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Chapter 07 – The Second Son
This world adopted a split inheritance system, but the biggest reason for that was to prevent the emperor’s vassals from gaining power. The emperor had several territories under his direct control, which would be divided among his heirs, and might possibly produce a sibling war bloodier than the current disputes between the aristocrats.
Men, alongside one legal wife, were allowed three concubines. Since they could marry at most four women, it was rare for an aristocrat to not have any sons. Therefore, even if the risk of a lack of a son was low, if a family only had one eldest son and he died in a war or sickness, the risk of a discontinuation of the family line skyrocketed.
That was why many families prepared a second son. It often led to family disputes much later, but it was preferable over the risk of discontinuation. After a few years, the family might have borne a third son, or more, just in case. Such was the common sense of aristocrats in this world. Either way, the possibility for a third son or lower to rise in the ranks of family inheritance was very low.
Similarly, there were different reasons why the first two sons would have a significant age gap, but the main reason was so the second son would not yet be of age by the time of the inheritance. However, if their father died before the third (and onward) sons reached 15 years old, said sons would become a count, regardless of their age.
This in turn led to some with the thought that a child as a lord was enough justification to start a war. As a matter of fact, the most common justification for war declaration after a split inheritance occurred was that ‘the lord is still a child.’ Helping the eldest son expand his territory like the invasion of the Aubrey Kingdom was also relatively common. This one had lesser risk.
But that said, the power of the family would be reduced compared to if the eldest son inheritance system was adopted instead. Limiting the number of children born in the family to avoid the split inheritance system entirely still risked the discontinuation of the family line if there was a plague. On the other hand, too many spares would decrease the chances that the eldest son would actually turn out successful, thereby taking longer for a family to recover the previous generation’s territory. Compared to other aristocrats, a family with three or four sons was common. In those cases, either the eldest or the second son would recover their father’s territory eventually. The difference between the eldest sons and the youngest sons was more than just age.
My 11th birthday came and went, which didn’t get celebrated by anyone except Linde-san. As I prepared to visit Linde-san and the Schult household, I received a report that my second brother Alfred had borne a son. Even the eldest, Wagner, didn’t have a son yet, the second already found a woman to bear his son. I guess this made me an uncle. I never thought I would become one at 11 years old.
On the matter of inheritance, Alfred’s son had the right to claim the two counties that Alfred was set to inherit when he was born. He had no claim over mine or Wagner’s territory. Essentially, he was only inheriting directly from his father, not from the main family.
It was amazing that in another world, one could be a father by 18 years old, wasn’t it? But no, it was probably the normal pace and Wagner just happened to be a little delayed at doing so. But since Wagner’s legal wife was the daughter of Emperor Paulus IV, it couldn’t be helped. She might be the sixth daughter, but she was still an imperial princess. She was younger than Wagner by three years, so she was 17 years old this year. I guess she was still at an age where it was still risky to bear a child?
…Alfred married the maids he brought with him, though. Three of his four allotted slots were just maids. It was a vulgar ploy of our father, Bayer. Our father couldn’t make his son’s legal wife a commoner, so he married him to the fourth princess of Borghart Kingdom, which was further west of the Aubrey Kingdom. It looked like the second son would not be able to expect reinforcements from another family when the moment came to battle against the eldest son. Even if there were, it wasn’t like the second son had a chance to win.1
With maids as concubines, Alfred couldn’t form a powerful alliance through marriage, and if he divorced them, his reputation would be damaged. Having him help the eldest son expand the territory was just plain bullying. Well, Alfred was quite popular, or was it better to say that he was the type of man who would just flirt and do it with the maid, so he wouldn’t mind it that much? He already had a son with his legal wife anyway, so it was all smooth sailing for him.
Not only was Alfred a user of rare lightning magic, but his personal combat power was also high. Add to that, he was popular and actually had a chance to win the succession war. On his governance, perhaps because the territory was managed by his excellent attendants, it was developing steadily. The money he obtained from assisting Wagner in the war and the gold mine they found in his territory was also being used to fund the construction of a fortress.
It was unexpected for Father that there was actually a gold mine on Alfred’s territory. If he knew there was a gold mine beforehand, Wagner would have succeeded it instead. However, since Wagner already inherited two counties, to take what was already established to be the second son’s and give it to the eldest was difficult.
If Bayer could acquire three more counties, he might be able to do it somehow, but trying to confiscate the territory would definitely lead to rebellion, so it couldn’t be helped. Even if he killed the second son right now, the said son already had a son, so the territory would go to the child instead. The ploy would lower his reputation, and result in more inheritance directed to me, someone who was plenty suspicious already, so I guess he wouldn’t do it.2
After I heard the report that the second son found a gold mine in his territory, I also tried to search for a gold or silver mine in the county I would inherit but couldn’t find any. There was a big mountain, but it wasn’t a mine. What the heck was with this shitty game? Heck, it was real life. Reality was harsh, man. Rather, if I found one now, wouldn’t that just make the territory I would be inheriting be switched with something else? That was dangerous.
As I watched my brothers grow stronger day by day, I was studying at the mansion once again. Even though I was the spare, I was thankful I still got educated. That said, the education level was too low, so other than lessons about diplomatic manners and etiquette, I just slept through it. It was the only time for me to heal my exhausted body from whipping the slaves.
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