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A dynasty (, ) is a sequence of rulers from the same family,''Oxford English Dictionary'', "dynasty, ''n''."
Oxford University Press Oxford University Press (OUP) is the university press of the University of Oxford. It is the largest university press in the world, and the second oldest after Cambridge University Press. It is a department of the University of Oxford and is g ...

Oxford University Press
(Oxford), 1897.
usually in the context of a
feudal Feudalism, also known as the feudal system, was the combination of the legal, economic, military, and cultural customs that flourished in Medieval Europe between the 9th and 15th centuries. Broadly defined, it was a way of structuring society ...
or
monarchical A monarchy is a form of government in which a person, the monarch, is head of state for life or until abdication. The legitimacy (political)#monarchy, political legitimacy and authority of the monarch may vary from restricted and largel ...
system, but sometimes also appearing in
republic A republic () is a form of government A government is the system or group of people governing an organized community, generally a state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a month ...

republic
s. Alternative terms for "dynasty" may include "house", "family" and "clan", among others. The longest surviving dynasty in the world is the
Imperial House of Japan The , also referred to as the Imperial Family, or the House of Yamato, comprises those members of the extended family of the reigning Emperor of Japan The Emperor of Japan is the monarch and the head of the Imperial House of Japan, Imperial ...
, otherwise known as the Yamato dynasty, whose reign is traditionally dated to and historically attested from . The dynastic family or lineage may be known as a "noble house",''Oxford English Dictionary'', "house, ''n.¹'' and ''int'', " Oxford University Press (Oxford), 2011. which may be styled as "
imperial Imperial is that which relates to an empire, emperor, or imperialism. Imperial or The Imperial may also refer to: Places United States * Imperial, California * Imperial, Missouri * Imperial, Nebraska * Imperial, Pennsylvania * Imperial, Texas * ...

imperial
", "
royal Royal may refer to: People * Royal (name)Royal can be a surname or a given name. Bearers include: Surname * Billy Joe Royal (1942–2015), American country music and pop singer * Calvin Royal III, American ballet dancer * Darrell Royal (1924 ...
", "
prince A prince is a Monarch, male ruler (ranked below a king, grand prince, and grand duke) or a male member of a monarch's or former monarch's family. ''Prince'' is also a title of nobility (often highest), often hereditary title, hereditary, in so ...

prince
ly", "
ducal A duke (male) can either be a monarch ranked below the emperor An emperor (from la, imperator, via fro, empereor) is a monarch, and usually the sovereignty, sovereign ruler of an empire or another type of imperial realm. Empress, the f ...

ducal
", "
comital Count (feminine: countess) is a historical title of nobility Nobility is a social class normally ranked immediately below Royal family, royalty and found in some societies that have a formal aristocracy (class), aristocracy. Nobility ...

comital
", "
baron Baron is a rank of nobility Nobility is a social class normally ranked immediately below Royal family, royalty and found in some societies that have a formal aristocracy (class), aristocracy. Nobility has often been an Estates of the ...

baron
ial" etc., depending upon the chief or present
title A title is one or more words used before or after a person's name, in certain contexts. It may signify either generation, an official position, or a professional or academic qualification. In some languages, titles may be inserted between the firs ...
borne by its members. Historians periodize the histories of many states and
civilization  A civilization (or civilisation) is a complex society A complex society is a concept that is shared by a range of disciplines including anthropology, archaeology, history and sociology to describe a stage of social formation. The concep ...

civilization
s, such as
Ancient Egypt Ancient Egypt was a civilization  A civilization (or civilisation) is a that is characterized by , , a form of government, and systems of communication (such as ). Civilizations are intimately associated with additional char ...

Ancient Egypt
(3100 – 30 BC) and Ancient and
Imperial China The earliest known written records of the history of China date from as early as 1250 BC, from the Shang dynasty The Shang dynasty (), also historically known as the Yin dynasty (), was a Chinese dynasty that ruled in the middle and ...
(2070 BC – AD 1912), using a framework of successive dynasties. As such, the term "dynasty" may be used to delimit the era during which a family reigned, and also to describe events, trends and artifacts of that period (e.g., "a
Ming-dynasty
Ming-dynasty
vase"). The word "dynasty" itself is often dropped from such adjectival references (e.g., "a Ming vase"). Until the 19th century, it was taken for granted that a legitimate function of a monarch was to aggrandize his dynasty: that is, to expand the wealth and power of his family members. Before the 20th century, dynasties throughout the world have traditionally been reckoned patrilineally, such as under the
Frankish Frankish may refer to: * Franks The Franks ( la, Franci or ) were a group of Germanic peoples The historical Germanic peoples (from lat, Germani) are a category of ancient northern European tribes, first mentioned by Graeco-Roman author ...

Frankish
Salic law#REDIRECT Salic law The Salic law ( or ; la, Lex salica), or the was the ancient Salian Franks, Salian Frankish Civil law (legal system), civil law code compiled around AD 500 by the first Frankish King, Clovis I, Clovis. The written text is in La ...
. In polities where it was permitted, succession through a daughter usually established a new dynasty in her husband's ruling house. This has changed in some places in Europe, where succession law and conventions have maintained dynasties ''de jure'' through a female. For instance, the
House of Windsor The House of Windsor is the reigning royal house of the United Kingdom The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, commonly known as the United Kingdom (UK) or Britain,Usage is mixed. The Guardian' and Telegraph' use Brita ...
will be maintained through the children of
Queen Elizabeth II Elizabeth II (Elizabeth Alexandra Mary; born 21 April 1926) is Queen of the United Kingdom The monarchy of the United Kingdom, commonly referred to as the British monarchy, is the constitutional monarchy A constitutional mon ...

Queen Elizabeth II
, as it did with the
monarchy of the Netherlands The monarchy of the Netherlands is a constitutional monarchy A constitutional monarchy is a form of monarchy in which the monarch exercises authority in accordance with a written or unwritten constitution. Constitutional monarchies dif ...
, whose dynasty remained the
House of Orange-Nassau The House of Orange-Nassau (Dutch Dutch commonly refers to: * Something of, from, or related to the Netherlands * Dutch people () * Dutch language () *Dutch language , spoken in Belgium (also referred as ''flemish'') Dutch may also refer to:" ...
through three successive
queens regnant A queen regnant (plural: queens regnant) is a female monarch A monarch is a head of stateWebster's II New College DictionarMonarch Houghton Mifflin. Boston. 2001. p. 707. Life tenure, for life or until abdication, and therefore the head of st ...
. The earliest such example among major European monarchies was in the
Russian Empire The Russian Empire, . commonly referred to as Imperial Russia, was a historical that extended across and from 1721, succeeding the following the that ended the . The Empire lasted until the was proclaimed by the that took power after the ...
in the 18th century, where the name of the
House of Romanov The House of Romanov (also transcribed Romanoff; rus, Рома́новы, Románovy, rɐˈmanəvɨ) was the reigning imperial house of Russia Russia ( rus, link=no, Россия, Rossiya, ), or the Russian Federation, is a country s ...
was maintained through Grand Duchess Anna Petrovna. This also happened in the case of Queen
Maria II of Portugal , image = D. Maria II Rainha.jpg , succession = Queen of Portugal , reign = 26 May 1834 – , cor-type = Acclamation , coronation = 20 September 1834 , predecessor = Miguel I , successor = Pedro V , reg-type = ...

Maria II of Portugal
, who married Prince Ferdinand of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha, but whose descendants remained members of the
House of Braganza The Most Serene House of Braganza ( pt, Sereníssima Casa de Bragança), also known as the Brigantine Dynasty (''Dinastia Brigantina''), is a dynasty of emperors, kings, princes, and dukes of Portuguese people, Portuguese origin which reigned in ...
, per Portuguese law. In
Limpopo Province Limpopo is the northernmost province A province is almost always an administrative division Administrative division, administrative unitArticle 3(1). , country subdivision, administrative region, subnational entity, first-level subdivisi ...

Limpopo Province
of
South Africa South Africa, officially the Republic of South Africa (RSA), is the Southern Africa, southernmost country in Africa. With over Demographics of South Africa, 60 million people, it is the world's List of countries by population, 23rd-most ...

South Africa
,
Balobedu The Lobedu or Balobedu ''(''also known as the BaLozwi or Bathobolo'')'' are a southern African ethnic group within the Sotho-Tswana peoples, Sotho-Tswana people group. They are initially known as Bakwebo (wild pigs). The name "balobedu" means ...
determined descent
matrilineally Matrilineality is the tracing of kinship In anthropology, kinship is the web of social relationships that form an important part of the lives of all humans in all societies, although its exact meanings even within this discipline are often d ...
, while rulers have at other times adopted the name of their mother's dynasty when coming into her inheritance. Less frequently, a monarchy has alternated or been rotated, in a multi-dynastic (or polydynastic) system—that is, the most senior living members of parallel dynasties, at any point in time, constitute the line of succession. Not all feudal states or monarchies were or are ruled by dynasties; modern examples are the
Vatican City State Vatican City (), officially the Vatican City State ( it, Stato della Città del Vaticano; la, Status Civitatis Vaticanae),—' * german: Vatikanstadt, cf. '—' (in Austria: ') * pl, Miasto Watykańskie, cf. '—' * pt, Cidade do Vatican ...

Vatican City State
, the
Principality of Andorra Andorra (, ; ), officially the Principality of Andorra ( ca, Principat d'Andorra), is a sovereign Sovereign is a title which can be applied to the highest leader in various categories. The word is borrowed from Old French Old French ( ...

Principality of Andorra
, and the Sovereign Military Hospitaller Order of Saint John of Jerusalem, of Rhodes and of Malta. Throughout history, there were monarchs that did not belong to any dynasty; non-dynastic rulers include King Arioald of the
Lombards The Lombards () or Langobards ( la, Langobardi) were a Germanic people Germanic may refer to: * Germanic peoples The historical Germanic peoples (from lat, Germani) are a category of ancient northern European tribes, first mentioned by G ...
and
Emperor Phocas
Emperor Phocas
of the
Byzantine Empire The Byzantine Empire, also referred to as the Eastern Roman Empire, or Byzantium, was the continuation of the Roman Empire The Roman Empire ( la, Imperium Rōmānum ; grc-gre, Βασιλεία τῶν Ῥωμαίων, Basileía tôn ...

Byzantine Empire
. Dynasties ruling subnational monarchies do not possess sovereign rights; two modern examples are the
monarchies of Malaysia The monarchies of Malaysia refer to the constitutional monarchy A constitutional monarchy is a form of monarchy in which the monarch exercises authority in accordance with a written or unwritten constitution. Constitutional monarchies d ...
and the royal families of the United Arab Emirates. The word "dynasty" is sometimes used informally for people who are not rulers but are, for example, members of a family with influence and power in other areas, such as a series of successive owners of a major company. It is also extended to unrelated people, such as major poets of the same school or various rosters of a single sports team.


Etymology

The word ''dynasty'' derives from
Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language A classical language is a language A language is a structured system of communication Communication (from Latin ''communicare'', meaning "to share" or "to be in relation with") is "an appa ...

Latin
, which comes from
Ancient Greek Ancient Greek includes the forms of the Greek language Greek ( el, label=Modern Greek Modern Greek (, , or , ''Kiní Neoellinikí Glóssa''), generally referred to by speakers simply as Greek (, ), refers collectively to the diale ...
(), where it referred to 'power', 'dominion', and 'rule' itself. It was the
abstract noun A noun () is a word In linguistics, a word of a spoken language can be defined as the smallest sequence of phonemes that can be uttered in isolation with semantic, objective or pragmatics, practical meaning (linguistics), meaning. In many l ...
of (), the
agent noun In linguistics, an agent noun (in Latin, ) is a word that is derived from another word denoting an action (philosophy), action, and that identifies an entity agent (grammar), that does that action. For example, "driver" is an agent noun formed from ...
of () 'power" or 'ability', from () 'to be able'.Liddell & al.

.


Dynasty

A ruler from a dynasty is sometimes referred to as a "dynast", but this term is also used to describe any member of a reigning family who retains a right to succeed to a
throne A throne is the seat of state of a potentate or dignitary {{Short pages monitor