Incest is a serious taboo across many cultures around the world, but you wouldn't believe just how much incest there has been throughout history. Cousins marrying cousins, mothers and sons, daughters and fathers, distant relatives of all sorts... incest in history is not as uncommon as one might think.
Even more shocking than the incest itself are some of the names associated with it. It's not all just incest to keep power in the family – there are some great intellectuals and scholars on this list as well, and even a US president. Some of the most shocking cases of incest throughout history involve people who you would least expect.
We know of a few of the cases of modern incest, including famous people from Hollywood who were either consensual partners in incest or victims of incest, but the picture of historical incest is slightly more muddled, as there was more often than not no official database or record of who married who.
All of the incest on this list is either documented in some form or strongly alleged - and none of it was written by George R.R. Martin, sorry Jaime and Cersei.
Check out the most shocking historical cases of incest below and see how far you make it before cringing.
Cleopatra, Egyptian pharaoh, married both of her brothers Ptolemy XIII and Ptolemy XIV. If that wasn't bad enough, she may have killed one or both of the brothers as well.
Age: Died at 39 (68 BC-30 BC)
Birthplace: Alexandria, Egypt
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Charles Darwin introduced the world to the theory of evolution. It's no surprise then that when some of his children – the results of his incest with his first cousin Emma Wedgwood – were born with abnormalities, he studied and suspected incest as a likely reason for their genetic outcomes.
Age: Dec. at 73 (1809-1882)
Birthplace: The Mount, Shrewsbury, United Kingdom
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After marrying her cousin Prince Albert, Queen Victoria established a tradition of inbreeding for her descendants. She arranged her children and grandchildren into incestuous marriages throughout Europe because she thought it was a surefire way to ensure peace and prosperity throughout the continent. World War I largely proved her diplomatic strategy wrong.
Age: Died at 81 (1819-1901)
Birthplace: Kensington Palace, London, United Kingdom
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One of the most celebrated minds of the last 200 years married his first cousin Elsa Lowenthal not long after divorcing his first wife. While the incestuous nature of their marriage may be unsettling, many consider Elsa to be his closest partner, and she helped nurse him back to health after a serious illness in 1917.
Age: Dec. at 76 (1879-1955)
Birthplace: Ulm, Germany
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