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Hereditary rule wreaked havoc in ‘Game of Thrones’ — and in the medieval Europe

This photo released by HBO shows Kit Harington as Jon Snow, left, and Emilia Clarke as Daenerys Targaryen in a scene from “Game of Thrones.”
(HBO via AP)

(Spoiler Alert! This article contains information about the latest episode of “Game of Thrones.”)

After eight seasons, the epic “Game of Thrones” TV series finally solved the question of who will rule — with an unexpected twist. Bran “the Broken” Stark rolled into position as the new king of the Six Kingdoms, but will no longer have a king or queen for the rule are automatically inherited by their children.

And that is a good thing: Much of the political unrest in the HBO series stems from uncertainty about the rightful heir to the throne. While it’s anyone’s guess what lies ahead for westeros under the new system, we know from the European history that hereditary succession can lead to disruptions that reverberate to this day.

In fact, researchers recently discovered that when male heirs to medieval European monarchies were scarce, the resulting social divisions impeded economic growth for generations. As a result, countries in the regions, which lacked male heirs “are today poorer than other regions,” the scientists reported online March 11 in the journal Comparative Political Studies. [5 Real-Life Inspiration for ‘Game of Thrones’ Characters]

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During the middle Ages in Europe, around the year 1000 to 1500, direct male descendants were the most desirable heirs to a throne or a title of nobility. Women and distant male offspring would also be able to fill those roles, but these were more likely that criticism and violence between the rival groups of supporters, and against the danger for future economic growth, the researchers wrote.

In regions where the princes had the good fortune to have male heirs, so the undisputed leader transitions, “rulers were able to build from the government is necessary for the support of the economic development,” the scientists wrote.

“In areas subjected to a greater potential for political instability, the path to economic prosperity was much more severe,” the researchers said.

What about illegal male heirs? In the “Game of Thrones,” King Joffrey Baratheon called for the murder of his father’s bastards, so that no one could challenge the new king’s claim to the throne. But in the study, the researchers determined that the medieval taboos on the succession by the illegitimate sons were so strong, that the number of bastard “heirs” don’t have much of an effect on the medieval politics.

Through the ages, other factors in Europe, also in the form of social and economic fortunes, the scientist reported. But the fingerprints of the medieval hierarchies to the left a powerful imprint, France and Naples, for example, had consistently the male offspring in the middle Ages, and even today, these areas tend to be better off economically than some of their neighbors, according to the study.

“The emergence of the first modern states in this period was so important, and the member states themselves so fragile, that even small disruptions can have long-term consequences,” the researchers wrote.

Fans of “Game of Thrones” will have to make, for themselves or in westeros’ new approach to leadership — where the new rulers will be chosen by a noble council, rather than pre-determined by heredity — will prove successful. The judgments of the council of vociferous reaction to Sam Tarly with the proposal that they the emancipation of the ordinary people to choose a leader, and the Six Kingdoms is clearly not ready to embrace democracy just yet.

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Originally published on Live Science.

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