Vladimir’s Foreign Ties.

My new History of Russian Literature (see this post) sent me to the Instruction of Vladimir Monomakh (Поучение Владимира Мономаха: “Among the most anthologized works of the medieval period, prized now as a rare example of the personal voice”), where I found this LH-relevant statement:

Егоже умѣючи, того не забывайте доброго, а егоже не умѣючи, а тому ся учите, якоже бо отець мой, дома сѣдя, изумѣяше 5 языкъ, в томъ бо честь есть от инѣхъ земль.

Forget not what useful knowledge you possess, and acquire that with which you are not acquainted, even as my father, though he remained at home in his own country, still understood five languages. For by this means honor is acquired in other lands.

I take the translation from Serge A. Zenkovsky’s Medieval Russia’s Epics, Chronicles, and Tales (see this post for Zenkovsky on Afanasy Nikitin’s languages), where the introduction to the excerpt from the Instruction says:

The son of Prince Vsevolod and of a Byzantine princess of the house of Monomakh, Vladimir married Gita, the daughter of the last Anglo-Saxon king, Harold, who was defeated at the Battle of Hastings in 1066. After this defeat the surviving members of the Anglo-Saxon family lived as émigrés in Vladimir’s court at Kiev. Vladimir Monomakh, continuing the tradition of Yaroslav the Wise, maintained lively relations with Western Europe; his sister, Eupraxy, became the wife of the German Emperor, Henry IV; and his children married into various royal houses, including those of Hungary, Sweden, and Byzantium.

And the History of Russian Literature says (p. 104) that “Monomakh may have been influenced by an Anglo-Saxon example (possibly King Alfred’s spiritual testament known to Monomakh through his Anglo-Saxon wife, Gytha of Wessex).” The European world of the eleventh and twelfth centuries was a lot more interconnected than we tend to remember.

Comments

  1. Vladimir Monomakh’s mother Anna was a Byzantine princess, grandmother Ingigerd was a Swedish princess and great-grandmother Rogneda (Ragnhild) was probably a Norwegian princess.

    He married an English princess and their son Mstislav (known in the Western European sources as Harold) married another Swedish princess. Mstislav’s daughters married a king of Denmark, a king of Norway, another king of Denmark, a king of Hungary and a Byzantine prince.

    Pretty interconnected, indeed

  2. David Marjanović says:

    The European world of the eleventh and twelfth centuries was a lot more interconnected than we tend to remember.

    And all that was after the schism of 1054, which everyone seems to have just ignored for a good long while…!

  3. After this [Hastings] defeat the surviving members of the [Harold’s] Anglo-Saxon family lived as émigrés in Vladimir’s court at Kiev.

    Why Kiev? Was there nowhere closer to home? Or was Kiev as much home as anywhere? Did the royals just slosh about Europe as much then as now?

    Thanks be to Hattery for these snippets that they never teach you in school. Harold is painted as the last authentic Brit, and William as a bloody furriner. Yet it’s let slip they were in fact related. And so have all monarchs of Britain been furriners up to the current German/Greek/Spanish crowd.

    Does this interconnectedness mean there’s always been a ruling class rather distant from wherever they’re ruling?

  4. Does this interconnectedness mean there’s always been a ruling class rather distant from wherever they’re ruling?

    I suspect so. They care about each other a lot more than they do about us rabble.

  5. marie-lucie says:

    AntC: Why Kiev?

    Kiev was a Scandinavian city. The “Rus” people were Scandinavians, and the ruling family kept in touch with their relatives in Scandinavia.

    For centuries, European royal families tried to intermarry with other royals, in order to keep alliances with them. When they signed peace treaties, there were often clauses promising princesses in marriage to the heirs of the victorious nation. Only heirs lower on the totem pole, unlikely to inherit a throne, married within their own nation.

  6. The “Rus” people were Scandinavians,
    It may be more appropriate to describe them as code-switching between Slav / Scandinavian / Greek as the circumstances dictated. Prince Mstislav turned into Theodore with the Greeks and Harald with the Scandinavians.

  7. all monarchs of Britain been furriners

    The beginning of “The Sixteen Keys”, one of Randall Garrett’s Lord Darcy stories, set in an Anglo-French Empire that remains stable into the 20C (its Emperor is also the elected Holy Roman Emperor and overlord of the civilized and not so civilized polities of the New World)

    “Naval treaties with Roumeleia are all very well,” said Lord Sefton, with a superior smile on his jovial, round face, “but tell me, Your Highness, doesn’t it strike you as intrinsically funny that a Greek at Constantinople should sit on a golden throne, wearing the imperial purple of the Caesars, and claim to be the representative before God of the Senate and People of Rome?”

    “Indeed it does, my lord,” said Prince Richard, Duke of Normandy, as he poured himself a bit more brandy. “I think it even funnier that a Frenchified Viking barbarian should sit on the ancient Throne of Britain and claim exactly the same thing. But
    that’s politics for you, isn’t it?”

    The florid face of Lord Sefton appeared to approach the apoplectic. He seemed about to rebuke the Prince with something like “By heaven, sir! How dare you? Who do you think you are?” Then, as though he had suddenly realized who Richard of Normandy thought he was, he paled and drowned his confusion in a hurriedly swallowed brimfull glass of Oporto.

  8. J.W. Brewer says:

    Stigand, who was Archbishop of Canterbury from 1052 until 1070, was on very bad terms with the various Popes whose time in office overlapped with his, which has been used in some circles as the basis for a claim that the Anglo-Saxon Church did not participate in the unfortunate schism of 1054 and did not break communion with the True Church in Constantinople, with England only really being signed up for Team Anti-Constantinople when Stigand was subsequently replaced with the Norman interloper Lanfranc. It is probably at a minimum true that few if any ecclesiastical personalities in England in 1054 were aware of any change in their theoretical relationship to Constantinople. Such were the benefits of living in an age without scandal-mongering social media. And probably also true that most secular royalty throughout Europe thought that whatever had happened between Pope and Patriarch was one of those squabbles that churchly folk got into from time to time that would be patched up after a while as always happened, and thus did not feel that they needed to pick sides in some sort of definitive irrevocable way.

  9. The split mostly remained on paper till 13th century.

    I’d say until 1204 or so.

    Russians were quite slow to get that the West no longer views them as fellow Christians.

    Remember reading a Novgorod chronicle of 14th century describing one unfortunate Swedish anti-Russian Crusade with great bewilderment. The chronicler apparently still viewed Swedes as Christians and couldn’t grasp why they would consider Russians Pagans and need actually to go on Crusade against them.

  10. Edgar Ætheling grew up in Hungary, although apparently that was far enough away that people in UK weren’t clear on whether he and his father were still alive.

    Certainly the seniormost known descendants of Harold Godwinson were the post-Monomakh Rurikids. Edgar Ætheling had no known children (he was apparently alive and well in England for a long time after accepting Wm. as king, so perhaps he did have some kids who faded into obscurity). Edgar’s oldest sister, however, married the king of Scotland, so that family’s nearest heirs are the subsequent Scottish royals … including James VI & I and his descendant Elizabeth II.

  11. According to this guy: https://www.niupress.niu.edu/niupress/scripts/book/bookResults.asp?ID=634

    late medieval Russian tsars used the “bride-show” method to find local brides because they were unable to make marriage contacts with other Christian sovereigns because of religious differences. The goal of the bride-show was to find a wife from among the lowest orders of nobility, since marrying within the upper nobility would disrupt the delicate political balance too much.

    But clearly by the time we get to Catherine the Great, the religious conflict no longer seemed like such an obstacle. And there was an earlier time post-1054 when nobody cared that much.

  12. David Marjanović says:

    I’d say until 1204 or so.

    Oh, that makes sense.

    But clearly by the time we get to Catherine the Great, the religious conflict no longer seemed like such an obstacle.

    Oh, it was. Catherine converted, complete with a new name implying a new baptism.

  13. Well, it was a surmountable obstacle. No bride-show was necessitated.

    P.S. funny thing about the bride-shows is that at some point later, Romanovs (like other Euro monarchs, I’m assuming) developed the idea that the tsar’s wife had to be from a royal family, no mere daughter of a duke (let alone landed gentry, heavens no), in order for the marriage to be considered valid and non-morganatic. One of the current R-ov pretenders married a woman descended from the kings of Georgia and it’s controversial whether that really counts as royal or not.

  14. In case anyone’s wondering about the sudden appearance of Savalonôs, a comment from 2017:

    Greg Pandatshang says:

    Nice. If you see a seemingly-new commenter “Savalonôs” popping up in the comments, that’ll be me.

  15. Could be a coincidence.

  16. January First-of-May says:

    Certainly the seniormost known descendants of Harold Godwinson were the post-Monomakh Rurikids. Edgar Ætheling had no known children (he was apparently alive and well in England for a long time after accepting Wm. as king, so perhaps he did have some kids who faded into obscurity). Edgar’s oldest sister, however, married the king of Scotland, so that family’s nearest heirs are the subsequent Scottish royals … including James VI & I and his descendant Elizabeth II.

    And the semi-Salic line is different yet – Tostig Godwinsson left some male-line descendants who apparently lived in relative obscurity in Norway for several generations, slowly moving up in the local nobility, until in the early 13th century Tostig’s great-great-great-grandson Inge Bårdsson ended up reigning over said country. I forgot what happens to it after that, but it ends up with the House of Mecklenburg (until 2001, apparently; then things get tricky).

    That said, the Rurikid and Scottish lines aren’t that obvious either – at least, as long as we use male-preference primogeniture (i.e. the modern English rules until recently).

    I was able to calculate the former up to the 18th century (when it was in Poland), but got helplessly stuck in the 19th century (I’ll have to look it up, but it was a long sequence of people having two daughters of uncertain order, who in turn also tended to have two daughters of uncertain order, leading to something like a dozen branches by the 20th century, at which point privacy issues came up and muddled things further).

    As for the latter, the line ends up with the three Balliol sisters, Cecily, Ada, and Alianora, of very uncertain order (though most likely in the order I listed them in); if this list sounds familiar to you, that might be because I posted about it on LH previously.

    (…And, as it happens, the comment I just linked apparently also described all the other lines I mentioned above; though it doesn’t go into as much detail on the Polish one.)

  17. David Marjanović says:

    Romanovs (like other Euro monarchs, I’m assuming) developed the idea that the tsar’s wife had to be from a royal family, no mere daughter of a duke […], in order for the marriage to be considered valid and non-morganatic.

    That is unique to the Romanovs. Elsewhere, even at the time, all marriages to nobles were considered dynastically valid.

  18. January First-of-May says:

    from a royal family, no mere daughter of a duke

    The tricky part, as i recall, was that “royal family” meant “reigning family of a sovereign state”, and HRE statelets counted – even after the German mediatization of 1806 made them no longer sovereign.

    So the Georgian case basically came down to 1) whether the Georgian kingdoms could be said to have been mediatized like the HRE statelets were, and 2) whether the specific family branch in question was in fact the senior descendant line of the reigning family of that particular Georgian kingdom (since there were other competing claims to that title).

  19. That’s all very reminiscent of Proust’s aristos arguing about whose line was really royal.

  20. marie-lucie says:

    Romanovs (like other Euro monarchs, I’m assuming) developed the idea that the tsar’s wife had to be from a royal family, no mere daughter of a duke […], in order for the marriage to be considered valid and non-morganatic.

    Perhaps this happened because the Romanovs were more or less latecomers on the European stage and would not have been considered equal in status with other royal families? In France it seems to me that the “Louis” kings of the 17C and 18C all married daughters of foreign kings or queens: Louis XIII : Anne d’Autriche, Louis XiV : Maria Teresa of Spain, Louis XV: Maria (?) Leczinska of Poland (whose father was a king in exile, but no less royal), Louis XVI : Marie-Antoinette (Maria Antonia), whose mother was Queen Maria Theresia of Austria. But the resulting concentration of “royal” genes at the top, reaching its peak with Queen Victoria’s many daughters married to European royals, led indirectly to the fall of the Romanov dynasty, with the only male heir’s hemophilia (transmitted in the female line) dominating the preoccupations of the imperial family to the detriment of the nation’s problems. Had Nicholas II married a Russian woman of sturdier stock, the history of Europe would have been completely different.

  21. “Romanovs . . . developed the idea that the tsar’s wife had to be from a royal family, no mere daughter of a duke […], in order for the marriage to be considered valid and non-morganatic.”

    Perhaps that’s at least in part because until Peter I in the late 17th century the Romanov dynasty was very insecure (in addition to being latecomers, as M-L points out) and was at pains to emphasize its tenuous ties (mainly by marriage) to the legitimate dynasty of which Ivan IV (the Terrible) and his son Theodore (Feodor) were the last representatives. The first Romanov tsar, Michael, was not from a royal family: he was simply offered the throne in the early 17th century (when he was 16) by a council of nobles–after other candidates rejected the offer. This was when the Moscow state was undergoing the “Time of Troubles”, with various false claimants to the throne in circulation and invasions by the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth.

  22. by a council of nobles

    Is that what they teach in America?

    In Russian history books it is said that he was elected by Zemsky Sobor, a sort of national parliament comprised of representatives of all liberated Russian cities.

    Zemsky Sobor of 1613 which elected Michael Romanov was more representative and democratic than most, including even peasants and Cossacks who in normal times wouldn’t be expected to participate in governance of the country.

  23. And of course, the Second Militia of the Land which effectively liberated Russia from Polish occupation and ruled over liberated territories before election of Tsar Michael was a democratic, revolutionary (or national liberation as they would say in 20th century) movement led by a former butcher.

    Later Romanovs preferred not to recall that detail and put rather strong emphasis on Divine Right of Kings, even though their dynasty was literally brought to power by the people of Russia.

  24. Romanovs (like other Euro monarchs, I’m assuming) developed the idea that the tsar’s wife had to be from a royal family, no mere daughter of a duke […], in order for the marriage to be considered valid and non-morganatic.

    An innovation that, like so many others, goes back to Peter the Great, who married his son Alexis off to Charlotte of Brunswick-Wolfenbuttel. Before that the situation had been entirely the reverse; tsars never married foreign royalty (or foreigners full stop), because it would lead to an influx of suspicious non-Russianness, and never married the daughters of Russian high nobility either, to avoid creating rivalries between the tsaritsa’s house and the other houses whose daughters had been passed over. Peter himself married twice, first to Eudoxia, a minor noblewoman, and then to Catherine, a peasant.

  25. But the resulting concentration of “royal” genes at the top, reaching its peak with Queen Victoria’s many daughters married to European royals, led indirectly to the fall of the Romanov dynasty, with the only male heir’s hemophilia (transmitted in the female line) dominating the preoccupations of the imperial family to the detriment of the nation’s problems. Had Nicholas II married a Russian woman of sturdier stock, the history of Europe would have been completely different.

    This betrays an embarrassing failure to understand basic genetics.

    Haemophilia is not caused by inbreeding. It’s a single-gene mutation on the X chromosome, which means that it is inherited from the asymptomatic mother (generally, unless the father is a haemophiliac) and expressed only in male offspring. Queen Victoria was a carrier of the gene, and passed it on to her daughter Alice (and others), who passed it to her daughter Alexandra, wife of Nicholas II and mother of the Tsarevich Alexei.
    There’s no family history of haemophilia before Victoria, so it’s likely that the mutation arose spontaneously in her father – and that could have happened to anyone.

  26. January First-of-May says:

    IIRC, by the time Nicholas II married, there were enough attested cases of hemophilia in Victoria’s descendants to maybe let someone who did know their basic genetics – which admittedly wasn’t yet a thing at the time – figure out that it could have been inherited from Victoria, and that other descendants of Victoria could also end up with hemophilia in their families.
    (There were, at the time, still more than enough candidates who weren’t descended from Victoria, though most would have been in the less prominent German families.)

    That said, he still got somewhat unlucky – he ended up with only one male heir out of five children, and said one heir also happened to have hemophilia. The chance that at least one of five children with such ancestry would be a healthy male was 1-(3/4)^5=781/1024, or about 76%; of course if they managed a sixth or seventh kid the chances would have been higher yet.

  27. Well, sure. The point is that hemophilia, once present in the extended family, is likely to be concentrated by inbreeding. If Nicholas II had had a wider field of selection, the chance that he married a carrier would be fairly small.

  28. marie-lucie says:

    Genetics 101 (a course I never took): Have I failed the exam, or barely passed?

  29. basic genetics – which admittedly wasn’t yet a thing at the time
    Basic genetics of the inheritance of hemophilia have been known in the Talmud since Xth century, first proscribing circumcision to newborn boys whose brothers bled to death, and then learning to factor in maternal uncles. By late XIXth century, it was no secret that there is heightened risk associated with female-line descendants of Queen Victoria. But what is an increased risk compared to divinely instilled power, anyway.

  30. “Zemsky Sobor of 1613 which elected Michael Romanov was more representative and democratic than most, including even peasants and Cossacks who in normal times wouldn’t be expected to participate in governance of the country.”

    You’re right that the Zemski Sobor was more inclusive than just a bunch of powerful boyars. But do you really think the peasants in the Zemski Sobor had much of a voice? That the process wasn’t a matter of negotiations among a fewl boyar families, with the Zemski Sobor used as a fig-leaf for the sake of legitimacy? Frankly, I suspect that’s the whitewashed version of Russian history, created in chronicles designed to legitimize the ruing dynasty and power structure.

    I’m not saying the US constitution wasn’t arrived at by a similar process of negotiation among wealthy and powerful interests.

  31. You need to understand that the real power in 1613 was held not by boyars who were almost universally tainted by treason and collaboration with Polish occupiers, but by the Second Militia of the Land.

    But is true that this revolutionary force which liberated Moscow wanted some form of national reconciliation and was willing to return power to traditional boyar aristocracy in exchange for some kind of power-sharing agreement. The details of the compromise are not known (and likely were not put on paper anyway), but it is speculated that unusual frequency of Zemsky Sobor parliaments called in the reign of Tsar Michael Romanov was the result of promises given at the election.

  32. “The point is that hemophilia, once present in the extended family, is likely to be concentrated by inbreeding”

    No, this is completely wrong. It is a single gene mutation – either you carry it or you don’t. It doesn’t get “concentrated”.

  33. “By late XIXth century, it was no secret that there is heightened risk associated with female-line descendants of Queen Victoria. ”

    I would like to see some evidence of this from the period. As far as I know no one had made this deduction at the time.

    “But what is an increased risk compared to divinely instilled power, anyway.”

    He already had ‘divinely instilled power’; he was the Tsar!

  34. I think what this suggests is that there is a kind of “folk genetics” which is about as accurate as folk linguistics. It might be worth studying; central to it seems to be the concepts of “blending inheritance” and “weakness/contamination of blood”. The blood, in this case, is a sort of reservoir of genetic material that is funnelled into the gametes.

    I’d be interested to learn how many folk-genetics beliefs persist: how many people in the US, for example, still believe that traits can be inherited not only from both parents, but from anyone who has ever had intercourse with the mother; hence the folk belief that if you sleep with a black man then you might have a black baby ten years later. This was certainly widespread a few decades ago, and is biblically endorsed.

  35. The belief that any genetic disorder (even ones that are autosomal dominant or sex linked) is exacerbated by inbreeding seems to be extremely common, probably the most common error in genetics that I find myself trying to correct.

    The specific idea that there was hemophilia in the Romanov family comes up in the Lord Peter Wimsey novel “Have His Carcase,” although I cannot recall if the error was made by Sayers or merely by the character in the story.

  36. marie-lucie says:

    ajay: [hemophilia] is a single gene mutation – either you carry it or you don’t. It doesn’t get “concentrated”.

    All right, “concentrated” is the wrong word. But can we say that the tendency for this mutation to occur is multiplied by inbreeding?

  37. It is a single gene mutation – either you carry it or you don’t.

    I’m aware of that. What I mean is that when the hemophilia gene, or any other, is introduced into a closed mating pool where there are only a tiny number of candidate mates relative to the population of the species, that gene is far more likely to appear in any given child than in an open mating pool. There are many examples of this: Martha’s Vineyard deafness comes to mind, because it was responsible for the widespread use of Martha’s Vineyard Sign Language among the deaf and hearing population alike. (In 1854, one in 155 islanders was deaf, whereas 1 in 5730 were deaf in the U.S. as a whole.)

    anyone who has ever had intercourse with the mother

    This is called telegony, and 19C biologists generally believed in it, including Darwin. They even had a paradigm case, Lord Moreton’s:

    In Lord Moreton’s famous hybrid from a chestnut mare and male quagga [a now-extinct equid with zebra stripes on its front half only], the hybrid, and even the pure offspring subsequently produced from the mare by a black Arabian sire, were much more plainly barred across the legs than is even the pure quagga.

    Origin of Species (1859) Ch. 5, emphasis added

    It turns out that stripes are a shared primitive character and can pop up at any time.

  38. Lars (the original one) says:

    If understand the maths correctly, the prevalence of any single allele in a population, good or bad, is not going to increase just because the pool is closed, it might as well die out. However, the number of _different_ alleles for a given position on a chromosome is going to decrease over time — so in the case of hemophilia you might end up with all females being carriers, or none of them.

    (We have talked on here about the process whereby the number of different surnames in a community decreases over time. That is exactly the same process. Also why we have Mitochondrial Eve even though she is not the single female ancestor of all humans).

    But when this process happens for all of the various genes in the genome, you are almost certain to find very deleterious mutations dominating the gene pool at some positions. So inbreeding is a real danger, but you can’t know in advance how it will manifest.

    (And I think John’s deafness example is an observational bias. By the law of big numbers, the prevalence of genetically conditioned deafness is mostly stable in a large population, but in small populations it can vary much more, in either direction. But nobody records the small communities that have no deaf people — maybe they have more people with freckles instead).

  39. marie-lucie says:

    Thanks JC. For many reasons, the remaining European royal families have made the right choice in opening the “closed mating pool” which was theirs for a few centuries.

    telegony

    I read about this when I was very young, under the French word imprégnation (which has nothing to do with the English word). The example given was that if a widow with children remarries and has more children, the second set of children resemble the first husband more than the second husband. This did not make any sense to me: obviously both sets of children inherited features from their mother, which were responsible for their resemblance to each other (at least when very young – adult features tend to be more distinct among individuals).

  40. “closed mating pool”
    “concentrated” is the wrong word
    No, “concentrated” is a pretty good word and there is always a confusion between endogamy (where people marry within a closed group) and consanguinity (where people marry close kin) (and in fact the 2 traditions frequently go hand in hand)

    Both are fraught with potential health consequences. Say the Quebecois are a (formerly) endogamous group which never practiced consanguinity. But because they descend from a very limited stock of founders, with little fresh blood, they have several genetic disorders at a heightened frequency. Ashkenazi Jews, on the other hand, were both endogamous and culturally allowing consanguinity (first cousin or uncle-niece marriage), and it is the latter group of events which was traditionally blamed for all the burden of the hereditary disease. But no, close-kin marriage long ceased being the norm, but the genetic diseases persisted, because of the whole group being substantially closed to the outside marriage, and descended from a small number of founders.

    So one or another kind of “concentrated gene pool” equals increased likelihod of certain mutations lurking in it.

  41. And “inbreeding”, with respect to population groups, is scientifically a high rate of consanguinity… but in popular speech, its usually conflating both consanguinity and endogamy and founder effects

  42. Endogamy after all creates consanguinity, given enough time. Eventually all the members of a closed breeding community are descended from a few founders or one, which makes them all relatives, hence the Iceland incest-prevention app. (The breeding community consisting of the entire species is both endogamous and consanguineous, for that matter.)

  43. marie-lucie says:

    There was certainly a high degree of consanguinity among European reigning families. Witness the infamous “Habsburg jaw” documented through several ugly generations.

  44. I think what this suggests is that there is a kind of “folk genetics” which is about as accurate as folk linguistics.
    and even more tightly connected to xenophobia. This is why Sir Fisher, the creator of the much-maligned concept of eugenics, was so aghast that his idea was being co-opted by the politicians, who’d use all these hateful granny’s tales instead of not-yet-defined science. The whole field of scientific statistics, p-values etc. has been created by Fisher specifically to categorically disprove & weed out the unscientific ideas of “folk genetics” when the stakes were as high as not letting some people procreate.

    The worst pitfall of “breed improvement” is in pleiotropy (one gene controlling several ostensibly unrelated effects) and linkage (two genes with unrelated effects are so close by that they are nearly inseparably connected). Modern cattle breeds, for example, have dramatically reduced fertility, because in the race to increase the economic outputs, the breeders were clamoring to use the “best” sperm of very few bulls … and the “best” ones, in hindsight, harbored a loss of a group of nearby genes, one of which indeed impeded milk production, while the other, when disabled, killed fetal calves in utero.

    I would like to see some evidence of [Queen Victoria’s hemophilia] from the period. As far as I know no one had made this deduction at the time

    My whole point was that the traditional Jewish law moved quite a ways beyond the simple “folk genetics”, since they knew that the disease lurks unseen in the women, and that having hemophiliac maternal uncles puts male babies at risk.
    Empress Alexandra’s brother died from hemophilia as a toddler when she was 1 years old, so just applying the traditional Jewish law would have made it clear that Alexandra’s future son will be at risk.

    Have any clinician already reached this conclusion by the time she married? It is an interesting question and I don’t know the answer. I kind of doubt. Alexandra’s brother was the only childhood death among Victoria’s descendants before the late 1880s. The royals might have been hiding health details, and there were too few details to raise an alarm. They didn’t employ Jewish matchmakers, so, who knows. But the knowledge of the significance of maternal uncle’s bleeding deaths was there all along.

    There was certainly a high degree of consanguinity among European reigning families. Witness the infamous “Habsburg jaw” documented through several ugly generations.

    Right, right, that’s what I had in mind when I was trying to explain that people keep blaming consanguinity for all health hazards, but in actuality being a closed founder group is pretty hazardous as well (and Victoria’s case is about the latter, unlike the Habsburgs)

  45. marie-lucie says:

    Alexandra’s brother died from hemophilia as a toddler when she was 1 years old

    So she was much too young to actually remember this brother. She was probably told later about his existence and death, but the death of infants from various causes was quite common at the time and she may not have been told the details, let alone their significance. At that time, the only way for her to avoid having a son with the disease would have been not to get married at all (and the same would have been true for her sisters). If she did know about the risk, or perhaps learned about it later, she may have felt terribly guilty, and perhaps cursed, which might be a reason why she fell so thoroughly under the influence of the "monk" Rasputin.

  46. Well, at least my great gramps was released from a stinky and overcrowded Siberian prison on an occasion of the birth of her son, so she’s got at least one good deed right. The fewer sons, the less risk, right. So she would have been better off in a marriage without a contractual obligation to produce a heir. Hell, she would have been much better off not marrying a blood-stained fool in a country where riots unleashed torrents of blood.

  47. Pace Marie-Lucie I think that the last of Romanovs was too much involved in the affairs of state, for which occupation he had no apparent talents. Russian monarchy fell like all monarchies in the states that lost World War I, nothing special. In Russia it happened a bit earlier than the complete military defeat, but that doesn’t seem to be a huge difference.The rest of (ahem) unpleasantness was mainly the result of weak representative institutions, which might have been even weaker with able and strong willed tsar in the Winter Palace. Come to think of it, even Germany, which got democratic government after WWI, was in a sort of slowly brewing civil war until it ended in tears anyways.

  48. Russian monarchy fell like all monarchies in the states that lost World War I, nothing special.

    Yep, that’s what I always ask people who insist that the Russian empire was doomed from the start: “Was German Reich doomed too?”

    I’ll grant that the Ottoman and Habsburg empires had it coming, but unlike them both German and Russian empires were actually real countries with excellent chances for surviving and going on.

    The war did it

  49. people keep blaming consanguinity for all health hazards, but in actuality being a closed founder group is pretty hazardous as well (and Victoria’s case is about the latter, unlike the Habsburgs)

    I am clearly trying to plough the sea here, but: no, this is wrong. Victoria carried the gene for haemophilia, as a result of a mutation during meiosis (the process of gamete formation) in what one genetics text memorably described as “the august testicles of her father, the Duke of Kent”. Some of her many children inherited this gene from her, and as a result some of her many male descendants – sons, grandsons, and great-grandsons – were haemophiliacs.

    NOTHING IN THAT STORY HAS ANYTHING TO DO WITH FOUNDER EFFECTS, ENDOGAMY, CONSANGUINITY, INBREEDING OR ANY OF THE OTHER RED HERRINGS THAT PEOPLE SEEM DETERMINED TO CHASE.

    That story could have happened just as easily and in exactly the same way if Queen Victoria had been a Nigerian farmer’s wife or a laundress in Denver, Colorado, or the Irish immigrant owner of a small tobacconist in Liverpool. She had the gene. She had kids. Some of her kids carried the gene. Some of her male descendants ended up with the disease. End of story.

    Inbreeding tends to increase the risk of inherited disorders because, in very broad and simplified terms, if the disorder’s caused by a failure of a single gene, most mutations that cause that failure will be silent, because you’ve got two alleles of each gene (except for those on the X chromosome if you’re male). So most people will be DD, healthy; when the mutation happens then those who inherit it will be Dd, healthy carriers with one working copy. You’re only in trouble when you’re dd, and that happens only when Dd x Dd, obviously; and if the mutation’s rare then p(DdxDd) is going to be low, because p(Dd) is low, unless there’s a shared ancestor, in which case it’s cl;early higher.

  50. All right, “concentrated” is the wrong word. But can we say that the tendency for this mutation to occur is multiplied by inbreeding?

    No, we can’t. Mutations are changes in DNA and they occur for various reasons – exposure to mutagenic chemicals, exposure to radiation, errors in the copying process during cell division, that kind of thing. Victoria’s father was old when she was conceived – 51 – and that increased the probability of mutations. But degree of inbreeding doesn’t increase the chance of new mutations occurring.

  51. “Have any clinician already reached this conclusion by the time she married? It is an interesting question and I don’t know the answer. I kind of doubt.”

    Right, so your statement that “By late XIXth century, it was no secret that there is heightened risk associated with female-line descendants of Queen Victoria. But what is an increased risk compared to divinely instilled power, anyway” was wrong. Because it implies that the risk was common knowledge, and the Tsar took the risk anyway because he wanted the (supposedly) increased power that you get from marrying a relative of Queen Victoria.

    And that wasn’t true.

  52. David Marjanović says:

    the folk belief that if you sleep with a black man then you might have a black baby ten years later. This was certainly widespread a few decades ago

    *picking up jaw from floor*

    19C biologists generally believed in it, including Darwin.

    *you know what, it’s actually lying very well on the floor, I should just leave it there as long as I don’t actually need it*

    But Darwin’s theory of heredity, which few people have ever heard of, indeed assumed “blending” and a fully Lamarckist influence of the whole body at all times on the germline. Funnily enough, that would have made natural selection impossible.

    All right, “concentrated” is the wrong word. But can we say that the tendency for this mutation to occur is multiplied by inbreeding?

    The probability for the mutation to occur, if that’s what you mean, is completely untouched by inbreeding or anything other than an actual mutagen. (The belief that inbreeding is mutagenic is a folk-genetic belief I’m very familiar with.)

    The probability for the symptoms to manifest increases greatly with inbreeding, because it’s inversely proportional to the size of the gene pool. All of us carry something like ten mutations that would be lethal if they occurred on both copies of the chromosomes in question, but as it happens they’re recessive, so that the functional version on the other copy of the chromosome is enough to fulfill whatever the function of that gene is. Closely related people are more likely to have inherited the same mutations.

  53. David Marjanović says:

    In short, what ajay said.

  54. January First-of-May says:

    Inbreeding tends to increase the risk of inherited disorders because, in very broad and simplified terms, if the disorder’s caused by a failure of a single gene, most mutations that cause that failure will be silent, because you’ve got two alleles of each gene (except for those on the X chromosome if you’re male).

    Except the hemophilia-causing mutation just so happens to be on the X chromosome, making it work yet differently.

  55. January First-of-May says:

    Inbreeding tends to increase the risk of inherited disorders because, in very broad and simplified terms, if the disorder’s caused by a failure of a single gene, most mutations that cause that failure will be silent, because you’ve got two alleles of each gene (except for those on the X chromosome if you’re male).

    Except the hemophilia-causing mutation just so happens to be on the X chromosome, making it work yet differently.

    (And, IIRC, the specific form of hemophilia Victoria carried apparently wasn’t the most common one either.)

  56. January First-of-May says:

    Any ideas why do my comments keep disappearing? I wasn’t using any Russian…

  57. It could have been Victoria’s mother, not father, who had the germ line mutation, no?

  58. She had the gene. She had kids. Some of her kids carried the gene. Some of her male descendants ended up with the disease. End of story.

    Absolutely. But if the royal families of Europe had routinely engaged in outbreeding rather than inbreeding, that would have been a merely private, rather than a national, tragedy. Vicky’s daughters would be married to whomever and their descendants would cease to be royal, whereas the mothers of the next generation of royals would be drawn from other sources. That would be a net gain for the monarchies, if you consider that a Good Thing.

  59. marie-lucie says:

    Me: can we say that the tendency for this mutation to occur is multiplied by inbreeding?

    David M: Closely related people are more likely to have inherited the same mutations.

    So if they intermarry, their children are likely to inherit hem too, often from both parents. That’s what I was trying to say.

  60. J.W. Brewer says:

    Not to take anything away from the running genetics seminar, but the original premise that the Romanovs would have stayed on the throne and the Bolsheviks not come to power if only the Czar had had a healthier male child seems far from certain …

  61. “But if the royal families of Europe had routinely engaged in outbreeding rather than inbreeding, that would have been a merely private, rather than a national, tragedy.”

    In that specific case, and if you decide to define “inbreeding” as “a member of one royal family marrying another”, which is definitely not the normal meaning: yes.
    But you are utterly wrong to think that the British and Russian royal families were inbred. There were, as far as I am aware, no marital connections at all between the Romanovs and any British royal house before Queen Victoria.

    So if they intermarry, their children are likely to inherit them too, often from both parents. That’s what I was trying to say.

    Doesn’t apply to haemophiliacs. Look a bit further up for my recessive gene example. That is not how haemophilia works. It’s a gene on the X chromosome, and, of course, men only have one of those (and a Y chromosome) – hence only one allele, which they invariably inherit from their mother.

    I mean, it’s moot in this context because it was very very rare for haemophiliacs to survive to adulthood at all before the 20th century, but the son of a male haemophiliac will _never_ inherit the condition from his father – because he doesn’t get any X chromosome at all from his father! 50% of the sons of a female carrier will be haemophiliacs, regardless of the condition of their father.

  62. It could have been Victoria’s mother, not father, who had the germ line mutation, no?

    Absolutely. She inherited an X chromosome from each parent – either one could have carried the allele. I think best guess is that it was her father, because mutation rate increases with advanced age, and he was 51; her mother was 33. But it could have been her mother.

  63. A vaguely related but not genetic note: both the Russian Empire and the USSR owe their collapse to an ill-advised attempt to stop the Russians drinking.

    In 1914, Nicholas II introduced severe restrictions on the sale of vodka because he believed that it would make the Russians healthier and thus better soldiers. At the time a significant share of state revenue came from the vodka tax; the resulting hole in the Imperial exchequer led to administrative chaos, military defeat and ultimately revolution.

    In 1985, Mikhail Gorbachev introduced severe restrictions on vodka sales because he believed that it would make Russian factory workers less dangerously inept. At the time a significant share of state revenue came from vodka sales; the resulting hole in the Soviet exchequer was one of the driving forces behind the economic restructuring plan known as perestroika, which ultimately led to the downfall of the USSR; the huge unmet demand for vodka led to the birth of modern Russian organised crime among the bootlegger gangs, and ultimately to the election of Vladimir Putin.

  64. But if the royal families of Europe had routinely engaged in outbreeding

    Then they would have picked up whatever deleterious genes were out there. Which means that it would be different kinds of diseases, but we yet to hear a theory that the fall of European monarchies happened because they harbored precisely the same affliction.

    …both the Russian Empire and the USSR owe their collapse to an ill-advised attempt to stop the Russians drinking

    And I thought that Pope and Reagan did it.

  65. J.W. Brewer says:

    The U.S. can pride itself on having been more prudently governed than either the old Russian Empire or the USSR, because the constitutional amendment authorizing the federal income tax, thus freeing the federal government from its historic heavy dependence on alcohol excise taxes, was enacted prior to the amendment bringing in Prohibition. So Prohibition in the U.S. was still a total disaster, but *not* because of an adverse impact on government revenues.

  66. Lars (the original one) says:

    For the record, I totally agree with ajay’s point — Victoria didn’t have more male descendants with haemophilia than any other carrier of the gene (other things being equal), because the past history of her interrelation (if any) with the other forebears of those descendants is totally irrelevant.

    However, the placement of her daughters as consorts of many of the ruling houses of Europe did ensure that those boys with haemophilia were often heirs apparent and their affliction widely noticed (and possibly history-changing in aggregate or in particular instances). But that is not what inbreeding usually means.

  67. marie-lucie says:

    ajay: There were, as far as I am aware, no marital connections at all between the Romanovs and any British royal house before Queen Victoria

    True, but the Romanovs were relatively new members of the European royal “mating pool” which had already existed for a few centuries, while Victoria was part of it and contributed to it through her daughters and granddaughters, becoming “the grandmother of Europe”, or at least of its crowned heads.

    In France at one point it became customary for the king to refer to and address fellow kings as mon cousin. Indeed most of those kings were cousins (first or removed) with most other Western European sovereigns through their mothers, who were foreign princesses, the daughters or granddaughters of other kings, whose sisters were also often married to kings (like Victoria’s female offspring). Surely this qualifies as “inbreeding”.

  68. 50% of the sons of a female carrier will be haemophiliacs

    Mmm, no (just to be picky (but not Picky)). A carrier with eight sons may have eight hemophiliacs or none, the odds against being 255 to 1 in either case. Rather, the chance of any one son having the disease is 0.5.

  69. most of those kings were cousins (first or removed) with most other Western European sovereigns through their mothers, who were foreign princesses, the daughters or granddaughters of other kings, whose sisters were also often married to kings (like Victoria’s female offspring).

    Sort of true, but not always, and for less time than you might think. Most mediaeval monarchs didn’t marry the offspring of other monarchs; more often than not they’d marry the offspring of nobles in their own country. Looking at France, there are as many Comtesses becoming queen as there are Infantas and Princesses. And, of course, even if you restricted yourself to royalty, there were a lot of royal families out there.

    And you need a lot of inbreeding to materially increase the rate of inherited disease – as in, you have to have more than half your marriages being first-cousin or closer, which is really very close, and you need to keep that up for a while. The Habsburgs managed, obviously, but few others did.

  70. NOTHING IN THAT STORY HAS ANYTHING TO DO WITH FOUNDER EFFECTS, ENDOGAMY, CONSANGUINITY, INBREEDING OR ANY OF THE OTHER RED HERRINGS

    Oh please. Royalty exhibited a high degree of endogamy and this is the reason QV’s hemophilia has spread so far across Europe and affected the families of other potentates in a disproportionate matter.

    It isn’t about the number of the affected descendants (which might have been the same in QV’s children and grandchildren married locally and across the social divides), but rather about the distribution of the cases in the group. Yes it is one family with one mutation getting its expected death toll there, but it is also one endogamous population group disproportionately affected by the same condition. As far as the later group is considered, their singularly bad genetic luck is due to endogamy (they wouldn’t have all married daughters and granddaughters of the same women who lived far. far away if not for it)

    Inbreeding tends to increase the risk of inherited disorders because, in very broad and simplified terms, if the disorder’s caused by a failure of a single gene, most mutations that cause that failure will be silent, because you’ve got two alleles of each gene
    Recessive disorders are a bane of consanguinous families, of course. But there are also numerous examples of X-linked mutations in endogamous / founder populations (for example Choroideremia in Finland) or indeed autosomal dominant conditions (where inheriting just one mutation, from either parent, is enough to wreak havoc, and blood relatedness of the parents plays no role whatsoever) (a classic example is the hereditary breast and ovarian cancer in Ashkenazi Jews or Quebecois, where also the disease lurks unseen in one sex, in this case males).

    so your statement that “By late XIXth century, it was no secret that there is heightened risk associated with female-line descendants of Queen Victoria. But what is an increased risk compared to divinely instilled power, anyway” was wrong. Because it implies that the risk was common knowledge, and the Tsar took the risk anyway because he wanted the (supposedly) increased power that you get from marrying a relative of Queen Victoria.

    Er, where do you see a contradiction? Commonly accessible knowledge doesn’t mean everyone’s knowledge. The Czar’s 5 million Jewish subjects practiced it day in and day out, but few had first-hand experience with these minutae of the traditional Jewish law because hemophilia was rare. Kind of like, “in everyone’s book but rarely remembered”. And of course royal physicians could have dismissed it as another kind of bubbemeize, or a silly conjecture based on a likely coincidence (like your own idea about alcohol taxes and death of Nicholas the Bloody and his family). Great Britain in particularly was a self-professed beacon of reason, set to dismiss the native’s old lore offhand and, sometimes, to pay the price. My fav story is that of stranded sailors in N Australia who subsisted on fern “seeds”, but, against the indigenous advice, made porridge out of whole seeds instead of grinding them into a flour first and making dough out of it. Little did they know whole, un-ground seeds contained a potent factor causing severe avitaminosis B (a factor which was destroyed by the aboriginal “weird” technology). All but one of the sailors died, BTW, for wont of listening to the ancient lore of the uneducated elders.

  71. marie-lucie says:

    X: The Czar’s 5 million Jewish subjects practiced it day in and day out

    The “it” here is Jewish traditional knowledge of the risks of hemophilia: if a baby boy had bled to death, some of his sisters’ sons were likely to suffer the same fate.

    But how did people “practice” this knowledge? What did they do about it?

  72. how did people “practice” this knowledge? What did they do about it?

    the newborn boy wouldn’t be circumcised, to avoid about 25% risk of death.

    The matchmaker might have used this info as well, but that’s not a part of the traditional law. However it remains a large issue that the traditional families hide their hereditary disease issues for fear of making daughters unmarriageable, once matchmakers learn about this. Not marrying off all daughters carries a huge stigma.

  73. marie-lucie says:

    Thank you X, it makes sense. But those little boys might still be vulnerable to accidents, bites and other risks that children are exposed to in the course of a normal childhood.

    I suppose that nowadays less traditional couples at risk might either avoid having children (something easier than in earlier times), or adopt some.

  74. marie-lucie says:

    X: Great Britain in particularly was a self-professed beacon of reason, set to dismiss the native’s old lore offhand and, sometimes, to pay the price. My fav story is that of stranded sailors in N Australia who subsisted on fern “seeds”, but, against the indigenous advice, made porridge out of whole seeds instead of grinding them into a flour first and making dough out of it. Little did they know whole, un-ground seeds contained a potent factor causing severe avitaminosis B (a factor which was destroyed by the aboriginal “weird” technology). All but one of the sailors died, BTW, for wont of listening to the ancient lore of the uneducated elders.

    Actually this attitude towards “untutored, peasant” traditions became common in Europe too after the Renaissance.

    The treatment of seeds that you describe was used in both Eurasia and America for acorns (at least). When learning that people like the ancient Gauls ate acorns, most people can’t believe it, because it is true that raw acorns are somewhat poisonous, but our ancestors did not eat them raw. Some Roman historians describe the same process as you do: remove the shell, reduce the inside to flour, then add (I think boiling) water, which will destroy the poison, before kneading the mush and making loaves. The same basic process is also reported among indigenous people of California, where several subspecies of oaks grow. A porridge-like acorn mush was the main food of a number of tribes..

  75. David Marjanović says:

    It could have been Victoria’s mother, not father, who had the germ line mutation, no?

    Yes, but in that case we should expect that, on average, half of her brothers had the condition – as opposed to none.

    I’m not going to look up at this hour of the night if she had enough brothers to do statistics with.

    the ancient Gauls […] our ancestors

    I see what you did there.

    The poison, BTW, is none less than cyanhydric acid if I’m not misremembering; and the practice of eating acorns seems to be a bit older than agriculture.

  76. January First-of-May says:

    I’m not going to look up at this hour of the night if she had enough brothers to do statistics with.

    Only one, as it happens (Carl Friedrich Wilhelm Emich, 3rd Prince of Leiningen).

  77. The poison, BTW, is none less than cyanhydric acid if I’m not misremembering;

    Apparently the main acorn “poison” is tannins which are objectionably bitter in the first place, and cause severe constipation when ingested in large quantity. A few unprepared acorns, if you are OK with bitterness, won’t hurt you.

    The stranded Australian expedition in 1861, which succumbed to incorrectly prepared sporocarps of Nardoo ferns, wasn’t really poisoned either. This and several other ferns contain large amounts of enzyme thiaminase, which breaks down vitamin B1 in the ingested food, and may cause Beri-Beri avitaminosis. The ferns apparently got it to deter being grazed. But it’s easy to deactivate the enzyme, either by grinding and preparing dough (because the sporocarp skin contains a natural inhibitor of the enzyme, but cooking destroys the inhibitor much faster than the less heat-sensitive enzyme), or by roasting the seeds (at an even higher temperature than the boiling point, the enzyme gives way too). It is just as easy to overcome the problem by eating vitamin B1-rich foods (the lone British survivor collected and ate shellfish which was very abundant around their fatal camp, and even tried to convince his fellow explorers that shellfish gave him strength again … but they didn’t like the stuff; they were like, we feel sapped of strength and we shall eat more porridge to restore it).

    And, oh, Queen Victoria had just two siblings, so her mother could have been a carrier as well. Perhaps in a few years, genetics will be able to figure it out, if they haven’t got anything more important to do. They key is likely the harmless genetic variation surrounding the QV mutation. All of her hemophiliac descendants perished, but their DNA have been studied posthumously. So a thorough comparison to the genetic variation patterns in her maternal and paternal relatives may unlock the riddle.

  78. It could have been Victoria’s mother, not father, who had the germ line mutation, no?

    Yes, but in that case we should expect that, on average, half of her brothers had the condition – as opposed to none.

    Not at all. If the mutation occurred during gametogenesis (as is likely), it would have been present in only one gamete – the egg (or sperm) that went on to become Victoria. All the other eggs produced by her mother (or sperm produced by her father) would have been fine.

    All but one of the sailors died, BTW, for wont of listening to the ancient lore of the uneducated elders.

    It is of course worth remembering that a lot of the ancient lore of native peoples is utter rubbish.

    Early 19th century polar explorers who met local Inuit listened carefully to their legends, including their tradition of the Open Polar Sea. The Arctic icecap, the Inuit told them, was limited in extent; if you kept going further north, you would eventually reach its edge and come to a huge warm polar sea. And when they took these stories home, the oceanographers they listened to nodded and agreed; that made sense, they said, because it was perfectly feasible that the warm Gulf Stream would sweep north-east across the Atlantic and be forced down into the depths of the ocean by meeting the cold waters of the Norwegian Sea, only to rise back to the surface near the pole, melting the polar ice and creating an open sea. In fact, European explorers as far back as Barents had suspected something similar.

    Several expeditions set out based on this happy convergence of modern oceanography and the ancestral wisdom of the Inuit. Many of them died. Eventually they concluded that the Inuit ancestors were talking tosh.

  79. David Marjanović says:

    Not at all. If the mutation occurred during gametogenesis (as is likely), it would have been present in only one gamete – the egg (or sperm) that went on to become Victoria. All the other eggs produced by her mother (or sperm produced by her father) would have been fine.

    True. I had assumed, for no good reason, a much earlier mutation.

  80. marie-lucie says:

    away: Most mediaeval monarchs didn’t marry the offspring of other monarchs; more often than not they’d marry the offspring of nobles in their own country. Looking at France, there are as many Comtesses becoming queen as there are Infantas and Princesses.

    Perhaps true for the medieval period, but I was talking more about 16C to 19C (see my examples earlier). As for comtesses, perhaps this is from an earlier period. With the “Salic law”, women did not inherit titles (“princess” was a courtesy title for king’s daughters), so a comtesse was such because of being married to a comte. Some women were given titles to a piece of land which provided them with an independent income, like la marquise de Pompadour, Louis XV’s best-known mistress, but they did not pass it on to heirs. Perhaps the “comtesses” who married kings were in that situation.

    And, of course, even if you restricted yourself to royalty, there were a lot of royal families out there..
    Some of those families reigned over tiny kingdoms, as in Germany before unification. Royal marriages were intended to cement alliances between countries, so the kings of major countries like England or France would not seek for their male heirs princesses from unimportant little kingdoms, and vice-versa for their daughters.

  81. David Marjanović says:

    Some of those families reigned over tiny kingdoms, as in Germany before unification.

    Those weren’t royal. There was only one king – the German King* and Roman Emperor** – in the Empire. When, in the late 18th century, the rulers of Prussia and Saxony were crowned as kings, that had to be done outside the Empire.

    * Elected by the Electors.
    ** Crowned by the Pope, if at all.

  82. In the Second Reich, yes. But from 1805 to 1872, there certainly were kings in the German-speaking lands: Bavaria, Hanover, and Wuerttemburg (plus as you say Saxony and Prussia). Then of course there’s the King of Bohemia. In any case, deposed and mediatized royalty still counted as royal for the purpose of avoiding a morganatic marriage.

    (To me, Second Empire means either France or the Foundation series.)

  83. @JC: The Second Reich is the one created by Bismarck, where there were several Kingdoms, with some of them, like Saxony, Bavaria, and Württemberg, created during the Napoleonic period. During the HRE, there were only two kings inside the Empire – the Emperor, who was crowned King of the Germans before being crowned as Emperor, and the King of Bohemia. (IIRC, sometimes the Emperors or their Crown Princes were also styled King of Rome.)
    And strictly speaking, houses like Saxe-Coburg-Gotha were sovereign houses, but not royal houses, as their heads were not kings (E.g., SCG was a Duchy.)

  84. David Marjanović says:

    Yup, I shamefully forgot about the King of Bohemia.

    King of Rome

    “Ego sum rex romanus et super grammaticos.”

  85. And strictly speaking, houses like Saxe-Coburg-Gotha were sovereign houses, but not royal houses, as their heads were not kings

    And you’d certainly never get the royal family of a major power marrying itself into a tiny little dukedom like Saxe-Coburg-Gotha.

  86. Heh.

  87. And you’d certainly never get the royal family of a major power marrying itself into a tiny little dukedom like Saxe-Coburg-Gotha.

    And they did it more than once. The first time, they needed to find a husband for Princess Charlotte, who would have become queen if she hadn’t died in childbirth. They needed someone ebenbürtig because of Hanover, they needed someone intelligent, and they needed someone who wasn’t in a position to drag them into more European wars.

    They found Leopold of Saxe-Coburg-Saalfeld, the son of a general in the Napoleonic wars. He stayed in England after the death of his wife, and helped to end the succession crisis by arranging marriages for the remaining sons of George III. He found Adelaide of Saxe-Meinigen for William, and Victoria of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha for Edward. Both brides were close relatives of his.

    Leopold, now of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha because of exchanges of territories by his German relatives, stayed on in England as widower and advisor until the opportunity arose of becoming king of Belgium.

    Again he was the right man in the right place, a spare British semiroyal who was able to marry a French princess and symbolize that the new state of Belgium would be neutral.

    Arranging the marriage of his nephew to Queen Victoria was just a logical next step.

  88. Unforgettably portrayed by Alex Jennings in Victoria; I’ll never be able to think of him any other way.

  89. the royal family of a major power marrying itself into a tiny little dukedom like Saxe-Coburg-Gotha

    🙂 Should we expect the MO of a White House couturier from a grand, vainglorious, ossified dynasty? They weren’t exactly calculating, “what my father-in-law could help me with”; and cousins were routinely expected to wage war, anyway. Rather, their power derived from G*d and Tradition. And to keep the divine grace, they needed to conform to the expectations by keeping the blood lines high, pure, and sacred. It’s not how influential her daddy was. It is how famous her lines of ancestors were. Then, did her family demean their calling by un-royal pursuits (her daddy better be an unremarkable prince than a high-lineage clan descendant who turned into a successful doctor or industrialist). Then, is the bride herself marred by rejection of the family values – or by having been rejected herself (and every year of age adds as being implicitly rejected). That’s the formula the high rabbinical clans use even today, and I’m sure Nicholas’s marriage was no different.

    My rabbi friend was a super bright Talmudic scholar, coming from a notable line of great scholars of the past, but his parents rejected their calling by becoming totally secular intellectuals … so powers-that-be explained him that in the calculus of factors, his only chance of marrying high was to pick a bride of a barely-acceptable age of 22+ implying a history of prior failed engagements. Worked like a charm.

  90. X: you do realise that I’m talking about Queen Victoria here, right? Because everyone else gets the joke.

  91. Sorry, yes, I conflated the First and Second Reich momentarily.

  92. Just don’t conflate any further!

  93. 🙂

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