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Panos Targaryen

Pretty much every European medieval/early modern elective monarchy in real life ended up becoming hereditary

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Posted (edited)

Source: Wikipedia

Holy Roman Empire: Although officially an elective monarchy, from 1440 to 1740 a Habsburg was always elected emperor, the throne becoming unofficially hereditary. This continued from 1740-1806 when the new line of Habsburgs took over, until the fall of the HRE.

Anglo-Saxon England: A system of elective monarchy existed in Anglo-Saxon England, with the Witenagemot being able to elect and depose kings. This ended with the Norman Conquest and William the Conqueror's accession.

Dutch Republic: In the Dutch Republic of the 17th and 18th Century there was the office of the Stadtholder, whose power fell short of those of a monarch, and which was elective. In theory anyone could be elected Stadtholder, though in practice it was restricted to members of the House of Orange. The House of Orange and its adherents tried to increase the powers of the Stadtholder to approximate those of a Monarch, to make it officially hereditary (which it became in the later part of the 18th Century) and finally to transform it into a full-fledged hereditary Monarchy – as it was in 1815.

Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth: Became hereditary constitutional monarchy with the Constitution of 3 May 1791.

Sweden: Originally, the Kings of Sweden were elected by all free men at the Mora Thing. Elective monarchy continued until 1544, when the Riksdag of the Estates designated the heirs of King Gustav Vasa as the heirs to the throne.

Denmark: The Danish monarchy was officially elective, although the eldest son of the reigning monarch was usually elected. This continued until 1660, when an absolute and officially hereditary monarchy was instituted by Frederick III.

Norway: In the tradition of Germanic monarchy the king had to be elected by a representative assembly of noblemen. Men eligible for election had to be of royal blood; but the eldest son of the previous king was not automatically chosen. During the civil war era the unclear succession laws and the practice of power-sharing between several kings simultaneously gave personal conflicts the potential to become full-blown wars. Over the centuries kings consolidated their power, and eventually a strict succession law made Norway a principally hereditary kingdom.

France: Medieval France was an elective monarchy at the time of the first Capetian kings; the kings however took the habit of, during their reign, having their son elected as successor. The election soon became a mere formality and vanished after the reign of Philip II of France.

Bohemia: Since medieval times, the King of Bohemia was elected by the Estates of Lands of the Bohemian Crown. Since 1526, when the Holy Roman Emperor Ferdinand I assumed the Bohemian Crown, it was always held by the Habsburgs, who expected this situation to go on indefinitely. In 1618 the Bohemians chose to exercise in practice their legal right to choose a King at their discretion, and bestowed the Bohemian Crown on Frederick V, Elector Palatine. However, the Habsburgs regarded this as an act of rebellion, imposed their rule over Bohemia in the Battle of the White Mountain and in the aftermath abolished the Bohemian Elective Monarchy and made exclusive Habsburg rule the de jure as well as de facto situation.

Just saying. The "wheel" was not "broken". With a "Stark" monarch beyond the Wall (hopefully what Jon has become in the end), a Stark monarch in the North, and a Stark monarch in the South, as well as probably a Stark being the first to discover the continent west of Westeros (which will no doubt be fought over and colonized in the future by the powers of Westeros like the Americas were in real life) Stark hegemony is assured in the continent.

When Bran dies/becomes a tree childless there will be no election, just a brief diplomatic and political squabble before Sansa or her ancestors assert their rights over the kingship of Westeros. Elective monarchy in general is not sustainable, much less so in a medieval society, even more less so when one House controls the entire continent anyway. 

Anyway, the idea that an elective monarchy is automatically "progress" over a hereditary one is a big assumption, and very Whigish. It seems to me that historically countries in a more primitive and "newborn" state, when things are chaotic and the main powers of the land are warlords, start as elective, and then as they become more sophisticated and advanced hereditary monarchy becomes the norm. So actually, historically speaking elective monarchies are more "primitive" than hereditary ones.

There's no reason for democracy and revolution to be themes in ASOIAF, it can still be a positive story without them. You know what would be a realistic scenario where Westeros' political system becomes more "advanced"? Absolute monarchy and/or enlightened absolutism. 

Edited by Panos Targaryen

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True. Probably the next generation would just take complete control or have it set up to be an unoffical monarchy. None of it made sense.

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Yup, just a question of when a house of sufficient power arises to claim (unofficial or official) monopoly over being elected.

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1 hour ago, Panos Targaryen said:

Anyway, the idea that an elective monarchy is automatically "progress" over a hereditary one is a big assumption, and very Whigish. It seems to me that historically countries in a more primitive and "newborn" state, when things are chaotic and the main powers of the land are warlords, start as elective, and then as they become more sophisticated and advanced hereditary monarchy becomes the norm. So actually, historically speaking elective monarchies are more "primitive" than hereditary ones.

Thanks for all these historical insights. Very interesting to read. 

And yes, elective monarchy in Westeros does not really promise to be the solution for all the problems, if any. 

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28 minutes ago, snow is the man said:

True. Probably the next generation would just take complete control or have it set up to be an unoffical monarchy. None of it made sense.

It is was to allow show watches the fiction of progress, when in reality it was nothing of the sort. True progress would have been to set up a parliament that had to ratify laws and taxes.

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Posted (edited)
14 minutes ago, JagLover said:

It is was to allow show watches the fiction of progress, when in reality it was nothing of the sort. True progress would have been to set up a parliament that had to ratify laws and taxes.

True. I'm a fan of absolute monarchy in fantasy cause typically feudalism is the only form of monarchy portrayed, so I tend to overemphasize absolutism as being the next logical step in the evolution of Westeros' system of government in my posts.

But British Parliamentarianism (Tudor-style or post-English Civil War-style, not the modern democratic one) is also another realistic path they could take.

Edited by Panos Targaryen

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There are, of course, two elective monarchies still in existence. The Papacy, and Andorra (one of Andorra's Co-Princes is the elected President of France). But that's nitpicky.

The problem with elective monarchies generally is that they encourage one of two things - either very weak Kings (elected by a nobility that want to ensure no check on their powers) or Kings who creatively ensure hereditary succession de facto. Westeros will choose a non-Stark after Bran dies (they're a separate kingdom. Bran's magic powers make him a special case, but that's it), and from that point on, you'll see the push to restore de facto hereditary rule. 

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Posted (edited)

Generally it would be same as the German empire in the middle ages, with a limited number of Electors electing the emperor. Which sometimes worked, sometimes didn't - there were some hereditary sequences but quite often daddy had to fight hard to have his son succeed him in the Emperor role.

 

Now it could go several workable ways. The amount of electors could increase to form basically a Parliament (which would have fairly strong position then). The amount of Electors could stay as is and it will work for some time. Kinda. 

 

In any case there are ways how to prevent this - all would require strong electors and Council, for example it is possible to outright ban direct relatives of King to be elected as his successors. It IS doable, if Bran and his allies lay down strong enough constitutional foundation. Or by the time hereditary monarchy returns it is not feudal system anymore, but constitutional monarchy or at least late stages of Absolutism. 

 

Of course, that is the ideal case :)

 

EDIT: re. weak king, maybe that is the point of Bran after all - he seems to be satisfied with a strong Small Council foundation, reducing the need for strong King. After all his power is rather "soft power" in the first place.

Edited by Runaway Penguin

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I think you people here are way more learned in the ways of real life monarchies than D&D :D

I also think that GoTs started as an old mans show, with politics, blood and boobs - then somewhere along the line it became a global phenomenon and got dumbed down. When it got dumbed down, they had to dumb down the political realism (coz you know kids and their attention spans :) - yeah, sure, I'm stereotyping but its mostly true) . Anyways, my point being is that yes, an elected monarchy, to a person who knows a lot about medieval history, as you all seem to, is probably stupid - but, for a dumbed down audience, it shows a little bit of change without there being enough to upset Westerosi tradition, which I think is the thematic point.

What's that saying, never let the truth get in the way of a good story.

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6 minutes ago, ummester said:

I also think that GoTs started as an old mans show, with politics, blood and boobs

Yeah :-)

6 minutes ago, ummester said:

then somewhere along the line it became a global phenomenon and got dumbed down

Yes, unfortunately, it own success caused the dumbing down, the turning towards mainstream. Not so daring anymore, not provocative, less sexually attractive scenes. 

7 minutes ago, ummester said:

they had to dumb down the political realism

Yes, they had other priorities then. CGI-dragons sold the story, not the most clever intrigue.

8 minutes ago, ummester said:

an elected monarchy, to a person who knows a lot about medieval history, as you all seem to, is probably stupid - but, for a dumbed down audience, it shows a little bit of change without there being enough to upset Westerosi tradition, which I think is the thematic point

Yes, that's a valid summary.

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To me the great story of the whole saga is nothing really changes.  The stories, at least those selected to be told, will fade into lore and in a couple generations (or a few ore) the reign for "Brann the Broken" will be discussed as simply something of history.  The great council MIGHT be remembered but it might readily be remembered that Brann only took the throne when an army of Northmen were at the gates and negotiated a peace with the invaders from across the narrow sea.  Given the incredible size of the Unsullied and Dothraki forces the northern army that forced them to negotiate must have been impressive (apparently armies in Westeros rebuild as quickly as ships??).  The great families stay relatively the same, the "small folk" are slaughtered in their wars, and the tale of the defeat of the White Walkers (who were considered to not exist shortly before), fades into the memory of fantasy.  

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Hopefully Jon and Tyrion will live long enough to see the failures born out of their treachery. 

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3 hours ago, Panos Targaryen said:

Anyway, the idea that an elective monarchy is automatically "progress" over a hereditary one is a big assumption, and very Whigish. It seems to me that historically countries in a more primitive and "newborn" state, when things are chaotic and the main powers of the land are warlords, start as elective, and then as they become more sophisticated and advanced hereditary monarchy becomes the norm. So actually, historically speaking elective monarchies are more "primitive" than hereditary ones.

There's no reason for democracy and revolution to be themes in ASOIAF, it can still be a positive story without them. You know what would be a realistic scenario where Westeros' political system becomes more "advanced"? Absolute monarchy and/or enlightened absolutism. 

Isn't the Pope an elected absolute monarch with no heir?

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But those failures exist regardless of who is on the throne.  Daenarys, Brann, Jon, Aegon... The only difference is the brutality of those failures.  Aegon would have burned Kings Landing had it not been for Jaime breaking his oath.  Jon upheld his oath too long and Daenarys DID burn King's Landing.  The names will change but the wheel will continue to roll.  Right now it has simply come up Stark.  

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3 hours ago, JagLover said:

It is was to allow show watches the fiction of progress, when in reality it was nothing of the sort. True progress would have been to set up a parliament that had to ratify laws and taxes.

I have a feeling GRRM might go more in that direction. D&D went for "elective monarchy" because it was a much quicker and easier way to show "progress" on screen. I liked the last episode quite much, but I really would have liked them to spend a little more time on the "politics" post-Dany, and not just have a lot of characters sitt in a council meeting and go for the first suggestion.

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2 hours ago, RFL said:

To me the great story of the whole saga is nothing really changes.  The stories, at least those selected to be told, will fade into lore and in a couple generations (or a few ore) the reign for "Brann the Broken" will be discussed as simply something of history.  The great council MIGHT be remembered but it might readily be remembered that Brann only took the throne when an army of Northmen were at the gates and negotiated a peace with the invaders from across the narrow sea.  Given the incredible size of the Unsullied and Dothraki forces the northern army that forced them to negotiate must have been impressive (apparently armies in Westeros rebuild as quickly as ships??).  The great families stay relatively the same, the "small folk" are slaughtered in their wars, and the tale of the defeat of the White Walkers (who were considered to not exist shortly before), fades into the memory of fantasy.  

I agree.  The Starks May have won, more or less, but they ultimately failed.  Probably Jon most of all, who is my second favorite character after Ned.  Westeros seems doomed to repeat the same conflicts centuries down the road.  The wildings who retreated north of the wall will have animosity with those south of it, as well as the northern and southern kingdom, and the others will fade from memory.

When they asked if dragon fire would kill the nights king, Bran replied that no one has ever tried, which I took to mean they’ve had this “long night” scenario more than once.

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This is an interesting post, and a great point :thumbsup:

I always thought the ending would parallel the War of the Roses, where you actually end up with a MORE centralised and powerful monarchy. At first glance that doesn't seem like progress but ironically it ended up benefiting England, cause it further weakened feudalism, and gradually led to a central government in the form of parliament.

Of course, the show became too mainstream to deal with this level of complexity, far safer to just dumb it down and give mainstream audiences a "hooray, something resembling democracy!" moment.

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I assume Westeros will become a theocracy.   Bran will train up the next 3-Eyed Raven, who will know everyone's secrets, therefore blackmailing them into voting for him in as Bran's successor, and this will continue again and again.

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