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A Weird History of Royal Inbreeding

at 6:20 pm | By

Cause Baby Now We’ve Got Bad Blood

Since ancient times, some individuals have risen up from the masses to claim their alleged god-given right to rule over the rest.

Following the first to claim the title of leader, chief, pharaoh, king, or emperor across the ancient world’s many cultures and civilizations, families and entire dynasties followed in their footsteps, some lasting hundreds—if not thousands—of years, both uplifting and subjugating their countrymen and subjects, filling the pages of history with conquests, defeats, and their great family names.

Naturally, to keep themselves and their posterity in power, royal monarchs tried to keep their bloodlines pure by marrying within the family, a practice that, until the 20th century, was believed to be healthy and even the best possible means by which to produce dutiful heirs.

Turns out they couldn’t have been more wrong. From King Tut’s clubfeet to the Habsburg Jaw and the infamous royal hemophiliacs, these are some of the most obvious and dooming examples of royal inbreeding.

inbreeding victoria


Was marrying immediate family members worth it to keep the throne?

King Tut

inbreeding king tut


Philadelphia, the City of Brotherly Love, takes its name from the Greek word philadelphoi, which was used to describe the ancient Egyptian practice of marrying brothers to sisters. Sometimes, a man would even marry his niece, who was the daughter of his own brother and sister, resulting in the so-called “double niece” marriages. They most likely did this since the Egyptian god Osiris married his sister Isis.

This inbreeding didn’t go so well for Egyptian royalty like King Tutankhamen, whose parents were siblings. King Tut was born with an overbite, a cleft palate, what was likely a clubfoot, and he eventually developed scoliosis before dying around the age of 18.

Maria I of Portugal

inbreeding maria 1


Though noted and revered for the major governmental changes and improvements Maria I made to her kingdom as the first uncontested queen regnant of Portugal and the Algarves, inbreeding and weak mental health led to the queen’s sudden and drastic decline.

Maria’s mental illness was first noticed in her early 50s with a crippling onset of dementia. A member of the House of Braganza, Maria was not exempt from the inbreeding practices of European royalty, and she married her own uncle, and her second child was stillborn. The last 30 years of Maria’s life were lived uncomfortably and often in isolation, with reports of her screams echoing throughout the various palaces and monasteries she lived in.