Re: Heortlings and inheritance

From: John Hughes <nysalor_at_...>
Date: Thu, 21 Dec 2000 17:46:31 +1100


Standard proviso: there is a lot of variation amongst the clans, depending on kinship system, tribal organisation, degree of assimilation of Lunar ways regarding money, inheritance, primogeniture etc. My comments are directed to the "default" patrilineal, patrilocal Heortling clan.

> Obviously a lot of your wealth (i.e.
> cattle, rights to fish a particular spot, etc) belongs more to the
> family or bloodline than yourself.

Rights to land, natural resources etc. are distributed by chieftains to bloodlines
each Sacred Time In practice, they tend to remain fairly constant from year to year, barring major upsets such as a chaos Empire invading your leek patch or your clan chieftain converting to the false mask of Nysalora.

Most major assets will belong to or be reclaimed by the person's bloodline: this is the Orlanthi Way.

> Are there strict rules? Are there essentially no rules and you make
> a will? Does it get divvied up amongst your kin? Does it all get
> given to the clan chief to give away as he or she sees fit?

My vision: no *formal* rules, and formal wills being very rare for 99% of the
population. ('He worked beside me, we shared the same hearth, of course I know what he wanted! What's the use of writing it down on *paper*?!') However, there is a lot of cultural common sense attached to divvying up a dead person's goods, and its a ritual of honour and memory, a pledge to take on outstanding debts and unfinished obligations and much as receiving wealth and mementos.

The major variations will depend on the sex and age of the deceased.

A young man begins his life by attempting to build up status and wealth. Wealth of course, means cattle. Upon initiation, a young man receives a starting herd from his blood, and also takes gifts ('loans', but no Heortling would ever think in so vulgar a fashion) from senior men and women of clan. In return he acts as a client: he offers support to these sponsors in the moot and in a variety of practical ways until the gift is repaid. A young man will have many gifts to repay, and older, more established man will have clients of his own.

For men then, most goods will be claimed by bloodline elders (uncles), father, initiated sons and companions (who in 90% of cases will be close kin anyway). Support of widows and children will *automatically* be assumed by the bloodline - its so basic that no one would need to give it conscious thought. Cattle (and cattle debts) will be distributed according to
who he owes to or is owed by. There may also be outstanding ritual or practical obligations from a man's marriage contract. (We tend to simply and abstract marriage obligations for ease of play, but in most brideprice/dowry societies the obligations continue for years after the event, even beyond the death of both bride and groom.) Depending on individual and kinship circumstances, such diverse investments and obligations may be 'inherited' as well as personal goods, *especially* between brothers.

An unmarried woman at her father's hearth would be similar to the above. Women's status is less tied up with rituals of public gift-giving, though wealthy women can be among a tribe's most powerful sponsors.

For a married woman, things are different. Her dowry, which is always kept separate from her husband's wealth (though often used for the household good) would return to her natal clan or be held in trust for her children, esp. her daughters. Her brothers would have as great a claim on personal goods as the affines of her new hearth.

A man or woman of high status will have many of their personal goods burned or buried with them.

Goods with strong cultic affiliations will almost always be returned to the chief or relevant god-talkers for redistribution. If brothers or sons are of the same cult (and its a fair bet with Orlanth worshippers) that's often where the goods will end up.

> I'm sure there must be a reference to this somewhere, but so far I'm
> not having much luck finding one (mind you, I have very little of the
> fan-produced material where so much of the cultural goodies are
> found).

There's not much official at the moment. Dare I say that Thunder Rebels will help fill in the blanks?



nysalor_at_...                          John Hughes

The heroes filled their drinking cups with wine Sainted with water, which is best, and sipped; And what in them was noble, grew;
And truthfulness, with many meanings, spread Over the slopes and through the leafy spears As Priam thrust the knife into the white lamb's throat. - Christopher Logue, The War Machine.

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