A Summary of Overlapping Claims to Various Thrones
During the Medieval period, who your parents were counted for quite a lot. Normally, one inherited one's father's position. If a man died without heirs, it was not always clear which near, or distant, relative would pick up the pieces. Legal, and often military, struggles usually followed. For commoners, the issue was usually decided in the courts. For the nobility, where more was at stake and armed retainers were at hand, lawyers were often supplemented, or replaced, by troops.
The nobles wanted to stay nobles and there were always able commoners who wanted to join the aristocracy. While there was social mobility, it was very difficult for commoners to join the nobility. It was easier for a noble to move up a notch or two by grabbing the titles of a relative who died without heirs. These claims were a serious business, as a successful claim would bring with it real estate and political power. And when the conflicting claims involved nothing less than the throne itself, things could get very interesting.
The topics below show the more prominant claimsnts to various thrones in the 1330s. The lisits omit heirs of those named living in 1337, such as Edward III's first two sons and Prince Jean of France. Where a number is given, it indicates relative "precedence" of the claim. Claims would, of course, pass to descendants.
One important difference between France in England was the size of the noble class. Because the Normans wiped out the old Anglo-Saxon nobility and were miserly in setting up a new one, there were far fewer nobles in England (about a hundred families) versus France (several thousand families.) The nobility of England comprised less than one percent of the population, in France is was closer to five percent .This greatly reduced the pool of potential claimants for a title, including the king's.
England: The Plantagenets
France: The Capetian Clan.
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