A dynasty ( UK: // , US: // ) is a sequence of rulers from the same family, usually in the context of a feudal or monarchical system, but sometimes also appearing in elective republics. Alternative terms for "dynasty" may include "house", "family" and "clan", among others. The longest-surviving dynasty in the world is the Imperial House of Japan, otherwise known as the Yamato dynasty, whose reign is traditionally dated to 660 BC.
The dynastic family or lineage may be known as a "noble house",which may be styled as "imperial", "royal", "princely", "ducal", "comital", "baronial" etc., depending upon the chief or present title borne by its members.
Historians periodize the histories of many nations and civilizations, such as Ancient Egypt (3100–30 BC) and Imperial China (221 BC–AD 1912), using a framework of successive dynasties. As such, the term "dynasty" may be used to delimit the era during which a family reigned, and also to describe events, trends and artifacts of that period (e.g., "a Ming-dynasty vase"). The word "dynasty" itself is often dropped from such adjectival references (e.g., "a Ming vase").
Until the 19th century, it was taken for granted that a legitimate function of a monarch was to aggrandize his dynasty: that is, to expand the wealth and power of his family members.
Prior to the 20th century, dynasties throughout the world have traditionally been reckoned patrilineally, such as under the Frankish Salic law. In nations where it was permitted, succession through a daughter usually established a new dynasty in her husband's ruling house. This has changed in some places in Europe, where succession law and convention have maintained dynasties de jure through a female. For instance, the House of Windsor will be maintained through the children of Queen Elizabeth II, as it did with the monarchy of the Netherlands, whose dynasty remained the House of Orange-Nassau through three successive queens regnant. The earliest such example among major European monarchies was in the Russian Empire in the 18th century, where the name of the House of Romanov was maintained through Grand Duchess Anna Petrovna. This also happened in the case of Queen Maria II of Portugal, who married Prince Ferdinand of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha, but whose descendants remained members of the House of Braganza, per Portuguese law. In Limpopo Province of South Africa, Balobedu determined descent matrilineally, while rulers have at other times adopted the name of their mother's dynasty when coming into her inheritance. Less frequently, a monarchy has alternated or been rotated, in a multi-dynastic (or polydynastic) system – that is, the most senior living members of parallel dynasties, at any point in time, constitute the line of succession.
Not all feudal states or monarchies were or are ruled by dynasties; modern examples are the Vatican City State, the Principality of Andorra, and the Sovereign Military Hospitaller Order of Saint John of Jerusalem, of Rhodes and of Malta. Throughout history, there were monarchs that did not belong to any dynasty; non-dynastic rulers include King Arioald of the Lombards and Emperor Phocas of the Byzantine Empire. Dynasties ruling subnational monarchies do not possess sovereign rights; two modern examples are the monarchies of Malaysia and the royal families of the United Arab Emirates.
The word "dynasty" is sometimes used informally for people who are not rulers but are, for example, members of a family with influence and power in other areas, such as a series of successive owners of a major company. It is also extended to unrelated people, such as major poets of the same school or various rosters of a single sports team.
The word "dynasty" derives from Latin dynastia , which comes from Greek dynastéia ( δυναστεία ), where it referred to "power", "dominion", and "rule" itself. It was the abstract noun of dynástēs ( δυνάστης ), the agent noun of dynamis ( δύναμις ), "power" or "ability", from dýnamai ( δύναμαι ), "to be able".
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A ruler from a dynasty is sometimes referred to as a "dynast", but this term is also used to describe any member of a reigning family who retains a right to succeed to a throne. For example, King Edward VIII ceased to be a dynast of the House of Windsor following his abdication.
In historical and monarchist references to formerly reigning families, a "dynast" is a family member who would have had succession rights, were the monarchy's rules still in force. For example, after the 1914 assassinations of Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria and his morganatic wife, Sophie, Duchess of Hohenberg, their son Maximilian, Duke of Hohenberg, was bypassed for the Austro-Hungarian throne because he was not a Habsburg dynast. Even since the abolition of the Austrian monarchy, Duke Maximilian and his descendants have not been considered the rightful pretenders by Austrian monarchists, nor have they claimed that position.
The term "dynast" is sometimes used only to refer to agnatic descendants of a realm's monarchs, and sometimes to include those who hold succession rights through cognatic royal descent. The term can therefore describe overlapping but distinct sets of people. For example, David Armstrong-Jones, 2nd Earl of Snowdon, a nephew of Queen Elizabeth II through her sister Princess Margaret, is in the line of succession to the British crown; in that sense, he is a British dynast, but since he is not a patrilineal member of the British royal family, he is therefore not a dynast of the House of Windsor.
On the other hand, the German aristocrat Prince Ernst August of Hanover, a male-line descendant of King George III of the United Kingdom, possesses no legal British name, titles or styles (although he is entitled to reclaim the former royal dukedom of Cumberland). He was born in the line of succession to the British throne and was bound by Britain's Royal Marriages Act 1772 until it was repealed when the Succession to the Crown Act 2013 took effect on 26 March 2015.Thus, he requested and obtained formal permission from Queen Elizabeth II to marry the Roman Catholic Princess Caroline of Monaco in 1999. Yet, a clause of the English Act of Settlement 1701 remained in effect at that time, stipulating that dynasts who marry Roman Catholics are considered "dead" for the purpose of succession to the British throne. That exclusion, too, ceased to apply on 26 March 2015, with retroactive effect for those who had been dynasts prior to triggering it by marriage to a Roman Catholic.
A "dynastic marriage" is one that complies with monarchical house law restrictions, so that the descendants are eligible to inherit the throne or other royal privileges. The marriage of King Willem-Alexander of the Netherlands to Queen Máxima Zorreguieta in 2002 was dynastic, for example, and their eldest child Princess Catharina-Amalia is expected to inherit the Crown of the Netherlands eventually. However, the marriage of his younger brother Prince Friso of Orange-Nassau to Princess Mabel of Orange-Nassau in 2003 lacked governmental support and parliamentary approval. Thus, Prince Friso forfeited his place in the order of succession to the Dutch throne, lost his title as a "Prince of the Netherlands", and left his children without dynastic rights.
As of 2019, there are 44 sovereign states with a monarch as head of state, of which 42 are ruled by dynasties.
|Dynasty||Realm||Reigning monarch||Dynastic founder|
|House of Windsor||Queen Elizabeth II||King-Emperor George V|
|House of Khalifa||King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa||Sheikh Khalifa bin Mohammed|
|House of Belgium||King Philippe||King Albert I|
|House of Wangchuck||Druk Gyalpo Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck||Druk Gyalpo Ugyen Wangchuck|
|House of Bolkiah||Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah||Sultan Muhammad Shah|
|House of Norodom||King Norodom Sihamoni||King Norodom|
|House of Schleswig-Holstein-Sonderburg-Glücksburg||Queen Margrethe II||Duke Friedrich Wilhelm|
|King Harald V|
|House of Dlamini||King Mswati III||Chief Dlamini I|
|Imperial House of Japan||Emperor Naruhito||Emperor Jimmu|
|House of Hashim||King Abdullah II||King Hussein ibn Ali al-Hashimi|
|House of Sabah||Emir Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah||Sheikh Sabah I bin Jaber|
|House of Moshesh||King Letsie III||King Moshoeshoe I|
|House of Liechtenstein||Prince Hans-Adam II||Prince Karl I|
|House of Luxembourg-Nassau||Grand Duke Henri||Grand Duke Adolphe|
|Bendahara dynasty||Yang di-Pertuan Agong Abdullah||Bendahara Tun Habib Abdul Majid|
|House of Grimaldi||Prince Albert II||François Grimaldi|
|Alaouite dynasty||King Mohammed VI||Sultan Abul Amlak Sidi Muhammad as-Sharif ibn 'Ali|
|House of Orange-Nassau||King Willem-Alexander||Prince William I|
|House of Said||Sultan Haitham bin Tariq Al Said||Sultan Ahmad bin Said al-Busaidi|
|House of Thani||Emir Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani||Sheikh Thani bin Mohammed|
|House of Saud||King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud||Emir Saud I|
|House of Bourbon-Anjou||King Felipe VI||King Philip V|
|House of Bernadotte||King Carl XVI Gustaf||King Charles XIV John|
|Chakri dynasty||King Vajiralongkorn||King Rama I|
|House of Tupou||King Tupou VI||King George Tupou I|
|House of Nahyan||President Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan||Sheikh Dhiyab bin Isa Al Nahyan|
Though in elected governments, rule does not pass automatically by inheritance, political power often accrues to generations of related individuals in the elected positions of republics, and constitutional monarchies. Eminence, influence, tradition, genetics, and nepotism may contribute to the phenomenon.
Family dictatorships are a different concept in which political power passes within a family because of the overwhelming authority of the leader, rather than informal power accrued to the family.
Some political dynasties in republics:
A monarch is a sovereign head of state in a monarchy. A monarch may exercise the highest authority and power in the state, or others may wield that power on behalf of the monarch. Usually a monarch either personally inherits the lawful right to exercise the state's sovereign rights or is selected by an established process from a family or cohort eligible to provide the nation's monarch. Alternatively, an individual may become monarch by conquest, acclamation or a combination of means. A monarch usually reigns for life or until abdication.
A monarchy is a form of government in which a person, the monarch, is head of state until death or abdication. The legitimation and governing power of the monarch may vary from purely symbolic, to restricted, to fully autocratic, combining executive, legislative and judicial power.
Ferdinand I, born Ferdinand Maximilian Karl Leopold Maria of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, was the second monarch of the Third Bulgarian State, firstly as ruling prince (knyaz) from 1887 to 1908, and later as king (tsar) from 1908 until his abdication in 1918. Under his rule Bulgaria entered the First World War on the side of the Central Powers in 1915.
A grand duchy is a country or territory whose official head of state or ruler is a monarch bearing the title of grand duke or grand duchess.
The House of 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 House of Wettin, which succeeded the House of Hanover to the British monarchy following the accession of King Edward VII, son of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha.
A royal family is the immediate family of a king or queen regnant, and sometimes his or her extended family. The term imperial family appropriately describes the family of an emperor or empress, and the term papal family describes the family of a pope, while the terms baronial family, comital family, ducal family, archducal family, grand ducal family, or princely family are more appropriate to describe, respectively, the relatives of a reigning baron, count, duke, archduke, grand duke, or prince. However, in common parlance members of any family which reigns by hereditary right are often referred to as royalty or "royals." It is also customary in some circles to refer to the extended relations of a deposed monarch and his or her descendants as a royal family. A dynasty is sometimes referred to as "the House of ...". As of July 2013, there are 26 active sovereign monarchies in the world who rule or reign over 43 countries in all.
An elective monarchy is a monarchy ruled by an elected monarch, in contrast to a hereditary monarchy in which the office is automatically passed down as a family inheritance. The manner of election, the nature of candidate qualifications, and the electors vary from case to case. Historically it is not uncommon for elective monarchies to transform into hereditary ones over time, or for hereditary ones to acquire at least occasional elective aspects.
A personal union is the combination of two or more states that have the same monarch while their boundaries, laws, and interests remain distinct. A real union, by contrast, would involve the constituent states being to some extent interlinked, such as by sharing some limited governmental institutions. In a federation and a unitary state, a central (federal) government spanning all member states exists, with the degree of self-governance distinguishing the two. The ruler in a personal union does not need to be a hereditary monarch.
The House of Wettin is a dynasty of German counts, dukes, prince-electors and kings that once ruled territories in the present-day German states of Saxony, Saxony-Anhalt and Thuringia. The dynasty is one of the oldest in Europe, and its origins can be traced back to the town of Wettin, Saxony-Anhalt. The Wettins gradually rose to power within the Holy Roman Empire. Members of the family became the rulers of several medieval states, starting with the Saxon Eastern March in 1030. Other states they gained were Meissen in 1089, Thuringia in 1263, and Saxony in 1423. These areas cover large parts of Central Germany as a cultural area of Germany.
The Brazilian Imperial Family is a branch of the Portuguese Royal House of Braganza that ruled the Empire of Brazil from 1822 to 1889, after the proclamation of independence by Prince Pedro of Braganza who was later acclaimed as Pedro I, Constitutional Emperor and Perpetual Defender of Brazil. The members of the family are dynastic descendants of Emperor Pedro I. Claimants to headship of the post-monarchic Brazilian Imperial legacy descend from Emperor Pedro II, including the senior agnates of two branches of the House of Orléans-Braganza; the so-called Petrópolis and Vassouras lines. Prince Pedro Carlos of Orléans-Braganza heads the Petrópolis line, while the Vassouras branch is led by his second cousin, Prince Luiz of Orléans-Braganza.
The House of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha is a German dynasty that ruled Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, one of the Ernestine duchies.
A substantive title is a title of nobility or royalty acquired either by individual grant or inheritance. It is to be distinguished from a title shared among cadets, borne as a courtesy title by a peer's relatives, or acquired through marriage.
An order of succession or right of succession is the sequence of those entitled to hold a high office such as head of state or an honor such as a title of nobility in the order in which they stand in line to it when it becomes vacated. This sequence may be regulated through descent or by statute.
The Brazilian monarchy came to an end on November 15, 1889, following a military coup which overthrew Emperor Dom Pedro II and established a republic. According to the Imperial Constitution (1824), the Brazilian monarchy was hereditary according to male-preference primogeniture among the dynastic descendants of Emperor Pedro I of Brazil, and the crown could only be inherited by one who held Brazilian nationality. The Imperial constitution also states that the Emperor and his heir presumptive should be Catholic, and the marriage of the princess heir presumptive required consent of the Emperor or the Assembly.
|Look up dynasty in Wiktionary, the free dictionary.|
The basic idea of monarchy was the idea that hereditary right gave the best title to political power...The dangers of disputed succession were best avoided by hereditary succession: ruling families had a natural interest in passing on to their descendants enhanced power and prestige...Frederick the Great of Prussia, Catherine the Great of Russia, Maria Theresa of Austria, were alike infatuated with the idea of strengthening their power, centralizing government in their own hands as against local and feudal privileges, and so acquiring more absolute authority in the state. Moreover, the very dynastic rivalries and conflicts between these eighteenth-century monarchs drove them to look for ever more efficient methods of government