Tuesday, September 5, 2017

The Royal We

A discussion was underway at about "Incestuous Royal Marriages." This blog has noted such things before.
Kataryn started off the discussion YEARS ago...
Legally Catherine of Aragon was married incestually because she as widow of one brother married the other after the first hausband's death.

That's not considered incest in most definitions.
But that's just a formality. History has shown that Royal families did not hesitate to form very close bonds between them. While a marriage of cousin and cousin happened quite often, marriages between unles and nieces are rare - but they happened, too.

One example is the marriage of Antoinette Marie of Wuerttemberg to Ernst I. of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha. Marie's mother Antoinette of Saxe-Coburg-Saalfeld was the sister of the groom.

Then there are the three uncle-niece marriages of the Spanish and Austrian Habsburgs:

- Philipp II. married Anna of Austria, the daughter of his sister Marie.

- Archduke Charles II of Austria-Innerösterreich married Maria Anna of Bavaria, daughter of his sister Anna of Austria.

- Philipp IV. married Marianna of Austria, daughter of his sister Maria Anna.

As you can see, the last three uncle-niece-marriages happened in the House of Habsburg between 1550 and 1660 in the direct line leading to Philipp IV. of Spain and his wife Marianna of Austria. Their child is the sad, sick Don Carlos of Schillerian fame...

Not 100 years later, the House of Habsburg ended in the male line. But of course the marriage of Maria Theresia of Austria to Francis Stephan of Lorraine brought new blood into the family..
As I understand it, uncle-niece marriages are allowed in some places in deference to religious traditions.

Princess Agnes added...
In Portugal there are two cases of marriages to uncles, regarding the only female monarchs.

D. Maria I (1734-1816) married her uncle, Pedro de Bragança (1717-1786) who became D. Pedro III, in 1760.

Her greatgranddaughter, D. Maria II (1819-1853) married her uncle D. Miguel (1802-1866) by proxy in 1826. This marriage was annulled in 1834. This annullment had nothing to do with the close relationship between the spouses (there had been a papal dispensation) but because it had been contracted in an attempt to end the liberal civil wars. D. Miguel didn't fulfill his part of the agreement (he was on the absolutist side) and the marriage ended being annulled. D. Maria II later married Auguste of Beauharnais in 1834 by proxy and personnally in January 1835, although he died in March that year.

She finally married Fernando de Saxe-Coburg-Gotha (1816-1885) in 1836. After the birth of their first son, he became D. Fernando II.

MAfan added more about Spain...
In the Spanish Royal Family it appears that such marriages were a sort of habit:

- in 1779 Infanta Maria Amalia (Carlos IV's daughter) married her paternal uncle Infante Antonio;
- in 1816 King Fernando VII married his niece Infanta Isabel of Portugal (daughter of his sister Carlota Joaquina);
- in 1829 again King Fernando VII married his niece Princess Maria Cristina of the Two Sicilies (daughter of his sister Maria Isabel);
- in 1816 Infante Carlos married to his niece Infanta Maria Francisca of Portugal (daughter of his sister Carlota Joaquina);
- in 1838 Infante Carlos married to his niece and sister-in-law Infanta Teresa of Portugal (another daughter of his sister Carlota Joaquina, and sister of the above mentioned Isabel and Maria Francisca);
- in 1819 Infante Francisco de Paula (brother of Fernando VII) married to his niece Princess Luisa Carlotta of the Two Sicilies (daughter of his sister Isabel, and sister of the above mentioned Maria Cristina; later Francisco de Paula and Luisa's son, Francisco de Asis, married to Fernando and Maria Cristina's daughter, Queen Isabel II).

Several other descendants of these couples married among themselves.
Alison20 was confused...
It has always seemed very strange to me that no-one in the Spanish RF realised a very basic biological fact, which was that marrying close relatives was not a healthy practice. This was somethat that was understood by even the most isolated and 'primitive' human societies - who made it 'taboo' for a woman to marry a man from her own family group. Perhaps they were so blinded by their belief in their superiority that they didn't think this basic fact applied to them! :-)
Most children born to close relatives are healthy. Not all societies have had a taboo preventing consanguineous marriages. The ones who did were likely more concerned about trading their daughters away as bargaining chips. In other words, the prohibitions were for the same reason the royal families would engage in consanguineous marriages: power. Either gaining it or retaining it.

Grandduchess24 contributed some information about the Norwegian royals...
Queen maud of Norway married her maternal cousin, haakon VII since they are both grandchildren of King Christian IX of Denmark

Princess Irene of Hesse and by Rhine married her maternal cousin prince Heinrich of Prussia and had 3 sons, is that right?

Princess Victoria Melita of Saxe Coburg and Gotha had married firstly her cousin grand duke Ernst Ludwig of Hesse and had a daughter by him but died young, she secondly married her maternal cousin grand duke Cyril Vladimirovich and had two girls and one boy.

King carol II of Romania married his cousin Helen

Marc23 added about the Portugal royals...
And her son Pedro,"product" of uncle and niece was married to his own aunt Maria Francisca who was a sister to his mother and the other niece of his father,who was at the same time his grandfathers younger brother!
pacomartin gave quite a list...

Hanoverian familial relationships with consorts
King George I married his firstcousin
King George II married his 3rd cousin 1 generation removed
Prince of Wales Frederick married his 3rd cousin 1 generation removed
King George III married his 3rd cousin
King George IV married his firstcousin
King William IV married his 3rd cousin 1 generation removed
Victoria and Edward Augustus were 3rd cousins 1 generation removed
Queen Victoria married her first cousin
King Edward VII married his 3rd cousin
King George V married his 2nd cousin 1 generation removed
King Edward VIII married "Wallis, Duchess of Windsor" after he abdicated (no known relationship)
King George VI married his 13th cousin (pretty distant for two English people) They were both descended from Henry VII.

Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh are:
2nd cousins one generation removed through common descent from King Christian IX of Denmark (died 1906) 3rd cousins through common descent from Queen Victoria (died 1901) and Prince Albert
Prince Charles is said to have proposed to his 2nd cousin, but when she turned him down he proposed to Diana (his 7th cousin once removed).

Queen Elizabeth's consanguinity index is almost zero because of the lack of any close relationship between her parents. Prince Charles is 2.03%, or about a third of the child of first cousins. Prince William and Harry have almost 0%.
theresa_225 offered...
Is Joseph, Prince of Beira and Benedita, Princess of Brazil mentioned yet? José was the son of Maria I of Portugal and her uncle, Peter III. Benedita is his aunt, being the daughter of José I of Portugal and Infanta Mariana Victoria of Spain (the parents of Maria I of Portugal).
Noble Consort Ming...
I think the Thai royal family has not been mentioned. Traditionally Thai kings had many wives including their sisters and half sisters. For example, King Rama V's four queen consorts were all his half-sisters(he had many other wives and concubines besides them as well).

Also, Kind Leonidas of Sparta and his wife Gorgo were uncle and niece. Many sources call her his half-niece(if there is such a term) since she was the daughter of his half brother.
The Roman emperor Claudius married his niece Agrippina the Younger, daughter of his brother Germanicus. She was the sister of emperor Caligula and there were rumours that he had an incestrous relationship with his sister Julia Drusilla, if not all of his sisters, but there is no known facts whether it's true or not.

Emperor Tiberius married his stepsister Julia the Elder, and was later adopted by Julia's father emperor Augustus, so the marriage could be seen as incestrous. The same could be said for the marriage between emperor Nero and his first wife, Claudia Octavia, the daugher of his step- and adoptive father, emperor Claudius.
norenxaq noted...
on a related theme, there was a dynasty in central india called the ikshvaku (c.200-300 AD) whose kings married their aunts
Keeping it in the caste?

The royals in Egypt, Hawaii, and elsewhere are also mentioned.

Literally all over the world, it has been common for close relatives to marry. In the US, there is a ridiculous stereotype that assigns such marriages or sexual relationships to rural southerners. But the fact is, wealthy people urban residents, and people of any socioeconomic background experience consanguinamory.

It is ridiculous that any US state has restrictions on the consanguineous freedom to marry, let alone laws criminalizing sex between first cousins. This is just one of many reasons we need full marriage equality nationwide. Adults in love who want to marry shouldn't have to hire a lawyer to figure out of they can marry where they live, or if it would be criminal for them to live together if they want to move to another state.
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  1. Thanks so much for all these examples! I'm giving a persuasive speech on the legalization of consanguineous relationships and this site, while not technically qualifying as source, has given me a ton of information and places to look for information.

    1. Glad to be of help. You might want to try the media tag or prosecution tag to find some sources. Science is another good tag.

    2. Also, we'd like to see the text of your speech or a video, if you're not too shy. If you don't want it published you can put it here and ask me not to publish your comment. Thanks! And if you haven't done so, check out the "myths" tag.


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