According to the Cambridge English Dictionary, a dynasty is defined as “a series of rulers or leaders who all belong to the same family, or a period in which a country is ruled by them”. The word “dynasty” was originally derived from the Greek dynastéia, meaning “power” and “rule” itself. A dynastic family may be known as a “royal, princely or comital house”, depending on the titles inherited from family members. Although most of the world’s dynasties are of a patrilineal nature, some, such as the Modjadji (or Rain Queen) tribal dynasty of the Balobedus in South Africa, are of a matrilineal nature.
The longest surviving dynasty in the world
The imperial house of Japan (or the Yamato dynasty) is the longest surviving dynasty in the world. The dynasty began formally in February 11th, 660 BC with the reign of the legendary emperor Jimmu, who was believed to have descended from the sun goddess Amaterasu and the storm god Takehaya Susanoo-no-Mikoto. Since then, the 125 monarchs have occupied the throne of the kingdom in a continuous succession. This line includes the current reigning emperor of Japan, Akihito, who joined the throne on January 7, 1989. Naruhito, the eldest son of Emperor Akihito, born on February 23, 1960, is the next heir to the Japanese chrysanthemum throne . After Japan’s defeat in World War II, however, the title became ceremonial rather than authoritative.
The most powerful dynasties in the world
The Roman Empire was not only the largest dynasty in the world in terms of 2,214 domination or vastness of the kingdom under this rule, but also because the Empire contributed to shaping and nourishing the sophisticated and classical Roman urban culture that continues to influence and inspire global cultures of modern times. The adoption of Christianity by the Roman dynasty allowed the growth of this religion in a great world religion, and even the Romans spread Greek philosophy and knowledge to the rest of the world.
Today, many of today’s modern legal and governmental systems have been inspired by the Roman Dynasty. Besides the Romans, the Persian empire, the caliphs of the Arab empires and the Mongol empire are among the other powerful dynasties of ancient history. The British dynasty was perhaps the most powerful dynasty of recent times. The domination of this dynasty was at its peak in the early 20th century, when its occupied territory spread over almost a quarter of the world’s surface. The British rule was different from the empires of the past because, instead of taking measures like resorting to a huge army to claim lands, the British Empire used its organizational skills and financial abilities as weapons to overthrow monarchies in the kingdoms of the world, and subsequently occupy their lands in remote destinations.
The decline of the monarchic dynasties
The growth of parliamentary authority and communism in the 19th Century ended most of the world’s monarchies. Currently, only 43 or 44 countries in the world have a monarch as their ceremonial or absolute head of state. Among these, only the 7 countries, the Vatican City, Brunei, Swaziland, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Oman, Qatar and the various Emirates that comprise the United Arab Emirates, still have an absolute monarchical rule.
Modern dynasties: political, influential and rich families
Currently, although most elected governments of the modern world do not recognize inheritance as the path to succession to presidential or ministerial positions, influence, genetics, eminence and nepotism often accelerate the succession of political power between members of one powerful family. The Nehru-Gandhi dynasty of India, the Bhutto family of Pakistan, the Kennedy family of the United States and the Burmese family (Myanmar) of Aung San Suu Kyi are all examples of political dynasties in the modern political world.
In addition to politics, a number of other powerful families have shaped and influenced politics, cultures, the traditions and ways of life of the people of their respective countries (or even of the whole world) with their knowledge or their abundance of wealth. These important families are then assigned the status of individual dynasties. Examples of such powerful families include the Guinness family of Ireland, the Tata family of India, the United States family of Forbes and many other notable ones.