Popular Science Monthly/Volume 61/September 1902/Mental and Moral Heredity in Royalty II




Evidence from the House of Hohenzollern in Prussia.

Here we find a very different condition. Let us begin with the founder of the family's influence, Frederick William, the Great Elector of Brandenburg. The great elector (1620-1688) was a man of the highest attainment and force of character. He received his country in a very desolate condition and accomplished the greatest results with the least resources. He was one of the ablest men in Germany in his time. On looking up his pedigree one finds his father a weak scion of a family not then illustrious, his mother not much above mediocrity, but a granddaughter of William the Silent.

There is ever} r reason to believe that the great Elector was one of numerous geniuses descended from William the Silent, even if he did stand as far away from him as a great grandson. He was a first cousin of the famous Prince Rupert, and his two sisters were Sophia, Duchess of Brunswick (10), and Elizabeth of Palatine (9), a very profound intellect. This relationship was by the way of Frederick IV. of Palatine, who had married a daughter of William the Silent, by Anne, a daughter of Maurice of Saxony, a celebrated general.

Every union from now on to Frederick the Great brings in again the brilliant strain. Frederick William, the Great Elector, married a daughter of Frederick Henry, the distinguished stateholder (8). She was granddaughter of William the Silent (10), and great granddaughter of Caspard de Coligny, the great admiral of France (10). Their son, Frederick I. of Prussia, showed none of the genius, but he married a sister of George I., and therefore a daughter of the same great Duchess of Brunswick (10). Her father also was distinguished and ranks in 7 (Ernest Augustus, Elector of Hanover).

This queen of Frederick I. was Sophia Charlotte. She had high ideals and an important influence over political actions. She was really profoundly interested in astronomy, prehistoric remains and moral philosophy, and formed a warm friendship with Leibnitz. Von Heineman says she was generally called the 'Philosophical Queen.' She is placed in grade 8. Their only son was Frederick William I., a most remarkable character. He was not very intellectual and especially despised literature, but was a man of iron will with great ability in this line, and succeeded in carrying out his strange determinations. He it was who collected the giant army of Prussia. In his avariciousness and bigotry, as well as in his facial features, he so much resembled his

PSM V61 D456 Heredity in the house of hohenzollern.png

cousins the Guelphs (a house of Hanover), of England, that one is inclined to believe he got them all from the same source. He is placed in grade 7. His queen was an amiable and virtuous woman. She was his own cousin and by the Orange branch. Thus now this great stock is repeated four times in the pedigree. Besides this we have four other great grandparents of high standing.

Thus the pedigree stands for intellect:

PSM V61 D457 Heredity in the house of orange.png

It will be noticed that only two are below mediocrity. From this remarkable union were produced, out of ten children, five of the most illustrious persons contained in this study. These were Frederick the Great (10). Henry, his almost equally great brother[1] (9). Charlotte, Duchess of Brunswick (8), had a remarkable mind, literary tastes and fine character. Wraxall said of her that he scarcely ever met a woman in any walk of life who possessed an understanding more enlarged and cultivated. Amelia (9), 'endowments of mind said to have been extraordinary,' had a remarkable talent for music[2] and Louisa Ulrica, Queen of Sweden (10), was called the 'Minerva of the North.' The other five included Frederica Sophia, of Baireuth, whose memoirs are considered very interesting. These other grades are 7, 5, 5, 3.

Frederick the Great also had a number of nephews and one niece who were very richly endowed mentally. As some of these would escape mention elsewhere they are here enumerated:

1. Gustavus II. of Sweden (9).
2. Sophia Albertina, his sister (8).
3. Augustus Frederick of Prussia (8); reputed the first artillery officer in the Prussian army.
4. Louis, a son of Ferdinand of Prussia (8); distinguished talents.
5. Amelia Duchess of Saxe-Weimar (9); the distinguished patron of genius, of Wieland, Herder, Goethe, etc.
6. Charles William Ferdinand (8) of Brunswick; celebrated commander.'[1]
7. William Adolphus (8) of Brunswick; generally brilliant, and an author.

Such a union of high talents, found here about Frederick the Great, is certainly remarkable and bears out Galton's idea that of all great men, the greatest commanders have the greatest number of eminent relations.

Frederick the Great had in the first degree of relationship, in spite of having no direct descendants, one in 10, two in 9 and one in 8. In second degree two in 9, five in 8. Three of his

PSM V61 D458 Heredity in the house of habsburg 1.png
Charles V. Maximillian II.
PSM V61 D458 Heredity in the house of habsburg 2.png
Mary, Queen of Hungary. Maria, Daughter of Ferdinand I.

grandparents were in grade 10. It is very easy to account for this high wave of intellect, for in the first place among the sixty-two ancestors who lie in five degrees of remoteness, one finds only two in a grade below 1 and only one below 5. These were Frederick I. of Prussia and George William of Brunswick, who were in 3; both lie remote. This alone is remarkable, and I doubt if the same would be true of any other chart, or indeed of any other family.

In the second place one sees the House of Orange four times in the fifth generation. This of itself would probably create only a small effect since this entire generation is considered to have only 318 per cent, of influence, but we see here a fortunate selection of the best, and four of its greatest descendants are found among the third degree of remoteness, and one in the second degree. Then the remaining part of the pedigree is filled in with what is best in the House of Brunswick, together with Elenora d'Olbrenze, a remarkable character.[3] She was of a good Dutch Huguenot family.

Among the forty included in this group (all ancestors of Frederick the Great to third degree, with nieces and nephews) we find five in 10, four in 9, six in 8, seven in 7, or nine of these forty are geniuses 9 or 10; and 22 are high in the talent class. There is a strong literary and musical bent among the descendants, and hereditary influence can be traced through both the mother and paternal grandmother of Frederick the Great, straight back to the House of Orange, from which it probably came. This is in spite of the fact that Frederick's father was entirely hostile to literature. The bent appeared decidedly in five of the ten. In the others it seems to have been absent. The pedigree calls for about half of them to show this imaginative type of mind, if we couple to the pedigree this idea: that strong mental characteristics do not freely blend, but tend to jump about, and, if appearing at all, appear in almost full force in those who inherit them in any conspicuous degree.

Whatsoever in Frederick the Great's fraternity environment would not properly account for either the appearance of the artistic taste or the fact only half showed it. This literary bent should be compared with Hanover, where eighty-seven persons show only four authors and these are every one of them in the extreme background and consequently do not influence the House itself. Among the House of Hanover a number of the princes were fond of study but none were authors.

Regarding the moral side among the Hohenzollerns, there were only a few who fell short. It corresponds perfectly in a general way with the pedigree. It is noteworthy that here as in Hanover no atrocious and violent characters appeared in the family, nor were any PSM V61 D460 1 Maria Anna of Spain.pngMaria, Daughter of Charles V. PSM V61 D460 2 Albert son of maximillian ii.pngAlbert, Son of Maximilian II. PSM V61 D460 3 Louis xiii.pngLouis XIII. PSM V61 D460 4 Philip iii.pngPhilip III. PSM V61 D460 5 Charles iii.pngCharles III.

introduced in the pedigree. In this respect these countries should be compared with Bussia, Spain, France and Italy.

Frederick the Great and his brother Henry left no descendants. In the next generation the great qualities died out in the house, because only two of the males had heirs and these were not the gifted members of the family. One, William Augustus, was weak and fond of pleasure, and was the son who resembled his grandfather, Frederick I. He married Louisa, a daughter of Ferdinand Albert, of Brunswick, an insipid woman of no gifts, with an ancestry virtuous and literary, but not talented politically.[4] They had a son, Frederick William II., and a daughter; the son, who had the best of education and example, was a virtuous man of average capacity, but timid and irresolute. As Frederick William II., who was not brilliant, married a woman below the average capacity and of a mediocre family, by the next generation ail brilliancy was removed to one great-great-grandparent, out of the sixteen the children had, and to eight of the thirty-two great-great-great-grandparents; which according to Galton would be a factor of extremely small value; so it is not surprising that it never caine out again in this line, unless Wilhelm der Grosse and the present Kaiser be equal to them and represent extreme reversion. Their abilities are probably derived from fresh combinations.

Among the collaterals similar dilution, or lack of any issue at all, can be shown. Thus one of the greatest strains of intellect the world has ever seen finally disappeared. Quite unconsciously on their part it was formed. Its formation appears to be due to a remarkable combination of ingredients of blood, three sources of the best from the great House of Orange were united with the Great Elector of Brandenburg, who probably himself received his genius from the house of Orange. Its disappearance might well have been due to dilution in some branches, to accident or sterility in others. Probably the only strain in modern times, in royalty or out, that can show such a quantity of eminent relationship, and of such a high degree, is the same region about William the Silent that we have shown we consider the origin of this. The relation of this blood to the course of Prussian, German and even to the world's history should not be overlooked.

If it is accepted that these characters were what they were owing largely to heredity, then it follows that Prussia's rise under the Great Elector, her growth under Frederick William I.'s vigorous policy, and subsequent greater growth under Frederick II., together with the seven years' war, must, since historians all ascribe great influence to these sovereigns, find their ultimate explanation in these charts of descent. The theories of heredity appear to be very nearly satisfied. If we
PSM V61 D462 Ferdinand ii and iii of the house of habsburg.png
Ferdinand II. Ferdinand III.
PSM V61 D462 Leopold i and charles ii of the house of habsburg.png
Leopold I. Charles II.
consider that opportunities or the times were the chief causes, we must have a wonderful knowledge of all the intricate effects of this medium in order to explain the character in this way. The theory of chances seems here to be in danger, while the theory of chances can be shown to be pretty well satisfied by the laws of heredity.

The Hapsburg Lip.

The accompanying illustrations show one of the best known and most conspicuous facial peculiarities among the royal families, the great swollen protruding lip of the Hapsburgs which can be traced with its varying degrees of intensification through no less than eighteen generations, coming out in at least forty-one of the various descendants.

Its first appearance, according to history, was in Cymburga, who was born in the last part of the fourteeenth century, and became the wife of Ernst, the second patriarch of the House of Hapsburg.[5] In its latest manifestation it appears at the present day with diminished strength and modified form in the young king of Spain. This is a remarkable instance of the force of heredity in perpetuating a physical trait, and has been thought to be an instance of prepotency, the male line being able to transmit a deeply rooted peculiarity, the features from the maternal side having no influence in counteracting it.

As an example of prepotency, the Hapsburg lip was cited by Darwin.[6] To quote his words:

It would appear that in certain families some one ancestor and after him others in the same family must have had great power in transmitting their likeness through the male line; for we cannot otherwise understand how the same features should so often be transmitted after marriage with various females as has been the case with the Austrian Emperors.

The same idea is expressed by Strahan, 'Marriage and Disease' p. 64. As a matter of fact this feature, the big lip, was maintained and transmitted in no more remarkable way than the neurosis was, and for the same reason, namely, intermarriages in their own family, and time and time again the selection of those who exhibited the feature rather than those who did not.

In almost every generation there were some who showed the peculiar lip and there were always some who did not inherit it in any degree at all, and this is also paralleled by the mental abnormality. Therefore since there was an increasing number in each successive generation who were free from the peculiarity, the average of all descendants in each generation would give a diminution of the quality in question, and we have no prepotency at all, but merely
PSM V61 D464 Charles vi and elisabeth louisa of the house of habsburg.png
Charles VI. Elizabeth Louisa.
PSM V61 D464 Elisabeth farnese and don carlos of the house of habsburg.png
Elizabeth Farnese. Don Carlos.

what we might expect were the features transmitted in the same way as the mental and moral qualities.

The following is a list in each generation of those who exhibited this peculiarity. A study of the charts of descent shows that these were the ones who were repeatedly chosen as the progenitors of the following generations. At the same time there were at least as many more whose lips were in no way peculiar, but these were almost never the ones selected to become direct ancestors of the ruling houses of Austria, Spain and France. They are graded in the following classes: slight, somewhat marked and very marked. The ones whose pictures are shown are marked with an asterisk.

First generation:
Cymburga—died in the early part of the Fifteenth century.
Third generation:
Maximilian I., Emperor, 1459-1519.
Fifth generation:
* Charles V., Emperor, 1500-1558, Considerable.
* Ferdinand I., Austria, 1503-1564. Considerable.
* Mary, Queen of Hungary, 1501-1558, Considerable.
Sixth generation:
Philip II., Spain, 1527-1598, Marked.
* Maximilian II., Austria, Marked.
* Maria, daughter of Ferdinand I., Slight.
* Maria, daughter of Charles V., Very marked.
Seventh generation:
* Philip III., Spain, 1578-1621, Somewhat.
Marguerite, wife of Philip III., Marked.
* Ferdinand II., Austria, Marked.
Marie de Medici, wife of Henri IV. of France
(Cosimo de Medici, her ancestor, also had a large lower lip.)
* Albert, son of Maximilian II., Considerable.
Eighth generation:
Philip IV., Spain, 1605-1665, Very marked.
* Ferdinand III., Austria, Slight.
* Louis XIII., France, Marked.
* Charles, son of Philip III., Somewhat.
Ninth generation:
* Leopold I., Austria, 1640-1705, Extremely marked.
* Charles II., Spain, Marked.
Anne of Austria, wife of Louis IV., Somewhat.
Charles II. of England, Marked.
Tenth generation:
Joseph I., Austria, Slight.
* Charles VI., Austria, Marked.
Eleventh generation:
Maria Theresa, Austria, 1717-1780, Slight.
Louis, Duke of Burgundy, father of Louis XV., Slight
Twelfth generation:
Louis XV., France, 1710-1774, Somewhat
Don Philip of Parma, son of Philip V. of Spain, Somewhat
* Charles III. of Spain, Marked
* Elizabeth Farnese, wife of Philip V. of Spain, Marked
Ferdinand VI. of Spain, 1713-1759, Somewhat
Joseph II., Austria, Slight
Leopold II., Austria, Slight
Thirteenth generation:
Maria Louisa, wife of Charles IV., Spain, Slight
* Elizabeth Louisa, daughter of Louis XV., and wife of Philip, Duke of Parma, Marked
Fourteenth generation:
Ferdinand VII., Spain, 1784-1833, Slight
Louis XVI., France, Slight
Charles X., France, Somewhat
* Don Carlos, first pretender, son of Charles IV. of Spain, Marked
Sixteenth generation:
Francis d'Assio, king of Spain, Slight
Eighteenth generation:
Alfonso XIII., present king of Spain, Somewhat

Thus we see a tangible physical trait, avowedly due to heredity, obeying the same principle as the mental and moral qualities, tending on the whole to become eliminated as time goes on, since the entire number in each successive generation was certainly increased, while the proportionate amount of its appearance is less and less, still skipping about, however, and occasionally reappearing with almost equal force in those who inherited it at all.

I have examined the portraits of some three hundred other members of the royal families and find the same principles evident—that one sees strong general facial resemblance usually only among the closely related—but that striking peculiarities may jump a generation or two, and then reappear in some of the descendants. Also one sees that general blends are not common, but that each child tends to 'favor' one or the other of its parents or more rarely a distant ancestor.

  1. 1.0 1.1 Lippincott.
  2. Wraxall, 'Berlin Mem.,' Vol. I., pp. 209, 294.
  3. See Wilkins, 'Love of an Uncrowned Queen.'
  4. See Brunswick.
  5. Coxe, 'Austria,' I., p. 297.
  6. Darwin, 'Animals and Plants' II., p. 65.