Dynastic Juniors in Europe and Asia

Researcher

Ms. Dr. E.M. (Liesbeth) Geevers


Description

Folio from the Shahnameh (Book of Kings) owned by Shah Tahmasp of Persia (1514-1576): the mythical Persian king Fereydun takes the shape of a dragon to test the character of his three sons. The youngest proved worthiest, but this aroused the envy of his brothers who murdered him.

Folio from the Shahnameh (Book of Kings) owned by Shah Tahmasp of Persia (1514-1576): the mythical Persian king Fereydun takes the shape of a dragon to test the character of his three sons. The youngest proved worthiest, but this aroused the envy of his brothers who murdered him.

The Eurasian Empire research project seeks to understand how some families managed to bind their subjects to them in such a way that they could rule large territorial conglomerates for extended periods of time. The ruling dynasties are viewed as the main adhesive in these large and multi-national monarchies. Taking a broad comparative perspective including Asian and European dynasties, this project will look at the rol junior members of ruling dynasties – potential heirs, governors, generals, rebels – played in the stability and longevity of dynastic empires.

A dynasty’s prime objective is to perpetuate its rule by legitimizing its position and reproducing itself. In this context, junior members were of great importance: providing heirs, reliable manpower as governors or generals and serving as a focus of loyalty to the dynasty. However, they could also present themselves as an alternative to the ruler. Therefore, in order to perpetuate his line and maintain his position of power, a ruler had to come to terms with his juniors.

Constructing relationships between rulers and juniors obviously involved the individuals concerned and their socialization into the dynasty. How were they taught to behave toward each other? Extra-dynastic factors, such as elites, who were crucial to the dynasty’s social and moral legitimacy, or traditions also played an important role in setting the parameters for acceptable behaviour. By analysing the interplay between dynasty, elites and traditions this project will answer the question how the construction of intra-dynastic dynamics contributed to the stability and longevity of dynastic empires.


Last Modified: 11-08-2014