Tanistry ( gäl. Tànaisteachd [t ʰ a ː n ˠ aʃtʃ ʲ ax ], ir Táinste [t ˠ a ː n ʲ ɕt ʲ ə ], Manx Tanishtagh [ tan ʲ ɪʃtəx ], German Than election, leader election or election of the designated Thronerbens / successor, derived from Gaelic tana ( rule ) and tanaise ( designated heir ) ) was to choose a custom at many Celtic tribes in Ireland, Scotland and the Isle of Man, the successor of the king or the chief of the clan by the leaders of the clans, alternatively, by all men of each clan.

The succession arrangements for the Alpin dynasty of Scottish kings respected the Tanistry tradition until at least 1034. Yet in 1090 this practice was applied sporadically.

The selected Than ( leader, designated successor ) had to be of age and without any blemish, mentally and physically. The election took place during the lifetime of the ruling king or Klanhäuptlings meanwhile, participation, and the elect then was entitled " Than " (English tanist ). He replaced the king or chief in case of death or in special circumstances. As soon as this event occurred, a new Than was chosen so that was always a successor is available. Often the choice was the son of the respective king. However, the principle of primogeniture was not recognized. The Tanistry system often led to a rotation between the most powerful lines of the clan or the ruling dynasty. Although not as originally intended, the Tanistry system ensured a balance of power between different lines of the clan. On the other hand, it was cause of constant conflict within families and between clans with often devastating consequences.

The word is used in a modified form today in the political system of the Republic of Ireland. The Prime Minister is the Taoiseach, the Tánaiste, the Deputy Prime Minister.

  • Scottish history