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An avunculate marriage is a marriage with a parent’s sibling or with one’s sibling’s child — i.e., between an uncle or aunt and their niece or nephew. Such a marriage may occur between biological (consanguine) relatives or between persons related by marriage (affinity). In some countries, avunculate marriages are prohibited by law, while in others marriages between such biological relatives are both legal and common, though now far less common.
If the partners in an avunculate marriage are biologically related, they normally have the same genetic relationship as half-siblings, or a grandparent and grandchild – that is they share approximately 25% of their genetic material. (They are therefore more closely related than partners in a marriage between first cousins, in which on average the members share 12.5% of inherited genetic material, but less than that of a marriage between, for instance, cousin-siblings, in which the partners share 37.5% of their inherited genetic material.)
Avunculate marriage is permitted in Norway, Argentina, Australia, Canada, Finland, Malaysia, The Netherlands, and Russia. It is not permitted in New Zealand, England
Avunculate marriage was the preferred type of union in some pre-modern societies. Marriages between such close relatives were frequent in Ancient Egypt, at least among members of ruling dynasties.
In societies adhering to Jewish or Christian faiths, such marriages were sometimes allowed. The Talmud and Maimonides encourage marriages between uncles and nieces, though some early Jewish religious communities, such as the Sadducees, believed that such unions were prohibited by the Torah. Among medieval and especially early-modern Christians, a marriage between a woman and the sibling of a parent was not always interpreted as violating Leviticus 18; this was especially so among the royal houses of Europe, and in Catholic countries a papal dispensation could be obtained to allow such a marriage.
Avunculate marriages were prominent in the House of Habsburg. For example, Charles II of Spain was the son of an uncle and niece, Philip IV and Mariana of Austria; in turn, both of Philip's parents (and therefore both of Mariana's maternal grandparents) were the children of uncle-niece marriages, one of which also produced Mariana's paternal grandfather. As a result, instead of Charles' parents, grandparents, great-grandparents, and great-great-grandparents adding up to 30 different individuals, they numbered only 23.
List of historical or mythical avunculate marriages
- Perictione and her uncle Pyrilampes
- Nahor, son of Terah and his niece, Milcah
- Jochebed and her nephew, Amram
- Leonidas, King of Sparta and his half-niece, Gorgo
- Alexander I of Epirus and his niece Cleopatra of Macedon
- Herod Antipas, Tetrarch of Galilee and Perea and his niece Herodias, Daughter of Aristobulus IV and Berenice (36-37 CE)
- Mithridates III of Pontus and his grand-niece, Laodice
- Ptolemy VIII Physcon and his niece Cleopatra III of Egypt
- Mithridates V of Pontus and his maternal half-aunt, Laodice VI (152 BC)
- Ptolemy X Alexander I and his niece, Berenice III of Egypt
- Ptolemy XII Auletes and his half-niece, Cleopatra V of Egypt
- Emperor Hui of Han and his niece Empress Zhang Yan
- Sun Xiu and his niece Empress Zhu
- Roman Emperor Claudius and his fourth wife and niece, Agrippina the Younger
- Byzantine Emperor Heraclius and his second wife and niece, Martina
- Yamato Takeru and his aunt Futaji Irihime
- Emperor Jomei and his niece Empress Kōgyoku, his aunt Princess Tame
- Emperor Kōtoku and his niece Princess Hashihito
- Emperor Tenmu and his niece Empress Jitō, Princess Ōta, Princess Ōe, Princess Niitabe
- Prince Kusakabe and his aunt Empress Genmei
- Emperor Shōmu and his aunt Empress Kōmyō
- Musa ibn Musa, Wali of Zaragoza and Governor of Upper March and his half-niece Assona Íñiguez
- Emperor Junna and his niece Princess Seishi
- Emperor Suzaku and his niece Princess Hiroko
- Emperor En'yū and his niece Princess Sonshi
- Emperor Go-Ichijō and his aunt Fujiwara no Ishi
- Emperor Go-Suzaku and his aunt Fujiwara no Yoshiko
- Emperor Horikawa and his half aunt Princess Tokushi
- Emperor Nijō and his half aunt Princess Yoshiko
- Emperor Go-Fukakusa and his aunt Fujiwara no Kimiko
- Vietnamese Prince Tran Hung Dao and his consort and paternal aunt, Princess Thien Thanh
- Alfonso X of Castile had a concubinage with his paternal half-aunt Maria Alfonso de Leon
- John, Constable of Portugal and his half-niece, Isabel of Barcelos (1424)
- Afonso V of Portugal and his niece, Joanna of Castile (second wife) (1475)
- Jacques of Savoy, Count of Romont and his niece, Marie of Luxembourg, Countess of Vendôme (1484)
- Joanna of Naples and her half-nephew, King Ferdinand II of Naples (1496)
- Ferdinand II of Aragon and his half-grandniece, Germaine of Foix (second wife) (1505)
- Philip II of Spain and his niece, Anna of Austria (fourth wife) (1570)
- Charles II, Archduke of Austria and his niece, Maria Anna of Bavaria (1571)
- Ferdinand II, Archduke of Austria, and his niece, Anne Juliana Gonzaga (second wife) (1582)
- Chiefess Kapohauola and her nephew, Chief Kakaʻe
- Maximilian I, Elector of Bavaria and his niece, Archduchess Maria Anna of Austria (1635)
- Prince Maurice of Savoy and his niece, Princess Luisa Cristina of Savoy (1642)
- Karl Eusebius, Prince of Liechtenstein and his niece, Johanna Beatrix of Dietrichstein (1644)
- Philip IV of Spain and his niece, Mariana of Austria (second wife) (1646)
- Leopold I, Holy Roman Emperor and his niece, Margaret Theresa of Austria (1666).
- Voltaire (François-Marie Arouet), lived in concubinage with his niece, Marie Louise Mignot Denis.
- Prince Augustus Ferdinand of Prussia and his niece Margravine Elisabeth Louise of Brandenburg-Schwedt (1755)
- Pedro III of Portugal and his niece Maria I of Portugal (1760)
- Prince Benedetto, Duke of Chablais and his half-niece Princess Maria Ana of Savoy (1775)
- Infanta Benedita and her nephew, José, Prince of Brazil (1777)
- Prince Eugene of Saxe-Hildburghausen and his niece, Caroline of Saxe-Hildburghausen (1778)
- King Kamehameha the Great of Hawaiʻi and his niece, Queen Keōpūolani (c. 1796)
- Infante Antonio Pascual of Spain and his niece, Infanta Maria Amalie of Spain (1796)
- Sir John Acton, 6th Baronet, Prime Minister of Naples and his niece Marianna Acton (1799)
- Francis IV, Duke of Modena, and his niece, Maria Beatrice of Savoy (titular queen of England and Scotland according to the Jacobite succession) (1812)
- Leopold, Prince of Salerno and his niece, Archduchess Clementina of Austria (1816)
- Infante Carlos, Count of Molina, and his niece, Infanta Maria Francisca of Portugal (1816), and later his niece, Maria Teresa of Portugal (1838)
- Kamehameha II and his half-niece Kalani Pauahi
- Ferdinand VII of Spain and his niece Maria Isabel of Portugal (1816), and later his niece Maria Christina of the Two Sicilies (1829)
- Gustav, Landgrave of Hesse-Homburg and his niece, Princess Louise of Anhalt-Dessau (1818)
- Leopold, Grand Duke of Baden and his half-grand niece Princess Sophie of Sweden (1819)
- Infante Francisco de Paula of Spain and his niece Princess Luisa Carlotta of Naples and Sicily (1819)
- Ernest I, Duke of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha and his niece Duchess Marie of Württemberg (second wife) (1832)
- James Mayer de Rothschild, founder of the French branch of the Rothschild banking family, and his niece Betty Salomon von Rothschild (c. 1825).
- Prince Francis, Count of Trapani and his niece Archduchess Maria Isabella of Austria (1850)
- Mongkut and his half-grandniece Somanass Waddhanawathy (1851), and his half-grandniece Debsirindra (1851), and later his half-grandniece Phannarai (1851).
- Svasti Sobhana and his half-niece Abha Barni
- Richard von Metternich (son of the famous Austrian Chancellor) and his niece, Pauline von Metternich (1856).
- Duke Nicholas of Württemberg and his half-niece Duchess Wilhelmine of Württemberg (1868)
- Prince William of Hesse-Philippsthal-Barchfeld and his half-niece Princess Juliane of Bentheim and Steinfurt (1873), and later his half-niece Princess Adelaide of Bentheim and Steinfurt (1879).
- Amadeo I of Spain and his niece, Maria Letizia Bonaparte (second wife) (1888)
- Henryk Sienkiewicz, Polish novelist, and his niece, Maria Babska. (1904)
- Alois Hitler and his niece Klara Hitler, parents of Adolf Hitler. After they were married, Klara still called her husband "uncle".(1885) Hitler himself declared that his own half-niece Geli Raubal was the only woman he ever loved.
- Norodom Sihanouk and his half-aunt Sisowath Pongsanmoni (1945), and later his half-aunt Sisowath Monikessan.
- "Marriage Act 1961, s 23B".
- Pikkanen, Antti (24 July 2014). "Lapsena alttarille – Jenna Karjalainen meni naimisiin alaikäisenä". Nyt.fi. Helsingin Sanomat. Retrieved 26 July 2015.
[Oikeusm]inisteriö käsittelee myös muita avioliittoon liittyviä poikkeuslupia. Lupaa voi anoa, jos esimerkiksi haluaa mennä naimisiin sisarensa lapsen kanssa. Mutta sellaisia hakemuksia tulee hyvin harvoin, 2000-luvulla pari kolme.
- Law Reform (Marriage and Divorce) Act 1976 Archived March 7, 2012, at the Wayback Machine (for Hindus only)
- The Family Code of the Russian Federation, Article 14 (in Russian)
- "Schedule 2: Forbidden marriages -- Marriage Act 1955 (as of 25 February 2012) -- New Zealand Legislation". Parliamentary Counsel Office. 25 February 2012. Retrieved 28 October 2012.
A man/woman may not marry his/her–... (4) father's sister/brother; (5) mother's sister/brother; ... (19) brother's daughter/son; (20) sister's daughter/son
- Avunculate Marriage in the Bible
- Half-uncle/half-niece marriages are valid under N.Y. law - The Washington Post Eugene Volokh, 2014-10-30
- Rosa Prince (29 October 2014). "Marriage between uncle and niece is ruled legal by New York Court". www.telegraph.co.uk. Retrieved 22 March 2020.
- Sparta Revisited - Spartan Leodnidas I and Gorgo
- Durant, Will; Ariel Durant (1965). The Age of Voltaire: a History of Civilization in Western Europe from 1715 to 1756, with Special Emphasis on the Conflict between Religion and Philosophy. The Story of Civilization: Part IX. New York: Simon and Schuster. pp. 391–93.
- See the Polish Wikipedia article on "Henryk Sienkiewicz."[circular reference]
- The Hitler Family Tree
- Family tree of Adolf Hitler
- * Shirer, William L. (1960). The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich. New York: Simon & Schuster. ISBN 978-0-671-62420-0.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)