Who was the Genealogical Heir of the Most Emperors?

MAGolding

Ad Honorem
Aug 2015
2,941
Chalfont, Pennsylvania
Some rules.

I mean the genealogical heir, not the political heir, of emperors.

For example, Puyi, or the Xuantong Emperor, was the Huangdi of China from 1908-1912. He could claim to be the successor and political heir of all the previous Chinese emperors since the First Emperor, Qin Shi Huang, in 221 BC, or of all the Chinese rulers back to the legendary Yellow Emperor who supposedly ruled about 2699 to 2588 BC. But since Chinese succession was agnatic, or male only, he was only the genealogical heir of the 9 previous rulers of his d own dynasty back to the Shunzhi Emperor who conquered Northern China in 1644, or the 11 previous rulers back to Nurhaci who founded the dynasty.

And in another example, Francis II, Holy Roman Emperor from 1792 to 1806, was the political successor and heir of all previous Holy Roman Emperors back to Otto I the Great in 962, and of the Carolingian Emperors back to Charlemagne in 800, and according to the ideology of the Holy Roman Empire, of all the eastern Roman or "Byzantine" Emperors from Constantine VI (r. 780-797) back to Arcadius (r.395-408), and of all the Roman Emperors back to Augustus (r. c. 27 BC - AD 14). But he was not the genealogical heir of all of those emperors but of a small fraction of them. Though he seems to have been one of the three or four persons who could be considered the genealogical heir of the most Roman emperors.

Another rule is that someone should have a claim to be the genealogical heir of emperors, and not of lesser rulers like kings, great kings, high kings, kings of kings, great kings of kings, kings of kings of kings, etc.

One category of rulers who can be counted as emperors are rulers who were Roman emperors or claimed with some degree of justification to be Roman emperors. And sometimes there have been several states at one time that claimed to be Roman empires.

Another category is rulers in the European culture zone who claimed to be non Roman emperors. Thus those rulers would include the rulers of the Russian, First and Second French, Austrian, First & Second Haitian, First & Second Mexican, Brazilian, German, Indian (British Raj), and Central African "Empires" or anti empires as I call them.

Another category is rulers of states outside of the European culture zone that are sometimes considered to be empires or whose rulers are sometimes considered to be emperors, or who used titles that were sort of equivalent to emperor to a degree.

The following refer to answers in a different thread which should probably be on this thread instead.

Between Ardashir I and Yazdegert III 16 generations
I think that you didn't read every part of my original post. I specifically requested that answers be limited to kings, with no lower or higher rulers included in this post.

The title of the Sassanid rulers was King of Kings of Iran and of Non Iran. Thus they would normally go in a question about kings of kings. However, the Iranian Kings of kings of the Achaemenid Ddynasty, and to a lesser degree the Arsacid and Sassanid dynasties, and to an even lesser degree the Safavid, Afsharid, Qajar, and Pahlavi dynasties, can be considered to be emperors, unlike most rulers who used the title of king of kings. So Yazidergd III or some other Sassanian heir could be a candidate in a thread about who was the heir to the most emperors.

the record would be of the Ottomans. Perhaps only Japan can rival Ottomans.
Actually the Ottoman rulers should probably go in a thread about who was the heir to most emperors, since their titles were a lot higher than king, titles like Sultan of Sultans, Khan of Khans, Caliph, and Padishah.

List of Ottoman titles and appellations - Wikipedia

Thus the Ottoman padishahs should go in a thread about emperors, not a thread about kings.

The Japanese throne was all in one family. The few female monarchs were either unmarried or married to men who were part of the imperial dynasty. Thus the throne never passed out of the House of Yamato to another dynasty in historic times. And when a monarch died or abdicated the succession often passed to his brother, uncle, nephew, first cousin, or more distant relative, even if he had living daughters or even living sons. The present tenno, Akihito, is officially the 125th, counting mythological and semi historical rulers, but the 29th ruler, Kinmei (reigned c. 539-571), is often considered to be the first fully historical one. In the semi legendary era Keitai (r.507-531), the father of Kinmei, was reportedly the agnatic 4th cousin of the previous ruler Buretsu (r. 498-506), but was possibly an unrelated usurper.

So the present tenno, Akihito, is the political heir of 97 fully historical monarchs starting with Kinmei, and cannot be the genealogical heir of more than 97 fully historical monarchs. And the succession often passed between difference branches of the dynasty, so that there should certainly be competing rival claims to be the heirs of many of the historical monarchs. After the Japanese defeat in WWII a number of persons claimed to be the rightful monarchs of Japan as heirs of the monarchs of the Southern Court from 1332-1392, being descended from a different son of Go-Sago (1220-1272) than Hirohito was.

So one would have to study each and every single tenno that Akihito is not descended in the male line from in order to find out if he had surviving sons and daughters who might possibly have heirs in the present time, in order to decide if Akihito could be considered to be the genealogical heir of that particular tenno.

Here is a potential claim to be the heir of the most Roman Emperors. The "Trapezuntine Empire" or "Empire of Trebizond" was an offshoot of the Roman Empire. The last two emperors were John IV Megas Komnenos (reigned 1429-1460) and his brother David Megas Komnenos (r. 1460-1461). Thus the children of John IV would be heirs of the same number of emperors as the children of David were. Which is fortunate, since ex emperor David and at least two of his sons were put to death in 1463. John IV had a daughter Theodora Mega Komnene who married Uzan Hasan, Emir of the White Sheep, and had a daughter who was the mother of Ismail I, founder of the Safavid Dynasty of Iran.

There were 21 Emperors at Trebizond, but since a lot of emperors were deposed by relatives, Theodora Mega Komnene was not necessarily their of all 21 emperors. Theodora was the heir of: 1. Her father John IV, 2. Alexios IV (unless the murder of Alexios IV by supporters of John IV disqualifies her), 3. Manual III, 4. Alexios III, who was the surviving son of 5. Emperor Basil. Basil was not the rightful heir of of his brother Andronikos III or Andronikos's little son Manuel II who Basil deposed and later killed. Thus Theodora Mega Komnene might have been genealogical heir of only 5 emperors. Since first Andronikos III and then Basil had eliminated all rivals, Basil might be considered the genealogical heir (by elimination) of their father, 6. Alexios II, son and heir of 7. John II, who was the third son of Manuel I to become emperor. Alexios II would be the heir of Manuel I only if there are no traceable heirs of his two older brothers. If Alexios II was the heir of his grandfather Manuel I, then Manuel I would be the 8th emperor Theodore Komnene was the heir of. Manuel took the throne from his brother or nephew Ioannikios, the rightful heir of of John I. Since Ioannikios probably died without heirs in a monastery the heirs of Manuel I may have eventually become the heirs of his father 9. Alexios I Komnenos, the founder of the Trapezuntine Empire" in 1204.

Thus some people may think that Theodora Mega Komnene, daughter of John IV, was the genealogical heir of 5, or 7, or 8, or 9, or all 21 Emperors at Trebizond. But Alexios I, founder of the empire at Trebizond, was a grandson of "Byzantine" Emperor Andronikos I Komnenos. There were 6 "Byzantine" emperors of the Komnenos dynasty. But Andronikos deposed and murdered the child emperor Alexios II, son and heir of Manuel I, son and chosen heir of John II, son and heir of Alexios I, who could be considered the rightful heir of his emperor Isaac I. So the majority of people would not consider Andronikos I the rightful heir of the previous 5 Komnenos emperors. Thus Theodora Mega Komnene was the genealogical heir of between 5 and 27 Roman Emperors and Empresses depending on how one counts.
 

MAGolding

Ad Honorem
Aug 2015
2,941
Chalfont, Pennsylvania
The last two emperors of the Ming Dynasty of China were Zhu Youjiao (1605-1627), the Tianqi Emperor, and his brother Zhu Youjian (1611-1644), the Chongzen Emperor. Since the children of the Tianqi Emperor died young, the descendants of the Chongzen Emperor would be the Ming descendants who could claim to be the genealogical heirs of the most emperors. When rebels capturred Peking, the Chongzen Emperor killed one of his daughters, Princess Zhaoren, and cut off the arm of another, Princess Changping (1630-1646), then hanged himself from a tree. his three yung sons were captured by the rebels and soon vanished fo rom theistotorical record. But the oldest son was the genealogical heir of both the Tiangqi Emperor and the Chongzen Emperor as long as he lived.

Zhu Cilang (1429-1644) the oldest son of the Chongzen Emperor was the genealogical heir of: 1. his father the Chongzen Emperor, 2. the Tianqui Emperor, 3. their father the Taichang Emperor (1582-1620), 4. his father the Wanli Emperor (1563-1620), 5. his father the Longqing Emperor (1537-1572), 6. his father the Jianjing Emperor (1507-1567), 7. His childless cousin the Zhengde Emperor (1491-1521), 8. his father the Hongzhi Emperor (1470-1505), 9. his father the Chengua Emperor (147-1487), and 10. his father Zhu Qizhen (1427-1464).

Zhu Qizehen reigned as the Zhentong Emperor from 1435 to 1449, was captured by Mongols, and reigned again as the Tianshun Emperor from 1457 to 1464. His half brother Zhu Qiyu (1428-1457) reigned as the Jingtai Emperor from 1449-1457. Since he was survived by a daughter but no son, it would seem that his agnatic (male only) heir would be his brother brother Zhu Qizhen. If so, the oldest son of the Chongzen Emepror would also be the heir of 11. The Jingtai Emperor, and 12. his father the Xuande Emperor (1399-1435), 13. his father The Hongxi Emperor (1478-1425), and 14. his father the Yongle Emperor (1360-1424).

The Yongle Emperor usurped the throne from his nephew Zhu Yunwen (1377-1402) the Jianwen Emperor in a bloody civil war. The Jianwen Emperor, his wife Empress Xiaominrang, and their older son Zhu Wenkui (b. 1396) reportedly died in the burning imperial palace at Nanking, three of the doubtless many charred bodies in the ruins were said to be theirs. But the Jianwen Emperor was apparently survived by his second son Zhu Wengui, Prince Runhuai (1401+1457), and by descendants of his brothers, sons of Zhu Baio (1355-1392). And even if all the descendants of Zhu Baio died out, it would be hard to think of the Yongle Emperor as the genealogical heir of the Jianwen Emperor or of Zhu.Yuanzhang, the Hongwu Emperor (1328-1398), founder of the Ming Dynasty.

Therefore, in my opinion Zhu Cilang would have been the genealogical heir of 10 or 14 emperors of the Ming Dynasty but not of all 14 emperors of the Ming Dynasty.
 
Oct 2018
1,538
Sydney
Admittedly, this doesn't answer your question, but it's notable that most of the Roman emperors from Diocletian to Olybrius are all a part of the same extended family through a variety of blood, adoption and marriage ties (AD 284 - 472).
 

MAGolding

Ad Honorem
Aug 2015
2,941
Chalfont, Pennsylvania
I the first post on this thread I wrote:


The Japanese throne was all in one family. The few female monarchs were either unmarried or married to men who were part of the imperial dynasty. Thus the throne never passed out of the House of Yamato to another dynasty in historic times. And when a monarch died or abdicated the succession often passed to his brother, uncle, nephew, first cousin, or more distant relative, even if he had living daughters or even living sons. The present tenno, Akihito, is officially the 125th, counting mythological and semi historical rulers, but the 29th ruler, Kinmei (reigned c. 539-571), is often considered to be the first fully historical one. In the semi legendary era Keitai (r.507-531), the father of Kinmei, was reportedly the agnatic 4th cousin of the previous ruler Buretsu (r. 498-506), but was possibly an unrelated usurper.

So the present tenno, Akihito, is the political heir of 97 fully historical monarchs starting with Kinmei, and cannot be the genealogical heir of more than 97 fully historical monarchs. And the succession often passed between difference branches of the dynasty, so that there should certainly be competing rival claims to be the heirs of many of the historical monarchs. After the Japanese defeat in WWII a number of persons claimed to be the rightful monarchs of Japan as heirs of the monarchs of the Southern Court from 1332-1392, being descended from a different son of Go-Sago (1220-1272) than Hirohito was.

So one would have to study each and every single tenno that Akihito is not descended in the male line from in order to find out if he had surviving sons and daughters who might possibly have heirs in the present time, in order to decide if Akihito could be considered to be the genealogical heir of that particular tenno.
Looking through the Japanese Imperial Family Tree Japanese imperial family tree - Wikipedia It seems that the agnatic (male only) line of descent from Kinmei, the first fully historical Japanese monarch, to the present tenno Akihito includes 45 monarchs including both Kinmei and Akihito, plus a number of princes who never ascended the throne. But since many of the men in that lineage from father to son had other sons, and there was often a lot of politics and intrigue in selecting a new Tenno, it is not certain that all of the men in that lineage were the rightful heirs of their fathers. Often someone would be selected as the crown prince, for example, and then would be falsely accused of wrong doing and replaced as crown prince by someone else, or even falsely executed as a result of the false accusations.

Then there are the over fifty other Japanese monarchs in the historical period that Akihito is not descended from in the agnatic (male only) line, and in some cases is not descended from in female lines either. Akihito would not be the agnatic heir of any of those monarchs who has agnatic descendants to the present. And some of them who don't have agnatic descendants to the present do have closer agnatic relatives than Akihito. For example, Akihito might be descended from a 2nd cousin of a a monarch who might not have had any agnatic descents, but there might be agnatic descendants of a nephew or f1st cousin of that monarch who would be more closely related to him. And Akihito would be the closest agnatic relative of others of those rulers. So it would be a big project to decide any many of them should be added or subtracted from the 44 previous monarchs that Akihito is descended from in the Agnatic line to get a correct total of the Japanese monarchs that Akihito is the genealogical heir to.
 
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MAGolding

Ad Honorem
Aug 2015
2,941
Chalfont, Pennsylvania
Admittedly, this doesn't answer your question, but it's notable that most of the Roman emperors from Diocletian to Olybrius are all a part of the same extended family through a variety of blood, adoption and marriage ties (AD 284 - 472).
I happen to have a copy of Corruption and the Decline of Rome, Ramsay MacMullen, 1988, handy, and was able to look up a quote in Chapter two Power Effective, page 78, in a discussion of family relationships among powerful persons in the late empire:

At the very top, among towering military commander and the imperial house itself, from the fourth into the sixth century, the traceable connections form a truly remarkable stemma, something like that of the Hapsburgs. 67
.
Note 67 on pages 244-245 is too long to quote in full, but see:

...and the relationships between over two hundred names (Nubel, Bauto, Galla Placida, etc.) in Demandt (1980) the fold-out stemma.
The bibliography on page 290 show that Demandt (1980) is Demandt, A., "Der spatromische Militaradel" Chiron, 10 (1980) 609-636. I have a photocopy of that family tree somewhere and it is very complicated indeed.

While one tries to get access to a copy of that complex family tree, one can look at the last section, 284-518, in Wikipedia's Family Tree of the Roman Emperors and look at the overlapping first section of Wikipedia's Family Tree of the Byzantine Emperors.

Family tree of the Roman emperors - Wikipedia

Family tree of the Byzantine emperors - Wikipedia

And one can see that the web of relationships, cousinhoods, marriage & engagement connections, etc. continues for centuries after AD 518 into the Justinian dynasty, the Heraclian dynasty, the Isaurian Dynasty, the Amorian dynasty, the Macedonian and related dynasties, and so on down to the present day, even though the earliest eastern Roman emperor that I am absolutely certain has biological descendants to the present time is Alexios I Komnenos who reigned from 1081 to 1118.

No, a check in the Medieval Lands site indicates that Emperor Konstantinos X Doukas (1006/07-1067) should have descendants to this day. His daughter Zoe Doukaina (1062-by 1138) married Adrianos Komnenos (1060/65-1105). BYZANTIUM 1057-1204

Adrianos Komneos, a brother of Emperor Alexios I, was the father of an Alexios Komnenos, who had an unnamed daughter who married Alexios Doukas Palaiologos. BYZANTIUM 1057-1204

Alexios Doukas Palaiologos was the father of Gregorios Komnenodoukas Palaiolologos (1125?-11667/68), the father of Alexios Komnenos Paliologos (d.1201/04) the father of Theodora Palaiologina (b.c.1200) who married Andronikos Doukas Komnenos Palaiologos BYZANTIUM 1261-1453

Theodora Palaiologina (b.c.1200) and Andronikos Doukas Komnenos Palaiologos were the parents of Emperor Michael VIII Palaiologos (1222/25-1282), founder of the Palaiologos dynasty, whose descendants can be traced to the present.
BYZANTIUM 1261-1453

So if that is correct Emperor Konstantine X Doukas should be the first eastern Roman emperor whose descendants I know can be certainly traced to the present day.

There is also a fairly convincing claim that Emperor Constantine IX Monomachos (1005/10-1055) had a probably illegitimate daughter who was the mother of Great Prince Vladimir Monomakh (1053-1125) of Kiev, who has many descendants to the present.

And since anyone descended from Konstantine IX Monomachos or Konstantine X Doukas or Alexios I Komnenos should be have a series of genealogical connections of various types back through the ages to Diocletian, I guess they could claim to be among his heirs, even though they might not be able to trace their descent from Diocletian or anyone who lived less than 800 years after him.
 
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Oct 2018
1,538
Sydney
I happen to have a copy of Corruption and the Decline of Rome, Ramsay MacMullen, 1988, handy, and was able to look up a quote in Chapter two Power Effective, page 78, in a discussion of family relationships among powerful persons in the late empire:

.

Note 67 on pages 244-245 is too long to quote in full, but see:



The bibliography on page 290 show that Demant (1980) is Demandt, A., "Der spatromiche Militaradel" Chiron, 10 (1980) 609-636. I have a photocopy of that family tree somewhere and it is very complicated indeed.

While one tries to get access to a copy of that complex family tree, one can look at the last section, 284-518, in Wikipedia's Family Tree of the Roman Emperors and look at the overlapping first section of Wikipedia's Family Tree of the Byzantine Emperors.

Family tree of the Roman emperors - Wikipedia

Family tree of the Byzantine emperors - Wikipedia

And one can see that the web of relationships, cousinhoods, marriage & engagement connections, etc. continues for centuries after AD 518 into the Justinian dynasty, the Heraclian dynasty, the Isaurian Dynasty, the Amorian dynasty, the Macedonian and related dynasties, and so on down to the present day, even though the earliest eastern Roman emperor that I am absolutely certain has biological descendants to the present time is Alexios I Komnenos who reigned from 1081 to 1118.
Oh there you go. The connections continue for many more centuries than I realised.
 

MAGolding

Ad Honorem
Aug 2015
2,941
Chalfont, Pennsylvania
Oh there you go. The connections continue for many more centuries than I realised.

Well, there are more connections than in those Wikipedia family trees.

For example, Emperor Justinian II, last ruler of the Heraclian dynasty, was deposed and exiled and married the sister of Busir, Khagan of the Khazars, who was renamed Theodora. When Justinian became emperor again, Theodora became empress and their son Tiberios was made co-Emperor, but Tiberios was killed at the age of six. In 732 Emperor Leo III, founder of the Isaurian dynasty, married his son and heir Constantine V to Cicek or Tzitzak, renamed Irene, daughter of Bihar, Khangan of the Khazars. Since Bihar should have been a relative of Khagan Busir, Constantine V and Irene's son Emperor Leo IV the Khazar, a member of the Isaurian dynasty, should have been some sort of cousin or relative of co-emperor Tiberios of the Heraclian dynasty.

Leo IV's son Constantine VI was deposed by Constantine's mother Irene in 797. His daughter Euphrosyne was the second wife of Emperor Michael II and stepmother to his children, thus making Emperor Michael III sort of her step grandson. Michael III had his mistress Eudocia Ingerina marry his friend and co Emperor Basil I, who eventually murdered Michael III and usurped the throne. And there is a question whether Eudocia's son Emperor Leo VI was the son of Basil I or of Michael III, thus providing some sort of genealogical connection between the Heraclian and Macedonian dynasties.

Emperor Justinian II of the Heraclian dynasty also had a daughter Anastasia by his first wife, who was engaged in 705 to Tervel, Khan of Bulgaria. And a 9th century genealogical legend claimed that a daughter of Justinian II was the mother or more plausibly the maternal grandmother of Charlemagne. The Carolingians did have connections with the Isaurian dynasty. There were a couple of engagements negotiated, though the marriages never took place.

And you could look at this thread:

Emperor Maurice and Khosrow II of Persia

Note that some people living the the present, such as the Agha Khan, are allegedly descended from Yazdigerd III and from Emperor Maurice, and thus possibly have genealogical connections back to Diocletian.

And there are many more connections than those.
 
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MAGolding

Ad Honorem
Aug 2015
2,941
Chalfont, Pennsylvania
hello:

did the marriage to tervel take place? is there any contemporary evidence for it?
According to Wikipedia:

Tervel is first mentioned in the Byzantine sources in 704, when he was approached by the deposed and exiled Byzantine emperor Justinian II. Justinian acquired Tervel's support for an attempted restoration to the Byzantine throne in exchange for friendship, gifts, and his daughter in marriage. With an army of 15,000 horsemen provided by Tervel, Justinian suddenly advanced on Constantinople and managed to gain entrance into the city in 705. The restored emperor executed his supplanters, the emperors Leontius and Tiberius III, alongside many of their supporters. Justinian awarded Tervel with many gifts, the title of kaisar (Caesar), which made him second only to the emperor and the first foreign ruler in Byzantine history to receive such a title, and a territorial concession in northeastern Thrace, a region called Zagora. Whether Justinian's daughter Anastasia was married to Tervel as had been arranged is unknown.
Tervel of Bulgaria - Wikipedia

Repeat:

Whether Justinian's daughter Anastasia was married to Tervel as had been arranged is unknown.
Tervel was a member of the Dulo Clan, whose rule of the Bulgarians ended about a century after Tervel. As far as I know there is no known line of descent from the Dulo Clan in general or from Tervel in particular, or from Anastasia herself.

Emperor Justinian II was born c. 669/670 and so about 35 years old when his daughter Anastasia was engaged to Tervel. Thus if she was married to Tervel, or to anyone else, she probably would not have had children for about another decade after 705.

Here is another possible genealogical connection between the Heraclian dynasty and the present.

According to Wikipedia's Family Tree of the Byzantine Emperors Family tree of the Byzantine emperors - Wikipedia

Emperor Heraclius, first of the Heraclian dynasty, had a sister Maria who married someone and was the great great great great great great great grandmother of Eudokia Ingerina (840-882). Eudokia became the mistress of Emperor Michael III about 855. To reduce the scandal, Michael eventually married Eudokia to his friend and eventual co-emperor Basil I, founder of the Macedonian dynasty. Eudokia had six children. The 2 oldest were future emperor Leo VI born 19 September 866 and stephen I, Patriarchof Constantinople born November 867. Michael III was murdered by Basil I in September 867, and the paternity of Leo VI and Stephen has always been wondered about.

There are several reputed lines of descent from Leo VI to the present, though they are all controversial, but there were also some generalotical relationships between the descendants of Leo VI and later imperial dynasties which do have descendants to the present, as can be seen in ikipedia's Family Tree of the Byzantine Emperors Family tree of the Byzantine emperors - Wikipedia.

The Heraclian dynasty might also have been descended from a dynasty of Armenian kings which was a branch of the Arsacid dynasty. If true, the Arsacid dynasty would have been the only dynasty which provided rulers to both the Persian and the Roman Empires. In the time of the Heraclian dynasty there were other branches of the Arsacid dynasty flourishing in Iran, Armenia, and other places, who thus might have been distant cousins of the Heraclian dynasty. So anyone descended from any branch of the Arsacid dynasty might be related to the Heraclian dynasty.

I read somewhere that one of the emperors of the Heraclian dynasty engaged or married a daughter or relative to an Armenia Bagratid. The Bagrationi dynasty of Georgia which survives to the present is probably a branch of the Armenian Bagratids. So descendants of the Bagrationi of Geoorgia may be related to someone who was engaged to a member of the Heraclian dynasty, or even be descended from the Heraclian dynasty.
 
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