Top 10 Royal Dynasties

5. The Piast Dynasty

This dynasty takes it name from the probably-legendary Piast the Wheelwright, from whom several Polish kings claimed to be descended. However, it is a historian’s term, and the kings themselves never called themselves the Piasts. But it does indicate a clear period of Polish history, from Prince Miesko I in 960 until 1370, when Casimir III the Great died. During this time, Poland was on the defensive, with the Holy Roman Empire ever threatening to step over its borders, as another aggressive state would a thousand years later. Eventually, the state shattered into several smaller duchies, and the Piasts continued to rule over a period of unrest, with dukes constantly being overthrown until the family died out in 1370.


4. House of Braganza

Now, this House has just the best name – “Most Serene House of Braganza”. They also have an impressive record, ruling not just Portugal but also Brazil. The House of Braganza was founded in 1442, when the first Braganza, Afonzo was granted a dukedom by his nephew the King. 200 years later, the family began reigning Portugal, with the coronation of King João IV. Then in 1815, the United Kingdom of Portugal, Brazil and the Algarves was formed, with, of course, a Bragaza at its head. The empire lasted just ten years, but when Brazil split off a Braganza was still in charge – Emperor Pedro I of Brazil (also known as King Pedro IV of Portugal). ThBraganza rule lasted until both countries were declared republics – Brazil in 1889 and Portugal in 1910, making an impressive total of 468 years in power.


3. House of Hapsburg

The royal families of different countries are often interconnected by marriage, thanks to the relatively small pool of candidates considered suitable material for a royal to marry. The Hapsburgs are more interconnected than most, and this has led to the kind of problems you’d expect with inbreeding (genetic disorders etc). Nevertheless, they dominated Europe from the Middle Ages to the 18th century, with Hapsburg descendants sitting on thrones from Portugal to Poland.  The first Hapsburg ruler was Rudolph I of Germany, who took the throne in 1273 and added the Austrian rule 3 years later. His descendants ruled Austria, Germany and Bohemia for two centuries before starting a line of Spanish kings through the marriage of Philip the Handsome to Joanna of Castile (also known as “Joanna the Mad“). Hapsburg eventually reigned in most of the countries of Europe until the line finally died out in 1780.


2. The Imperial Japanese Dynasty

The length of these dynasties is about to shoot up dramatically, as we look at our final two, which both claim to have started before the birth of Christ. The Japanese imperial dynasty is especially impressive, as it still continues today, having been founded in 660BC by Emperor Jimmu. There are debates about the length of the dynasty, as there is little evidence that the first 25 emperors are related to each other….or even that they existed at all! Still, the subsequent 100 monarchs are accounted for, with a direct line to current emperor Akihito which makes it the oldest monarchy in the world today. Including the debated monarchs, it’s a total of 2673 years of Japanese emperors. Impressive!


1. The Solomonic Dynasty

But the lineage of this dynasty is even more impressive – the Ethiopian line that claims to come from Solomon of Isreal (son of King David, ancestor of Jesus) and the Queen of Sheba. Again, there may be some evidence for the line that is more anecdotal than factual, but it certainly sounds impressive to tell people you’re descended from the Queen of Sheba! The line was supposedly started in 950BC and lasted until Haile Selassie was deposed in 1975, so stretched over huge periods of change. There is still a royal family, but since the deposition that have been non-regnal and so the Solomonic dynasty came to an end not long before it hit 3000 years (2924 to be exact). Another amazing dynasty.

One thought on “Top 10 Royal Dynasties

  1. The Stuart Dynasty ruled Scotland for 343 years – which seems to put them in at number 6. For 111 of those years, starting with James VI (1) they ruled all of Great Britain but as separate domains under the one King/Queen. (which at least would have put them in at no. 10 on your list).

    Of course ‘dynasty’ is a loose word in this context since Queen Elizabeth-II is a direct descendant of James VI, James V was the grandson of Henry VII (Tutor) which links the Tutors to the Stuarts. QE-II is also a direct descendant of the earliest Scottish Kings including Malcolm Canmore, Robert the Bruce and earlier Scottish Kings. Through David I, King of Scots she is also (according to the Royal Website: Her Majesty is 38th in direct line of descent from Egbert (c. 775-839), King of Wessex from 802 and of England 827 to 839.) Note that there are multiple lines of descent from Egbert but the line through David-I through his mother St Margaret (wife of Malcolm Canmore (Malcolm-III, of Scotland) is the shorter line.
    Through Robert the Bruce, QE-II is also descended from the Kings of Ireland Munster & Leinster.

    There are probably 40 to 50 Kings or Queens (possibly more, I lost count) of England, Ireland, and Scotland who are direct ancestors of QE-II (along with Kings of Wales and pre ‘England’ and pre ‘Scotland’ kings.)

    Finally- Queen Elizabeth -II, is a direct descendant of Cerdic, 1st King of Wessex. This direct line of descent (via Egbert (1st King of England) and other King and Queens already mentioned) is over 50 generations.

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