The chaos of the Habsburg family tree brought down the dynasty and is one of the most famous cases of royal inbreeding throughout history. The Habsburg line traces its roots to the Middle Ages and extended its influence through the early 20th century. Some of the most famous names in European history had links to the family: Marie Antoinette was a Habusburg, as was Archduke Franz Ferdinand, the man whose death triggered the start of World War I.
Habsburg dynastic power reached its height in the 16th and 17th centuries. As the Spanish and Austrian lines of the House of Habsburg dominated Europe, they married one another and kept bloodlines pure. Cousins married cousins and uncles married nieces; keeping track of who was related to who in the complex matrix of the House of Habsburg inbreeding - not to mention how they were related - is mind-boggling to the modern observer.
Habsburg inbreeding and intermarriage brought together bloodlines in a way that caused physical and mental illnesses, ultimately resulting in infertility on a royal scale. Confusing and fascinating, the Habsburg dynasty inbred itself into oblivion.
It All Started In The Thirteenth Century
Marriage Alliances Were Key To Imperial GrowthPhoto: Anton Petter / CC BY-SA 3.0
Philip Of Austria And Joann Of Castile Sealed The Spanish-Austrian DealPhoto: Nicolaus Alexander Mair von Landshut / CC BY-SA 3.0
Cousins Marrying Cousins Wasn't Anything New, But When A King Married His Niece, Things Got Weird
Sixteenth Century Marriages Were All In The FamilyPhoto: Artist Unknown / CC BY-SA 3.0
Charles II Of Spain Was His Own CousinPhoto: Luca Giordano / CC BY-SA 3.0