The next in blood to deceased Kings cannot generally be said to be Kings till they are crowned.
'TIS hereupon usually objected, that kings do not come in by contract nor by oath, but are kings by, or according to proximity of blood, before they are crowned. Tho this be a bold proposition, I will not say 'tis universally false. 'Tis possible that in some places the rule of succession may be set down so precisely, that in some cases every man may be able to see and know the sense, as well as the person designed to be the successor: but before I acknowledge it to be universally true, I must desire to know what this rule of succession is, and from whence it draws its original.
I think I may be excused if I make these scruples, because I find the thing in dispute to be variously adjudged in several places, and have observed five different manners of disposing crowns esteemed hereditary, besides an infinite number of collateral controversies arising from them, of which we have divers examples; and if there be one universal rule appointed, one of these only can be right, and all the others must be vicious. The first gives the inheritance to the eldest male of the eldest legitimate line, as in France, according to that which they call the Salic Law. The second, to the eldest legitimate male of the reigning family, as anciently in Spain, according to which the brother of the deceased king has been often, if not always preferr'd before the son, if he were elder, as may appear by the dispute between Corbis and Orsua, cited before from Titus Livius; and in the same country during the reign of the Goths, the eldest male succeeded, whether legitimate or illegitimate. The fourth receives females or their descendants, without any other condition distinguishing them from males, except that the younger brother is preferr'd before the elder sister, but the daughter of the elder brother is preferr'd before the son of the younger. The fifth gives the inheritance to females under a condition, as in Sweden, where they inherit, unless they marry out of the country without the consent of the estates; according to which rule Charles Gustavus was chosen, as any stranger might have been, tho son to a sister of Gustavus Adolphus, who by marrying a German prince had forfeited her right. And by the same act of estates, by which her eldest son was chosen, and the crown entailed upon the heirs of his body, her second son the prince Adolphus was wholly excluded.
Till these questions are decided by a judge of such an undoubted authority, that all men may safely submit, 'tis hard for any man who really seeks the satisfaction of his conscience, to know whether the law of God and nature (tho he should believe there is one general law) do justify the customs of the ancient Medes and Sabeans, mentioned by the poet, who admitted females, or those of France which totally exclude them as unfit to reign over men, and utterly unable to perform the duty of a supreme magistrate, as we see they are everywhere excluded from the exercise of all other offices in the commonwealth. If it be said that we ought to follow the customs of our own country, I answer, that those of our own country deserve to be observed, because they are of our own country: But they are no more to be called the laws of God and nature than those of France or Germany; and tho I do not believe that any general law is appointed, I wish I were sure that our customs in this point were not more repugnant to the light of nature, and prejudicial to ourselves, than those of some other nations: But if I should be so much an Englishman, to think the will of God to have been more particularly revealed to our ancestors, than to any other nation, and that all of them ought to learn from us; yet it would be difficult to decide many questions that may arise. For tho the parliament in the 36th of Henry the sixth, made an act in favour of Richard duke of York, descended from a daughter of Mortimer, who married the daughter of the duke of Clarence, elder brother to John of Gaunt, they rather asserted their own power of giving the crown to whom they pleased, than determined the question. For if they had believed that the crown had belonged to him by a general and eternal law, they must immediately have rejected Henry as a usurper, and put Richard into the possession of his right, which they did not. And tho they did something like to this in the cases of Maud the empress in relation to King Stephen, and her son Henry the 2d; and of Henry the 7th in relation to the house of York, both before he had married a daughter of it, and after her death; they did the contrary in the cases of William the first and second, Henry the 1st, Stephen, John, Richard the 3d, Henry the 7th, Mary, Elizabeth, and others. So that, for anything I can yet find, 'tis equally difficult to discover the true sense of the law of nature that should be a guide to my conscience, whether I so far submit to the laws of my country, to think that England alone has produced men that rightly understand it, or examine the laws and practices of other nations.
Whilst this remains undecided, 'tis impossible for me to know to whom I owe the obedience that is exacted from me. If I were a French-man, I could not tell whether I ow'd allegiance to the king of Spain, duke of Lorraine, duke of Savoy, or many others descended from daughters of the house of Valois, one of whom ought to inherit, if the inheritance belongs to females; or to the house of Bourbon, whose only title is founded upon the exclusion of them. The like controversies will be in all places; and he that would put mankind upon such enquiries, goes about to subvert all the governments of the world, and arms every man to the destruction of his neighbour.
We ought to be informed when this right began: If we had the genealogy of every man from Noah, and the crowns of every nation had since his time continued in one line, we were only to inquire into how many kingdoms he appointed the world to be divided, and how well the division we see at this day agrees with the allotment made by him. But mankind having for many ages lain under such a vast confusion, that no man pretends to know his own original, except some Jews, and the princes of the house of Austria, we cannot so easily arrive at the end of our work; and the Scriptures making no other mention of this part of the world, than what may induce us to think it was given to the sons of Japheth, we have nothing that can lead us to guess how it was to be subdivided, nor to whom the several parcels were given: So that the difficulties are absolutely inextricable; and tho it were true, that some one man had a right to every parcel that is known to us, it could be of no use; for that right must necessarily perish which no man can prove, nor indeed claim. But as all natural rights by inheritance must be by descent, this descent not being proved, there can be no natural right; and all rights being either natural, created or acquired, this right to crowns not being natural, must be created or acquired, or none at all.
There being no general law common to all nations, creating a right to crowns (as has been proved by the several methods used by several nations in the disposal of them, according to which all those that we know are enjoy'd) we must seek the right concerning which we dispute, from the particular constitutions of every nation, or we shall be able to find none.
Acquir'd rights are obtained, as men say, either by fair means or by foul, that is, by force or by consent: such as are gained by force, may be recovered by force; and the extent of those that are enjoy'd by consent, can only be known by the reasons for which, or the conditions upon which that consent was obtain'd, that is to say, by the laws of every people. According to these laws it cannot be said that there is a king in every nation before he is crown'd. John Sobieski now reigning in Poland, had no relation in blood to the former kings, nor any title till he was chosen. The last king of Sweden acknowledged he had none, but was freely elected; and the crown being conferred upon him and the heirs of his body, if the present king dies without issue, the right of electing a successor returns undoubtedly to the estates of the country. The crown of Denmark was elective till it was made hereditary by an act of the general diet, held at Copenhagen in the year 1660; and 'tis impossible that a right should otherwise accrue to a younger brother of the house of Holstein, which is derived from a younger brother of the counts of Oldenburgh. The Roman empire having passed through the hands of many persons of different nations, no way relating to each other in blood, was by Constantine transferred to Constantinople; and after many revolutions coming to Theodosius, by birth a Spaniard, was divided between his two sons Arcadius and Honorius. From thence passing to such as could gain most credit with the soldiers, the Western empire being brought almost to nothing, was restored by Charles the Great of France; and continuing for some time in his descendants, came to the Germans; who having created several emperors of the houses of Swabia, Saxony, Bavaria and others, as they pleased, about three hundred years past chose Rudolph of Austria: and tho since that time they have not had any emperor who was not of that family; yet such as were chosen had nothing to recommend them, but the merits of their ancestors, their own personal virtues, or such political considerations as might arise from the power of their hereditary countries, which being joined with those of the empire might enable them to make the better defence against the Turks. But in this line also they have had little regard to inheritance according to blood; for the elder branch of the family is that which reigns in Spain; and the empire continues in the descendants of Ferdinand younger brother to Charles the fifth, tho so unfix'd even to this time, that the present Emperor Leopold was in great danger of being rejected.
If it be said that these are elective kingdoms, and our author speaks of such as are hereditary; I answer, that if what he says be true, there can be no elective kingdom, and every nation has a natural lord to whom obedience is due. But if some are elective, all might have been so if they had pleased, unless it can be proved, that God created some under a necessity of subjection, and left to others the enjoyment of their liberty. If this be so, the nations that are born under that necessity may be said to have a natural lord, who has all the power in himself, before he is crowned, or any part conferred on him by the consent of the people; but it cannot extend to others. And he who pretends a right over any nation upon that account, stands obliged to shew when and how that nation came to be discriminated by God from others, and deprived of that liberty which he in goodness had granted to the rest of mankind. I confess I think there is no such right, and need no better proof than the various ways of disposing inheritances in several countries, which not being naturally or universally better or worse one than another, cannot spring from any other root, than the consent of the several nations where they are in force, and their opinions that such methods were best for them. But if God have made a discrimination of people, he that would thereupon ground a title to the dominion of any one, must prove that nation to be under the curse of slavery, which for anything I know, was only denounced against Ham: and 'tis as hard to determine whether the sense of it be temporal, spiritual, or both, as to tell precisely what nations by being only descended from him, fall under the penalties threatened.
If these therefore be either entirely false, or impossible to be proved true, there is no discrimination, or not known to us; and every people has a right of disposing of their government, as well as the Polanders, Danes, Swedes, Germans, and such as are or were under the Roman empire. And if any nation has a natural lord before he be admitted by their consent, it must be by a peculiar act of their own; as the crown of France by an act of that nation, which they call the Salic Law, is made hereditary to males in a direct line, or the nearest to the direct; and others in other places are otherwise disposed.
I might rest here with full assurance that no disciple of Filmer can prove this of any people in the world, nor give so much as the shadow of a reason to persuade us there is any such thing in any nation, or at least in those where we are concerned; and presume little regard will be had to what he has said, since he cannot prove of any that which he so boldly affirms of all. But because good men ought to have no other object than truth, which in matters of this importance can never be made too evident, I will venture to go farther and assert, that as the various ways by which several nations dispose of the succession to their respective crowns, shew they were subject to no other law than their own, which they might have made different, by the same right they made it to be what it is, even those who have the greatest veneration for the reigning families, and the highest regard for proximity of blood, have always preferr'd the safety of the commonwealth before the concernments of any person or family; and have not only laid aside the nearest in blood, when they were found to be notoriously vicious and wicked, but when they have thought it more convenient to take others: And to prove this I intend to make use of no other examples than those I find in the histories of Spain, France and England.
Whilst the Goths governed Spain, not above four persons in the space of three hundred years were the immediate successors of their fathers, but the brother, cousin german, or some other man of the families of the Balthi or Amalthi was preferred before the children of the deceased king: and if it be said, this was according to the law of that kingdom, I answer, that it was therefore in the power of that nation to make laws for themselves, and consequently others have the same right. One of their kings called Wamba was deposed and made a monk after he had reigned well many years; but falling into a swoon, and his friends thinking him past recovery, cut off his hair, and put a monk's frock upon him, that, according to the superstition of those times, he might die in it; and the cutting off the hair being a most disgraceful thing amongst the Goths, they would not restore him to his authority. Suintila another of their kings being deprived of the crown for his ill government, his children and brothers were excluded, and Sisinandus crowned in his room.
This kingdom being not long after overthrown by the Moors, a new one arose from its ashes in the person of Don Pelayo first king of the Asturias, which increasing by degrees at last came to comprehend all Spain, and so continues to this day: But not troubling myself with all the deviations from the common rule in the collateral lines of Navarre, Aragon and Portugal, I find that by fifteen several instances in that one series of kings in the Asturias and Leon (who afterwards came to be kings of Castile) it is fully proved, that what respect soever they shew'd to the next in blood, who by the law were to succeed, they preferred some other person, as often as the supreme law of taking care that the nation might receive no detriment, persuaded them to it.
Don Pelayo enjoy'd for his life the kingdom conferred upon him by the Spaniards, who with him retired into the mountains to defend themselves against the Moors, and was succeeded by his son Favila. But tho Favila left many sons when he died, Alfonso surnamed the Chaste was advanced to the crown, and they all laid aside. Fruela son to Alfonso the Catholick, was for his cruelty deposed, put to death, and his sons excluded. Aurelio his cousin german succeeded him; and at his death Silo, who married his wife's sister, was preferr'd before the males of the blood royal. Alfonso, surnamed El Casto, was first violently dispossess'd of the crown by a bastard of the royal family; but he being dead, the nobility and people thinking Alfonso more fit to be a monk than a king, gave the crown to Bermudo called El Diacono; but Bermudo after several years resigning the kingdom, they conceived a better opinion of Alfonso, and made him king. Alfonso dying without issue, Don Ramiro son to Bermudo was preferred before the nephews of Alfonso. Don Ordoño, fourth from Ramiro, left four legitimate sons; but they being young, the estates laid them aside, and made his brother Fruela king. Fruela had many children, but the same estates gave the crown to Alfonso the fourth, who was his nephew. Alfonso turning monk, recommended his son Ordoño to the estates of the kingdom; but they refused him, and made his brother Ramiro king. Ordoño third son to Ramiro dying, left a son called Bermudo; but the estates took his brother Sancho, and advanced him to the throne. Henry the first being accidentally killed in his youth, left only two sisters, Blanche married to Lewis son to Philip Augustus king of France, and Berengaria married to Alfonso king of Leon. The estates made Ferdinand, son of Berengaria the youngest sister, king, excluding Blanche, with her husband and children for being strangers, and Berengaria herself, because they thought not fit that her husband should have any part in the government. Alfonso El Savio seems to have been a very good prince; but applying himself more to the study of astrology than to affairs of government, his eldest son Ferdinand de la Cerda dying, and leaving his sons Alfonso and Ferdinand very young, the nobility, clergy and people deposed him, excluded his grandchildren, and gave the crown to Don Sancho his younger son, surnamed El Bravo, thinking him more fit to command them against the Moors, than an old astrologer, or a child. Alfonso and Sancho being dead, Alfonso El Desheredado laid claim to the crown, but it was given to Ferdinand the Fourth, and Alfonso with his descendants the dukes de Medina Celi remain excluded to this day. Peter surnamed the Cruel was twice driven out of the kingdom, and at last killed by Bertrand de Guesclin constable of France, or Henry count of Trastamara his bastard-brother, who was made king without any regard to the daughters of Peter, or to the house of La Cerda. Henry the Fourth left a daughter called Joan, whom he declared his heir; but the estates gave the kingdom to Isabel his sister, and crowned her with Ferdinand of Aragon her husband. Joan daughter to this Ferdinand and Isabel falling mad, the estates committed the care of the government to her father Ferdinand, and after his death to Charles her son.
But the French have taught us, that when a king dies, his next heir is really king before he take his oath, or be crowned. From them we learn that le mort saisit le vif. And yet I know no history that proves more plainly than theirs, that there neither is nor can be in any man, a right to the government of a people, which does not receive its being, manner and measure from the law of that country; which I hope to justify by four reasons.
1. When a king of Pharamond's race died, the kingdom was divided into as many parcels as he had sons; which could not have been, if one certain heir had been assigned by nature, for he ought to have had the whole: and if the kingdom might be divided, they who inhabited the several parcels, could not know to whom they owed obedience, till the division was made, unless he who was to be king of Paris, Metz, Soissons or Orleans, had worn the name of his kingdom upon his forehead. But in truth, if there might be a division, the doctrine is false, and there was no lord of the whole. This wound will not be healed by saying, the father appointed the division, and that by the law of nature every man may dispose of his own as he thinks fit; for we shall soon prove that the kingdom of France neither was, nor is disposable as a patrimony or chattel. Besides, if that act of kings had been then grounded upon the law of nature, they might do the like at this day. But the law, by which such divisions were made, having been abrogated by the assembly of estates in the time of Hugh Capet, and never practised since, it follows that they were grounded upon a temporary law, and not upon the law of nature which is eternal. If this were not so, the pretended certainty could not be; for no man could know to whom the last king had bequeathed the whole kingdom, or parcels of it, till the will were opened; and that must be done before such witnesses as may deserve credit in a matter of this importance, and are able to judge whether the bequest be rightly made; for otherwise no man could know, whether the kingdom was to have one lord or many, nor who he or they were to be; which intermission must necessarily subvert their polity, and this doctrine. But the truth is, the most monarchical men among them are so far from acknowledging any such right to be in the king, of alienating, bequeathing or dividing the kingdom, that they do not allow him the right of making a will; and that of the last King Lewis the 13th touching the regency during the minority of his son was of no effect.
2. This matter was made more clear under the second race. If a lord had been assigned to them by nature, he must have been of the royal family: But Pepin had no other title to the crown except the merits of his father, and his own, approved by the nobility and people who made him king. He had three sons, the eldest was made king of Italy, and dying before him left a son called Bernard heir of that kingdom. The estates of France divided what remained between Charles the Great and Carloman. The last of these dying in few years left many sons, but the nobility made Charles king of all France, and he dispossessed Bernard of the kingdom of Italy inherited from his father: so that he also was not king of the whole, before the expulsion of Bernard the son of his elder brother; nor of Aquitaine, which by inheritance should have belonged to the children of his younger brother, any otherwise than by the will of the estates. Lewis the Debonair succeeded upon the same title, was deposed and put into a monastery by his three sons Lothair, Pepin and Lewis, whom he had by his first wife. But tho these left many sons, the kingdom came to Charles the Bald. The nobility and people disliking the eldest son of Charles, gave the kingdom to Lewis le Begue, who had a legitimate son called Charles le Simple; and two bastards, Lewis and Carloman, who were made kings. Carloman had a son called Lewis le Faineant; he was made king, but afterwards deposed for his vicious life. Charles le Gros succeeded him, but for his ill government was also deposed; and Eudes, who was a stranger to the royal blood, was made king. The same nobility that had made five kings since Lewis le Begue, now made Charles le Simple king, who according to his name, was entrapped at Peronne by Rudolph duke of Burgundy, and forced to resign his crown, leaving only a son called Lewis, who fled into England. Rudolph being dead; they took Lewis surnamed Outremer, and placed him in the throne: he had two sons, Lothair and Charles. Lothair succeeded him, and died without issue. Charles had as fair a title as could be by birth, and the estates confessed it; but their ambassadors told him, that he having by an unworthy life render'd himself unworthy of the crown, they, whose principal care was to have a good prince at the head of them, had chosen Hugh Capet; and the crown continues in his race to this day, tho not altogether without interruption. Robert son to Hugh Capet succeeded him. He left two sons Robert and Henry; but Henry the younger son appearing to the estates of the kingdom to be more fit to reign than his elder brother, they made him king, Robert and his descendants continuing dukes of Burgundy only for about ten generations, at which time his issue male failing, that duchy returned to the crown during the life of King John, who gave it to his second son Philip for an apanage still depending upon the crown. The same province of Burgundy was by the Treaty of Madrid granted to the emperor Charles the fifth, by Francis the first: but the people refused to be alienated, and the estates of the kingdom approved their refusal. By the same authority Charles the 6th was removed from the government, when he appeared to be mad; and other examples of a like nature may be alleged. From which we may safely conclude, that if the death of one king do really invest the next heir with the right and power, or that he who is so invested, be subject to no law but his own will, all matters relating to that kingdom must have been horribly confused during the reigns of 22 kings of Pharamond's race; they can have had no rightful king from the death of Chilperic to King John: and the succession since that time is very liable to be questioned, if not utterly overthrown by the house of Austria and others, who by the counts of Hapsburg derive their descent from Pharamond, and by the house of Lorraine claiming from Charles, who was excluded by Capet; all which is most absurd, and they who pretend it, bring as much confusion into their own laws, and upon the polity of their own nation, as shame and guilt upon the memory of their ancestors, who by the most extreme injustice have rejected their natural lord, or dispossessed those who had been in the most solemn manner placed in the government, and to whom they had generally sworn allegiance. 3. If the next heir be actually king, seized of the power by the death of his predecessor, so that there is no intermission; then all the solemnities and religious ceremonies, used at the coronations of their kings, with the oaths given and taken, are the most profane abuses of sacred things in contempt of God and man that can be imagined, most especially if the act be (as our author calls it) voluntary, and the king receiving nothing by it, be bound to keep it no longer than he pleases. The prince who is to be sworn, might spare the pains of watching all night in the church, fasting, praying, confessing, communicating, and swearing, that he will to the utmost of his power defend the clergy, maintain the union of the church, obviate all excess, rapine, extortion and iniquity; take care that in all judgments justice may be observed, with equity and mercy, &c. or of invoking the assistance of the Holy Ghost for the better performance of his oath; and without ceremony tell the nobility and people, that he would do what he thought fit. 'Twere to as little purpose for the archbishop of Rheims to take the trouble of saying mass, delivering to him the crown, scepter, and other ensigns of royalty, explaining what is signified by them, anointing him with the oil which they say was deliver'd by an angel to St. Remigius, blessing him, and praying to God to bless him if he rightly performed his oath to God and the people, and denouncing the contrary in case of failure on his part, if these things conferred nothing upon him but what he had before, and were of no obligation to him. Such ludifications of the most sacred things are too odious and impious to be imputed to nations that have any virtue, or profess Christianity. This cannot fall upon the French and Spaniards, who had certainly a great zeal to religion, whatever it was; and were so eminent for moral virtues as to be a reproach to us, who live in an age of more knowledge. But their meaning is so well declared by their most solemn acts, that none but those who are wilfully ignorant can mistake. One of the councils held at Toledo, declared by the clergy, nobility, and others assisting, That no man should be placed in the royal seat till he had sworn to preserve the church, &c. Another held in the same place, signified to Sisinandus, who was then newly crown'd, That if he, or any of his successors should, contrary to their oaths, and the laws of their country, proudly and cruelly presume to exercise domination over them, he should be excommunicated, and separated from Christ and them to eternal judgment. The French laws, and their best writers asserting the same things, are confirmed by perpetual practice. Henry of Navarre, tho certainly according to their rules, and in their esteem a most accomplish'd prince, was by two general assemblies of the estates held at Blois, deprived of the succession for being a Protestant; and notwithstanding the greatness of his reputation, valour, victories, and affability, could never be admitted till he had made himself capable of the ceremonies of his coronation, by conforming to the religion which by the oath he was to defend. Nay this present king, tho haughty enough by nature, and elevated by many successes, has acknowledged, as he says, with joy, that he can do nothing contrary to law, and calls it a happy impotence; in pursuance of which, he has annulled many acts of his father and grandfather, alienating the demesnes of the crown, as things contrary to law and not within their power.
These things being confirmed by all the good authors of that nation, Filmer finds only the worst to be fit for his turn; and neither minding law nor history, takes his maxims from a vile flattering discourse of Belloy, calculated for the personal interest of Henry the fourth then king of Navarre in which he says, That the heir apparent, tho furious, mad, a fool, vicious, and in all respects abominably wicked, must be admitted to the crown. But Belloy was so far from attaining the ends designed by his book, that by such doctrines, which filled all men with horror, he brought great prejudice to his master, and procured little favour from Henry, who desired rather to recommend himself to his people as the best man they could set up, than to impose a necessity upon them of taking him if he had been the worst. But our author not contented with what this sycophant says, in relation to such princes as are placed in the government by a law establishing the succession by inheritance, with an impudence peculiar to himself, asserts the same right to be in any man, who by any means gets into power; and imposes the same necessity of obedience upon the subject where there is no law, as Belloy does by virtue of one that is established.
4. In the last place. As Belloy acknowledges that the right belongs to princes only where 'tis established by law, I deny that there is, was, or ever can be any such. No people is known to have been so mad or wicked, as by their own consent, for their own good, and for the obtaining of justice, to give the power to beasts, under whom it could never be obtain'd: or if we could believe that any had been guilty of an act so full of folly, turpitude and wickedness, it could not have the force of a law, and could never be put in execution; for tho the rules, by which the proximity should be judged, be never so precise, it will still be doubted whose case suits best with them. Tho the law in some places gives private inheritances to the next heir, and in others makes allotments according to several proportions, no one knows to whom, or how far the benefit shall accrue to any man, till it be adjudged by a power to which the parties must submit. Contests will in the like manner arise concerning successions to crowns, how exactly soever they be disposed by law: For tho everyone will say that the next ought to succeed, yet no man knows who is the next; which is too much verified by the bloody decisions of such disputes in many parts of the world: and he that says the next in blood is actually king, makes all questions thereupon arising impossible to be otherwise determined than by the sword; the pretender to the right being placed above the judgment of man, and the subjects (for anything I know) obliged to believe, serve and obey him, if he says he has it. For otherwise, if either every man in particular, or all together have a right of judging his title, it can be of no value till it be adjudged.
I confess that the law of France by the utter exclusion of females and their descendants, does obviate many dangerous and inextricable difficulties; but others remain which are sufficient to subvert all the polity of that kingdom, if there be not a power of judging them; and there can be none if it be true that le mort saisit le vif. Not to trouble myself with feigned cases, that of legitimation alone will suffice. 'Tis not enough to say that the children born under marriage are to be reputed legitimate; for not only several children born of Joan daughter to the king of Portugal, wife to Henry the Fourth of Castile, during the time of their marriage, were utterly rejected, as begotten in adultery, but also her daughter Joan, whom the king during his life, and at the hour of his death acknowledged to have been begotten by him; and the only title that Isabel, who was married to Ferdinand of Aragon had to the crown of Spain, was derived from their rejection. It would be tedious, and might give offence to many great persons, if I should relate all the dubious cases, that have been, or still remain in the world, touching matters of this nature: but the lawyers of all nations will testify, that hardly any one point comes before them, which affords a greater number of difficult cases, than that of marriages, and the legitimation of children upon them; and nations must be involved in the most inextricable difficulties, if there be not a power somewhere to decide them; which cannot be, if there be no intermission, and that the next in blood (that is, he who says he is the next) be immediately invested with the right and power. But surely no people has been so careless of their most important concernments, to leave them in such uncertainty, and simply to depend upon the humour of a man, or the faith of women, who besides their other frailties, have been often accused of supposititious births: and men's passions are known to be so violent in relation to women they love or hate, that none can safely be trusted with those judgments. The virtue of the best would be exposed to a temptation, that flesh and blood can hardly resist; and such as are less perfect would follow no other rule than the blind impulse of the passion that for the present reigns in them. There must therefore be a judge of such disputes as may in these cases arise in every kingdom; and tho 'tis not my business to determine who is that judge in all places, yet I may justly say, that in England it is the Parliament. If no inferior authority could debar Ignotus son to the Lady Rosse, born under the protection, from the inheritance of a private family, none can certainly assume a power of disposing of the crown upon any occasion. No authority but that of the Parliament could legitimate the children of Catherine Swynford, with a proviso, not to extend to the inheritance of the crown. Others might say, if they were lawfully begotten, they ought to inherit everything, and nothing if they were not: But the Parliament knew how to limit a particular favour, and prevent it from extending to a publick mischief. Henry the Eighth took an expeditious way of obviating part of the controversies that might arise from the multitude of his wives, by cutting off the heads of some, as soon as he was weary of them, or had a mind to take another; but having been hinder'd from dealing in the same manner with Catherine by the greatness of her birth and kindred, he left such as the Parliament only could resolve. And no less power would ever have thought of making Mary and Elizabeth capable of the succession, when, according to ordinary rules, one of them must have been a bastard; and it had been absurd to say, that both of them were immediately upon the death of their predecessors possess'd of the crown, if an act of Parliament had not conferred the right upon them, which they could not have by birth. But the kings and princes of England have not been of a temper different from those of other nations: and many examples may be brought of the like occasions of dispute happening everywhere; and the like will probably be forever; which must necessarily introduce the most mischievous confusions, and expose the titles which (as is pretended) are to be esteemed most sacred, to be overthrown by violence and fraud, if there be not in all places a power of deciding the controversies that arise from the uncertainty of titles, according to the respective laws of every nation, upon which they are grounded: No man can be thought to have a just title, till it be so adjudged by that power: This judgment is the first step to the throne: The oath taken by the king obliges him to observe the laws of his country; and that concerning the succession being one of the principal, he is obliged to keep that part as well as any other.
 Medis levibusque Sabaeis / Imperat hic sexus, reginarumque sub armis / Barbariae pars magna jacet. Lucan. [Claudian, Against Eutropius, bk. 1, li. 322.]
 [Charles X (Gustavus). "The present king" was Charles XI.]
 [Christian V.]
 Saavedra Coron. Goth. [Saavedra, Corona gothica, castellana, y austriaca (for year 633).]
 Mar. Hist. 1. 6. [Mariana, General History of Spain, bk. 6 (for year 680).]
 Saaved. Cor. Goth.
 Mariana I. 13.
 Marian. 1. 12. c. 7.
 Marian. 1. 24. [Mariana, bks. 7, 8, and 14.]
 ["The living seizes the dead."]
 Hist. de Fr. en la Vie de Hugues Capet. [Serres, General History of France (chapter on Hugh Capet).]
 Mem. du Duc. de la Rochefocault. [François, Duc de Rochefoucauld, Mémoires sur la régence d'Anne d'Autriche (1662), bk. 1, ch. 2.]
 [The Carolingian dynasty.]
 Paul. Aemyl. Hist. Franc. [Aemilius Paulus, De rebus gestis Francorum (1555).]
 [John Selden, Titles of Honour (1614).]
 Concil. Tolet. 6. [Sixth Council of Toledo, the year 638, in Giovanni D. Mansi, Sacrorum concitiorum, nova et amplissima collectio (1901).]
 Concil. Tolet. 4. [Fourth Council of Toledo, for year 633.]
 Hist. Thuan. [de Thou, History of His Time, vol. 5, bk. 97ff.]
 [Louis XIV.]
 Apol. Cathol. [Pierre du Belloy, Apologie Catholique centre les Libelles (1585).]
 [Mistress and third wife of John of Gaunt, Duke of Lancaster.]