10 Historical Figures Who Had Incestuous Marriages

And now for something completely different. How would you like to map out the pedigrees and descendants of these people?

  1. H. G. Wells
  2. Claudius
  3. Albert Einstein
  4. Cleopatra
  5. Edgar Allen Poe
  6. James Watt
  7. Atahualpa -the last Inca Emperor who married his sister
  8. Emperor Suinin – the 11th Emperor of Japan who had two chief wives (empress), one of whom was his first cousin. He also had six consorts and he fathered 17 children.
  9. Charles Darwin
  10. Philip II of Spain

You can watch a YouTube video hosted by Simon Whistler at: https://youtu.be/xFMmJMlyqnY.

Then there are the royal families of Europe who intermarried amongst their own families most of the time. Of course, this caused a lot of medical problems. Take a look at the following chart of the British royals and their spouses in order to see why they had all these problems:

Click on the above image to view a larger version

I wonder what their DNA markers looked like?


Intermarriage really only causes genetic problems with relation to recessive autosomal genes. It has nothing to do with hemophilia in the royal family, which was a simple mutation spread through marriage, rather than intermarriage.


    The haemophilia in the Royal family probably originated as a new haemophilia mutation in Queen Victoria (in one of her X chromosomes). Such new mutations account for about one third of cases of haemophilia. It is nothing to do with inbreeding


    Agreed. The inheritance pattern fits with a new haemophilia mutation in Queen Victoria. About one third of haemophilia is due to new mutations.


    I don’t think it’s helpful to describe perfectly legal marriages as incestuous. Ultimately we’re all cousins, so where do you draw the line?

    Liked by 1 person

In small rural communities, there were a number of marriages between cousins — some between 1st cousins, but most marriages were lesser kin. I have learned this by reading the marriage books from my home county. There were simply not enough people living in the area and transportation in the 1800’s and early 1900’s did not permit much travel.


The gene pool amongst many of the people in my database is extremely limited. I recently passed over 800 inter-family marriages and first cousin marriages are not uncommon.
Having a lot not only of LDS members, but LDS members who engaged in plural marriage also produces some interesting results. The one that sticks most readily in the memory is a lady whose father-in-law was her half brother


Philip II and others had the Habsburg Jaw. A lot of first-cousin marriages to keep the lands in the family (so a lot of requests to the Pope for dispensations from the Catholic laws on marriage). See for example https://allthatsinteresting.com/habsburg-jaw


The definition of incest varies from culture to culture. Einstein’s cousin marriage is perfectly normal for Jewish families and legal in many places.

Liked by 1 person

I love your articles, Dick, but in this case I must object to your use of the term “incestuous” to describe marriages between first cousins — by definition those, if legal (in the US 20 state and DC allow all, 6 allow some and many other countries allow them), are NOT incestuous. Endogamous, yes, but not incestuous. Incestuous marriages are any between siblings, or child and parent or grandparent, and sometimes between a child and an aunt or uncle. Anyone whose family has been in the US since the early 1600s undoubtedly has several first cousins marriages in their lines, many in strict, religious families. They would be even more horrified than I to have their marriages categorized as incestuous.

Liked by 1 person

I really do disagree with your use of the term “incestuous” for cousin marriages. Your list would be a lot longer if you truly stuck with that criteria.


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