16 Royals Who Suffered From Hereditary Mutations And Defects Caused By Inbreeding
16 Royals Who Suffered From Hereditary Mutations And Defects Caused By Inbreeding

16 Royals Who Suffered From Hereditary Mutations And Defects Caused By Inbreeding

Trista - October 1, 2018

16 Royals Who Suffered From Hereditary Mutations And Defects Caused By Inbreeding
Statue of Nero. List Verse

15. Nero’s Insanity May Have Been From Inbreeding

Much modern scholarship has focused on trying to understand the darker underbelly of Roman culture, such as why there was so much lead poisoning and how it contributed to the fall of the greatest empire in history. One particular aspect of Roman history that is interesting to some historians is how incest and inbreeding may have generated insanity among the emperors. Moreover, perhaps no emperor is more famous for madness than Nero, the man who fiddled while Rome burned and was accused of having sex with his own mother.

The Roman royals often intermarried for the same reasons as later European royal families: to keep wealth and prestige within the family and reduce contention over who should be heir to the throne. Nero was the son of a niece and her uncle, Agrippina and Claudius, who may have had an inbred pedigree going back generations. Agrippina agreed to marry him to strengthen her son’s claim to the throne, something that ultimately proved to be a somewhat dangerous thing for the citizens of Rome. Not only had lead poisoning severely depleted his mental faculties, but his inbreeding may have assumed that he didn’t have many faculties to begin with.

Age: 31 (37AD-68AD)
Born: Antium, Italy

16 Royals Who Suffered From Hereditary Mutations And Defects Caused By Inbreeding
Marble portrait bust of the emperor Gaius, known as Caligula, A.D. 37-41. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, Rogers Fund, 1914

16. Caligula’s Bloodthirst Was Likely Fueled By Inbreeding

Nero may be the most infamous of all Roman emperors, but he was not the only one to have a family tree that grew straight up. Caligula (also known as Gaius Caesar), who has been accused by many of engaging in incestuous relations with his sisters (something that he may or may not have done), descended from a pedigree of biological relatives marrying each other to keep money, power, and the bloodline intact. His reign was defined by both lust and lunacy.

His father, Germanicus, was beloved by the Roman people, and, believing Caligula would possess the same characteristics, they were more than happy to coronate him as the new emperor. However, after an illness six months into his reign, he proved that he was not the same person as his father. Caligula forced parents to watch the tortures and executions of their children. Claiming to be a god, he had a bridge built between the Temple of Zeus and his own palace so that he could more easily convene with the deity. He was assassinated by his unhappy public when, after a sports event, guardsmen stabbed him 30 times.


Where did we find this stuff? Here are our sources:

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“Inbreeding and the downfall of the Spanish Habsburgs,” by Razib Khan. Discover Magazine, April 14, 2009.

“Case Closed: Famous Royals Suffered from Hemophilia.” Science Mag. October 8, 2009.

“Five Myths and Truths About Rasputin,” by Albinko Hasic. Time Magazine. December 29, 2016.”

“King Tut Mysteries Solved: Was Disabled, Malarial, and Inbred,” by Ker Than. National Geographic News, February 17, 2010.

“What was the truth about the madness of George III?” BBC Magazine. April 15, 2013.

“10 Mad Royals in History” by Shanna Freeman. How Stuff Works.

“The Tragic Austrian Empress Who Was Murdered by Anarchists,” by Hadley Meares. History. January 4, 2018.

“The Tragic Story of the Mad Queen of Castile Who Slept Next to Her Husband’s Corpse,” by Paolo Chua. Esquire Magazine. April 28, 2018.

“King Ludwig II of Bavaria” The German Way.

“How The Royal Disease Destroyed The Life Of Russia’s Last Tsarevich”. Oleg Yegorov. Russia Beyond. AUG 2018.

“Ferdiand I, Emperor of Austria.” Encyclopedia Britannica. June 25, 2018.

“Cleopatra.” New World Encyclopedia.

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“Chulalongkorn, King of Siam.” Encyclopedia Britannica. July 20, 1998.

“Ten Royal Families Riddled With Incest,” by Kindree Cushing. November 26, 2014.

“Caligula Biography.” The biography.com website. April 27, 2017.