Saturday, September 5, 2009

"We are family! All my brothers, sisters and me!!"

During ancient times, the favorite form of governemnt was Monarchy! In fact, it was so prized that many royal families took radical moves to keep the royal family on the throne. Usually, that included marrying cousins and, sometimes, even siblings! This method will be referred to as "royal incest."

Royal incest was practiced for a number of other reasons. One of the reasons was hypergamy. This is the tendency of women to marry men who are of a higher social status than they are. In the case of royal families, women couldn't move up the social ladder any, so they married their brothers. Though it really seems like more of a lateral move, I'm sure mom and dad were proud. Of both kids! "I don't think of it as losing a daughter..."

Another one of the big reasons was trying to preserve royal blood. Instead of marrying an outsider and diminishing the purity of the royal blood, the ruling class in places like ancient Egypt would instead marry their brother or sister. This also helped the royal family maintain strict control of power. In ancient Egypt, "The principal wives of Kings were almost always of royal blood and were often either the full or half sister of the king. These incestuous marriages, which we find few if any examples of in the general population, had several practical benefits to the crown ruler." Hawaiian chiefs would sometimes attempt to marry as close a blood relative as possible! This method was dubbed Hawaiian royal incest. Of course, lets not be too hard on the Hawaiians. They did, afterall, create the game of POGs, but that's a whole different post!

One royal family, the The House of Habsburg, ruled accross Europe for hundreds of years and actual married so close within their own gene pool for so long that the final descendant of this line was unable to produce children because of all the genetic problems he suffered. Sadly, their legacy now is having a deformity named after them. The Hapsburg lip, "an overdeveloped, thick lower lip, which often accompanies the Hapsburg jaw (a jaw that projects forward). This kind of lip was characteristic of many members of the royal German-Austrian family that produced several European rulers between 1278 and 1918."

In a world where royalty were so far removed from the lower classes, it can be easy to understand a strong desire to maintain power and keep the family on the throne. It kinda makes sense, but I imagine it was definitely one of those ideas that looked a lot better on paper. Then again, the family tree below doesn't look too impressive...

Aaron's thoughts: I can't imagine ever getting behind the idea of marrying a family member. In my years here on this planet, I have come to learn there are some places where guys should just never hit on girls. Like gyms, churches, and funeral homes. But chief among those places should be family reunions!

Daniel's thoughts: I love my sister...but not that much. Nuff said! As far a gene pools go, I think it's good to marry very, very, very, very far from your immediate family. At least second cousins, come on!

The Bottom Line: I doubt even Mel Brooks would say "It's good to be the king!" if the queen was your sister! The ideas behind royal incest seem reprehensible, dumb, and gross now. But I can remember looking back on some dumb things I've done and saying "It made sense at the time!"

But for this idea to ever make sense, I guess you had to be there!

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