Post by Alan Williams Post by Stan Brown
I think that example goes either way. During their lifetimes Stephen
controlled as much territory as she [Matilda], if not more. And people (the
men, anyway) could argue from that example that civil war was the
inevitable result of a female reign.
Or of trying to usurp a rightful heiress :-)
Even admitting her right, at the end of the day, Matilda was still
alive when Stephen died, and yet the crown passed not to her but to
her son Henry II -- just as Henry VII's crown passed to Henry VIII,
though the "rightful heir", Elizabeth of York, was still alive. It
might be argued on that basis that the legal precedent was that the
crown could pass *through* a woman if and only if she had a male heir
of the body living, but not *to* a woman or any female heir; which
precedent would not be clearly overturned until the accession of
Victoria, unmarried and without offspring, all previous successions of
women (Mary I, Elizabeth I, Mary II and Anne) having occurred under
special provisions enacted by Parliament.
It would be interesting to try that rule out in various cases of
controversial succession. It takes a bit more care than the actual
rule, because you have to check who was actually alive at the death of
each potential claimant; a son born to a next-in-line woman *after*
the death of the previous king or claimant wouldn't count.
The line from Lionel of Clarence to the Yorkist claimants seems to
work out well enough, as there was a male claimant alive upon the
death of each incumbent: Richard II 1400 > cousin 2ce removed Edmund
Mortimer 1425 > nephew Richard of York 1460 > son Edward IV.
After the deaths of Edward V and Richard of York, the succession would
indeed pass to Edward, Earl of Warwick, as none of Edward IV's
daughters had yet borne male children in 1483 (assuming this is the
date of the deaths of the King and Duke). On Warwick's death in 1499,
it would have passed to his sister's son, Henry Pole, Lord Montagu.
Where the line goes after that I don't know.
The main Lancastrian line seems to have gone extinct in 1471. Leaving
aside Henry IV's legitimized offspring, the Lancastrian succession
would, AFAICT, have gone to Affonso V of Portugal if non-English
claimants are allowed, otherwise to the Dukes of Exeter of the Holland
The succession of Henry VII is difficult. After the death of Edward
VI in 1553, the succession could not have gone to or through either
Mary I or Elizabeth, as neither had male offspring. The succession
could have gone through Margaret Tudor to James V of Scotland, had he
survived, but as he died in 1542 leaving an infant daughter, that line
of succession would be ruled out -- even if his daughter Mary (as she
did) eventually had male offspring.
In 1553, of the descendants of Mary Tudor, Duchess of Suffolk, Henry
Brandon was dead; Frances Brandon had only daughters, none of whom had
male children; Eleanor Brandon also had only a daughter, who had not
yet borne male children. As a result, there were no male heirs of
Henry VII alive in 1553, and going further abroad in search of a male
heir would have involved precisely determining Henry VII's claim to
the throne, which was always questionable. If the claims of his
children were (ex post facto) held to be in fact from Elizabeth of
York and Edward IV, then the succession would have gone to Edward
Courtenay, Earl of Devon, descended from Catherine of York, Edward
IV's youngest daughter.