defined areas of Eastern and Western Europe...

, especially in the German
Germany
Germany , officially the Federal Republic of Germany , is a federal parliamentary republic in Europe. The country consists of 16 states while the capital and largest city is Berlin. Germany covers an area of 357,021 km2 and has a largely temperate seasonal climate...

 states, France
France
The French Republic , The French Republic , The French Republic , (commonly known as France , is a unitary semi-presidential republic in Western Europe with several overseas territories and islands located on other continents and in the Indian, Pacific, and Atlantic oceans. Metropolitan France...

, Belgium
Belgium
Belgium , officially the Kingdom of Belgium, is a federal state in Western Europe. It is a founding member of the European Union and hosts the EU's headquarters, and those of several other major international organisations such as NATO.Belgium is also a member of, or affiliated to, many...

, the Netherlands
Netherlands
The Netherlands is a constituent country of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, located mainly in North-West Europe and with several islands in the Caribbean. Mainland Netherlands borders the North Sea to the north and west, Belgium to the south, and Germany to the east, and shares maritime borders...

, parts of Italy
Italy
Italy , officially the Italian Republic languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Italy's official name is as follows:;;;;;;;;), is a unitary parliamentary republic in South-Central Europe. To the north it borders France, Switzerland, Austria and...

, Austria
Austria
Austria , officially the Republic of Austria , is a landlocked country of roughly 8.4 million people in Central Europe. It is bordered by the Czech Republic and Germany to the north, Slovakia and Hungary to the east, Slovenia and Italy to the south, and Switzerland and Liechtenstein to the...

 and Hungary
Hungary
Hungary , officially the Republic of Hungary , is a landlocked country in Central Europe. It is situated in the Carpathian Basin and is bordered by Slovakia to the north, Ukraine and Romania to the east, Serbia and Croatia to the south, Slovenia to the southwest and Austria to the west. The...

, Romania
Romania
Romania is a country located at the crossroads of Central and Southeastern Europe, on the Lower Danube, within and outside the Carpathian arch, bordering on the Black Sea...

, and the Balkans
Balkans
The Balkans is a geopolitical and cultural region of southeastern Europe...

.

The Salic Law codified inheritance
Inheritance
Inheritance is the practice of passing on property, titles, debts, rights and obligations upon the death of an individual. It has long played an important role in human societies...

, crime
Crime
Crime is the breach of rules or laws for which some governing authority can ultimately prescribe a conviction...

, and murder
Murder
Murder is the unlawful killing, with malice aforethought, of another human being, and generally this state of mind distinguishes murder from other forms of unlawful homicide...

. In a kingdom with many ethnic groups, each expected to be governed under its own law. The detailed laws established damages to be paid and fines levied in recompense of injuries to persons and damage to goods, e.g., slaves, theft
Theft
In common usage, theft is the illegal taking of another person's property without that person's permission or consent. The word is also used as an informal shorthand term for some crimes against property, such as burglary, embezzlement, larceny, looting, robbery, shoplifting and fraud...

, and unprovoked insults. One-third of the fine paid court costs. Judicial interpretation was by a jury of peers. These laws and their interpretations grant insight to Frankish society; Salic Law establishes that an individual person is legally unprotected by law if he or she does not belong to a family
Family
In human context, a family is a group of people affiliated by consanguinity, affinity, or co-residence. In most societies it is the principal institution for the socialization of children...

.

The most formative (geo-)political aspect of Salic inheritance law for Europe's history was its equal division of land amongst all living male children in opposition to primogeniture
Primogeniture
Primogeniture is the right, by law or custom, of the firstborn to inherit the entire estate, to the exclusion of younger siblings . Historically, the term implied male primogeniture, to the exclusion of females...

. This caused not only the break-up of the Carolingian Empire
Carolingian Empire
Carolingian Empire is a historiographical term which has been used to refer to the realm of the Franks under the Carolingian dynasty in the Early Middle Ages. This dynasty is seen as the founders of France and Germany, and its beginning date is based on the crowning of Charlemagne, or Charles the...

 amongst Charlemagne's grandsons (under the Treaty of Verdun
Treaty of Verdun
The Treaty of Verdun was a treaty between the three surviving sons of Louis the Pious, the son and successor of Charlemagne, which divided the Carolingian Empire into three kingdoms...

), but many kingdoms during the medieval period.

Agnatic succession


Salic law regulates succession according to sex. Agnatic succession means succession to the throne or fief going to an agnate of the predecessor; for example, a brother, a son, or nearest male relative through the male line, including collateral agnate branches, for example very distant cousins. Chief forms are agnatic seniority
Agnatic seniority
Agnatic seniority is a patrilineal principle of inheritance where the order of succession to the throne prefers the monarch's younger brother over the monarch's own sons. A monarch's children succeed only after the males of the elder generation have all been exhausted...

and agnatic primogeniture. The latter, which has been the most usual, means succession going to the eldest son of the monarch; if the monarch had no sons, the throne would pass to the nearest male relative in the male line.

Female inheritance



One provision of Salic law continued to play a role in European politics during the Middle Ages
Middle Ages
The Middle Ages is a periodization of European history from the 5th century to the 15th century. The Middle Ages follows the fall of the Western Roman Empire in 476 and precedes the Early Modern Era. It is the middle period of a three-period division of Western history: Classic, Medieval and Modern...

 and beyond. Concerning the inheritance of land, Salic Law said
But of Salic land no portion of the inheritance shall come to a woman: but the whole inheritance of the land shall come to the male sex.


or, another transcript:
concerning terra Salica no portion or inheritance is for a woman but all the land belongs to members of the male sex who are brothers.


As actually interpreted by the Salian Franks, the law simply prohibited women from inheriting, not all property (such as movables
Personal property
Personal property, roughly speaking, is private property that is moveable, as opposed to real property or real estate. In the common law systems personal property may also be called chattels or personalty. In the civil law systems personal property is often called movable property or movables - any...

), but ancestral "Salic land"; and under Chilperic I
Chilperic I
Chilperic I was the king of Neustria from 561 to his death. He was one of the sons of the Frankish king Clotaire I and Queen Aregund....

 sometime around the year 570, the law was actually amended to permit inheritance of land by a daughter if a man had no surviving sons. (This amendment, depending on how it is applied and interpreted, offers the basis for either Semi-Salic succession or male-preferred primogeniture
Primogeniture
Primogeniture is the right, by law or custom, of the firstborn to inherit the entire estate, to the exclusion of younger siblings . Historically, the term implied male primogeniture, to the exclusion of females...

, or both).

The wording of the law, as well as usual usages in those days and centuries afterwards, seems to support an interpretation that inheritance is divided between brothers. And, if it is intended to govern succession, it can be interpreted to mandate agnatic seniority
Agnatic seniority
Agnatic seniority is a patrilineal principle of inheritance where the order of succession to the throne prefers the monarch's younger brother over the monarch's own sons. A monarch's children succeed only after the males of the elder generation have all been exhausted...

, not a direct primogeniture.

In its use by hereditary monarchies since the 15th century, aiming at agnatic succession, the Salic law is regarded as excluding all females from the succession as well as prohibiting succession rights to transfer through any woman. At least two systems of hereditary succession are direct and full applications of the Salic Law: agnatic seniority
Agnatic seniority
Agnatic seniority is a patrilineal principle of inheritance where the order of succession to the throne prefers the monarch's younger brother over the monarch's own sons. A monarch's children succeed only after the males of the elder generation have all been exhausted...

 and agnatic primogeniture.

The so-called Semi-Salic version of succession order stipulates that firstly all male descendance is applied, including all collateral male lines; but if all agnates become extinct, then the closest heiress (such as a daughter) of the last male holder of the property inherits, and after her, her own male heirs according to the Salic order. In other words, the female closest to the last incumbent is regarded as a male for the purposes of inheritance/succession. This is a pragmatic way of putting order: the female is the closest, thus continuing the most recent incumbent's blood, and not involving any more distant relative than necessary (see, for example: Pragmatic Sanction of 1713
Pragmatic Sanction of 1713
The Pragmatic Sanction of 1713 was an edict issued by Holy Roman Emperor Charles VI to ensure that the throne of the Archduchy of Austria could be inherited by a daughter....

 in Austria). At that order, the original primogeniture is not followed with regard to the requisite female. She could be a child of a relatively junior branch of the whole dynasty, but still inherits thanks to the longevity of her own branch.

From the Middle Ages, we have one practical system of succession in cognatic male primogeniture, which actually fulfills apparent stipulations of original Salic law: succession is allowed also through female lines, but excludes the females themselves in favour of their sons. For example, a grandfather, without sons, is succeeded by his grandson, a son of his daughter, when the daughter in question is still alive. Or an uncle, without his own children, is succeeded by his nephew, a son of his sister, when the sister in question is still alive.

Strictly seen, this fulfills the Salic condition of "no land comes to a woman, but the land comes to the male sex". This can be called a Quasi-Salic system of succession and it should be classified as primogenitural, cognatic, and male.

Application in France


In 1316, King John I the Posthumous
John I of France
John I , called the Posthumous, was King of France and Navarre, and Count of Champagne, as the son and successor of Louis the Headstrong, for the five days he lived...

 died, and for the first time in the history of the House of Capet
House of Capet
The House of Capet, or The Direct Capetian Dynasty, , also called The House of France , or simply the Capets, which ruled the Kingdom of France from 987 to 1328, was the most senior line of the Capetian dynasty – itself a derivative dynasty from the Robertians. As rulers of France, the dynasty...

, a king's closest living relative upon his death was not his son. French
France
The French Republic , The French Republic , The French Republic , (commonly known as France , is a unitary semi-presidential republic in Western Europe with several overseas territories and islands located on other continents and in the Indian, Pacific, and Atlantic oceans. Metropolitan France...

 lords (notably led by the late king's uncle, Philip of Poitiers, the beneficiary of their position) wanted to forbid inheritance by a woman. These lords wanted to favour Philip's claim over John's half-sister Joan (later Joan II of Navarre
Joan II of Navarre
Joan II was Queen of Navarre from 1328 until her death. She was the only daughter of Margaret of Burgundy, first wife of King Louis X of France...

), but disqualify her future claim to the French throne, and any possible future claims of Edward III of England
Edward III of England
Edward III was King of England from 1327 until his death and is noted for his military success. Restoring royal authority after the disastrous reign of his father, Edward II, Edward III went on to transform the Kingdom of England into one of the most formidable military powers in Europe...

. These events later led to the Hundred Years' War
Hundred Years' War
The Hundred Years' War was a series of separate wars waged from 1337 to 1453 by the House of Valois and the House of Plantagenet, also known as the House of Anjou, for the French throne, which had become vacant upon the extinction of the senior Capetian line of French kings...

 (1337–1453).

In 1328, a further limitation was needed, to bar inheritance by a male through a female line. A number of excuses were given for these applications of succession, such as "genealogical proximity with the king Saint Louis"; the role of monarch as war leader; and barring the realm going to an alien man and his clan through a woman, which also denied an order of succession where an alien man could become king of France by marriage to its queen, without necessarily having any French blood himself. Also, in 1316 the rival heir was a five-year-old female and powerless compared with the rival. In 1328, the rival was the king of England, against which France had been in a state of intermittent war for over 200 years. As far as can be ascertained, Salic law was not explicitly mentioned.

Jurists later resurrected the long-defunct Salic law and reinterpreted it to justify the line of succession arrived at in the cases of 1316 and 1328 by forbidding not only inheritance by a woman but also inheritance through a female line (In terram Salicam mulieres ne succedant).

Notwithstanding Salic law, when Francis II of Brittany died in 1488 without male issue, his daughter Anne
Anne of Brittany
Anne, Duchess of Brittany , also known as Anna of Brittany , was a Breton ruler, who was to become queen to two successive French kings. She was born in Nantes, Brittany, and was the daughter of Francis II, Duke of Brittany and Margaret of Foix. Her maternal grandparents were Queen Eleanor of...

 succeeded him and ruled as duchess of Brittany
Brittany
Brittany is a cultural and administrative region in the north-west of France. Previously a kingdom and then a duchy, Brittany was united to the Kingdom of France in 1532 as a province. Brittany has also been referred to as Less, Lesser or Little Britain...

 until her death in 1514. (Brittany had been inherited by women earlier – Francis's own dynasty obtained the duchy through their ancestress Duchess Constance of Brittany in the 12th century.) Francis's own family, the Montfort branch of the ducal house, had obtained Brittany in the 1350s on the basis of agnatic succession, and at that time, their succession was limited to the male line only.

This law was by no means intended to cover all matters of inheritance — for example, not the inheritance of movables – only those land considered "Salic" — and there is still debate as to the legal definition of this word, although it is generally accepted to refer to lands in the royal fisc
Fisc
Under the Merovingians and Carolingians, the fisc applied to the royal demesne which paid taxes, entirely in kind, from which the royal household was meant to be supported, though it rarely was...

. Only several hundred years later, under the Direct Capetian
House of Capet
The House of Capet, or The Direct Capetian Dynasty, , also called The House of France , or simply the Capets, which ruled the Kingdom of France from 987 to 1328, was the most senior line of the Capetian dynasty – itself a derivative dynasty from the Robertians. As rulers of France, the dynasty...

 kings of France
France
The French Republic , The French Republic , The French Republic , (commonly known as France , is a unitary semi-presidential republic in Western Europe with several overseas territories and islands located on other continents and in the Indian, Pacific, and Atlantic oceans. Metropolitan France...

 and their English contemporaries who held lands in France, did Salic law become a rationale for enforcing or debating succession. By then somewhat anachronistic (there were no Salic lands, since the Salian monarchy and its lands had originally emerged in what is now the Netherlands
Netherlands
The Netherlands is a constituent country of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, located mainly in North-West Europe and with several islands in the Caribbean. Mainland Netherlands borders the North Sea to the north and west, Belgium to the south, and Germany to the east, and shares maritime borders...

), the idea was resurrected by Philip V
Philip V of France
Philip the Tall was King of France as Philip V and, as Philip II, King of Navarre and Count of Champagne. He reigned from 1316 to his death and was the penultimate monarch of the House of Capet. Considered a wise and politically astute ruler, Philip took the throne under questionable...

 in 1316 to support his claim to the throne by removing his niece Jeanne from the succession, following the death of his nephew John
John I of France
John I , called the Posthumous, was King of France and Navarre, and Count of Champagne, as the son and successor of Louis the Headstrong, for the five days he lived...

.

In 1328, at latest, the Salic Law needed a further interpretation to forbid not only inheritance by a woman, but inheritance through a female line, in order to bar the male Edward III of England
Edward III of England
Edward III was King of England from 1327 until his death and is noted for his military success. Restoring royal authority after the disastrous reign of his father, Edward II, Edward III went on to transform the Kingdom of England into one of the most formidable military powers in Europe...

, descendant of French kings through his mother Isabel of France, from the succession. When the Direct Capetian
House of Capet
The House of Capet, or The Direct Capetian Dynasty, , also called The House of France , or simply the Capets, which ruled the Kingdom of France from 987 to 1328, was the most senior line of the Capetian dynasty – itself a derivative dynasty from the Robertians. As rulers of France, the dynasty...

 line ended, the law was contested by England, providing a putative motive for the Hundred Years' War
Hundred Years' War
The Hundred Years' War was a series of separate wars waged from 1337 to 1453 by the House of Valois and the House of Plantagenet, also known as the House of Anjou, for the French throne, which had become vacant upon the extinction of the senior Capetian line of French kings...

.

Shakespeare claims that Charles VI
Charles VI of France
Charles VI , called the Beloved and the Mad , was the King of France from 1380 to 1422, as a member of the House of Valois. His bouts with madness, which seem to have begun in 1392, led to quarrels among the French royal family, which were exploited by the neighbouring powers of England and Burgundy...

 rejected Henry V
Henry V of England
Henry V was King of England from 1413 until his death at the age of 35 in 1422. He was the second monarch belonging to the House of Lancaster....

's claim to the French throne on the basis of Salic law's inheritance rules, leading to the Battle of Agincourt
Battle of Agincourt
The Battle of Agincourt was a major English victory against a numerically superior French army in the Hundred Years' War. The battle occurred on Friday, 25 October 1415 , near modern-day Azincourt, in northern France...

. In fact, the conflict between Salic law and English law was a justification for many overlapping claims
English claims to the French throne
The English claims to the French throne have a long and complex history between the 1340s and the 19th century.From 1340 to 1801, with only brief intervals in 1360-1369 and 1420–1422, the kings and queens of England, and after the Acts of Union in 1707 the kings and queens of Great Britain, also...

 between the French and English monarchs over the French Throne.

Other examples of the application of Salic inheritance laws


A number of military conflicts in European history have stemmed from the application of, or disregard for, Salic law. The Carlist Wars
Carlist Wars
The Carlist Wars in Spain were the last major European civil wars in which contenders fought to establish their claim to a throne. Several times during the period from 1833 to 1876 the Carlists — followers of Infante Carlos and his descendants — rallied to the cry of "God, Country, and King" and...

 occurred in Spain
Spain
Spain , officially the Kingdom of Spain languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Spain's official name is as follows:;;;;;;), is a country and member state of the European Union located in southwestern Europe on the Iberian Peninsula...

 over the question of whether the heir to the throne should be a female or a male relative. The War of the Austrian Succession
War of the Austrian Succession
The War of the Austrian Succession  – including King George's War in North America, the Anglo-Spanish War of Jenkins' Ear, and two of the three Silesian wars – involved most of the powers of Europe over the question of Maria Theresa's succession to the realms of the House of Habsburg.The...

 was triggered by the Pragmatic Sanction
Pragmatic Sanction of 1713
The Pragmatic Sanction of 1713 was an edict issued by Holy Roman Emperor Charles VI to ensure that the throne of the Archduchy of Austria could be inherited by a daughter....

 in which Charles VI of Austria, who himself had inherited the Austrian patrimony over his nieces as a result of Salic law, attempted to ensure the inheritance directly to his own daughter Maria Theresa of Austria
Maria Theresa of Austria
Maria Theresa Walburga Amalia Christina was the only female ruler of the Habsburg dominions and the last of the House of Habsburg. She was the sovereign of Austria, Hungary, Croatia, Bohemia, Mantua, Milan, Lodomeria and Galicia, the Austrian Netherlands and Parma...

, this being an example of an operation of the Semi-Salic law.

In the modern kingdom of Italy
Kingdom of Italy (1861–1946)
The Kingdom of Italy was a state forged in 1861 by the unification of Italy under the influence of the Kingdom of Sardinia, which was its legal predecessor state...

 under the house of Savoy
House of Savoy
The House of Savoy was formed in the early 11th century in the historical Savoy region. Through gradual expansion, it grew from ruling a small county in that region to eventually rule the Kingdom of Italy from 1861 until the end of World War II, king of Croatia and King of Armenia...

 the succession to the throne was regulated by Salic law.

The British
United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland was the formal name of the United Kingdom during the period when what is now the Republic of Ireland formed a part of it....

 and Hanoverian
Kingdom of Hanover
The Kingdom of Hanover was established in October 1814 by the Congress of Vienna, with the restoration of George III to his Hanoverian territories after the Napoleonic era. It succeeded the former Electorate of Brunswick-Lüneburg , and joined with 38 other sovereign states in the German...

 thrones separated after the death of King William IV of the United Kingdom
William IV of the United Kingdom
William IV was King of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland and of Hanover from 26 June 1830 until his death...

 and of Hanover in 1837. Hanover practised the Salic law, while Britain did not. King William's niece Victoria
Victoria of the United Kingdom
Victoria was the monarch of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland from 20 June 1837 until her death. From 1 May 1876, she used the additional title of Empress of India....

 ascended to the throne of Great Britain and Ireland, but the throne of Hanover went to William's brother Ernest, Duke of Cumberland
Ernest Augustus I of Hanover
Ernest Augustus I was King of Hanover from 20 June 1837 until his death. He was the fifth son and eighth child of George III, who reigned in both the United Kingdom and Hanover...

. Salic law was also an important issue in the Schleswig-Holstein question
Schleswig-Holstein Question
The Schleswig-Holstein Question was a complex of diplomatic and other issues arising in the 19th century from the relations of two duchies, Schleswig and Holstein , to the Danish crown and to the German Confederation....

, and played a weary prosaic day-to-day role in the inheritance and marriage decisions of common princedoms of the German states
Historic states of Germany
This article lists the member states of the German Confederation of 1815-1866, the North German Confederation of 1866-1871 which became a federal empire in 1867, the German Empire of 1871-1918, and lastly the republic of Weimar Germany of 1919-1933....

 such as Saxe-Weimar
Saxe-Weimar
Saxe-Weimar was one of the Saxon duchies held by the Ernestine branch of the Wettin dynasty in present-day Thuringia. The chief town and capital was Weimar.-Division of Leipzig:...

, to cite a representative example. It is not much of an overstatement to say that European nobility confronted Salic issues at every turn and nuance of diplomacy, and certainly, especially when negotiating marriages, for the entire male line had to be extinguished for a land title to pass (by marriage) to a female's husband—women rulers were anathema in the German states well into the modern era.

In a similar way, the thrones of the Kingdom of the Netherlands
Kingdom of the Netherlands
The Kingdom of the Netherlands is a sovereign state and constitutional monarchy with territory in Western Europe and in the Caribbean. The four parts of the Kingdom—Aruba, Curaçao, the Netherlands, and Sint Maarten—are referred to as "countries", and participate on a basis of equality...

 and the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg
Luxembourg
Luxembourg , officially the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg , is a landlocked country in western Europe, bordered by Belgium, France, and Germany. It has two principal regions: the Oesling in the North as part of the Ardennes massif, and the Gutland in the south...

 were separated in 1890, with the succession of Princess Wilhelmina
Wilhelmina of the Netherlands
Wilhelmina was Queen regnant of the Kingdom of the Netherlands from 1890 to 1948. She ruled the Netherlands for fifty-eight years, longer than any other Dutch monarch. Her reign saw World War I and World War II, the economic crisis of 1933, and the decline of the Netherlands as a major colonial...

 as the first Queen regnant
Queen regnant
A queen regnant is a female monarch who reigns in her own right, in contrast to a queen consort, who is the wife of a reigning king. An empress regnant is a female monarch who reigns in her own right over an empire....

 of the Netherlands. As a remnant of Salic law, the office of the reigning monarch
Monarch
A monarch is the person who heads a monarchy. This is a form of government in which a state or polity is ruled or controlled by an individual who typically inherits the throne by birth and occasionally rules for life or until abdication...

 of the Netherlands
Netherlands
The Netherlands is a constituent country of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, located mainly in North-West Europe and with several islands in the Caribbean. Mainland Netherlands borders the North Sea to the north and west, Belgium to the south, and Germany to the east, and shares maritime borders...

 is always formally known as 'King' even though her title may be 'Queen'. Luxembourg passed to the House of Orange-Nassau
House of Orange-Nassau
The House of Orange-Nassau , a branch of the European House of Nassau, has played a central role in the political life of the Netherlands — and at times in Europe — since William I of Orange organized the Dutch revolt against Spanish rule, which after the Eighty Years' War...

's distantly-related agnates, the House of Nassau-Weilburg. However, that house too faced extinction in the male line less than two decades later. With no other male-line agnates in the remaining branches of the House of Nassau, Grand Duke William IV adopted a semi-salic law of succession so that he could be succeeded by his daughters.

In the Channel Islands
Channel Islands
The Channel Islands are an archipelago of British Crown Dependencies in the English Channel, off the French coast of Normandy. They include two separate bailiwicks: the Bailiwick of Guernsey and the Bailiwick of Jersey...

, the only part of the former Duchy of Normandy
Duchy of Normandy
The Duchy of Normandy stems from various Danish, Norwegian, Hiberno-Norse, Orkney Viking and Anglo-Danish invasions of France in the 9th century...

 still held by the British Crown, Queen Elizabeth II
Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom
Elizabeth II is the constitutional monarch of 16 sovereign states known as the Commonwealth realms: the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Jamaica, Barbados, the Bahamas, Grenada, Papua New Guinea, the Solomon Islands, Tuvalu, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Belize,...

 is traditionally ascribed the title of Duke of Normandy
Duke of Normandy
The Duke of Normandy is the title of the reigning monarch of the British Crown Dependancies of the Bailiwick of Guernsey and the Bailiwick of Jersey. The title traces its roots to the Duchy of Normandy . Whether the reigning sovereign is a male or female, they are always titled as the "Duke of...

 (never Duchess). The influence of Salic law is presumed to explain why she is toasted as "The Queen our Duke".
The same is the case in the Duchy and County Palatine of Lancaster, in England. The loyal toast there is to "The Queen, the Duke of Lancaster".

Old Dutch Frankish


The Salic Law contains the sole direct attestations of Old Dutch
Old Dutch
In linguistics, Old Dutch denotes the forms of West Franconian spoken and written in the Netherlands and present-day northern Belgium during the Early Middle Ages. It is regarded as the primary stage in the development of a separate Dutch language...

. These consist mainly of loose words (Malbergse glossen), but include a full sentence:
Maltho thi afrio lito
"I tell you: I free you, half free."

Literary references


  • Shakespeare
    William Shakespeare
    William Shakespeare was an English poet and playwright, widely regarded as the greatest writer in the English language and the world's pre-eminent dramatist. He is often called England's national poet and the "Bard of Avon"...

     uses the Salic Law as a plot device in Henry V
    Henry V (play)
    Henry V is a history play by William Shakespeare, believed to be written in approximately 1599. Its full titles are The Cronicle History of Henry the Fifth and The Life of Henry the Fifth...

    , saying it was upheld by the French to bar Henry V’s claiming the French throne. The play Henry V begins with the Archbishop of Canterbury
    Archbishop of Canterbury
    The Archbishop of Canterbury is the senior bishop and principal leader of the Church of England, the symbolic head of the worldwide Anglican Communion, and the diocesan bishop of the Diocese of Canterbury. In his role as head of the Anglican Communion, the archbishop leads the third largest group...

     being asked if the claim might be upheld despite the Salic Law. The Archbishop replies, "That the land Salique is in Germany, between the floods of Sala
    Fränkische Saale
    The Franconian Saale or is a 125 km long river in Bavaria, Germany. It is a right-bank tributary of the Main, in Lower Franconia. It should not be confused with the larger Saxon Saale , which is a tributary of the Elbe River....

     and of Elbe
    Elbe
    The Elbe is one of the major rivers of Central Europe. It rises in the Krkonoše Mountains of the northwestern Czech Republic before traversing much of Bohemia , then Germany and flowing into the North Sea at Cuxhaven, 110 km northwest of Hamburg...

    ". The law is German, not French. The Archbishop's justification for Henry's claim, which Shakespeare intentionally renders obtuse and verbose (for comedic as well as politically expedient reasons), is also erroneous, as the Salian Franks
    Salian Franks
    The Salian Franks or Salii were a subgroup of the early Franks who originally had been living north of the limes in the area above the Rhine. The Merovingian kings responsible for the conquest of Gaul were Salians. From the 3rd century on, the Salian Franks appear in the historical records as...

     originated in the Low Countries
    Low Countries
    The Low Countries are the historical lands around the low-lying delta of the Rhine, Scheldt, and Meuse rivers, including the modern countries of Belgium, the Netherlands, Luxembourg and parts of northern France and western Germany....

     and the peoples of Clovis I
    Clovis I
    Clovis Leuthwig was the first King of the Franks to unite all the Frankish tribes under one ruler, changing the leadership from a group of royal chieftains, to rule by kings, ensuring that the kingship was held by his heirs. He was also the first Catholic King to rule over Gaul . He was the son...

     lived along the Scheldt, Belgium
    Belgium
    Belgium , officially the Kingdom of Belgium, is a federal state in Western Europe. It is a founding member of the European Union and hosts the EU's headquarters, and those of several other major international organisations such as NATO.Belgium is also a member of, or affiliated to, many...

    .

  • In the novel Royal Flash
    Royal Flash
    Royal Flash is a 1970 novel by George MacDonald Fraser. It is the second of the Flashman novels. It was made into the film Royal Flash in 1975.-Plot summary:...

    , by George MacDonald Fraser
    George MacDonald Fraser
    George MacDonald Fraser, OBE was an English-born author of Scottish descent, who wrote both historical novels and non-fiction books, as well as several screenplays.-Early life and military career:...

    , the hero, Flashman, on his marriage, is presented with the Royal Consort's portion of the Crown Jewels, and "The Duchess did rather better"; the character, feeling hard done-by, thinks, "It struck me then, and it strikes me now, that the Salic Law was a damned sound idea".