Famous Historical Figures You Didn’t Know Were Related

  • Robert E. Lee & George Washington
Robert E. Lee & George Washington
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Some family trees seem primed for the history books, from the Medicis and Habsburgs to the Rockefellers and Kennedys. These historical relations prove that family does indeed matter. Take for instance the two father-son duos that became U.S. Presidents: John Adams and John Quincy Adams, and George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush. There’s also Queen Victoria of England’s many grandchildren to consider. These famous cousins — among them King George V of Britain, Kaiser Wilhelm II of Germany, and Tsar Nicholas II of Russia (by marriage to Victoria’s granddaughter Alexandra) — went on to rule much of Europe. 

Other famous family connections aren’t as obvious, such as the relationship between the real-life inspiration for Dracula and Queen Elizabeth II, or the distant connection between two trailblazing women, Amelia Earhart and Laura Ingalls Wilder. Here are five of the most surprising family ties in history.

Credit: Bettmann via Getty Images ; Stefano Bianchetti/ Corbis Historical via Getty Images

Queen Elizabeth II and Dracula (Vlad the Impaler)

One of Europe’s most mild-tempered monarchs was distantly related to none other than Vlad III, more commonly known as Vlad the Impaler, a ruthless 15th-century Romanian prince who likely inspired Bram Stoker’s Dracula. The relation comes from Queen Elizabeth II’s grandmother Mary of Teck (a princess from Germany’s Württemberg dynasty), who was the wife of England’s King George V. Mary of Teck was a descendant of the merciless Romanian ruler, who had a reputation for executing many of his subjects. The surprising connection between Vlad III and the British royal family has also been acknowledged by Queen Elizabeth II’s son King Charles III, who owns a home in Transylvania (where Vlad once ruled) and is involved in conservation efforts to save the region’s forests.

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