Royal Families with the Most Intermarriage

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Royal Families with the Most Intermarriage

Who are the most inbred royal families to ever exist? When operating under the notion of divine rule, the temptation to keep things in the family has been great historically speaking. This has its problems as you might imagine, giving rise to some of the more bizarre illnesses and maladies we associate with royals.

Ancient Egypt

The old dynasties weren’t discreet about the inbreeding.

One of the most inbred royal families was one of the first. The dynasties of Ancient Egypt were ruled by divine mandate. As such, it wasn’t exactly guaranteed that a commoner wife would bear the next heir.

Issues that Afflicted Pharaohs

Incest would take its toll on the health of some rulers.

The most intact tomb found also gives hints about the issues plaguing these royal families. Tutankhamun died at 19 but wasn’t a model of health. Tutankhamun had bone necrosis in addition to a possible clubfoot. An overbite also has helped historians tie him to to Thutmosid royal family.

Ancient China

China has a long and storied history, sadly incest between rulers was fairly common.

China has a long history of fractured kingdoms. However, the concept of Heqin, or marriage alliances, has been universal throughout history. As you might imagine, this helped to create some of the most inbred royal families to exist.

Health Problems for the Emperors

Sterility seemed to be the main problem to affected Chinese royals during the Qing dynasty.

The typical afflictions like the Habsburg Jaw weren’t to be seen with the emperors of China. However, many of the emperors were infertile, like Quang Tu. Try as Quang Tru might with a queen, two consorts, and a harem of thousands, there was no heir to be found.

The Silla Kingdom

Ancient Korea’s Silla dynasty has some similarities to the Qing.

Silla predates most of the famous dynasties of Korea’s past. The Joseon is perhaps the best known, but it isn’t known as one of the most inbred royal families. Silla was contemporary to nations like Rome, and it had many of the same issues.

Incest and Its Effects

Sterility also affected Korean royals, for better or worse.

Not much is written about the Silla and some of the maladies we associate with inbreeding. However, you can look at someone like Adalla of Silla, the eighth ruler of the kingdom. He had a relatively short reign and was succeeded by a completely different dynasty. Incest can lead to sterility, so it isn’t out of the question for Adalla.


Roman inbreeding was common early into the empire’s heyday.

Rome’s time as an empire spawned a few of the most inbred royal families you’ll find. Roman rulers did hop on the divine mandate bandwagon after a time, with certain emperors claiming to be the mortal vessels of gods.

Rare, but Possible

most inbred royal families
Caligula was possibly inbred, leading to his spates of madness.

Incest was common throughout the ancient kingdoms of the world. However, it is a bit of a rarity in Ancient Rome. We would most likely see further evidence of things like madness. Rumors persist about infamous rulers like Nero and Caligula, but nothing concrete has been established.

Victorian England

most inbred royal families
Victoria’s grandkids are singlehandedly responsible for a fair bit of the First World War.

One of the most iconic royal families is oddly one of the most stricken by incest’s effects. Ironically, Queen Victoria’s attempt to intermarry the families of Europe with cousins and siblings ended up creating many issues.

Keeping Hold of the Crown

most inbred royal families
Victoria Eugenie suffered from terrible headaches for most of her life.

Victoria and Albert may have likely spread hemophilia throughout all of Europe. Thankfully, no English monarchs seemed to have been born with the affliction. However, Victorian England was one of the most inbred royal families you’ll find. Victoria’s granddaughter suffered from terrible headaches her entire life, and fertility issues plagued her childbearing years.

The Kingdom of Bavaria

most inbred royal families
Ludwig II had the temperament of a child, not a great attribute when ruling a whole country.

Long before Germany’s unification, it was home to some of the most inbred royal families in all of Europe. This likely comes down to its relation to the famous Habsburg dynasty found in the Austro-Hungarian Empire. However, it didn’t do Bavaria any favors.

An Uncomfortably Close Family Tree

most inbred royal families
Ludwig II was a personal patron of Wagner, which is noteworthy.

King Ludwig II’s time on the Bavarian throne was short, perhaps to the benefit of his subjects. That said, he seemed to be stunted mentally. While he was a great patron of the arts, he was unfit to be king. Sadly, this led to his assassination before his equally inbred brother Otto took the throne.

Kingdom of Hawaii

most inbred royal families
Kamehameha III kept with royal tradition in Hawaii when it came to marriage.

When you live by divine rule, it starts to muddy the waters. While Hawaiian rulers believed that a brother and sister marrying created a truly divine offspring, modern science refutes that. It ended up creating one of the most inbred royal families you’ll ever see.

Maintaining Rule

most inbred royal families
Protestant missionaries were shocked by the practice of incest by Hawaiian royalty.

Things went swimmingly for the incestuous relationships of Hawaii’s monarchs until the arrival of missionaries in the 19th century. There Nahienaena married her brother, King Kamehameha III, much to the consternation and condemnation of the missionaries. Sadly, it came to a head when Nahienaena gave birth to her child. Genetic defects from centuries of inbreeding led to the child’s early death.

The Romanovs

Nicholas II is another of Victoria’s grandchildren.

One of the most inbred royal families saw its twilight in the 20th century. The Romanovs were the ruling dynasty of the Russian Empire for centuries. The final Czar and his family suffered from several genetic defects.

Hemophilia and Other Issues

most inbred royal families
The Romanov princesses fared better when it came to health issues.

The most notable issue suffered by the Russian Royal Family was hemophilia. Nicholas II’s sole heir, Alexei, is famous for his affliction. Sadly, effective treatment wasn’t found before the October Revolution.

The Habsburg Dynasty

most inbred royal families
You almost have to pity the poor king, he didn’t ask for this life.

Rounding out our list of the most inbred royal families is the only one with a genetic defect named for it. The incestuous Habsburg Dynasty ruled over much of Central Europe as well as the Iberian peninsula.

Kings Unfit to Rule

most inbred royal families
Even observers to the Habsburg court noted something off with Phillip II.

Toward the end of the Habsburg Dynasty, rulers were heavily afflicted with genetic defects. King Charles II of Spain was one such ruler and could barely speak. The poor mad king couldn’t even chew on his own.

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