Droit de seigneur
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"It's good to be king!"
— Mel Brooks, History of the World Part I

Basic Information

The droit de seigneur, also called "first night" or "primæ noctis", is the alleged right of a lord to take the virginity of all the virgins in his domain. No proof that such custom existed in medieval Europe has ever been found.

Similar institutions have also been said to exist in various non-European cultures, but these too are debatable.

Unsurprisingly, this, like cannibalism, is the sort of thing often used to blackwash a culture by hostile outsiders (whether in space or time) and so clarity is further reduced.

To Terry Pratchett fans, this may also be a breed of dog.

See Also



Game and Story Use

  • In a domain where the rulers really do exercise this right, there are likely going to be massive problems from large-scale inbreeding, as the ruling families will have many more relatives in the domain than it is acknowledged.
    • This could easily lead to cases of incest, which might result in the customary supernatural retribution by the gods.
    • It will also massively dilute the concept of a hereditary nobility as a separate elite - noble blood suddenly becomes a lot less impressive if it's possessed by the majority of the population. A history of this sort of practice might well lead to an open aristocracy and a commonplace legitimisation of bastards.
      • If it is possible for a nobleman to acknowledge and appoint any son of his, by whatever mother, as an heir, succession politics could become very nasty indeed. It would also tend to reduce to overall value of marriage if it fails to guarantee any legitimacy of inheritance.
  • In worlds where supernatural powers run in families (such as the Dragon-Blooded of Exalted), this could eventually result in a whole fief of people with supernatural powers if their rulers start out this way.
    • Perhaps the ruler in such a domain doesn't just have supernatural powers, but is actually non-human - a long-lived elf or a fairy, a nature spirit, or even a minor god.
      • An immortal being such as those could engage in that practice merely so that he has a whole realm of supernatural descendants to do his bidding after a few centuries.
    • Mythologically speaking, the Greeks had a lot of problems with this.
    • Likewise, settings where people can magically influence their relatives (again, like the Dynasty Charms from the aforementioned game) could have the fief be full of fanatically loyal subjects - not because the lord is a good ruler, but because he can brainwash them through his blood.
  • A beautiful maiden seeks the PC's help! The local noble demands the right to bed her or he shall seize her family's properties! How many creative ways can they come up with to save her Virtue?
    • …and will the PCs be subject to Values Dissonance if they do? Suddenly a "lawful" alignment seems a lot less attractive…
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