Kings don't change diapers. They just don't. The queen does it or the maids do it... Someone does it because it has to get done but definitely it's not the king's job to do it.

But what if in order to go to war, a king had to have change diapers for a year?

  • In the case of defensive wars, the king isn't required to change diapers as this imposes unrealistic demands. You don't want to be in a situation where the kingdom can't defend itself because the king has only been changing diapers for 11 months, not the full twelve.

  • If the royal couple doesn't have a baby of their own to change, then an orphan baby will be found for the purpose.

  • If the king continuously changes diapers for three years, he may wage a offensive warfare any time after the 365th day.

Obviously, kings will want to work their way around this requirement because baby poop is disgusting and a meneal task generally covered by women. Assume traditional gender roles, pre-1500 Europe. For the sake of this question, there is no way around it and the requirement is absolute. I can think of lots of ways to get around this requirement and that's not the point of this question.

So, with this requirement in place, would a king be more or less likely to wage aggressive wars and why? Given the wide range in temperament of all kings, please consider the most common human male personality attributes.

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    $\begingroup$ I guess I could make arguments both ways. Staring into the eyes of a newborn and interacting with the baby in otherwise fun ways of the year before declaring a war might have a tendency to soften his opinions regarding killing another human being. Also an understanding of what it's like to NOT live a privileged life of luxury, might give him a better understanding of the life of a soldier. On the other hand he might feel, "Hey! I've earned this right and I want MY child to have more!" In retrospect, maybe this doesn't help much. Sorry. $\endgroup$
    – ozone
    Aug 11, 2017 at 19:11
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    $\begingroup$ @A.C.A.C. It may be sexist but such was the way of things in the medieval era. $\endgroup$
    – James
    Aug 11, 2017 at 19:12
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    $\begingroup$ I think this is the weirdest question I've seen on this site yet. $\endgroup$
    – Vincent
    Aug 11, 2017 at 20:42
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    $\begingroup$ The timing of this question suggests a strong analogy to "What if the US President had to go to Congress and get a declaration of war before launching a first strike nuclear attack?" $\endgroup$
    – WBT
    Aug 11, 2017 at 20:57
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5 Answers 5


Kings are expected to endure all sorts of things. If you think the smell of a diaper is bad, try having the king from the nearby kingdom threaten your entire nation and still have to politely toast to his health at the feast that evening.

The result of this would be that the king would change diapers, and that would be the extent of the change. It would be a minor inconvenience, chewing up a few minutes a day from the most valuable person in your kingdom, but if it's what is required for the ability to go to war when you need to, rather than having to wait 3 years to go to war at some unknown point in the future, they'll just keep changing diapers every day. It would not affect anything else, because it's just a diaper.

Contrast this with, say, the Octospiders from Clarke's Rendezvous with Rama. In that story, if the regent wishes to go to war, she signs her own death warrant. The senate will vote. If they vote against war, she is killed because clearly her warlord mentality does not belong in the highest places of their civilization. If they vote for war, she leads the troops to victory, and then she and all the troops are killed to keep that bloodthirst out of their lives.

Want to change a diaper yet?

There would certainly be a ceremony developed around The Changing of the Diapers to permit the king to retain his kingly grace while wiping the bum of a small child.

Now, to deal with the fact that I'm pretty certain my own cousin is sleeping with my wife and is trying to kill me...


I like the scenario, and the real question here is,

How would requiring a monarch to actively parent their/a child impact their desire to go to war?

Skipping over the obvious, "Well it depends on the ruler", since you essentially are asking how it would impact the mean of all rulers, I would say it could logically lead to fewer conflicts.

  1. First, adding the time requirement has the potential to reduce rash actions. What makes a king angry today could be tempered if it fell in the "you haven't changed enough diapers window"

  2. Nurturing a child does alter how most view the world. On this I can speak from personal experience. Some of the fun and dumb things I used to do I no longer partake in...it no longer seems worth the risk. I even drive a little slower than I used to...so it is perfectly plausible that a King taking the time to actually personally raise a child would moderate their actions. Having a child and being a parent are just not the same thing. This of course is "on average" its not to say that some kings wouldn't still be jerk wads.


It might encourage less overt tactics. At first.

I suspect the first few kings under this holy rule would see this as an attack on their manhood. So they'd do slightly fewer wars. But they'd use assassins instead.

But after a few assassinations are successful, the remaining kings would start changing diapers immediately, so they could be ready to start their wars as soon as possible. While continuing the assassinations, of course.


As other answers have pointed, changing diapers will just be an small annoyance for the kings and will be seen as a necessary part of their role as kings.

However, this scenario allows for a new kind of tactics: preventing enemy kings from changing diapers renders their kingdoms military useless. Therefore all kinds of anti-diapers plots are expected. For example, spies will be sent to destroy the diaper supplies in the royal palace or even to kidnap all available babies. Agents might try to cause heavy constipation to palace babies if baby poop is a necessary part of the diapers changing ritual.


I see a few solutions the king could take to deal with any perceived loss of face from the deeds.

  1. The ritual is done in complete privacy. Nobody sees the king doing it and it is never talked about outside whatever room it must be done in. If the commoners do not know this rule exists, they should never be allowed to find out. Even if the rule is well known, hiding it away keeps it out of mind, especially when a war is going to be worrying the locals who have to fight a lot more than wondering if their ruler has been cleaning poop.

  2. The ritual is done very obviously and without shame, dressed up as a holy ceremony and the clergy and nobles are encouraged to treat it with the utmost respect. The common folk will generally go along with what the elites would have them believe most of the time, and so by putting on the performance openly in public, they would quickly accept it as just something that happens and think no more of it.

Of course there may be rulers who try very hard to sidestep the rules. I see your question mentions sidestepping isn't the idea, but I can't help wonder if a king could pass his title to the royal midwife, who has been changing babies for many years, for just long enough to officially announce the war, before he took back his rightful place.


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