It is a key measure by which monarchs have laid claim to their thrones throughout the centuries and it is a fundamental navigational tool for charting and validating a family tree.
It has even served as a major (if not controversial) plotline in a blockbuster movie by suggesting that there are direct descendants of Jesus Christ living among us today.
Bloodlines are more than just linkages on a family tree, they can confirm disputed or questionable familial relations and disprove a claim of paternity or heirship.
In special cases, bloodlines can provide an expansive roadmap through a large chunk of history, spanning scores of centuries and encompassing countless generations of descendants along the way.
- The 7 Oldest Bloodlines in the World
The 7 Oldest Bloodlines in the World
Whether it is the basis for asserting royal ancestry or for simply tracing family roots, a bloodline is a bridge to the past, and in some cases, a distant one.
And because of what is potentially at stake, namely power, wealth, and legacy, most of the world’s oldest bloodlines run within royal families, but certainly not all of them.
These are the 7 oldest bloodlines in the world, featuring some families with royal pedigrees that go back for centuries, and others that may be lacking in star power but more than make up for it with jaw-dropping longevity, including one that purportedly goes back to biblical times.
1. The Royal Family of Denmark
The bloodline of Denmark’s royal family is not only one of the world’s oldest, but perhaps also ranks as one of the family trees that is filled with the most riveting stories and legendary figures.
According to many historians, the Danish monarchy can trace its familial roots all the way back to the very people for which Denmark and its Scandinavian neighbors are so famous – the Vikings.
The Danish royal family’s bloodline is said to begin with none other than the famous Viking king Gorm the Old, who is widely considered to be the first monarch to rule over a unified Denmark in the year 958 (during much of the Viking Age, the nations known today as Denmark, Norway, and Sweden, were nothing more than a patchwork of lands controlled by local chieftains and powerful warlords.)
Here are some of the famous historical figures that appear in the bloodline of Denmark’s royal family:
- Gorm the Old is widely considered to be the first official monarch of Denmark (and the beginning of the Danish royal family’s bloodline) as he is credited with unifying the nation’s loosely governed territories into a single sovereign entity which he formally referred to as Denmark in the Jelling Runestones
- Harald “Bluetooth” Gormsson assumed the Danish throne from his father Gorm the Old and united Denmark and Norway while introducing Christianity to the Danish people; he is also the inspiration for the indispensable wireless technology known today as Bluetooth (the Bluetooth logo is a rendition of Harald Bluetooth’s initials in rune characters)
- Harold Bluetooth’s grandson, Cnut the Great, oversaw the growth of the Danish empire to its furthest reaches, which included the entirety of England (which his father the entirety of England (which his father Sweyn Forkbeard had conquered during his reign) along with neighboring Norway
- One of the most beloved figures in Danish history is also one of the nation’s few female monarchs, Queen Margrete I, who among other accomplishments is credited with unifying all of Scandinavia (Denmark, Norway, and Sweden) under single rule through the treaty she orchestrated, known as the Kalman Union
- More recently, King Christian X whose reign encompasses both world wars, famously rode through the streets of Copenhagen every day on horseback during the occupation of Denmark by Nazi Germany, serving as a daily inspiration to the throngs of Danes who flocked to their courageous and defiant monarch as he sought to boost morale during times of despair
Today, the Danish throne is held by Queen Margrethe II, in a role that is largely symbolic and limited to functions intended to bolster goodwill and morale such as receiving international dignitaries and promoting Danish business concerns.
Children of the Danish royal family attend public schools and family members are frequently observed doing ordinary things like shopping and riding their bikes.
But the Danish royal family is immensely popular in their homeland, as evidenced by the throngs of tourists visiting Amalienborg Castle (the royal family’s primary residence) in Copenhagen and the thousands of Danes who gather outside the castle walls each year on the Queen’s birthday to give her their fondest wishes.
2. The British Royal Family
Perhaps no monarchy has captured more international attention (and notoriety) throughout history than the British royal family, and there may be no more popular royal figure than our beloved Queen Elizabeth II (who has just passed away this week. May she rest in peace).
But the British monarchy also has other well-known and widely recognizable personalities and the royal family’s other celebrity-like figures include:
- Charles, Prince of Wales, the Queen’s son and heir to the throne.
- Prince William, Duke of Cambridge, and Kate, Duchess of Cambridge
- Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex, and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex (both of whom have announced their intentions to step back from royal family duties)
- Diana, Princess of Wales, died tragically in a Paris car crash in 1997 (divorced from Prince Charles in 1996)
(Note: these titles have changed with Queen Elizabeth’s death, this article will be updated as soon as possible).
The British royal family can also lay claim to being one of the oldest bloodlines in the world with its roots dating back to the 9th century.
From its inception as a nation to the modern era, Britain’s history is full of legendary figures, many of whom were members of the British monarchy and direct ancestors to today’s royal family.
In all, including Her Majesty, there have been 61 monarchs who have ruled over England and Britain during the past 12 centuries.
This distinguished bloodline of British monarchs includes the likes of:
- Aethelwulf (Ruled from 839 to 858) – the father of Alfred the Great (more on him later) and famed for defeating Vikings from Denmark at the Battle of Oakley
- Athelstan (924-939) – led his forces to victory over a formidable army comprised of Scottish, Celtic, Danish, and Viking forces, thus unifying all Anglo-Saxon kingdoms into a single England
- Canute (Cnut the Great) the Dane (1016-1035) – the son of Sweyn Forkbeard (himself the son of famed Viking king Harald Bluetooth), Cnut the Great ruled over England for nearly 20 years and during that time proved himself a competent monarch despite his Danish (Viking) roots
- William I (the Conqueror) (1066-1087) – asserting to right to the English throne based on a promise made by his second-cousin Edward the Confessor, William the Conqueror defeated Harold II at the Battle of Hastings to seize power and begin the era of Norman kings in England (and once again put a ruler with Viking roots on the throne)
- Edward I (1272-1307) – the former Edward Longshanks was a unique hybrid of scholar and warrior and is credited with forming the first parliament and taking major steps toward unifying Britain
- Henry VIII (1509-1547) – Henry VIII famously had six wives, and this may be his biggest claim to fame, but perhaps his most impactful act was separating from Rome and the Roman Catholic Church and establishing himself as the head of the Church of England (all so that he could divorce his wife Catherine of Aragorn and marry Anne Boleyn)
- Elizabeth I (1558-1603) – widely considered one of the most popular and respected of English monarchs, Elizabeth I’s reign was marked by a major naval victory over rival Spain, the establishment of colonies in Virginia, and of course, Shakespeare
- George VI (1936-1952) – the father of Queen Elizabeth II, George VI was a stalwart in his own right, guiding Britain through the ravages of World War II (he and the Queen stubbornly maintained their residence at Buckingham Palace in spite of repeated aerial bombings) and personally set an example of British resilience and determination
Volumes upon volumes have been written about English and British monarchs through the centuries and the story of the 61st is still being written.
Acceding to the throne upon the death of her father King George VI on February 6, 1952, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II was formally coronated on June 2, 1953, and is the longest-reigning monarch in England’s rich and storied 1,200-year history, surpassing the 63-year reign of Queen Victoria.
As a testament to the Queen’s longevity, during her remarkable (69 years and counting) reign, the following events have occurred:
- There have been 14 different British Prime Ministers, including current Prime Minister Boris Johnson
- There have been 14 different U.S. Presidents, including current President Joe Biden
- There have been 7 different Popes, including current Pope Francis
If nothing else, Queen Elizabeth II has been a fixture on the British political (albeit with limited governing authority) and social scenes, providing a constant source of assurance and projecting an unwavering image of composure and self-esteem to her loving subjects.
Who is the Queen’s Oldest Ancestor?
The foundation upon which the illustrious 1,200-year monarchy of England and Britain was built, is the House of Wessex, and one of its pillars is Alfred the Great.
Aside from being a beloved and deeply revered figure in English history, many scholars and historians point to Alfred the Great as the originator of the British royal family’s bloodline.
Born in Berkshire in 849, Alfred the Great was the fifth son of Aethelwulf and succeeded to the throne as King of Wessex in 871 at the age of 21, thus beginning a long line of monarchs (61 and counting) that continues to this day with Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II.
3. The Kong Family Bloodline
The ancient Chinese philosopher Confucius (Kongzi in Chinese) lived over 2,500 years ago (he was born in 551 B.C.) but his teachings, often referred to as Confucianism, are still influential in the lives of millions of people today.
Confucius is widely viewed as a larger-than-life figure whose life story has near-mythical qualities, including one aspect that continues to grow with each passing year.
Confucius is considered the founding father of the Kong family bloodline that not only continues to this day but by official accounts, has millions of members.
In fact, the Kong bloodline is listed by Guinness World Records as the longest family tree in history and is purportedly verifiable by the periodic publication of a global registry of Kong family descendants known as the Confucius Genealogy.
According to the most recent iteration of this incredible document (which is itself an undertaking of epic proportions) released in 2009:
- The fifth edition of the Kong family registry comprises 80 volumes of records and weighs over half a ton
- It contains the names of individuals representing 83 generations of people
- There are two million descendants of Confucius contained in the registry
It is worth noting that while the official registry of the Kong family bloodline (as currently compiled by Kong family descendants) is an impressive record by any measure, it relies on data that was first recorded by hand in the year 1080, centuries after the philosopher’s death.
For extended periods in Chinese history, calling oneself a descendant of Confucius carried with it considerable social and political clout so there were undoubtedly many imposters seeking to cash in on the advantages enjoyed by legitimate Kong family members.
The vast numbers of illegitimate Kongs in the registry can only be imagined, but the magnitude of Confucius’ bloodline remains impressive.
4. The Japanese Imperial Family
By some accounts, the Imperial Family of Japan is the longest-running monarchy in the world with a documented bloodline (more on this later) dating back to 660 BC.
Current Japanese Emperor Naruhito is the 126th monarch of Japan and ascended to the throne on May 1, 2019, after his father the former Emperor Akihito, abdicated the throne in favor of his son due to health concerns.
Like so many modern monarchies around the world today, the Japanese emperor’s duties are largely ceremonial but do include a smattering of formal state responsibilities.
Following Japan’s defeat in World War II, the war-torn nation’s constitution was drafted to include a provision that designated the emperor as a national symbol “of the State” and “of the unity of the People”.
Today, the Japanese emperor’s duties include:
- Receiving foreign heads of state and members of foreign royal families
- Meeting with Japanese diplomats and their families before they depart for their international assignments
- Presiding over major ceremonial events including tea ceremonies, public gatherings, and war remembrances
- Appointing certain governmental figures, including the Prime Minister and the Chief Justice of Japan’s Supreme Court
- Together with the Empress, traveling abroad to meet with international dignitaries on goodwill missions
Even though the Japanese Emperor is not involved in national political affairs, he does participate in over 100 organized events each year and remains a central and beloved figure in the eyes of the Japanese public.
The immense span of Japanese emperors has been chronicled in historic records such as the Nihon Shoki.
This chronicle (it was written in the eighth century) and many like it, is a rich tapestry that weaves historically verifiable facts with colorful narratives, some of which appear on their face to be tied more to myth and legend than they are rooted in reality.
Some of the mythical representations of Japanese emperors include:
- Up until the end of World War II, which saw Japan defeated by the United States and her allies, Japanese emperors were viewed by the Japanese people as deities
- The Japanese sun goddess Amaterasu Omikami bestowed upon her grandson Ninigo No Mikoto, a precious set of imperial accouterments consisting of a mirror, a sword, and a precious stone
- This imperial regalia was passed on by Ninigo No Mikoto to his descendants, which included Emperor Jimmu, the first of 126 Japanese monarchs
- For centuries, Japanese Emperors were believed to be divine beings who kept company with gods and had supernatural abilities
Even though members of the Imperial Family of Japan are mostly figureheads in the modern world, they remain larger-than-life figures to the Japanese people.
5. The German Cave-Dwellers’ Family
Just like a geometric line, a bloodline has a starting point and an ending point.
In the case of a startling DNA study coming out of the Lower Saxony region in Germany, this particular bloodline begins with the discovery in 1993 of the well-preserved remains of 23 people (9 females and 14 males, all of whom had familial ties to each other) in a remote cavern near the Harz Mountains known as the Lichtenstein Cave.
This bloodline ends in roughly the same spot it started, but three millennia later.
Studies have determined that these cave dwellers lived during the Bronze Age in an approximate timeframe ranging from 1,000 BC to 700 BC, which would make the remains of these Ancient Germans roughly 3,000 years old.
But the most intriguing and unexpected discoveries came when the Bronze Age bones were subjected to DNA testing and compared to samples obtained from area residents.
Here is what the scientists found:
- The DNA of the ancient German cave dwellers contained very distinct and particularly uncommon genetic markers that were unique to the area
- As part of the study, 300 local residents living near the Bronze Age caves were swabbed to collect and analyze their DNA
- Incredibly, the DNA samples of not one but two individuals (both men – Manfred Huchthausen, 58, and Uwe Lange, 48) produced exact matches to the 3,000-year-old genetic material, thus providing a direct genetic link between two living people and their ancestors who lived several thousand years prior
- Both of the local residents grew up together in a village located nearby the cave and one of them recalled playing inside the cave as a child, not knowing the astonishing scientific discovery that was hidden deeper inside and which would not be revealed until decades later
By matching the DNA of the German men with their distant Bronze Age ancestors, scientists bridged a genealogical chasm and established the starting and ending points of a bloodline extending approximately 3,000 years.
While filling in three millennia worth of genealogical data to validate what would surely amount to a family tree of epic proportions would prove to be a Herculean task even with modern genealogical technology, at least Huchthausen and Lange know where their common bloodline begins.
6. The Oldest DNA in North America
One interpretation of what constitutes a bloodline is that it is the entire pool of known descendants from one individual.
So long as direct descendants of the original ancestor continue to have offspring, the bloodline continues.
If, however, a direct descendant fails to have offspring, the bloodline dies with that relative.
Another view of how to define a bloodline is by analyzing the DNA of a living person, determining probable ancestry, and tracing the genetic signature as far back as scientifically possible.
This approach has led to a startling revelation that modern science has established as the oldest identified DNA on the North American continent.
Through DNA testing, Darrell “Dusty” Crawford, from Heart Butte, Montana, not only verified his Blackfeet Nation (one of the ten largest Native American tribes in the United States) ancestry, the findings tell an incredible story from a biogeographical ancestry perspective that has the potential of re-writing narratives relating to the history of humans on North American soil and where they came from.
These DNA results have revealed that:
- Crawford’s unique DNA signature can be traced back for 55 generations
- The testing company, CRI Genetics, claims that its findings are 99% accurate and that Crawford’s results were the furthest back in time that it has ever dated anyone’s DNA in North, Central, and South America
- Crawford’s DNA also lends credence to the theory that thousands of years ago, certain peoples arrived in parts of South America from the Pacific Islands and traveled northward to what is now known as the American Southwest
- Crawford’s mitochondrial DNA (MtDNA) has been identified as MtDNA Haplogroup B2, which according to CRI Genetics originated in Arizona approximately 17,000 years ago
Haplogroup B2 is one of four groups of DNA material that are unique to North American Native Americans, and each group can be traced to one of four ancient females known as Ai, Ina, Chie, and Sachi.
In Crawford’s case, his DNA shows that he is descended from Ina.
Although it is difficult to fathom the potential ramifications in terms of human history and migration, at a minimum, this study establishes Crawford’s bloodline as the oldest known DNA proven to have originated in the Americas, with the potential of going back an astonishing 17,000 years.
7. The Lurie Family Bloodline
When it comes to candidates for families with the oldest bloodline, the Lurie family may be the world’s top contender for this title.
According to various sources, the Lurie Family bloodline dates all the way back to biblical times (c. 1037 BCE) with its origins traceable to none other than King David, the legendary ruler who rose from a simple shepherd boy to become King over the unified tribes of Israel.
In its 1999 edition, the Guinness Book of Records bestowed the “longest lineage” distinction to the Lurie family bloodline, although tracing the family’s roots becomes more cloudy and dubious the further back into antiquity the search progresses (particularly considering that King David, the purported originator of the bloodline, may not himself been an actual historical figure).
Nevertheless, the Lurie family bloodline can be definitively chronicled to the name of the most influential Ashkenazi Jewish family in 13th-century France.
It is believed that the Lurie family name derives from the French word Loire, which is the name of a town located on the banks of the Rhone River, and presumably where prominent Luries lived.
Aside from being one of the world’s oldest (and therefore one of the longest) bloodlines, the Lurie family claims many notable names as its members, including:
- Many kings of Judah
- Neurologist and founder of psychoanalysis Sigmund Freud
- Philosopher and political theorist Karl Marx
- Romantic-period composer and conductor Felix Mendelssohn
- Philosopher Martin Buber
- Medieval rabbi Rashi
Whether or not the Lurie bloodline does indeed date back to ancient biblical times, it is a distinguished family tree that is certainly not lacking for membership or accomplishments.
The Lurie Family Bloodline and Ashkenazi Jews
The Lurie family bloodline is notable not only for its history and breadth but also for the fact that it seemingly includes nearly every Ashkenazi Jew that has ever lived.
Ashkenazi Jews are Jewish people who left Israel and settled in areas of Europe, predominantly Germany and France, where they assimilated with local populations but maintained their Jewish traditions and religious practices.
Although they retained much of their Jewish heritage, Ashkenazi Jews spoke Yiddish (a hybrid of Hebrew and various German dialects) instead of traditional Hebrew like their counterparts in Israel.
In addition, of particular genealogical significance is the fact that because they departed from their homeland so long ago, the DNA of Ashkenazi Jews is unique and distinguishable from their Jewish brethren elsewhere in the world.
In the grand scheme of things, and certainly in the modern world, one’s family bloodline does not define the individual nor assure a place in the annals of history as perhaps it once did.
It does, however, provide a direct link to the past and perhaps most significantly, can provide perspective and a sense of scale and dimension when learning and appreciating one’s family history.
We hope you’ve enjoyed learning more about the oldest bloodlines in the world.