While today only a handful of European nations are monarchies, in years gone by monarchy was the dominant form of government. Can you put this list of European royal houses into the right category of "current" or "defunct"?
A classification quiz
Estimated time: 3 mins.
Last 3 plays: SueLane (8/12), Guest 47 (10/12), polly656 (8/12).
KarađorđevićHohenzollernSaxe-Coburg and GothaOrange-NassauBourbon-AnjouBernadotteHabsburg-LorraineSavoyBraganzaGlücksburgRomanovWindsor
* Drag / drop or click on the choices above to move them to the correct categories.
Quiz Answer Key and Fun Facts
The House of Habsburg-Lorraine originated in 1736 when Empress Maria Theresa, the daughter of the Holy Roman Emperor Charles VI, married Francis III, Duke of Lorraine. Their eldest son, Joseph II, was the first Habsurg-Lorraine to rule over the Empire when he succeeded in 1765, with his son, Francis II, then becoming the last Holy Roman Emperor when he was forced from the Imperial throne by Napoleon, at which time he declared himself as Emperor of Austria. The Austrian Emperor also had a multitude of other titles related to the remaining empire that the Habsburg-Lorraines oversaw, which primarily coalesced around the Kingdom of Hungary.
In 1848, Franz Joseph I succeeded to the throne - it was he that granted Hungary its effective autonomy within the empire, which brought about the so-called "Dual Monarchy" of Austria-Hungary. Franz Joseph remained on the throne until his death in 1916, by which time Austria-Hungary was embroiled in the First World War. He was succeeded by his great-nephew, Charles I, who was the last Austrian Emperor, and was forced from the throne following Austria-Hungary's defeat, with both Austria and Hungary being declared republics.
In addition to sitting on the thrones of Austria and Hungary, the House of Habsburg-Lorraine also briefly occupied the throne of Mexico, when Maximillian, the younger brother of Emperor Franz Joseph I, was named as the Emperor of the newly restored, French-backed monarchy of Mexico in April 1864, and reigned until he was captured and executed three years later at the end of the war to restore Mexico's republican government.
The House of Braganza was established in 1443 when Afonso, the illegitimate son of King Joao I of Portugal, was made the 1st Duke of Braganza in the name of his nephew, the young King Afonso V. The Braganzas remained one of Portugal's leading noble families until 1640, when a revolution ended the dual monarchy of Spain and Portugal, and restored Portugal as a fully independent state. This saw Joao II, the 8th Duke of Braganza, proclaimed as King John IV of Portugal. The establishment of the Braganzas as the Royal House of Portugal led to their traditional title of Duke of Braganza being adopted by the Heir to the Throne.
In 1807, under threat from the French under the Emperor Napoleon I, the Portuguese Royal Family left Portugal to flee to Brazil, at the time the largest and most prosperous part of Portugal's overseas empire. The presence of the Royal Family and government led to Brazil being granted significant autonomy, with it being raised to the status of a kingdom in its own right. Upon the end of the war against France and the return to Portugal, Pedro, the eldest son of Joao VI, remained as regent. In 1822, Brazil declared its independence from Portugal, with Pedro named as the country's first Emperor as Pedro I.
The Brazilian monarchy ended in 1889 when Emperor Pedro II was deposed in a bloodless coup by a small group of military officers who sought the establishment of a dictatorial republic. The Portuguese monarchy ended in 1910 with the 5 October Revolution, which saw the proclamation of the First Portuguese Republic and the deposition of King Manuel II.
The Romanov dynasty's entry into the imperial family of Russia initially started when Tsar Ivan IV (aka Ivan the Terrible) married Anastasia Romanovna, the daughter of one of the court's senior officials. However, it was only after the death of their son, Tsar Feodor I, which led to the succession crisis known as the "Time of Troubles", and the subsequent election of Anastasia's great-nephew, Mikhail, as the new Tsar, that the House of Romanov became the ruling family of Russia. Mikhail's grandson, who came to the throne as Peter I in 1682, proclaimed himself as the Emperor of all the Russias following the conclusion of the Great Northern War in 1721, with the title of Tsar continuing to be used.
The male line of the Romanov family ended in 1762 with the death of Empress Elizabeth, the last surviving child of Peter I. She was succeeded by her nephew Peter III, the son of her sister Anna and her husband, the Duke of Holstein-Gottorp, with all subsequent Tsars being Romanov descendants through this line. The Russian monarchy survived until 1917, when Tsar Nicholas II was forced to abdicate following the October Revolution.
Although the Hohenzollerns trace their history as far back as the 11th century, it was only in 1701 that, although having been a noble family of increasing status, they became a royal house. In 1701, the Duke of Prussia, who by that time also carried the title Elector of Brandenburg, received an additional title as "King in Prussia", with Duke Frederick III becoming King Frederick I. Seventy years later, Prussia was elevated to the status of a kingdom, with its ruler becoming the King of Prussia, the first being Frederick II.
During the latter half of the 19th century, Prussia became the dominant power in the so-called "Lesser Germany" (that is Germany outwith Austria), which, in 1866, saw the establishment of the North German Confederation, headed by William I, the King of Prussia. Five years later, a new German Empire was founded from the Confederation, with William I proclaimed as the German Emperor (Kaiser). The empire existed until 1918 and Germany's defeat in the First World War, with William II the last person to occupy the position.
The House of Savoy was originally established in the 11th century in the Savoy region. Over several centuries, the family gained more territories, eventually being granted the title of King of Sicily in 1713, with Victor Amadeus II the first to use the title. Sicily was exchanged seven years later for Sardinia following the War of the Quadruple Alliance. During the 19th century, Savoy and its Sardinian kingdom was looked upon by those seeking Italian unification as potential leaders towards the establishment of a single state on the entire Italian peninsula. It was in 1861 that unification was achieved, and saw the Kingdom of Sardinia, under Victor Emmanuel II, become the Kingdom of Italy.
Although Italy was one of the victorious powers after the First World War, it suffered from economic decline during the early 1920s, which led to the rise of the fascist leader Benito Mussolini, who was appointed Prime Minister by Victor Emmanuel III in 1922. The increasing restrictions on democracy in the country, and the King's failure to use his own powers to put a check on Mussolini, led to criticisms against the monarchy. By the end of the Second World War, public opinion was running against the monarchy, and a 1946 referendum decided to establish a republic. Umberto II was the final King of Italy, reigning for just 34 days before the monarchy was abolished.
The Karađorđević dynasty traces its descent to Đorđe Petrović, who was known as Karađorđe, the leader of the Serbian revolution against the rule of the Ottoman Empire. Karađorđe served as the first leader of an independent Serbia following the initial overthrow of the Ottomans, leading the nation for nine years until 1813, when the First Serbian Uprising was crushed and Karađorđe was deposed and exiled to the Austrian Empire. As a result, when an independent Serbia was re-established, it was under a different ruling dynasty, the Obrenovićs, between 1815 and 1882. However, Serbian government at the time was somewhat fraught and, for sixteen years from 1842, it was Karađorđe's son, Aleksandr, who ruled as Prince of Serbia until he abdicated in 1858.
The Obrenović dynasty lasted through the transition of Serbia into a kingdom, until, in 1903, King Alexander I was assassinated without a legitimate heir. The National Assembly therefore turned to the grandson of Karađorđe, Peter I, to become the new King of Serbia. In 1918, Serbia was united with the State of Slovenes, Croats and Serbs to form what became known as Yugoslavia, with the Serbian monarch becoming head of state of the new nation. The Karađorđević dynasty remained in power until Peter II, the grandson of Peter I, was deposed in November 1945.
The House of Windsor is the name of the current royal house of the United Kingdom, although the name itself dates only from 1917. At that time, the then reigning monarch, George V, belonged to a branch of the House of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, as his paternal grandfather was Prince Albert, the second son of Ernest I, Duke of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha. However, significant anti-German feeling in the United Kingdom as a result of the First World War led the King to take the decision to change his family name, with Windsor chosen because of its long association with the British monarchy.
In February 1952, the fourth monarch of the House of Windsor, Elizabeth II, came to the throne. Had history been followed, this would have made her the last monarch of the House of Windsor, just as her great-great grandmother, Queen Victoria, had been the last of the House of Hanover, with her children taking the name of her husband, Saxe-Coburg and Gotha. However, in a royal proclamation of April 1952, Queen Elizabeth stated that the name of the family and royal house would continue to be Windsor, rather than her successors using her husband's name, Mountbatten. In October 2022, Queen Elizabeth II was succeeded by her eldest son, Charles III.
8. Saxe-Coburg and Gotha
The House of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha traces its lineage back to the first Duke of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, Ernest I, who had previously ruled as Duke of Saxe-Coburg-Saalfeld until 1825, when various ducal territories were reorganised. Five years after Ernest I became Duke of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, his younger brother, Leopold, was offered the throne of the newly established nation of Belgium, which he accepted, becoming the first King of the Belgians. However, following the First World War, the name of the royal house was unofficially removed from the Belgian royal family, with instead their being simply referred to as "of Belgium", an action that continued until 2017, when the original family name returned to use.
In addition to Belgium, the House of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha was also the royal house of the United Kingdom (until it changed its name to Windsor in 1917), while another brother of Ernest I, Ferdinand, founded a new cadet branch whose descendants became the monarchs of Bulgaria in 1887, with the last of these being Tsar Simeon II, whose reign ended with the abolition of the Bulgarian monarchy in 1946, and also married into the House of Braganza, thus also becoming monarchs of Portugal until the overthrow of the Portuguese monarchy in 1910.
The House of Glücksburg (officially the House of Schleswig-Holstein-Sonderburg-Glücksburg) is a branch of the much wider House of Oldenburg, a medieval German dynasty whose members ruled over a number of different German and Scandinavian states. The modern House of Glücksburg came about in the early 19th century, when Glücksburg Castle was restored to the Danish crown, and was subsequently given by King Frederik VI to his cousin, Friedrich Wilhelm, the Duke of Schleswig-Holstein. In 1852, one of the Duke's sons, Prince Christian, was recognised as the heir of the childless King Frederik VII, and succeeded as King Christian IX in 1863, bringing the House of Glücksburg to the throne of Denmark. In 1972, the fifth monarch of the House of Glücksburg came to the throne, when Queen Margarethe II succeeded her father, Frederik IX, although there has been no official indication as to whether her eventual successor will change the name of the royal house to that of his father.
The House of Glücksburg is also the royal house of Norway. In 1905, Prince Carl of Denmark, the grandson of Christian IX, was named as the new king of Norway, which had secured its full independence from neighbouring Sweden. Upon taking the throne, Prince Carl changed both his own and his son's names; he became King Haakon VII, while his son, Alexander, succeeded him in 1957 as King Olav V. The third Norwegian monarch, Harald V, came to the throne in 1991.
The Glücksburgs were the royal house of a third country, Greece, from 1863. In that year, Prince William of Denmark, the second son of Christian IX, was elected King of the Hellenes, with his family subsequently reigning in Greece until 1973, when a referendum elected to abolish the monarchy and become a republic, with Constantine II the last Greek monarch.
The House of Orange-Nassau is the royal house of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, and traces its lineage back to 1515, when Henry III of Nassau-Breda, one of the Stadtholders of the Dutch Republics, married Claudia of Chalon, the Princess of Orange in Burgundy. Although they had a son, Rene, who inherited the Principality of Orange, it was on Rene's death that the French and Dutch territories were united under the name Orange-Nassau when he was succeeded by his cousin, who became William I. Over time, the House of Orange-Nassau assumed a paramount role in the affairs of the Dutch Republics, becoming the hereditary stadtholder. In 1813, the Dutch Republics, having managed to remove the invading French from their lands, elected to unite as a single nation, and formed the United Kingdom of the Netherlands, with Willem Frederik, the son of the last Stadtholder, invited to become the new nation's King.
Since its foundation as a royal house, the House of Orange-Nassau has produced seven Dutch monarchs. Uniquely in European royal houses, the entire 20th century saw only queens on the Dutch throne, with Queen Wilhelmina succeeding her father, William III, in 1890, and going on to be succeeded by her daughter, Juliana, in 1948, who herself was succeeded by her daughter Beatrix in 1980. In 2013, Queen Beatrix's eldest son, Willem-Alexander, became the first Dutch king in 123 years when he came to the throne.
The House of Bourbon-Anjou is a cadet branch of the House of Bourbon, and sits as the royal house of the Kingdom of Spain. Its history stems from the birth, in 1683 of Philippe, the grandson of King Louis XIV of France, who was created Duke of Anjou. In 1700, Philippe's maternal great-uncle, King Charles II of Spain, died, leaving his throne to Philippe, who became King Philip V. The prospect of the same family occupying two of the major thrones of Europe led to the so-called "War of the Spanish Succession", and saw Philip renounce his right of succession to the French throne.
Since Philip V was secured in his position, his line has seen a total of ten monarchs sit on the Spanish throne, with the only interruption coming in the period from 1931, when the Second Spanish Republic was declared, and 1975, when the Spanish dictator Francisco Franco died and was succeeded as head of state by King Juan Carlos I, the grandson of the previous monarch, Alfonso XIII. In 2014, Juan Carlos I was succeeded by his son, who became King Felipe VI.
The House of Bernadotte is the royal house of Sweden. In terms of longevity, it is one of the younger dynasties in Europe, with a history going back as far as 1818. In 1809, King Gustav IV Adolf was deposed following the Swedish loss of Finland, and replaced by his uncle, Charles XIII. However, the new king was aged 61, childless and prematurely senile, with the result that the then royal line would die with him. the Swedish parliament initially chose a Danish prince as heir presumptive in 1810, but he died the same year, which led to their having to look elsewhere. At the time, Emperor Napoleon I of France had placed a number of his relatives on various European thrones, and so Sweden sought someone of whom he would approve, eventually settling on Jean Bernadotte, a Marshal of France under Napoleon I, who eventually succeeded to the Swedish throne as Charles XIV John in 1818.
The House of Bernadotte also reigned as the royal house of Norway during the period of personal union between the two, with both sharing a single monarch. This lasted from the accession of Charles XIV John in 1818 until 1905 and the full independence of Norway, which led to the then king, Oscar II, being replaced by Prince Carl of Denmark, who took the name Haakon VII. A total of seven monarchs of the House of Bernadotte have reigned in Sweden since its foundation, with the most recent being Carl XVI Gustaf, who succeeded his grandfather, Gustaf VI Adolf, in 1973.