Sunday, December 16, 2012

Cousins Marriage

Hi guys
here's a list of websites that might help you understand how marriage between cousins evolved in history:

 famous people who married their cousins, including my favorite President of the United States and royalties: CLICK!

...not listed here is, of course, Queen Victoria... and you may notice that the list is very United States centered because this issue is an issue mainly in the U.s. - I think it's because of the Puritan origin of the Country or the fact that some communities were very closed and did not like outsiders and that brought to inbreeding - but not everywhere in the U.s.!!!

In fact here's a list of the States that allows marriage between cousins: CLICK

In case the issue was to be genetic...  yes, it would become after several generations of inbreeding CLICK here! 
And this one will also help you shed some light on why marrying a first cousin or a distant relative has very little difference genetically: CLICK
Which can be summarized as this: provided you don't do it over and over it is also genetically not risky.

Their kinship chart though, is American style, it calculates degree horizontally but for Europeans, who follow the Roman laws, based somehow on the Hammurabi code, you have to go up, then down the family tree again and include the common ancestor IN.

So it would be you
Your parent (first degree)
Your grandparents (second degree)
Your grandparents' children - uncle/auntie - (third degree)
Your cousin (fourth degree)

By right fourth degree is not illegal in many places. If you count American style your relationship to your parents is equal to the one to your uncle and aunties - which isn't quite right since, for example, I don't even share the same blood type as my nephew and niece.

(I think some of the problems with kinship concern the fact they calculate the common distance but not the ancestor).

From the religious point of view... it was seen as a very positive thing in the Bible : CLICK!
There is an interesting page in Wikipedia dedicated to what is considered incest in the Bible which does not include cousins but limits itself to certain blood relations (probably because they do marry each other as it was normal back then).


 That's why, even though it might freak you out (and I must apologize to the American readers because they might be the ones to freak out most), in this story cousins marry.

For the sake of the story it has to go this way:
It's historically accurate
It was religiously okay
It was legal (still is in many places)
Kinship is calculated according to the Roman law - they are not Americans so I cannot apply the straight line calculation skipping the ancestor.
It was seen as a positive thing as property stayed within the family

 Genetically becomes dangerous only after excessive inbreeding which will definitely not happen as family members lost touch with each other and spread around the world once the common ancestor died.


Cynthia said...

Where I'm from in the US, the general opinion of marrying cousins has to do with inbreeding, not Puritanistic influences. After people migrated west (1800s)they were often isolated in small communities for generations. Particularly if they were too far from the railroad line. I've lived in a couple of small towns where 60-75% of the population had at least one common ancestor, usually lots. Things like bright blue eyes, wall-eye, pigeon-toe, and almost albino white skin were very common traits. All the shared family lines seem to reinforce all sorts of good and bad qualities, and it's the bad that get publicized. Like, Britain's royal family's hemophilia, for example.

Cynthia said...

In the US I think the big issue is the inbreeding, not the Puritans. Early pilgrims and later pioneers all had problems with isolation within small communities. I've lived in a couple small towns that are so inbred that half of Prom dates are from 50, or more, miles away so they wouldn't have to take a cousin. =)

dedasaur said...

Yes, I suspected it was one or the other. Isolation is dangerous.

and yes, it's true, I wonder how the haemophilia myth came to be.

Most people think that haemophilia in European royal families is the result of inbreeding but it's the other way around: it spread because of inbreeding.
It was a genetic disease that started with queen Victoria transmitted to some of her kids (females) and because they married in other royal families they transmitted the illness to their children. Although it affects males it's transmitted by females.

Some of Victoria's children were perfectly healthy and had no problems whatsoever though even though their parents were both Sax-Couburg.

For some reason the "Royal illness" has been attributed to inbreeding and has been extended to royalties centuries away from Victoria and that were not related to her in any possible way and even if we connect her with George III, well he had Porphyria not haemophilia, right?

But constant inbreeding can create mental problems and deficiencies especially if the couples are double related (like double cousins) or they keep inbreeding like the Habsburg family.