10 Historical Figures Who Had Incestuous Marriages

Throughout history, there has been a taboo on marriage with relatives. Today it is known that this is fraught with recessive genes, leading to a number of serious diseases, such as hemophilia, and which are also likely to become dominant genes in a family practicing inbreeding. One would have thought that famous and educated people would never have allowed this, but no matter how!

1. Herbert Wells

Herbert Wells.

Herbert Wells.
One of the titans of modern science fiction, Herbert George Wells, who presented the world with works such as The Time Machine and War of the Worlds, in 1891 was just an ordinary science teacher. At 25, he was worried about health and financial problems. This situation only worsened when he married his 16-year-old cousin Isabelle Mary Wells at age 25. In 1894, they split up (according to various sources, by mutual consent or with Herbert’s insistence), and in the same year, Wells married Amy Robbins, one of his former students.

Wells was not just a supporter of the free love movement throughout his marriage: he practiced it. Among his mistresses were even respected writers of the time, such as Violet Hunt. This caused Wells a lot of trouble. His colleague Hubert Bland beat the writer for an affair with his daughter Rosamund, and for some time Pember Reeves pursued Wells, intending to shoot the writer for the same reason. Wells himself did not deny anything, saying of himself: “I am a very immoral person. I hunted people who love me. ” Perhaps it is not surprising that someone with this attitude married a cousin.

2. Claudius

Emperor Claudius.

Emperor Claudius.

Claudius is considered one of the wisest (or at least more educated) emperors of Ancient Rome. At one time, the Roman emperor completely conquered Britain and expanded the borders of the state in North Africa, while finding time to write almost 28 history books in Greek (especially the history of the Etruscans). No one could even think that the emperor would marry a relative, and what … considering that he became emperor only after Caligula was killed, and also that numerous senators and soldiers tried to kill him in the first years of his reign.

This third marriage of Claudius, with his niece Agrippina the Younger (Caligula’s sister), actually put an end to his reign. From the very beginning, Agrippina was ambitious and urged the emperor to call his son his successor, despite the fact that Claudius was young enough at that time. Agrippina also poisoned her uncle/husband with mushrooms when her son (who became emperor) Nero turned 16 years old. The fact that she was regent until Nero was old enough to take the throne was a very likely motive. True, Claudius should have expected this, given that Agrippina was also suspected of poisoning her previous husband Passion Crispus.

3. Albert Einstein

Basically, this pioneer in the field of physics is remembered thanks to him thanks to his work, in particular, the General Theory of Relativity, which revolutionized our understanding of matter, time and energy. Surely, everyone saw images of Einstein with disheveled gray hair. But in the early days, when the scientist was still working on his iconic theories, he did what seemed to be vicious even by the standards of other incestuous marriages.

In 1903, Einstein married a colleague, professor of physics Milev Marich. At that time, they already had an illegitimate daughter, who suited a year earlier as a result of a novel that began in 1897. However, by 1912, Einstein had suddenly flamed up with feelings for his cousin Elsa, whose existence he had learned shortly before. In 1919, Einstein divorced his first wife, although in 1917 he had already moved to Elsa, who lived with her two daughters from a marriage that ended in divorce. And this is not all the scandals of a brilliant physicist. In 1918, Einstein seriously considered not leaving Elsa for the sake of … her daughter Ilse, who worked as his secretary.

4. Cleopatra

Few people in the history of mankind have been considered as romantic as Cleopatra. Surely, everyone heard about her passionate relationship with Julius Caesar and Mark Anthony, as a result of which four children appeared, which jeopardized the future of the Roman Empire. And this is not even to mention her relationship with Ptolemy XIII (moreover, no one would have wanted to romanticize these relations).
In 51 BC Cleopatra ascended the throne after the death of her father, Ptolemy XII. At that time, she was 18 years old, and she married her brother Ptolemy XIII, who was only 10 years old. Such an arrangement would not be so unusual at that time: Cleopatra’s own father was married to his sister Trifaena in accordance with tradition. The time of the ascension to the throne of young brothers and sisters was not successful, because at that time Egypt was experiencing hunger and economic problems. This contributed to the fact that Cleopatra and her husband eventually started a civil war, and when Julius Caesar intervened on Cleopatra’s side, he killed her younger brother in 47 BC, which put an end to one of the worst marriages in history. of humanity.

5. Edgar Allan Poe

Edgar Allan Poe

Edgar Allan Poe

The Gothic horror author and poet, who became the ancestor of the genre of “mystical detective story,” was also “noted” on the basis of incest. Edgar Allan Poe married his cousin Virginia when he was 27 years old and she was only 13 years old. He also lived with her from the age of seven. The age difference between them was so great that Edgar worked for many years as a private tutor for his wife.

There have been several attempts to protect this marriage. Some argued that the couple had waited several years before formalizing the marriage, and also that they got married only because otherwise, Edgar would have no legal reason to leave Virginia “with him” after he found out that she will be sent to a wealthy relative after the death of her mother. Whatever the true intentions, the fact that the writer lived with his wife until her death at the age of 24 from tuberculosis remains a fact.

6. James Watt

James Watt

James Watt

This Scottish mechanical inventor and surveyor are usually credited with the invention of a steam engine, but this is not entirely true. In fact, he took as a basis the steam engine of Newcomen, which was already more than 50 years old, and improved it. This gave a significant impetus to the industrial revolution. However, few people know about his family life, namely that in 1764 he married his cousin Margaret Miller.

About how successful their marriage was, little has been preserved in historical documents. It is known that their marriage lasted nine years (until Margaret’s death) and that she gave birth to six children. Watt was not near Margaret at the time of her death, because at that time he was desperately looking for work throughout Britain. In 1776, he married Anne McGregor, who bore him two more children.

7. Atahualpa

Before the invasion of the conquistadors, cultural attitudes toward incestuous marriages in Central and South America varied greatly. In the Aztec empire, this was considered, in fact, a serious crime, although in one of the local fundamental myths, their main god Quetzalcoatl drunk married his sister. However, in the Inca Empire, the emperor was practically required to marry a family member. There were two opposing legends that were supposed to be the source of the Inca Empire: Manco Kapak married his mother or the empire was founded by four sisters who married four brothers. However, such marriages were true only for the ruling class. In the case of incest, an ordinary person could count on his eyes being gouged out or executed.

It so happened that Atahualpa was married to his sister when he was the last emperor of the Inca Empire. He waged a civil war with his brother Huascar for five years at a time when Spanish conquistadors led by Francisco Pizarro landed on the coast of Peru. Hearing that the Spaniards could free his brother and put him on the throne, Atahualpa ordered the execution of Huascar. It was this execution and the incestuous marriage of Atahualpa that the Spaniards used to justify the execution of the emperor.

8. Emperor Suining

The era of the reign of the Tang Dynasty in the 8th century AD was one of the golden ages of China and the period when Chinese culture had the most significant influence on Japan. One result of this has been a change in Japanese taboos. While incestuous marriages in China have been unacceptable since the beginning of their history, in Japan for centuries, marriages within imperial families have been commonplace.

Among them, the 11th emperor Suinin, who married his cousin Sahohime in the 1st century AD, was especially notable. This was noteworthy, because this is only one of the few things that are known about him, and due to the almost complete absence of other reliable information about Suinin, he was dubbed “legendary”. It is rather unusual that this was one of the few surviving facts about the leader of the nation, who ruled for 99 years.

9. Charles Darwin

Anyone who has revolutionized the understanding of human biology through his interpretation of the Theory of Evolution has married his cousin, which is surprisingly ironic for some people. However, for the author of Origin of Species, the wedding of his cousin Emma Wedgwood in 1838 was a source of regret, unlike all the marriages described above.

The Darwin couple had 10 children, and Charles was well aware that such marriages could cause health problems. Three of his children died from infectious diseases in childhood. The most notorious death was the death of Charles Waring in 1858, as Darwin was forced to miss the first public presentation of his Theory of Evolution in order to attend the funeral. Even those who lived to adulthood, Darwin said that their health was “unreliable.” Darwin went so far as to ask the British government to conduct a survey of married relatives and the health status of their descendants, but his request was rejected.

10. Philip II of Spain

In the XVI century, Spain was at the peak of power during the reign of Philip II. And long before such things began to be said about the British Empire, “the sun never set” over the Spanish Empire. In addition to Spain, the Netherlands, and southern Italy in Europe, it controlled almost half of South America and more than half of today’s the United States of America, not to mention the Philippines. The empire ruled part of the famous Habsburg dynasty, which was known for its incestuous marriages. However, Philip II went even further than most monarchs, as he married four times relatives.

First, he married Maria of Portugal, a cousin (both my father and mother), who died three years later, giving birth to Prince Carlos, who had health problems that seemed quite familiar to Charles Darwin. He then married Maria Tudor, his cousin, and daughter of Henry VIII. After she died of illness, Philip II sent a proposal for marriage to Elizabeth I and did not receive an answer (because of which he supported the Scottish rebellion against her). Then Philip II married a second cousin Elizabeth Valois (this marriage lasted nine years). And finally, Philip’s last wife was his niece Anna of Austria. The last marriage lasted 10 years and, apparently, this was enough for Philip II, since he spent the last eight years of his life alone.

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