The story of our family...for my sons

Monday, January 7, 2013

Stewart's...outlasting the competition

The Stewarts were remarkable for the length of time that they held on to sovereign power - some 340 years, still nearly fifty years longer than the dynasty of Hanover-Windsor which came afterwards (due for its tercentenary in 2014), longer than the Bourbons in France (259 years), the Hohenzollerns in Prussia and Germany (217 years) or the Romanovs in Russia (304 years). Only one major dynasty in modern European history has exceeded their total: the Hapsburgs in Austria (645 years with gaps).

Yet compared to their longevity as a dynasty, the lives of the individuals were frequently violent and short. Of the fourteen Stewarts who wore a crown, eight failed to reach the age of fifty and only three (Robert II and Robert III of Scotland, James II of Great Britian) passed their sixtieth birthdays, bringing the average age at death to forty-seven. Six out of the fourteen died violent deaths: two were executed (Mary Queen of Scots and Charles I) and two were killed in battle (James II and James IV).

The premature deaths were inevitably followed by premature accessions; while their average age for inheriting the crown was twenty-three, six came to the throne before their tenth birthdays and by a miracle survived the machinations of those who sought to take advantage of their youth.

Of the uncrowned members of the main family at least another hundred were murdered and about the same number (plus one king - James II) were murderers themselves. At least double that number were executed and three times that many killed in battle.

We Stewarts are very good at dying the interesting death...

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