why have so many world leaders married their cousins?

Throughout history, marriages between cousins or other close relatives have been common among world leaders and royalty for several reasons:

  1. Consolidation of Power: Marrying within the family, especially among royalty and elite families, helped consolidate power and wealth. It ensured that property, titles, and influence remained within the family, strengthening political alliances and inheritance claims. This practice was prevalent in European monarchies and ruling dynasties worldwide.
  2. Political Alliances: Cousin marriage was often a strategic move to forge or strengthen ties between nations or factions. Royal families would arrange marriages between their children to create or solidify alliances, reduce conflict, and increase the family’s geopolitical reach.
  3. Preservation of Bloodlines: Historically, there was a belief in preserving the purity of bloodlines among ruling classes. Marrying within the family was viewed as a way to maintain the genetic traits of a dynasty, such as intelligence, leadership qualities, or beauty, which were deemed desirable for rulers.
  4. Limited Choices: Ruling families often lived in isolated environments with limited eligible partners. Given the strict social hierarchy and norms of the past, marrying someone from outside the immediate circle of aristocracy was sometimes difficult or undesirable.
  5. Cultural and Religious Practices: In some cultures and religions, cousin marriage is not only acceptable but encouraged. Islamic law permits marriage between cousins, and historically, this has been practiced in many Muslim-majority countries where rulers often came from wealthy and powerful families.

It’s important to note that while cousin marriages have been common in some historical contexts, they are less so today due to increased knowledge about genetics and the risks associated with consanguinity. Modern societies often discourage close relative marriages for health reasons, although it still happens in some parts of the world for various cultural and traditional reasons.

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