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A dynasty is a line of rulers from the same family, usually in the context of a feudal or monarchical system but sometimes also appearing in elective republics. The dynastic family or lineage is known as a house; this may be styled "royal", "princely", "comital", etc. depending upon the chief or present title borne by its members. The names of the dynasty and the house are not always identical: the Han dynasty of Chinese history, for example, was ruled by the Liu family. Historians consider many sovereign states' histories—particularly Ancient Egypt and Imperial China—within a framework of successive dynasties. As such, the term "dynasty" may be used to delimit the era during which the family reigned and to describe the events, trends, and artifacts of that period ("a Ming-dynasty vase"). The word "dynasty" itself is often dropped from such adjectival references ("a Ming vase").
Until the 19th and 20th century, it was taken for granted that a legitimate function of a monarch was to aggrandize his dynasty: that is, to increase the territory, wealth, and power of his family members. The longest-surviving dynasty in the world is the Imperial House of Japan, the Yamato dynasty, which is traditionally dated to 660 BC and has lasted until the present day.
Dynasties throughout the world have traditionally been reckoned patrilineally, most famously under the Frankish Salic law, with succession through a daughter (when permitted) considered to establish a new dynasty in her husband's house. However, some states in North American and Africa, such as Christian Nubia, determined descent matrilineally, while male rulers have at other times adopted the name of their wife or mother's dynasty when coming into their inheritance: examples include the Dutch House of Orange, the Georgian Bagrationi, and Habsburg-Lorraine.
The word "dynasty" is sometimes used informally for people who are not rulers but, for example, members of a family with influence and power in other areas, such as a series of successive owners of a major company. It is also extended to unrelated people such as major poets of the same school or various rosters of a single sports team. A long-running television series about such a family was produced with the name Dynasty.
The word "dynasty" derives via Latin dynastia from Greek dynasteía (δυναστεία), where it referred to "power", "dominion", and "rule" itself. It was the abstract noun of dynástēs (δυνάστης), the agent noun of dynamis (δύναμις), "power" or "ability", from dýnamai (δύναμαι), "to be able".
A ruler in a dynasty is sometimes referred to as a "dynast", but this term is also used to describe any member of a reigning family who retains a right to succeed to a throne. For example, following his abdication, Edward VIII of the United Kingdom ceased to be a dynastic member of the House of Windsor.
A "dynastic marriage" is one that complies with monarchical house law restrictions, so that the descendants are eligible to inherit the throne or other royal privileges. The marriage of Willem-Alexander, Prince of Orange, to Máxima Zorreguieta in 2002 was dynastic, for example, and their eldest child is expected to inherit the Dutch crown eventually. But the marriage of his younger brother Prince Friso to Mabel Wisse Smit in 2003 lacked government support and parliamentary approval. Thus Friso forfeited his place in the order of succession, lost his title as a Prince of the Netherlands, and left his children without dynastic rights.
In historical and monarchist references to formerly reigning families, a "dynast" is a family member who would have had succession rights, were the monarchy's rules still in force. For example, after the 1914 assassinations of Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria and his morganatic wife Sophie von Hohenberg, their son Max was bypassed for the Austrian throne because he was not a Habsburg dynast. Even since abolition of the Austrian monarchy, Max and his descendants have not been considered the rightful pretenders by Austrian monarchists, nor have they claimed that position.
The term "dynast" is sometimes used only to refer to agnatic descendants of a realm's monarchs, and sometimes to include those who hold succession rights through cognatic royal descent. The term can therefore describe overlapping but distinct sets of people. For example, David Armstrong-Jones, Viscount Linley, a nephew of Queen Elizabeth II through her sister, Princess Margaret, is in the line of succession to the British crown: in that sense is a British dynast. Yet he is not a male-line member of the royal family, and is therefore not a dynast of the House of Windsor.
On the other hand, the German aristocrat Ernst August, Prince of Hanover (born 1954), a male-line descendant of George III of the United Kingdom, possesses no legal British name, titles or styles (although he is entitled to re-claim the once-royal dukedom of Cumberland), was born in the line of succession to the British crown and is bound by Britain's Royal Marriages Act 1772. Thus, in 1999 he requested and obtained formal permission from Elizabeth II to marry the Roman Catholic Princess Caroline of Monaco. But immediately upon marriage he forfeited his right to the British throne because the English Act of Settlement 1701 dictates that dynasts who marry Roman Catholics are considered "dead" for the purpose of succession.
This is a list of rulers of the Huns. Period Ruler
The crown of the Kingdom of England and Ireland merged with that of the Kingdom of Scotland to form a personal union between England-Ireland and Scotland (the former a personal union itself)
Though in elected governments rule does not pass automatically by inheritance, political power often accrues to generations of related individuals in republics. Eminence, influence, tradition, genetics, and nepotism may contribute to this phenomenon.
Family dictatorships are a different concept, in which political power passes within a family due to the overwhelming authority of the leader, rather than informal power accrued to the family.
Some political dynasties: