Cadet branch

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Cadet branch is a term in genealogy to describe the lineage of the descendants of the younger sons (cadet) of a monarch or patriarch. In the ruling dynasties and noble families of much of Europe and Asia, the family's major assets – titles, realms, fiefs, property and income – have historically been passed from a father to his firstborn son in what is known as primogeniture: Younger sons – cadets – inherited less wealth and authority to pass to future generations of descendants.

In families and cultures in which this was not the custom or law, as in feudal Germany, equal distribution of the family's holdings among descendants was eventually apt to so fragment the inheritance as to render it too small to sustain the descendants at the socio-economic level of their forefather. Moreover, brothers and their descendants sometimes quarreled over their allocations, or even became estranged. While masculine primogeniture became a common way of keeping the family's wealth intact and reducing familial disputes, it did so at the expense of younger sons and their descendants. Both before and after adoption of inheritance by primogeniture, younger brothers sometimes vied with older brothers to be chosen their father's heir or, after the choice was made, sought to usurp the elder's birthright.

Appanage

In the parts of Europe where primogeniture prevailed, cadet sons were generally entitled to receive an appanage in patrimony, always substantially...
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