Dec 27 2013, 2:07am
There was a recent discussion of Fili's role in the movies, in which a sub-discussion broke out about whether Fili is "next in line for the throne". I asserted that he is not. Fili and Kili are sons of Thorin's sister Dís, and the line of the throne went via patrilineal primogeniture. Even if Fíli and Kíli had survived, Dáin Ironfoot would still have been the King of the Longbeards after Thorin. He was Thorin's second cousin, grandson of Thrór's younger brother.
Fili (the TORn one) asserted:
There might be an exception if Dís, the mother of Fíli and Kíli, had been part of a matrilineal marriage, whereby the children born of Dís would belong to the Durin dynasty and not the clan of their father. This rarely happened in Europe, but has happened in other cultures throughout history.
If this were the case, then primogeniture would say that Fíli and Kíli DID have a greater claim to the throne, as they are of the Durin dynasty with Thrain II as their nearest agnate who held the crown, while Dain's closest crown-wearing agnate was Dáin I, Thror's father, two generations removed from Fíli and Kíli's claims.
So MAYBE Fíli and Kíli's dad wasn't much to write home about, but Dís' marriage was made matrilineal to protect the line in case Thorin never married or had children?
Since I love this kind of argument, I asked my friend Reera the Red (who maintains the Framecaplib and is an expert on both genealogy and Tolkien), who commented:
Maybe, but probably unlikely... We have no indication whatsoever that this could, or did, happen among Dwarves; what little we are told about them says that they reckoned patrilineally. And there would be no need to make an exception for Dís's kids, since it's not as though there were any lack of potential heirs. Just among the ones we know of who were close to the throne in that generation, there were Thorin, his brother Frerin (killed at Azanulbizar), Dáin, Balin, Dwalin, Óin, and Glóin. Dwarves often did not marry, so having your heir be a cousin of some degree would be quite commonplace in their society.
Fíli and Kíli may or may not have been members of the Longbeard clan. Given Dís's high birth, I would expect her husband to be highborn also, but we're acquainted with the highest-ranking Dwarves of Durin's house and he doesn't seem to be among them. He could have been of somewhat lesser degree, or he could have been of suitable rank from one of the other clans, most likely the Firebeards or the Broadbeams, since they lived in the Blue Mountains, where Thorin's bunch had settled by the time Fíli and Kíli were born.
(Bifur, Bofur, and Bombur were probably from one of these two clans, too, since we are told that they weren't Longbeards. And I've always held in my personal fanon that Gimli's mother was a Firebeard. Almost everyone who has depicted Gimli has shown him as a redhead, though there is no canonical statement about his hair color, and I pictured him that way even before seeing any illustrations of him. One would guess that the Firebeards were often redheads, so that could have been where it came from.).