These are thoughts I had while replaying Genealogy and watching a let's play for Thracia 776. I love discussing the lore of Fire Emblem, and especially Jugdral, my favorite continent in the series. I am dabbling with writing a fanfiction about Cigyun, and this is an aspect of Jugdral law and culture that I became a little confused about. I would love to start a conversation about this with anyone else who is also passionate about discussing the lore of Jugdral.
MAJOR SPOILERS AHEAD FOR THE ENDINGS OF BOTH GAMES.
As we know, in the ending of Genealogy of the Holy War Seliph becomes the king of Grannvale (and assorted other kingdoms, depending on your pairings and character deaths) and Leif becomes king of the New Kingdom of Thracia. This seems natural at first glance, but upon further reflection, they may not be the characters with the best claim to their respective thrones.
At the end of Genealogy of the Holy War, this conversation occurs:
Lewyn: The crusaders' heirs will be returning home to assume their rightful thrones. And with the proper leadership, they can pool their strengths again to build a world, one where all can live in happiness.
Seliph: A new world, you say...
Lewyn: Yeah, Seliph.. a new world. And your role is the most crucial of all. You'll remain here in Belhalla, and you'll guide the rise of this new world as the King of Grannvale.
Seliph: Hold on. I'M to be the king?!
Lewyn: Mm-hmm. After all that's happened, you and Julia are the last living heirs of the blood of Grannvale's kings. The two of you have inherited the last will of all who lost their lives on this path. These souls watch over you, even now. You mustn't forget the light for which they strove.
Seliph: Mm... I understand, Lewyn. So long as I have the power, I'll do all I can.
Lewyn: Now, Julia. What do you say?
Julia: I agree, of course. I wish to aid Lord Seliph, no, my lord brother, every step of the way. I know this path will be a grueling one, but that's all the more reason to give it my all. (Epilogue, Genealogy of the Holy War)
Seliph is the oldest child of Deirdre, who was the heir to the throne. However, he did not inherit the major blood of Saint Heim, or the ability to wield the tome of Naga. His younger sister, Julia, was the only child of Deirdre to do this. It seems here that because of this, Lewyn appoints them to rule side-by-side. However, the epilogue states:
In the royal capital of Belhalla itself, with overwhelming support from the public, Seliph was officially hailed as their king. The newly appointed king Seliph devoted himself to rebuilding his land and bringing peace to all, his goal nothing short of a prosperous world free of oppression and bigotry. And by his side, one would always find his loving wife, [wife], and his sister, Princess Julia, regarding his toil with the warmest of eyes...
Here, Julia's role as a ruler alongside her brother Seliph, and her conviction to "give it her all" to be a good ruler for Grannvale, is reduced to simply watching over the progress of King Seliph "with warm eyes" as a princess. This seems strange to me, when she is the sole, rightful inheritor of the power of Naga and major holy blood of Saint Heim.
According to King Azmur: "Lord Naga's lineage through Saint Heim must not be allowed to perish! I want the two of you to bear a son as soon as possible! If the child inherits the power of Naga, he shall be Prince of Grannvale. And once I pass on he'll become the King of Grannvale. Lord Arvis, until the boy is old enough to rule, you shall be the provisional king. Do raise him well."
It seems, according to this, that inheriting "the power of Naga" (which I interpret to mean the power to wield the Naga tome, or major Heim blood) is a necessary precondition to inheriting the throne of Belhalla and thus, Grannvale. Azmur says that IF the child inherits the power of Naga he shall become King of Grannvale. That indicates that if their child does NOT inherit the power of Naga, he will not become King of Grannvale. From this quote alone, it seems that of the three children of Princess Deirdre, Julia alone would possess the right to the throne of Grannvale.
However, I also noticed that King Azmur specifically asks for a great- grandson, and only makes reference to a male child inheriting the power of Naga. He doesn't make provisions for a potential great-granddaughter inheriting the power of Naga, which is what he gets in Julia. This seems strange, since he knows female children can inherit this power as well, such as Deirdre. It could be an indication that the Houses of Grannvale practice male-preference primogeniture, although I am not sure how this can exist alongside a system in which it is necessary for a child to possess the power of Naga in order to inherit the throne.
It's also interesting that he doesn't name Deirdre Queen of Grannvale, but rather names her husband, Arvis, "provisional king." Even in cultures which practice male-preference primogeniture, it is preferable to have a female heir of your bloodline rule rather than pass control of a kingdom to another House, such as her husband's. (We see this in real world examples such as Queens Mary, Elizabeth I, Victoria, and Elizabeth II.) Does this indicate that in Grannvale women cannot legally serve as monarchs or leaders of Houses? This could be the case, although their neighboring countries don't seem to have the same restrictions, since Queen Rahna ruled Silesse for many years in Lewyn's absence, and Linoan serves as Duchess of Tahra for most of her life. Maybe only single/widowed women can rule countries, but if they marry their husband takes the reigns?
Even if this is the case, should the seat of King of Grannvale have gone to Julia's husband and eventual child rather than Seliph, since she was the inheritor of the power of Naga? After all, none of Seliph's children will ever be capable of inheriting major Heim blood, or wielding the tome of Naga, unless he practices incest by marrying Julia (which I do not accept as possible canonically, since it is purely a mistake that this is even possible in the game) or perhaps marries someone else with minor Heim blood, such as Linoan (who is said to have never married in her lifetime). However, it is more than likely that Julia will bear a child with major Heim blood if she ever marries. Would that child not pose a threat to Seliph and his children's claim to the throne of Belhalla? Would this lead to a civil war in the future of Grannvale?
As I see it, there are four options for why Seliph becomes the King of Grannvale over Julia:
1) Right of conquest: he led the liberation, he conquered the Empire, therefore the throne is his, and he chooses not to give it up to the rightful heir.
2) Absolute primogeniture: despite King Azmur's words, the eldest child of the heir always inherits the throne of a Kingdom or House, in spite of holy blood inheritance patterns.
3) Male-preference primogeniture: despite the fact that his sister inherited the power of Naga and he did not, the kingdom cannot legally be ruled over by a woman, and so must pass to a male heir.
4) Will of the people: it is stated in his ending that the public overwhelmingly supported his right to rule Grannvale. He was more popular with the people as the "Inheritor of Light," while she carried the stain of her relation to Emperor Arvis and Julius.
Whatever the case, with this act, Seliph has essentially changed the ruling House of Grannvale from the House of Belhalla to the House of Chalphy, with the "true" inheritor of the House of Belhalla serving only as an advisor. His children can only inherit major Baldur blood from him, and can only wield Tyrfing, while Julia's descendants will continue to pass down major Heim blood and the ability to wield the tome of Naga. Could this spell civil war for the future of Grannvale?
A similar, indeed, nearly identical, issue happens in the Thracian peninsula. After the liberation army sweeps through, despite discovering and reuniting with his elder sister, Leif takes the throne of Northern Thracian, and eventually the New Kingdom of Thracia.
Finn: Lord Leif, the only nation in Northern Thracia that has a male heir is Lenster. The people want you to take the throne and unite Leonster, Alster, Conote, and Manster under one flag. (Epilogue, Thracia 776)
Leif's older sister, Altena, simply "helps" him rebuild the country.
Leif: I know my sister, Altena, wishes dearly for a restored Thracia as well.
Seliph: Indeed. This war has lain waste to Thracia, and I can only imagine the burden laid upon you, the king-to-be of a united peninsula. I pray you give it your best, no matter what happens.
Leaf: I will.
Seliph: So you're destined for Thracia as well, Princess Altena...
Altena: I am, sir. I've got to help the new king in his quest to give rise to a united Thracia. At the very least, I ought to atone for the legacy of my adoptive family... Travant and Arion.
Seliph: How wonderful it would be, if Arion were to work together with you...
Altena: I...I don't believe that could happen for the time being, sir. But perhaps someday, he'll feel the time is right... (Epilogue, Genealogy of the Holy War)
Altena is the oldest child of Quan and Ethlyn, and also the inheritor of major Njörun blood and the Gáe Bolg. It is heavily hinted that Altena eventually marries Arion, inheritor of the blood of Dain and wielder of Gungnir. It seems like this uniting of the two bloodlines that have ruled Thracia for centuries would be the perfect opportunity for the countries to unite under a single House. Years from now, there will probably be Altena-Arion children running around, who have major blood of both Thracian houses in their veins, yet they yield the throne to Leif and his descendants, who only possess minor Njörun blood (and most likely minor Hezul blood, but that's irrelevant to Thracia).
This time I see only three possible reasons for this outcome:
1) Right of conquest: like Seliph, Leif lead the liberation army that conquered Thracia, and so has the power to take the throne, regardless of previous traditions of inheritance.
2) Male-preference primogeniture: regardless of the inheritance of holy blood, male children are always given preference to rule over female children. This is supported by Finn's statement that Leonster is "the only nation in Northern Thracia that has a male heir."
3) Will of the people: Finn states that the people if Northern Thracia want Leif to unite the kingdoms there and be their king. This does explain how he could be given right to rule over Northern Thracia; however, I doubt the people of southern Thracia would choose Leif when Arion and Altena still exist. In fact, in Altena's ending in Genealogy of the Holy War, it is stated that Leif "entrusts" the lands of southern Thracia to her. It is not clear what this means, since he still rules over The Kingdom of New Thracia. Perhaps she is a kind of governor figure in the south? Arion's involvement is not mentioned.
These two instances alone seem to suggest that male-preference primogeniture is the established system for inheritance in Jugdral instead of absolute primogeniture or major holy blood/branded children as inheritors. However, with everything else we know about the world of Jugdral, this seems an unlikely form of inheritance for the crusader Houses. How is it that nearly every Duke or King we see in the game has major holy blood if male-preference primogeniture is the practice? It seems unlikely that every inheritor of major holy blood from the crusaders till the time of Sigurd happened to be male. How did the bloodlines continue when we know that children with minor holy blood cannot pass on major holy blood to children (without incest)?
Perhaps holy blood preference is the usual system in place, but in these two instances, Leif and Seliph seized thrones only by right of conquest/will of the people. Why do they never bring up the fact they are disinheriting their sisters? What does this say about them and their hunger for power?
Could this all come down to the game developers thinking that the only satisfying ending for the player would be to have their main lords become kings of their respective countries? That they thought the players would be disappointed if the ending was "Seliph ceded the right to rule to Julia, inheritor of the power of Naga, and Altena and Arion married and together ruled over a united Thracian peninsula." I don't see a logical reason for these endings when you consider how things must have been done in Jugdral for centuries, and the importance of major holy blood and holy weapons to these ruling Houses. What does this mean for the future of these countries? Several years down the line, would there be civil wars and faction battles? What are the roles of the inheritors of the holy blood of Heim, Dain, and Njörun in the future?
What do you think is the best explanation for why things ended the way they did? In possible remakes of these games, do you think the disinheritance of Julia and Altena/Arion should be addressed? Would you want the endings to change, or stay the same?