What Is the Most Interesting Family in History?

A big question

Graham Roumieu

Glennon Doyle Melton, author, Love Warrior

I’m fascinated by writers, sisterhood, and women ahead of their time—so if I could spend time with one historical family, it would be the Brontës. I’d thank Anne, Emily, and Charlotte for insisting on their right to creativity before the world gave them permission. And I’d assure them that we women now regularly use our own names on our books.

Jojo Moyes, author, Paris for One & Other Stories

If you’re English and female, it’s almost de rigeur to obsess over the Mitfords. What other family features six sisters, including a best-selling author, a trailblazing Communist journalist, two notorious for their closeness to Hitler, and the chatelaine of one of the finest stately homes in England? Dinner must have been a blast.

Graham Roumieu

Hannah Rothschild, philanthropist and filmmaker

From humble beginnings in a small Tuscan town, the Medici family created the largest and most powerful bank in 15th-century Europe. Among their members were four popes and two queens regnant of France, and the first Grand Dukes of Tuscany. Their greatest legacy was patronizing the arts, creating some of the most memorable palaces and nurturing some of the Renaissance’s best painters and sculptors. Their preeminence lasted for nearly 300 years and was finally extinguished when no direct male heir was produced.

J. D. Vance, author, Hillbilly Elegy

Years from now, people will ask whether Bill and Hillary Clinton had a master plan from the very beginning. Over the course of a lifetime, they remade the Democratic Party in their policy image and governed the country over multiple presidential administrations. This makes the Clintons fascinating. That they accomplished it all despite marital infidelity and many scandals makes them the most interesting family in history.

Peter H. Wilson, author, Heart of Europe

The Habsburgs emerged from minor Swiss nobility around the 12th century, surviving inbreeding, madness, and sibling wars to amass a vast empire in Europe largely through marriage and luck, which they extended with New World conquests. They then fought tenaciously to maintain their position against external foes and broad social, economic, and cultural change, before losing power in 1918.

Reader Responses

Kelsey Collings, Chicago, Ill.

The 18th Egyptian dynasty, which included Tutankhamen; Akhenaten and Nefertiti; the four pharaohs named Thutmose; and Hatshepsut, perhaps the greatest female ruler of all time.

Ben Kelly, London, U.K.

The Kennedys: They exemplify the Irish-immigrant experience and the pursuit of the American dream. From their politics to their fashion to their impact on popular culture—not to mention the endlessly fascinating narratives and conspiracies around their infamous tragedies—they are certainly worthy of being named the most interesting family in history.

Graham Roumieu

Keith Hand, Anchorage, Alaska

A family that may have more wars, books, churches, music, holidays, etc., attributed to it than any other appears to be the most interesting family to the planet for generations upon generations; therefore, I give my nod to Joseph, Mary, and Jesus.

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