Dynasties and Clans of Europe
Author: Robert W. Penry @ 2021
A dynasty is defined as a succession of people from the same family who play a prominent role in business, politics, or another field. There were many royal dynasties in Europe. Their immediate relatives were considered to be part of that dynasty.
Do we have dynasties in the United States? Yes, we do. You may belong to one. Occasionally you may get together with other members of your dynasty. This is called a Family Reunion!
Synonyms and connected words for dynasty include clan, bloodline, line, ancestral line, lineage, house, family, empire, sovereignty or ascendancy. If we are talking about a dynasty in Scotland, we normally use clan instead of dynasty.
The boundaries of historic dynasties seldom match today’s country boundaries. It is often hard to even clearly define a dynastic region.
The map of Europe today bears no resemblance to Europe of a thousand years ago. Instead of countries, vast areas of land were ruled over by dynastic families. The Medieval regions of Francia, Neustria, Austrasia, Aquitaine, Almania, and Bavaria were ruled over by the Merovingian Dynasty (The Franks). From the various dynasties, the countries of France, Germany, Italy, Spain, etc. eventually came into existence.
A dynasty had a dominant family but also had many other families of prominence. These were called cadet dynasties. An example is the Hapsburg dynasty. It was in central Europe and was broken up into Austria, Czechia, Slovakia, Hungary, Slovenia and Bosnia. Its cadet branches ruled Peru, Spain and Mexico! Sometimes dynasties overlapped and families intermarried, and new dynasties emerged.
If a female from one dynasty marries into another, there is no fast rule. She could be listed as a member of either dynasty (or both). However, children from the marriage would normally be considered to be the father’s dynasty.
Dynasties of Europe
Houses of the British Empire
Although the various houses (dynasties) were located throughout the world, eventually the head or ruler of each dynasty would sit on the throne of England.
Merovingian Dynasty (France).The Merovingian dynasty was the ruling family of the Franks from the middle of the 5th century until 751. They first appear as “Kings of the Franks” in the Roman army of northern Gaul. By 509 they had united all the Franks and northern Gaulish Romans under their rule. They conquered most of Gaul, defeating the Visigoths and the Burgundians, and also extended their rule into Raetia. In Germania, the Alemanni, Bavarii and Saxons accepted their lordship. The Merovingian realm was the largest and most powerful of the states of western Europe following the fall of the Western Roman Empire.
Carolingian Dynasty (France).The Carolingian dynasty was a Frankish noble family founded by Charles Martel with origins in the 7th century AD. The dynasty consolidated its power in the 8th century becoming the de facto rulers of the Franks as the real powers behind the Merovingian throne. In 751 the Merovingian dynasty which had ruled the Germanic Franks was overthrown with the consent of the Papacy and the aristocracy, and a Carolingian Pepin the Short was crowned King of the Franks. The Carolingian dynasty reached its peak in 800 with the crowning of Charlemagne as the first Emperor of Romans in the West in over three centuries. His death in 814 began an extended period of fragmentation of the Carolingian empire and decline that would eventually lead to the evolution of the Kingdom of France and the Holy Roman Empire.
Capetian Dynasty (France). The House of Capet also known as the House of France, is a dynasty of Frankish origin, founded by Hugh Capet. It is among the largest and oldest royal houses in Europe and the world and consists of Hugh Capet’s male-line descendants. The senior line ruled in France as the House of Capet from the election of Hugh Capet in 987 until the death of Charles IV in 1328. That line was succeeded by cadet branches, the Houses of Valois and then Bourbon, which ruled until the French Revolution. A cadet branch is a line of descent from another line than the senior-most.
Capetian Cadet Branches:
House of Valois (France).
House of Bourbon (Spain & Sicily).
House of Évreux (France).
House of Artois (France).
House of Anjou (France).
House of Dreux (France).
House of Courtenay. Note: there were two Houses of Courtenay. One was not Capetian.
Bagrationi Dynasty (Georgia).The Bagrationi is a royal dynasty which reigned in Georgia from the Middle Ages until the early 19th century, being among the oldest extant Christian ruling dynasties in the world. The kingdom of Georgia, a country in the Caucasus region of Eurasia and borders the Black Sea.
House of Savoy (Italy). The House of Savoy is a royal family that was established in 1003 in the historical Savoy region. Through gradual expansion, the family grew in power from ruling a small county in the Alps north-west of Italy to absolute rule of the kingdom of Sicily in 1713 to 1720.
House of Liechtenstein (Liechtenstein).The House of Liechtenstein, from which the principality takes its name, is the family which reigns by constitutional, hereditary right over the nation of Liechtenstein. Only dynastic members of the family are eligible to inherit the throne.
House of Nassau (Germany). The House of Nassau is a diversified aristocratic dynasty in Europe. It is named after the lordship associated with Nassau Castle, located in present-day Nassau, Rhineland-Palatinate, Germany. The current head of the dynasty is the Grand Duke of Luxembourg.The House of Nassau sub-divided into three Cadet Branches:
House of Nassau-WeilburgThe House of Nassau-Weilburg, a branch of the House of Nassau, ruled a division of the County of Nassau, which was a state in what is now Germany, then part of the Holy Roman Empire, from 1344 to 1806. The House has been extinct since 1985 when it was absorbed into the House of Bourbon-Parma.
House of Nassau-Corroy. The house of Nassau-Corroy is a bastard branch of the House of Nassau. Unlike the main branch of the House of Nassau, this bastard branch was faithful to the king of Spain and was Roman Catholic.
House of Orange-Nassau (Netherlands). The House of Orange-Nassau, a branch of the European House of Nassau, has played a central role in the politics and government of the Netherlands and Europe especially since William the Silent organized the Dutch revolt against Spanish rule, which after the Eighty Years’ War led to an independent Dutch state.
Piast Dynasty (Poland).The Piast dynasty was the first historical ruling dynasty of Poland. The first documented Polish monarch was Prince Mieszko I. The Piasts’ royal rule in Poland ended in 1370 with the death of king Casimir III the Great.
House of Braganza (Portugal).The Most Serene House of Braganza, also known as the Brigantine Dynasty, was a dynasty of emperors, kings, princes, and dukes of Portuguese origin which reigned in Europe and the Americas. The House ended with the death of John VI King of Portugal, Brazil and the Algraves in 1922.
MAP OF PORTUGAL LOCATION OF BRAGANZA.
Note that Bragranza also held territories in South Africa and in the Americas. Included were Ceylon, Brazil, Saint Thomas in the West Indies, and Angola. Braganza was involved in trade throughout the world.
House of Romanov (Russia). The House of Romanov was the reigning royal house of Russia from 1613 to 1917. After the murder of Czar Nicholas and his family by the Bolsheviks in 1917, the House has continued in dispute largely due to disagreements in the validity of dynasts’ marriages, thus 1917 is considered the end of the House of Romanov.
House of Osman. Ottoman Dynasty (Turkey). The Ottoman Dynasty was made up of the members of the imperial House of Osman, also known as the Ottomans. According to Ottoman tradition, the family originated from the Kayı tribe branch of the Oghuz Turks, under Osman I in northwestern Anatolia in the district of Bilecik Söğüt. The Empire is considered to have ended in 1922 because of civil conflicts within Turkey. The sultanate was abolished in 1922 and the last sultan left the country that year.
Habsburg Dynasty (Austria). The House of Habsburg and alternatively called the House of Austria, was one of the most influential and distinguished royal houses of Europe. The throne of the Holy Roman Empire was continuously occupied by the Habsburgs from 1438 until their extinction in the male line in 1740. The house also produced emperors and kings of Bohemia, Hungary, Croatia, Galicia, Portugal and Spain with their respective colonies, as well as rulers of several principalities in the Netherlands and Italy. From the 16th century, following the reign of Charles V, the dynasty was split between its Austrian and Spanish branches. Although they ruled distinct territories, they nevertheless maintained close relations and frequently intermarried.
Cadet Branches of the Habsburg Dynasty
Agnatic: (branch through male line only)
Habsburg-Spain (Spain) 1560-1700 (extinct). The Habsburgs sought to consolidate their power by the frequent use of consanguineous marriages. This resulted in a cumulatively deleterious effect on their gene pool. Marriages between first cousins, or between uncle and niece, were commonplace in the family. A study of 3,000 family members over 16 generations by the University of Santiago de Compostela suggests that inbreeding directly led to their extinction.
Habsburg-Laufenburg (Switzerland) 1322-1408 (extinct). The House of Habsburg-Laufenburg was from 1232/34 to 1408 a side line of the Habsburgs , but never gained the importance and power of their relatives.In Switzerland and in today’s South Baden, the counts of Habsburg-Laufenburg acquired a certain importance.
Habsburg-Kyburg (Swabia & Switzerland) 1264-1417 (extinct). During 1180–1250, the counts of Kyburg existed as a separate cadet line of the counts of Dillingen. The county was ruled by Hartmann V, nephew of the last count of Kyburg in the agnatic line, during 1251–1263. It then passed to the House of Habsburg as possession of the counts of Neu-Kyburg (also Kyburg-Burgdorf) after the extinction of the agnatic line of the House of Kyburg, until the extinction of Neu-Kyburg in 1417.
Cognatic: (Branch can be through male or female descendants)
House of Habsburg-Lorraine. (Austria-Hungary).Habsburg-Lorraine inherited the Habsburg Empire, ruling the Austrian Empire and Austria-Hungary until the dissolution of the monarchy in 1918
House of Habsburg-Iturbide (Mexico).The House of Iturbide (Spanish: Casa de Iturbide) is the former Imperial House of Mexico. 1822-1867. It ended when Mexican Emperor Maximillan was deposed and executed on the orders of Benito Juárez who became President of Mexico.
HOUSES OF THE BRITISH EMPIRE
Although the various houses (dynasties) were located throughout the world, eventually the head or ruler of each dynasty would sit on the throne of England.
The house of Godwin (England). The House of Godwin was an Anglo-Saxon (in later generations Anglo-Danish or Anglo-Norse) family, one of the leading noble families in England during the last 50 years before the Norman Conquest. Its most famous member was Harold Godwinson, king of England for nine months in 1066 until killed during Norman invasion under William the Conqueror.
Hanover (Germany & England). Houseof Hanover, whose members are known as Hanoverians, is a German royal house that ruled Hanover, Great Britain, and Ireland at various times during the 17th through 20th centuries. The house originated in 1635 as a cadet branch of the House of Brunswick-Lüneburg, growing in prestige until Hanover became an Electorate in 1692. George I became the first Hanoverian monarch of Great Britain and Ireland in 1714. The house continued until the death of Queen Victoria in 1901 when the ruling line changed to the House of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha.
House of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha (Germany & England).The House of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha is a German dynasty that ruled the duchy of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, which was one of the Ernestine duchies. It is a cadet branch of the Saxon House of Wettin. it has been the royal house of several European monarchies. Agnatic branches currently reign in Belgium through the descendants of Leopold I and in the United Kingdom and the other Commonwealth realms through the descendants of Prince Albert. Due to anti-German sentiment in the United Kingdom during World War I, George V changed the name of his branch from “Saxe-Coburg and Gotha” to “Windsor”
Windsor is the reigning royal house of the United Kingdom and the other commonwealth realms. The dynasty is originally of German paternal descent and was a branch of the House of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, itself derived from the Housew of Wetlin, which succeeded the House of Hanover to the British monarchy following the death of Queen Victoria, wife of Albert, Prince Consort. The name was changed from Saxe-Coburg and Gotha to the English Windsor (from Windsor Castle) in 1917 because of anti-German sentiment during World War I.
House of Plantagenet (France and England). The House of Plantagenet was a royal house which originated from the lands of Anjou in France. The name Plantagenet is used by modern historians to identify four distinct royal houses, the Angevins, who were also counts of Anjou, the main body of the Plantagenets following the loss of Anjou, and the Plantagenets’ two cadet brances, the Houses of Lancaster and York. The family held the English throne from 1154, with the accession of Henry II, until 1485, when Richard III died in battle.
Anjevins (France & UK). The Angevins (“from Anjou”) were a royal house of French origin that ruled England in the 12th and early 13th centuries; its monarchs were Henry II, Richard I and John. In the 10 years from 1144, two successive counts of Anjou in France, Geoffrey and his son, the future Henry II, won control of a vast assemblage of lands in western Europe that would last for 80 years and would retrospectively be referred to as the Angevin Empire. As a political entity this was structurally different from the preceding Norman and subsequent Plantagenet realms. Geoffrey became Duke of Normandy in 1144 and died in 1151. In 1152 his heir, Henry, added Aquitaine by virtue of his marriage to Eleanor of Aquitaine. Henry also inherited the claim of his mother, Empress Matilda, the daughter of King Henry I, to the English throne, to which he succeeded in 1154 following the death of King Stephen.
House ofLancaster (England). (1267-1361) There were two Houses of Lancaster – two cadet branches of the royal House of Plantagenet. The Houses became extinct in the male line upon the murder in the Tower of London of Henry VI, following the battlefield execution of his son Edward of Westminster, Prince of Wales, by supporters of the House of York in 1471.
o First – The first house of Lancaster was created when Henry III of England created the Earldom of Lancaster—from which the house was named.
o Second –The second house of Lancaster was descended from John of Gaunt, who married the heiress of the first house, Blanche of Lancaster.
House ofYork (England).The House of York was a cadet branch of the English royal House of Plantagenet. Three of its members became kings of England in the late 15th century. The House of York was descended in the male line from Edmund of Langley, 1st Duke of York. The reign of this dynasty ended with the death of Richard III of England at the Battle of Bosworth Field in 1485. It became extinct in the male line with the death of Edward Plantagenet, 17th Earl of Warwick, in 1499.
House ofTudor (England). The House of Tudor was an English royal house of Welsh origin, descended in the female line from the Tudors of Penmynydd. Tudor monarchs ruled the Kingdom of England and its realms, including their ancestral Wales and the Lordship of Ireland (later the Kingdom of Ireland) from 1485 until 1603,
SCOTLAND AND IRELAND
Scottish and Irish dynasties differ in that they are usually not extinct. Besides being a dynasty, they are usually a clan also and even though they may no longer hold royal titles or a crown, they often have Clan Chiefs. Although a dynasty can be a clan, in most cases clans are not defined as dynasties even though they are dynastic in nature.. A clan is usually composed of descendants of a single man, usually not a king, where most dynasties originate with a ruling monarch.
House of Stuart (Scotland). (1150-1807)The House of Stuart, originally Stewart, was a European royal house of Scotland with Breton origin. They had held the office of High Steward of Scotland since Walter FitzAlan in around 1150. The royal Stewart line was founded by Robert II whose descendants were kings and queens of Scotland from 1371 until the union with England in 1707. Mary, Queen of Scots was brought up in France where she adopted the French spelling of the name Stuart. The family continues as Clans Stewart and Stuart.