How bad was nepotism under feudalism?

Naomasa298

Forum Staff
Apr 2010
36,304
T'Republic of Yorkshire
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.
I'm talking about the pre-modern Japanese emperors, not post-Meiji ones. They had a theoretical spiritual power but in practise, they "ruled" at the pleasure of whoever was in control of the Imperial capital Kyoto. Most of them abdicated after a few years, so they could have *more* influence. post 11th century, the Japanese emperor could not issue political edicts - that was the province of the Shogun, or the Shogun's regent.
 

betgo

Ad Honorem
Jul 2011
6,766
The word nepotism originated in the Catholic Church and is derived from nephew. It refers to pope, cardinals, and bishops promoting "nephews", really sons.
 
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Jan 2012
502
South Midlands in Merlin's Isle of Gramarye
In times when extended families were the only available and practical form of management then most rulers used their relatives as their subordinates and supporters. This applies as much in feudalism as tanistry.

If you want an illustration of keeping things in the family then a brief look at the aristocratic houses of 18th century England and their obvious tendency to stick together and network through relatives. An entire chunk of my own ancestors at that time were employed as stewards, personal servants and agents to the Earls and later Dukes of Bedford, the Russell family. It was so intense at one point that not only was nepotism being practiced by the Russells it was also practiced by their servants. But then you know you can lean on your own kith and kin.

Keeping wealth in the family has a deep, inner logic. Even modern systems presumably based on competence - although that is arguable - are prone to what we should call `family values'.
 
May 2018
1,069
Michigan
One thing to also consider is that the Middle Ages - Georgian Era, there was no such thing as credit rating, and whom you could trust relied upon your reputation and the willingness of others to vouch for you. Family was inherently more trustworthy in a time with no SEC to regulate business and protect you from the unscrupulous practices of your employees. Even the best King or Duke can't manage his realm without trusted subordinates.
 

johnincornwall

Ad Honorem
Nov 2010
8,117
Cornwall
One thing to also consider is that the Middle Ages - Georgian Era, there was no such thing as credit rating, and whom you could trust relied upon your reputation and the willingness of others to vouch for you. Family was inherently more trustworthy in a time with no SEC
Really? People still wouldn't deal with folks who were unlikely to pay and in such a time of 'keeping up with the Jones's' financial embarrassment was fairly common I would have thought? Just because Clearscore wasn't about doesn't mean people weren't assessed by their dosh - or lack thereof!
 
May 2018
1,069
Michigan
Really? People still wouldn't deal with folks who were unlikely to pay and in such a time of 'keeping up with the Jones's' financial embarrassment was fairly common I would have thought? Just because Clearscore wasn't about doesn't mean people weren't assessed by their dosh - or lack thereof!
The point is (was) that financial credibilty was less quantifiable in those days: a man's personal reputation as a gentleman (or generally, a man) was also his credit score and his resume. A "background check" in the Georgian Era meant bringing letters of recommendation from as many potential patrons one could muster and hope to get a job. Loaning money was not based on (mostly) impartial, quantifiable standards but the moneylender's personal perception of your credibility.