on Mythic Scribes:
This article is by Seán Gray, and is presented by Worldbuilding Magazine.
Fiction is overflowing with kings and queens, galactic empires, and bloodlines bursting with hidden power. History, too, is replete with important lineages and conquerors who spawned mighty dynasties. This article aims to explore an often neglected succession system that helped create several such titans and how it can be applied to your own worldbuilding.
Originally found in Gaelic Ireland, tanistry is a method of succession where the nobility elect a ruler from their own number. Each member of the nobility is eligible to become monarch. While named for the Gaelic version of this system, tanistry has also been used as a system of succession in the Ottoman and Xiongnu empires.