Trunk line

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Lineage or lineage describes in genealogy (family history research) a line of descent and inheritance that only leads through the forefathers to their legitimate sons . Here are Family , relationships , reputation , social status , privileges and property from one generation to the next unilinear after the descent of man transferred and inherited (in the fathers line ). A daughter cannot continue her father's lineage because her children ( grandchildren of her father) belong to the line of her husband and bear his name.

Ancestral lines can be found in all noble houses and ruling families in the European cultural area (as well as worldwide), as well as in many bourgeois families . An ancestral line runs in ascending order (ascendency) over the father , his father ( grandfather ), his father ( great-grandfather ), and so on back to the founder of this line, the " ancestor " (ancestor) . In general, an ancestral line comprises at least four ancestral generations up to the paternal great-great-grandfather , but often ten or more generations; To prove the marital status of the descendants , the wives of the forefathers are usually also mentioned by name.

The following diagram is read from left to right, it starts with the ancestor (corresponding to the sequence from an ancestress possible):

wife ... wife
(eldest son)
Great grandfather
(eldest son)
(eldest son)
(eldest son)
... heir?

In descending order (here from left to right) the “ parent holder ” of the line is always the first-born or oldest son from a legitimate marriage relationship (see birthright rights , illegitimacy ). In the event that there is no male descendant in the lineage, Nobility complicated develop regulations regarding the inheritance and succession , as the primogeniture (eldest law), or in rare cases, an heiress - or Erbjungfernrecht ; through such sequences, however, the main line referred to as the male line can be completely "extinguished" (see also the coat of arms law ).

An important role is played by whether paternity is biological or only legally justified (through recognition of paternity or adoption ); However, should an alleged blood-related facts descent from the forefather not always correspond (see Cuckoo's Children and Missing paternity proof ), especially with only oral tradition forefathers generations (see origin legends ).

A trunk line can split up and get a sideline , with noble families a distinction is made between the main line and possible side lines . The lineage of a house is normally continued by the eldest son ( primogeniture ). However, if this birthright or the right of elders (majorate) is not implemented, a younger son can establish a secondary line ( secondary education ), each regulated by a family law . If this form of inheritance is used, the younger son does not receive a normal severance payment , but additional property and social standing (see also Minorat ).

Main lines usually do not contain any siblings of the forefathers ( side relatives such as uncles , great-aunts or great-great-uncle ), as well as no relatives of the wives ( affine relatives: brotherhood ). The biblical fathers' story describes not only the lineage of the patriarch Abraham, but also the respective brothers - and sometimes sisters - of the forefathers and their (sometimes several) wives. The two invented " family trees of Jesus Christ " in the biblical gospels are clear examples of a strict, very long lineage : pure (heir) father sequences up to 78 generations back ("fictitious genealogies" to be linked to Abraham and Noah ).

Graphic representation of the lineage of the American gold prospector Ed Schieffelin (1847–1897)

Roman law of agnation

Stem lines are also referred to as agnatic , a name from ancient Roman law for exclusively male blood relatives, the agnates ( Latin agnatus "the born / born after"). Agnation was part of the Roman concept of "paternal violence" ( patria potestas ) and viewed male and female relatives as only cognatic ("co-born"). Agnatically, a son is not related to his father's sisters ( aunts ), strictly speaking not even to his own sisters.


In ethnosociology , descent and succession in the purely male line are referred to as patrilineal (Latin “in the line of the father”: father line). Almost 50% of the world's recorded 1,300  ethnic groups and indigenous peoples submit to patrilineal, almost all live after marriage patrician locally the husband or his father, summon the wife must. The own daughters marry out (see exogamy ), while the sons bring in their wives from other families. This practice is also followed by lineage-oriented families. The direct contrast to a lineage is the matri- linear line of descent through the maternal line, according to which 13% of all ethnic societies are organized; often they live Matri- locally with the family of the wife. In addition to these one-line sequences there are mixed lines from the paternal and maternal origin are formed as well as in modern societies usual kognatisch-bilateral descent from both parents.


The older genealogy was often limited to the male lineage, but both the female and the male biological lineage are crucial for the medical diagnosis of hereditary diseases . The more recent genealogy therefore strives for extensive lists of ancestors that bring both lineages together cognatically and bilaterally , without emphasizing the paternal line. In biological heredity ( genetics ), the two lineages are differentiated as paternal (on the father's side) and maternal (on the mother's side).

See also

Individual evidence

  1. Proseminar Medieval History: The Basic Concepts of Genealogy 3. ( Memento from December 1, 2015 in the Internet Archive ) In: 2016, accessed March 12, 2020.
  2. On the subject of “male line and name line” see detailed information from Bernhard Peter: All about the coat of arms: Passing on coats of arms in the family. Own website, 2011, accessed on March 12, 2020 .
  3. ^ A b J. Patrick Gray: Ethnographic Atlas Codebook. In: World Cultures. Volume 10, No. 1, 1998, pp. 86-136, here p. 104: Table 43 Descent: Major Type ( PDF file; 2.4 MB; without page numbers ; one of the few evaluations of all 1267 ethnic groups at that time): “ 584 Patrilineal […] 160 Matrilineal […] 349 Bilateral "(= 46.1%  patrilineal ; 12.6%  matrilineal ; 27.6%  cognatic-bilateral ). At the end of 2012, the Ethnographic Atlas by George P. Murdock recorded exactly 1,300 ethnic groups worldwide .
  4. a b Hans-Rudolf Wicker: Guide for the introductory lecture in social anthropology. (PDF; 532 kB) (No longer available online.) Institute for Social Anthropology, University of Bern, 2005, p. 13 , archived from the original on October 21, 2013 ; accessed on March 12, 2020 . The numbers on p. 13: 589 patrilineal ethnic groups (46%) - their place of residence after marriage ( residence rule ): 563 (95.6%) live viri / patri - locally with the husband, his father or ancestry group ( family , lineage , clan ) 25 (4.2%) live neo- local (“at the new place”) 1 (0.2%) live matrially - locally with the wife's mother 164 matrilineal ethnic groups (13%) - their marital residence choice : 62 (37.8 %) live avunku– locally with the brother of the husband's mother, less often with the brother of the wife-mother ( uncle ) 53 (32.3%) live uxori / matri– live locally with the wife or her mother 30 (18.3%) viri / patri– local to the husband or his father 19 (11.6%) have different marital domicile rules: neolocal, unchanged (natolocal) u. a.