The Eldest Son Inherits, right?


The Eldest Son Inherits, right?

by Jill Hughey

A wonderful source of conflict in many historical romances is the rule of primogeniture: eldest son inherits. While on the surface primogeniture seems unfair to younger siblings, it serves a purpose. Let me illustrate.

Ever heard of Charlemagne? Of course you have.Charlemagne-Albrecht_Dürer_047

Ever heard of The Carolingian Empire? Probably not, though it is the foundation of Charlemagne’s fame. His crowning in 800 established the empire that rose and fell within that century.

Why such poor longevity?

The Carolingians believed in dividing wealth equally among their sons.

Charlemagne conquered and ruled a vast territory including what we know as France, Germany, and Italy. After his death in 814, his only surviving son, Louis the Pious, inherited the empire as a whole. He very quickly divided it into kingdoms, with each of his three sons becoming managers of a piece of the pie though, as emperor, Louis was still the big boss.

Louis’s wife then inconveniently died. He remarried and, in 823, the marriage yielded son number four for Louis. In 829, he partitioned off a piece of the empire for little Charles. What had been divided in thirds was divided in fourths.

All hell broke loose.

The first civil war of the decade was fought almost immediately. Louis was deposed for a brief period after this uprising, but quickly regained his throne early in 831. The Carolingian Empire endured two more civil wars during Louis’s reign. (You can imagine the discord between brothers after his death.) I’m sure the strife was no fun for Louis, but the lengthy conflict marks the beginning of the end of the Carolingian Empire while making a wonderful backdrop for historical romances, which is why I set my series smack in the middle of it.

The first book in the Evolution Series. Unbidden, begins in autumn 831 where we see the emperor at the palace in Aix-la-Chappelle. He is nervous and fractious and not particularly sympathetic to the young noblewoman, Rochelle, who wants to continue running her estate with impunity instead of accepting the man Louis has chosen to be her husband.

Jill HugheyJill Hughey lives in Pennsylvania with her husband and two sons. She works as a business administrator and takes singing lessons in which she studies classical soprano and some lighthearted works. She’s loved historical romance since sneaking peeks at her mother’s library years ago. She’s enjoyed writing just as long, and takes her readers on long, satisfying journeys to places they’ve probably never been in a book before.

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