In Medieval Europe, as in most premodern societies, some children were classified as less worthy than others - less worthy of royal or noble title, and less worthy to inherit property more generally. We might expect that birth to a legitimate marriage as defined by Christian doctrine determined a child's worth, but in fact, this familiar idea of illegitimacy only began to take hold around the turn of the thirteenth century. In earlier centuries, a child's
prospects depended primarily upon his or her parents' social status: mother as well as father. Royal Bastards challenges our ideas about the role of women and female lineage in medieval society, the role of
Christian ideas and clergy in the exclusion of illegitimate children from inheritance and succession, and the legal and political history of medieval Europe more broadly.