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 contradiction between democratic values and inheritance customs gives 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
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As Adam Smith writes in his “An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations”, “when land was considered as the means, not of subsistence merely, but of power and protection, it was thought better that it should descend undivided to one” (“Primogeniture”). This means that the existence of the feudal system on a large scale was only possible because of male primogeniture. Truly, one can see the importance of such a law for the feudal lords, as the strong belief in the rights of the first-born son allowed them to unquestionably rule over major pieces of land. Or as Smith puts it, “the security of a landed estate, therefore, the protection which its owner could afford to those who dwelt on it, depended upon its greatness” (“Primogeniture”). Thus, a simple custom gave rise to the existence of a social structure, feudalism.
In fact, the mystery behind sex and procreation was perfect to create such a powerful social agreement. Humans in the middle ages believed that something was passed on with the sperm that later defined the essence of the child. It is interesting that societies in the middle-ages were able to elaborate on this subject without a basic understanding of genetics. This mystery mixed with patriarchic thinking, led to the justification of passing over the crown to the first-born male. That is how primogeniture became even more important with the rise of monarchic systems. In many