How bad was nepotism under feudalism?

Nov 2014
511
ph
Imagine it gets am unfair rap? And in reality it functions like nepotism in Silicon Valley startups, that is you hire your friends, relatives, and jousting buddies, and generally based on the word of mouth reputation system, but there is still a minimum competency cutoff? Like you would not hire a mental retard who is your brother in law to handle your heavy cavalry whose idea of a cunning plan is to charge straight into a row of pikes? So there is a lot of favoritism compared to modern meritocratic systems in terms of filling posts, but there is still a competency cutoff that your medieval HR has to consider?
 
Oct 2017
421
America ??
I’m afraid to be no expert here, but I can comment that it seems that nepotism was generally very widespread if not even the norm prior to the 18th century enlightenment, which appears to be the first main event to seriously bring the concept of among many things regarding ethics & human rights, nepotism to light & scrutiny. It seems that prior to the enlightenment & industrial revolution, most aspects of life were generally far less standard ethically as well as institutionally than nowadays.
It’s always interesting however to find out & observe instances of ethical issues brought to light before the enlightenment & modern era of ethics. People should post examples of some here.
 

Chlodio

Forum Staff
Aug 2016
5,095
Dispargum
Medieval Europe was a very stratified society with a person's status or class determined at birth. There was little opportunity to cross the barriers between the classes. Status and position was inherited, not earned through merit. People were often not considered for various jobs and positions simply because they came from 'the wrong family' or 'the wrong sort of people.'
 
May 2018
1,069
Michigan
It was an accepted practice that didn't always work out in favor of the recipient: Arthur Wellesley caught a lot of **** for having his older brother as Governor of India. In many cases, Wellesley had to work twice as hard to prove he earned his positions and assignments. At least in Wellesley's day, the practice was accepted, but still widely frowned upon.
 
Aug 2014
1,192
Portugal
Imagine it gets am unfair rap? And in reality it functions like nepotism in Silicon Valley startups, that is you hire your friends, relatives, and jousting buddies, and generally based on the word of mouth reputation system, but there is still a minimum competency cutoff? Like you would not hire a mental retard who is your brother in law to handle your heavy cavalry whose idea of a cunning plan is to charge straight into a row of pikes? So there is a lot of favoritism compared to modern meritocratic systems in terms of filling posts, but there is still a competency cutoff that your medieval HR has to consider?

Not an expert here. In feudalism you didn't simply hire someone.

Well you could hire professional soldiers and captains but imo most of the times you would have to rely on your net of allies, vassals etc.

Maybe some of them were incompetent but you would have little choice as they were commanders by birthright. Even the incompetent.

But the role of the nobility was to make war. They were the warrior caste, the belatores. Warfare was the sport of the nobility.

Even if your brother in law was stupid, at least he would show up in the battlefield with his men... and that is a good thing.
 
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Aug 2014
1,192
Portugal
In the Arabic Sea in early 1500, Afonso de Albuquerque gave the command of one of his ships to a mixed race man, a bastard son of a portuguese noble and his african slave mistress.

Later Albuquerque condemned a noble to be hanged. A punishment reserved to the commoners.

These and other acts made him very unpopular amongst the knights who served in his campaigns. And his bad reputation reached the king's ears.
 
Mar 2018
1,034
UK
I don't think you can call it nepotism if it's the rule. Giving an important job to the most competent person rather than a high ranking noble from your family would have been seen as just as much a corruption of the system as doing the opposite is now.
 
Aug 2014
1,192
Portugal
I don't think you can call it nepotism if it's the rule. Giving an important job to the most competent person rather than a high ranking noble from your family would have been seen as just as much a corruption of the system as doing the opposite is now.
What is the right word then?

I dont think medieval people used the word "nepotism" but they also didnt use the word "feudalism".
 

johnincornwall

Ad Honorem
Nov 2010
8,116
Cornwall
You gave titles to people you liked and exiled those you didn't. Fairly simple really.

But the whole OP is written in 21st century terms. Which is a bit silly really
 

pugsville

Ad Honoris
Oct 2010
10,098
Imagine it gets am unfair rap? And in reality it functions like nepotism in Silicon Valley startups, that is you hire your friends, relatives, and jousting buddies, and generally based on the word of mouth reputation system, but there is still a minimum competency cutoff? Like you would not hire a mental retard who is your brother in law to handle your heavy cavalry whose idea of a cunning plan is to charge straight into a row of pikes? So there is a lot of favoritism compared to modern meritocratic systems in terms of filling posts, but there is still a competency cutoff that your medieval HR has to consider?
Feudalism *IS* nepotism to a large degree ligitmacy and power is about kinship and personal ties. The Nation state does not exists it's the dynasty, the Kinship which holds the structure together. The conceptional normative structure of the state is a complex web of interperosnal of feailty and kinship.

Nepotism or appaionet of ones relatives make sense when teh prirmay orgainser of political fatcions is dynastsic and kinship. Thugh thats no guratrree Kings fighting their Bortehrs ofr Sons is common enough.

That said peole are normally selected for roles of their abiiaties and telents, people do not appiont ministers o9r generals to fail generally. But what can happen is there are seveal parrallal games of power playing out if differnet areana, Politics at court verus Generalhsip in the field, skill and ability in one area can lead to power in anotehr which the inidividal is not suited for.