While researching the Danish monarchy for another question on this site (the life expectancy of a Medieval European monarch), I came across the five sons of King Sweyn II who all became kings of Denmark in their own right (i.e. not junior or co-monarchs).

Sweyn II had at least 15 sons in all: only one was legitimate and he died young. The others were by 'various concubines', so there were a few to spare.

The only other example of 5 brothers becoming king I can think of is from the House of Wessex: the sons of Æthelwulf 839 to 858, the youngest of whom was Alfred the Great), but one of them (Æthelstan of Kent) wasn't really king in his own right, and nor was he King of Wessex like his father and brothers (so this doesn't meet the criteria).

Are there any other examples of 5 or more brothers (legitimate or illegitimate) becoming rulers of the same country in their own right?

As instances of this must be very rare, examples can be from any period and any part of the world (but I'll edit this if my assumption is proven to be wrong).

  • 6
    Look at Middle East countries, there succession rules is often not from father to son (with brothers coming in only if there are no sons/daughters) but from older brother to younger brothers. Or limit the scope of the question if that is not what you are looking for.
    – SJuan76
    Commented Feb 9, 2018 at 14:33
  • 1
    What about early Russia, where (if I understand right) brothers customarily rotated among the thrones of several ~duchies? Commented Feb 11, 2018 at 2:13
  • 2
    If you have something that fits the criteria, go for it :) Commented Feb 11, 2018 at 4:27

4 Answers 4


Seven brothers

Seven of the sons of Ismail Ibn Sharif of the Morocco Alaouite dynasty were monarchs. Ismail ruled from 1672 to 1727 and had 525 sons and 342 daughters according to Wikipedia (or 888 according to the Guiness Book of Records). Control changed hands many times. The ones who became Sultan were:

  1. Ahmad ruled 1727–1728, then 1728–1729

  2. Abdul Malek ruled 1728

  3. Abdallah II ruled 1729–1734, 1736, 1740–1741, 1741–1742, 1743–1747, 1748–1757.

  4. Ali ruled 1734-1736

  5. Mohammed II ruled 1736-38

  6. Ali Mustadi' ruled 1738-1740, 1742-1743, 1747-1748

  7. Zin al-Abidin 1741

Five brothers

Also, there were 5 brothers who were Dukes of the Qi State during the Spring and Autumn period (China). According to Wikipedia, this was "variously reckoned as a march, duchy, and independent kingdom" so this might be a bit suspect (the authority of the Zhou dynasty was 'collapsing' at this time). Anyway, they were the sons of Huan (ruled 685 to 643 ) of the House of Jiang. The sons who became Dukes were:

  1. Wukui ruled 642 BC

  2. Xiao ruled 642 to 633 BC

  3. Zhao ruled 632 to 613 BC

  4. Yi ruled 612 to 609 BC

  5. Hui ruled 608 - 599 BC

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    Looks like you've disproved your own comment on andejons answer :) Commented Feb 10, 2018 at 23:48

Here are six brothers, sons of Abdul Aziz (1902-53), who have been (and the most recent still is) Kings of Saudi Arabia:

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As I remember, the state of Texcoco in Mexico had several generations of sons succeeding fathers, and then several brothers succeeding brothers.

The last long reigning ruler, Nezahulapilli reigned from 1472 to 1515.

  1. His son Cacamatzin (1483-1520) reigned from 1516 to 1520. He died during La Noche Triste during the Spanish conquest.
  2. His half-brother Coanacoch was the next ruler. During Cortes's expedition to Honduras, Coanacoch and Cuauhtemoc of Tenochtitlan were suspected of plotting and hanged from a tree at Campeche in 1524.
  3. His half-brother Tecocoltzin was the next ruler, dying in 1525.
  4. His half-brother Fernando de Cortes Ixtlxochhitl II (c. 1500-c. 1550 or died 1531) was the next ruler from 1525. He had already ruled half the kingdom from 1516.
  5. His half-brother Carlos Ometochtzin was the next ruler, and was burned at the stake for paganism November 30, 1539.
  6. The next ruler was Antonio Pimentel Tlahiutoltzin who ruled from 1540 to 1546 or 1564. His relationship to previous rulers is not stated.

Wikipedia: List of Texcoco rulers

However, I seem to remember that some sources give more than those five or possibly six as sons of Nezahulapilli who ruled Texcoco.

I think that possibly Stokvis, A.M.H. Manuel d'historie, de genealogie et de chronologie de tous les etats du globe, depuis les temps les plus recules jusqu'a nos jours 1888-1894, tome premier, seconde partie, IIe DIVISION, AMERIQUE, CHAPITRE IX, Mexique might have such a genealogical table. I have been unable to find that chapter in any online version.

There were five brothers in the Abbasid caliphs at Cairo.

Al Mutawakkil I reigned as shadow caliph from 1362-1377, 1377-1383, and 1389-1406. He was the father of:

  1. al-Musta-in reigned 1406-1414.
  2. al-Mu'tadid reigned 1414-1441.
  3. al-Mustakfi reigned 1441-1451.
  4. al-Qa'im reigned 1451-1455.
  5. al-Mustanjid reigned 1455-1479.

Wikipedia: List of Abbasid caliphs

Five Grand Princes or Dukes of Vladimir were sons of Yaroslav II r. 1238-1246:

  1. Mikhail Khorobrit r. 1248.
  2. Audrey II r. 1249-1252.
  3. Alexander I Nevsky r. 1252-1263.
  4. Yaroslav III r. 1263-1271.
  5. Vasily of Kostroma r.1272-1277.

Wikipedia: Grand Dukes of Vladimir

And five Kings of Kings of Ethiopia who were brothers, sons of Yagbe'u Seyon or Salomon II r. 1285-1294:

  1. Senfra Ared IV r. 1294-1295.
  2. Hezba Asgad r. 1295-1296.
  3. Gedma Asgad r. 1296-1297.
  4. Jin Asgad r. 1297-1298.
  5. Saba Asgad 1298-1299.

Wikipedia: Emperor of Ethiopia

Wikipedia: List of Emperors of Ethiopia

Although there is some doubt about the relationship.

Wikipedia: Sons of Yagbe'u Seyon

Added 02-20/21-2022 And my aswer to this question lists an alleged 8 sons of Neazhualpilli as successive rulers of Tezcoco.



This is a little bit of a stretch, as one was granted the title, but never gained control of the country, but five of the sons of Thorfinn Skull-splitter were Jarls of the Orkneys, which was more or less independent:

  1. Arnfinn
  2. Havard
  3. Ljot
  4. Skuli
  5. Hlodvir

(Lots of interesting stuff here: the first three brothers were all married to the same woman, Ragnhild, who killed them off and also set her nephews against eachother. Ljot fought against MacBeth).

Well, if you include people who claimed to be a son of the king and aspired to the throne but didn't quite get there, the sons of Magnus Barefoot of Norway qualifies:

  1. Eystein I
  2. Sigurd Jorsalfar
  3. Olaf IV
  4. Harald Gille
  5. Sigurd Slembe

(The two last claimed that they were sons of Magnus after his death).

I also found two cases of four brothers:

First, we have the sons of Harald Gille from the list above:

  1. Inge I
  2. Sigurd II
  3. Eysteyn II
  4. Magnus V

And finally, the sons of Malcolm III of Scotland:

  1. Duncan II
  2. Edgar I
  3. Alexander I
  4. David I
  • 1
    Except for the Middle East, this 'lots of brothers as monarchs' is looking like a north European thing judging by your answer and the examples in the question.
    – JLK
    Commented Feb 10, 2018 at 1:09
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    @JLK Could just be reporting bias.
    – Spencer
    Commented Feb 10, 2018 at 2:11
  • 1
    @JLK For the Merovingians, Clovis I had four sons who became kings but they all became king at the same time when their father's kingdom was divided up. Commented Feb 10, 2018 at 4:57
  • Definitely bias. I had at least a vague idea about these before checking to see exactly how many they were.
    – andejons
    Commented Feb 10, 2018 at 8:01

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