Salic law, rule of succession

Salic law sāˈlĭk [key], 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 laws); 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 Valois and the succeeding house of Bourbon in France. At the time of Philip V it was introduced to Spain; when it was rescinded there in favor of Isabella II, the Carlists rose in revolt on the grounds of the law. The rule was also involved in the rivalry of Stephen and Matilda for the throne of England and in the claim of Edward III to the French succession (one cause of the Hundred Years War). Because the Guelphs followed the Salic law, the union of Great Britain and Hanover—begun when the elector of Hanover ascended the British throne as George I—had to be discontinued when Victoria ascended the British throne.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2024, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

See more Encyclopedia articles on: Political Science: Terms and Concepts