France. Salic Law

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Salic law (sā´lĬk), 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 At the time of Philip V it was introduced to Spain; when it was rescinded there in favor of Isabella II, the Carlists rose in revolt on the grounds of the law.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.

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Salic law a law excluding females from dynastic succession, especially as the alleged fundamental law of the French monarchy. Such a law was used in the 14th century by the French to deny Edward III's claim to the French throne (based on descent from his Capetian mother Isabella), so initiating the Hundred Years War.

The ancient text which under the name of the Salic law was adduced in favour of the succession of Philip V in 1316, and afterwards used to combat the claims of Edward III of England (and his successors) to the French crown, was really a quotation from the Lex Salica, a Frankish law-book, written in Latin, and extant in five successively enlarged recensions of Merovingian and Carolingian date. The words however have no reference to succession to the crown, but merely state that a woman can have no portion of the inheritance of ‘Salic land’ (terra Salica); the precise meaning of this term is disputed, and in the earliest form of the code the word ‘Salic’ is omitted.

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Salic law: see Germanic laws.