Friday, 26 April 2013

Inbred European Royal Family Members Illustrate Mosaic Law

Portrait of Charles II of Spain by Juan Carreno de Miranda. Image courtesy of Wikipedia.

Joel Kontinen

In past centuries, members of the European royal families often wed close relatives. “Inbred marriages, such as those between first cousins or between uncles and nieces, were the rule rather than exception,” writes Ewen Callaway in a recent Nature news article.

They often suffered from harmful mutations, or, as Callaway puts it, “inbreeding was probably to blame for the high rates of disease and early deaths in the family.”

European royalty illustrate why marriages between close relatives were forbidden in the Mosaic Law. With the passing of time similar harmful mutations increased in the same families.

While the Nature news article attempts to explain that the Spanish royals were evolving, the recent study in the journal Heredity that Callaway refers to, merely suggests that natural selection could have weeded out some of the worst consequences of inbreeding.

There is no need to appeal to evolution. Humans have built-in repair mechanisms that to some extent might counter the effects of living in a fallen world.

Charles II of Spain and other monarchs indicate that these was a good reason for forbidding marriages between near relatives.


Callaway, Ewen. 2013. Inbred royals show traces of natural selection. Nature News (19 April 2013).