How bad was nepotism under feudalism?

Mar 2018
1,034
UK
What is the right word then?

I dont think medieval people used the word "nepotism" but they also didnt use the word "feudalism".
Dynastic rule maybe? For me nepotism is a type of corruption, but something is only corrupt if it's "against the system". When hiring close relatives *is* the system, then doing exactly that is not corruption.
 
Jul 2019
1,204
New Jersey
Dynastic rule maybe? For me nepotism is a type of corruption, but something is only corrupt if it's "against the system". When hiring close relatives *is* the system, then doing exactly that is not corruption.
I would largely agree, with the exception of nepotism in the Church. The Church was always, in principle, supposed to be led by the best and holiest. When men such as Duke William of Normandy or Pope Alexander VI stacked the church's ranks with their family members, that was nepotism, then as now. And yes, such manipulation of ecclesiastical offices was very much the norm in medieval Europe. It was a great way to get pesky younger sons or potential rivals out of the way.
 

Naomasa298

Forum Staff
Apr 2010
36,304
T'Republic of Yorkshire
Since this thread is not about Europe, nepotism has brought down more than one Chinese monarch. Not necessarily nepotism by the monarch, but by those in the Chinese civil service and the palace hierarchy,
 

Naomasa298

Forum Staff
Apr 2010
36,304
T'Republic of Yorkshire
When does favouratism become nepotism? Was Edward II's favouring of his (alleged) lover Piers Gaveston nepotism?

The story of the hot poker notwithstanding, other nobles appear to have thought so...
 
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sparky

Ad Honorem
Jan 2017
5,782
Sydney
probably in other culture but certainly in medieval Europe , one first allegiance was to his family .
it was a person duty to promote his kin and allies to obtain all possible advantage
it being clearly understood that they will in turn use their position to promote their side
the monarchy was fully aware of this and had to balance granting advancement of some versus creating jealous enemies of many others

It was a game of balance and influence making sure nobody got so powerful as to be a risk
in fact promoting some families could be done to raise hostility among many losers ,thus checking their power to make alliances

that was the game of thrones , ecclesiastical prize were some of the most coveted ,
all the upper rank of the church were given to aristocrats younger sons or daughters
 
Aug 2014
1,192
Portugal
Monarchy is legalized nepotism. People rise to the throne based on genes, no matter their skills, talents or personality.
Why? Because one of your real or imaginary ancestor did something big and everyone in the family got some magical power to rule over the land.

Noble families followed more or less the same rule.

It doesn't mean you couldn't pick the best people to help you with your finances, or to be a captain in your army, an engineer to reinforce your castle or build siege engines. I think there was less room for nepotism in this technical jobs. But in the end the boss would always be someone from your family.
 

Naomasa298

Forum Staff
Apr 2010
36,304
T'Republic of Yorkshire
Monarchy is legalized nepotism. People rise to the throne based on genes, no matter their skills, talents or personality.
The Roman Emperor was selected by his predecessor, or took the throne by force of arms.
 
May 2018
1,069
Michigan
The Roman Emperor was selected by his predecessor, or took the throne by force of arms.
Of of the biggest misconceptions is that the Roman Emperor held official power on the level of hereditary Austrian, Russian or Japanese Emperors. Until Diocletian, the Roman "Empire" still put on the veneer of a Republic, and often support of the Army was required to hold power. The "Five Good Emperors" were not chosen by dynastic succession. Whether or not a Roman Emperor was a "legitimate" successor in the monarchal sense was situatio dependent on the "Empire" at the time.

Will people claim that FDR was the first "American Emperor?" Maybe if we apply the roman standard.

If anything, Roman Emperors were "military dictators" in the Napoleonic, South American or post-Apartheid African way.
 

Naomasa298

Forum Staff
Apr 2010
36,304
T'Republic of Yorkshire
Of of the biggest misconceptions is that the Roman Emperor held official power on the level of hereditary Austrian, Russian or Japanese Emperors.
Another misconception is that pre-modern Japanese emperors held official power in the same way as European or Chinese emperors.
 
May 2018
1,069
Michigan
Another misconception is that pre-modern Japanese emperors held official power in the same way as European or Chinese emperors.
Yeah, there is some nuance to what I am saying. A Japanese Emperor's power was more imagined than practical: he still had to placate the military, and the "constitution" was stacked almost as much in favor of the IJN/IJA as much as it was the Emperor (either branch could dissolve a cabinet, regardless of the Emperor). Either branch could **** over a cabinet by refusing to name minister. It would be like if the US Army, Navy (with Marines) or Air Force (with Space Force) could force a Presidential election by refusing to approve a Secretary of the Army, Navy or Air Force. Or after the reorgznation, even collectively refusing to approve a SECDEF.

However, a Japanese Emperor was worshipped to an extreme not usually seen in European monarchs. When I compare emperors like the "Five Good Emperors", some may have been officially "gods", but when you look at how they held power, it was clear they were mortal. Japanese Emperors were worshiped to the point of the suicide bombers I saw in Iraq and Afghanistan worshiped fundamentalist Islam.
 
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