Salic law was a body of traditional law codified for governing the Salian Franks in the early Middle Ages during the reign of King Clovis I in the 6th century.
The best known tenet ofSalic law is agnatic succession, the rule excluding females from the inheritance of a throne.
The Salic Law codified inheritance, crime, and murder. In a kingdom with many ethnic groups, each expectedto be governed under its own law.
The most formative political aspect of Salic inheritance law for Europe's history was its equal division of land amongst all living male children in oppositionto primogeniture. This caused not only the break-up of the Carolingian Empire amongst Charlemagne's grandsons, but many kingdoms during the medieval period.
Salic law regulates succession according tosex. Agnatic succession means succession to the throne or fief going to an agnate of the predecessor. Chief forms are agnatic seniority and agnatic primogeniture. The latter, which has been the mostusual, 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.
One provision of Salic law continued toplay a role in European politics during the Middle Ages 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 thewhole inheritance of the land shall come to the male sex."
As actually interpreted by the Salian Franks, the law simply prohibited women from inheriting, not all property, but ancestral "Salicland"; and under Chilperic I 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.
The wording of the law seems to supportan interpretation that inheritance is divided between brothers. And, if it is intended to govern succession, it can be interpreted to mandate agnatic seniority, not a direct primogeniture.
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