Delivering Stability: Primogeniture and autocratic survival in European monarchies 1000-1800
Despite being the probably most common form of political rule in history, monarchies remain understudied in terms of how constitutional arrangements affect leader survival. In this paper, we examine if the principle of succession mattered for the risk that a king or queen would be deposed in Europe, 1000-1800. Specifically, we draw on the work of Gordon Tullock, who argued that hereditary succession orders in-creases the chances of survival for dictators. The proposed reason is that a crown prince constitutes a natural focal point for the ruling elite, which makes it easier for them to avoid costly power struggles. Furthermore, crown princes are generally much younger than other challengers, and can thus afford to wait for the current king to die or abdicate peacefully. The hypothesis is tested on a new dataset, and the results show that the risk of deposition was several times higher in European monarchies not practicing primogeniture. Moreover, the spread of primogeniture to a large extent explains why the risk of deposition became dramatically lower in Europe during the period of study.
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