Open main menu

Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 61.djvu/512

This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.
506
POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

MENTAL AND MORAL HEREDITY IN ROYALTY. III.
By FREDERICK ADAMS WOODS, M.D.

HARVARD UNIVERSITY.

Evidence from the Romanhofs in Russia Down to Peter III.

From Feodor Romanhof (1550-1633), to Peter III. (1728-62), includes six generations and twenty-one persons in the direct family. These twenty-one show the most remarkable variation in character and abilities.

The first one to be considered, Feodor, was the greatest man in Russia in his day, and it was owing to his abilities and virtues that his son, Michael, was placed on the throne. Michael was prudent, mild and virtuous, married a peasant woman of the same character and was the father of Alexis, who in his time was very much like his parents. Alexis married twice, both queens being beautiful peasant girls. The czars at this time chose their wives from a large number of their subjects. All the charming peasant girls were brought to the court for their sovereign's inspection, the most beautiful being chosen and made legal queen.

From both of these unions came epileptic children. It seems impossible to trace the origin of this famous neurosis in the Romanhof's since it probably arose in the obscure stock back of Alexis. From Alexis' first marriage were produced Feodor, imbecile; Sophia, extraordinary force of will, ambition and high abilities; and Ivan, imbecile and epileptic. From the second marriage came Peter the Great, extraordinary will and capacity, but violent and epileptic; and several other children in no way remarkable. The genius of Peter the Great and Sophia may have been a reversion to Feodor, their great-grandparent, or it may have been a manifestation of the neurosis as Lombroso would say. On account of the very same ability already in the family as well as the evident neurosis, it does not seem necessary to consider them evidences of the insanity of genius, since the genius may have struck them from one source and the insanity from another. Those who consider the tyranny of the Russian czars a result of absolutism of the rulers should remember that just prior to the appearance of the neurosis there were four sovereigns who were in every way wise, mild and virtuous. Also the 'Age of Absolutism' in Denmark produced mild and good-natured rulers.

Now from this time on we find among the remaining eighteen who appear in the next three generations, six who have extremely bad char-