In my universe, there is a species from the Homo genus named Homo haematophagus (which means hematophagous human) (they are still humans, just not Homo sapiens) (their scientific name is a reference to the fact that they traditionally have a blood drinking ritual after sacrificing animals, and in a war, they often drank the blood coming from their rivals' wounds). They are commonly called vampires.

A weird thing about vampires is that they traditionally live in a patrilinear but matriarchal, unitary, absolute but elective monarchy. They reproduce by having babies, just like anatomically modern humans.

In the real world, the vast majority of human societies are both patrilinear and patriarchal. This is the case for the United States of America, the United-Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, the Fifth French Republic, and Italy.

Most (all?) matrilinear and matriarchal human societies are now restricted to some isolated tribes.

However, there are human societies that are patriarchal but matrilinear, Jews (any Jewish diaspora, such as Ashkenazim, Sephardim, and Mizrahi), and Romani people are two famous examples (in the case of Jews, this is because traditionally, only men could be kohanim, and rabbis, but Jewish blood status is determined by the mother).

I have never heard about a matriarchal, but patrilinear human society (I however think that pre-colonial Madagascar could be a semi-example: there have been six Monarchs of Madagascar, the two thirds were queens, the other two were kings).

So, I wonder how a human society could be matriarchal but patrilinear (men inherit property and titles, but do not actually control it)?

  • $\begingroup$ Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat. $\endgroup$
    – L.Dutch
    Sep 24, 2022 at 5:42
  • $\begingroup$ The modern western societies are not markedly patrilinear, and whether they are still patriarchal is under dispute. I'm pretty sure future historians will say no for the 2020ies. $\endgroup$
    – Karl
    Sep 25, 2022 at 20:09

7 Answers 7


Women have religious authority, men have financial authority.

Women are seen as more in touch with the gods, and more intelligent and able to make decisions. As such, they tend to rule society and have formal titles and power. It is seen as a sign of extreme poverty for a woman to dirty her hands with work. Women lead the bloodletting rites and the blood drinking rituals and scry the future from the flow of blood.

Men are seen as better workers, with their superior physical strength. They manage properties and wealth. It is seen as an action of great desperation to have a man make decisions for the community, because they are not blessed by the gods.

As such, properties, and management of properties is controlled by men, but major decisions outside the maintenance of property are by done by women.

This is enforced because the religion has a very effective tradition of cold reading people and gossip, and men have long established trades of manufacturing goods. Women have very effective knowledge of what is going on and can read men very well, and so their religious predictions tend to be accurate. Men have a great deal of knowledge of trades from long apprenticeships so any woman who attempts to manage a property will appear incompetent.


Because Hybrids from Vampire women are considered Vampires:

For functional use, I am assuming you mean women control wealth and power, but the actual ownership of the wealth passes via sons to the control of the son's wife.

Mixing subspecies results in the Vampire genes predominating and causing a Vampire phenotype. At the very least, hybrids are considered to be vampires even if hybrids are difficult to distinguish from humans. In that case, the only sure way to know if a child is vampire or not is if the mother was a vampire.

So why does this logically mean they inherit patrilineal? Because Vampire women can marry whomever they choose. Vampire men are only allowed to marry Vampires. If a woman marries a rich or noble human, their children (of her body) will be vampires and inherit their estate. With patrilineal inheritance, the vampires can gradually marry into human families and acquire human property and titles. Since the human societies are also patrilineal, there isn't a dispute about inheritance from human families. The vampires can gradually absorb wealth and titles by intermarrying humans.

But since vampire men are only allowed to marry vampire women, any inheriting vampire child will be born of a vampire woman. Any potential children resulting from a non-vampire giving birth are then by definition illegitimate and can't inherit. So you would never have the risk of vampire assets passing to a child that might have been sired by a non-vampire. It means that all those inheriting hybrid males are breeding back into vampire stock and will be increasingly vampiric genetically. Further, the inheriting males will be deeper into vampiric culture (having vampiric parents on both sides).

  • This also means that every inheriting vampire will be raised by a vampire woman and indoctrinated into vampiric culture and traditions. If a woman dies (like in childbirth), care of her children should pass to her mother or siblings.
  • This also means that functional wealth can be handed around amongst different clans of vampires through arranged marriage. A powerful maternal clan can absorb and unify strength via arranged marriages to allow a woman and her daughters to dynamically move control of wealth around.
  • Given the risks of childbirth in primitive cultures, strong women might forgo childbirth to prevent risking their lives. But with all inheritance going to the children of vampire women, their opportunities to keep and expand influence via marriage depend on their daughters and at least one son. This incentivizes having children.
  • Since vampire women can only control wealth by marriage, they must prove themselves to a Matriarch to receive permission to marry the Matriarch's son (whom the Matriarch controls). Strong, driven women can thus be upwardly mobile and gain rank by showing talent and by pleasing their future mother-in-laws.
  • Logically, a Matriarch should control wealth to be inherited by her son until HER death, not her husband's. This way, a woman isn't going to lose her power and wealth simply because a MAN died. This also keeps daughter-in-laws under one's influence, so an ambitious daughter-in-law isn't going to take the Matriarch's wealth and dump the old woman the moment the Matriarch's husband dies.


Sex-based genetic basis would make sense if the vampires can be XY, Xx and XX (where X=vampiric and x=non-vampiric). If the Homozygous females and males suffered some kind of intelligence deficit (semi-monstrous, less intelligent & hyper-aggressive, for example) then XX females would be obvious and XY males always affected. The xY males would not be vampires. Then the logic would be that Xx females are the "functional" vampires, but don't visibly look like vampires, while the XY and XX are more like animalistic predators. You want a system that gives you Xx females, but visible means are not reliable. A male can only have vampire female children (and non-vampire male children), while Xx vampiresses can mate with humans and potentially have XX, Xx, XY or xY (human) offspring.

Only human-vampire female hybrids would be both vampires and normal intelligence. Non-vampire males would not be vampires and thus obviously wouldn't inherit in their society. So only the female human-appearing children of a male vampire could be both assured to be vampiric AND fully functional.

  • If vampires can't reproduce with humans, then the "X" could be a marker that defines possession of vampiric powers. So "non-vampiric" (xx and xY) members of the species can't inherit, while "true vampiric" members can (but only the functional Xx ones can inherit since they are normal-functioning).

First, a clearing up of terms.

Patrilineality / matrilineality is about tracing ancestral descent and blood-kin relations, not necessarily inheritance, though because of the importance of blood-kinship and ancestry in many human cultures it was extremely common for property rights and inheritance to be based on claims of ancestry and kinship.

By contrast, patriarchy is the convention where men (fathers, typically) run their household, with everybody living under their roof deferring to them. This is scaled up, so that all those households led by men defer to other men of higher status and greater power, whose metaphorical "household" is the country in which they live.

So if vampire society is patrilineal yet matriarchal, it suggests that blood kinship is not important to their system of government. This means there is some other criteria for selecting a monarch besides ancestry, since vampires prefer male ancestry yet select female rulers exclusively. It could be a cultural bias. A pervasive belief that women are better suited to the role, or that men must be kept away from it. It could also be supernatural, involving some magic rite that only women can accomplish, or magic artifacts that only work for women.

Probably the simplest reason is that female vampires are much more powerful than male ones, and thus better able lead from a position of strength. This would create the question of why the male bloodline is considered important, however. That could also be solved with supernatural reasons, like the male bloodline determining the strength of female descendants.

You need to answer these two questions:

  1. What qualities do women possess (or vampires believe them to possess) that makes them the de facto rulers of this society?

  2. Why is the male bloodline favored over the female bloodline in this society, if men are excluded from leadership by default? What other qualities exist in the male bloodline, or are believed to exist, that make it the primary determiner of kinship in this society?

Consider the full range of options you have to answer these questions, including that they could be the arbitrary result of a single powerful character's decisions. It helps to get away from abstract ideas and consider things from the context of your story. Rather than treating the patrilineal matriarchy as a kind of puzzle in a vacuum, start explaining it by inventing history for it. Then it stops being "matriarchy" and starts being "the reign of queen _____" and its impact on all subsequent rulers and how other characters responded to it.


Only female vampires have that glamour: they can hypnotize humans with their eyes (no make-up needed!). However if they mate with a non-vampire male, the child is not a vampire.

If male vampires mate with either vampire or non-vampire women, the child is a vampire. Female vampires mating with male homo sapiens will result in a homo sapiens child. Widescale DNA testing has shown that previous urban legends about inheritance of vampireness were false with the unpleasant results of a large rise in divorce rates due to infidelity. Divorce courts also take a very dim view of constant glamouring of marital partners, generally considering it non-consensual violence. Sex education in our society has extensive lessons in consent, kink and what sort of safe words can be used when your mouth is full of someone else's neck.

The sex chromosome of Homo haematophagus is different from that of homo sapiens. Due to convention, the X chromosome of Homo haematophagus is denoted by the letter V instead; thus male vampires have VY for their sex chromosomes and female vampires have VV for their sex chromosomes. Some component of the sperm (or perhaps a different reproductive fluid) converts X chromosomes to V chromosomes. Studies are still ongoing to try to understand this chromosomal change.

Father Mother Possibility 1 Poss. 2

The patrilineality is a result of genetics: an offspring is a vampire if and only if the father is a vampire. Vampireness is not spread via biting, that's an urban legend. But hey, if getting bit is your kink, far be it from me to kink shame anyone.


There have been matrilineal societies in humans. There are those in which inheritance goes from a man to his son-in-law. And there are those in which it goes from a man to his nephews. (Which overlap, there are those in which, for instance, property goes to your son-in-law but your nephews inherit your position as some kind of wise man.)

Likewise, in your culture, the women inherit from their aunts or their mothers-in-law. Perhaps the culture is to keep your family line strong by choosing good wives to rule it well. They brag that since the queen is chosen by the last queen, they are not subject to the problems of unsuitable heirs. Perhaps the culture is to bind the society together by having your heir be raised by your brother and his wife. And, of course, if different things are inherited differently, they can do both at once.


Dowry systems work both ways

Many Western Civilizations have practiced dowry systems where a significant part of the a household's wealth, social status, and lands comes from the father of the bride, even though she has no actual authority over those resources. It is given to the groom on marriage as a way of attracting appropriate suitors, and as a way that the father can ensure that his daughter is well taken care of. Because woman can not own their own estates in most cases of dowry, giving wealth and authority to her husband is the closest thing you can do to giving it to her.

This same system could just as easily apply to a matriarchal society. So in your case, the household's lands, title, and belongings all come from the mother of the groom as a way to attract a good bride. The bride accepts this as payment to marry the male, and manages over it as the head of household.


Tracing inheritance by father's like (patrilinearity) is thought to have emerged with farming, so quite early; there are some exemptions, but still. My suggestion would be to shift the meaning of ruling – i.e., to have a patrilinear society with matriarchy for some reason, not the the matriarchial society with patrilinearity for some reason. With this said...

Women rule behind the scenes

The society might be patrilinear, with surnames, inheritance and so on. But the real decision makers are women. Even in the mostly patriarchal social constructs, such as sultan's harem in Ottoman Turkey, the "queen mother" had quite a lot to say. Most of the "inner works" at sultan's court are thought to be the fight of the wives under the carpet for the succession rights of their sons.

So, think of stereotypical Italian mothers or stereotypical Asian housewives and exaggerate that a bit. (In a sense it is inverse to another answer here:) All the financial control and the inner decision making do the women. The public front and traditional linage of inheritance is done by men.

Basically, in that society the two most important and influential people in man's life are his mother and his wife. I think it's not quite hard to do the usual interpolations from real life.


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