The Decline in Importance of Primogeniture

1444 Words6 Pages
Male primogeniture has played and still plays a major role in society. Inheritance, or the means to pass on family property and power, is understandably an important concept. Yet, its importance has been decreasing with time. While most parts of our planet have stepped over their discriminative inheritance customs, why have some of the most developed countries such as Sweden wait until the end of the 20th century to erase primogeniture? This contrast between democratic values and undemocratic inheritance customs puts primogeniture a special position. The concept and its development though times can be used as a perfect example for Castillo’s argument in “Massacre of the Dreamers”. It perfectly signifies how overarching our global culture is, and shows that there is a major lag between economic and social development and a change in customs.

Male primogeniture, or the right, by law or custom, of the first-born boy to inherit the entire estate, to the exclusion of younger siblings, has played a significant social and historical role. Before, the fall of the Roman Empire primogeniture was very popular in the middle-east, a region that Castillo culturally connects to Mexico. One of the first documentations of primogeniture was in the Bible. The story that point out the existence of the first son tradition in the Bible was that of Jacob and Esau, Isaac’s two sons. In this narrative Esau sells his rights as a first-born to his younger sibling in exchange for a small amount of food. “Then Jacob gave Esau some bread and some lentil stew. He ate and drank, and then got up and left. So Esau despised his birthright.” (“Genesis”) It is significant that at the time Roman law did not make a difference between first or second-born, male or fema...

... middle of paper ...

...millions of people everywhere around the globe. Yet few know why they follow these customs, hence the title myth. Since understanding their development requires thorough knowledge of history, it is acceptable that people forget the origins. Castillo’s example of Middle-Eastern culture affecting Mexico falls in the same category. It is however, incredibly interesting that so few pursue the research of such subjects. Clearly, primogeniture was created to fit its own historical context. In fact, understanding its importance in the middle-ages helps to see how obsolete it is today. However, the lack of interest in the roots of the tradition, leads to a lag between the questioning of the custom and the fall of the system which it was created for. It is the purpose of writings such as Castillo’s to point out such outdated customs, allowing society to take a step forward.

More about The Decline in Importance of Primogeniture

Open Document