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Åsetesrett (archaic spelling Åsædesret) is the ancient right in Norway of the eldest child to inherit the farm after his or her parent (originally only 50% for female offspring).

When the farmer dies, his eldest child takes possession. The heir is obliged to pay the other siblings their share of the estate (originally only 50% to sisters). Traditionally the value of the estate was given by the father or else is estimated, usually below its actual valuation. Currently, there is an appraisal, but the value is still low. Women could and did own property. Before the 1970s, daughters also inherited, but their share was half that of the sons' shares. If the father left no son, his eldest surviving daughter inherited.

If a farm or estate is of such a size that several families can exist on it, the father is allowed to divide it among his children; however, this is on the condition that the eldest son or daughter will not receive less than one-half of the farm or estate. This prevented the destructive partitioning of agricultural land seen in many other European countries in the same period. But it had the unfortunate effect of partitioning Norway periodically (since Norway was treated as a King's estate during early periods), making Norway more vulnerable to outside pressures.

These Ancient Norwegian property laws, which being secured in the constitution still exist, served to preserve a strong Norwegian farm culture.[citation needed]

See also[edit]


History of the Norwegian People by Knut Gjerset, MacMillan, 1917