Fathers With The Most Children
I always laugh when I see that segment on the Monty Python movie, The Meaning of Life, where the Catholic father is forced to sell his children off to science because he can no longer afford to feed them. Who would think that skit was not so far off from the truth when it came to these fathers? Father’s Day is coming up and I thought I’d put together a list of those fathers through history who spread the love around enough to have the most children. Note: none of these fathers had all of these children with the same woman. Polygamy and illegitimate children helped to raise their numbers and I am not going to presume that they were, in fact, the best fathers out there. However, they did sire a lot of kids! No one on this list had less than twenty children and the “winner” will absolutely shock you with the number of offspring he had. It’s amazing that he had time to get up and go to work in the morning!
The American leader of the Latter Day Saints, Young led his people across the United States and eventually settled in Utah. Young was a polygamist – which means he had more than one wife – so he had ample opportunity to sire his 57 children. Young was the successor of the original leader of the Mormon church, Joseph Smith. Brigham Young had a total of 55 wives in his lifetime. Of these women, 54 were converted to the Church of Latter Day Saints. Only sixteen of them bore him children. Of something that was rare of the time, all but ten of the children reached adulthood. By the time he died, at the age of 76, three of his children went on to be church apostles. His ancestors include professional football player, Steve Young.
This Baroque composer is best known for his Brandenburg Concertos, The Art of Fugue, Passacaglia, and Toccata and Fugue in D minor (you know, the Halloween song). While he was known as a great musician during his own lifetime (1685-1750) it wasn’t until a hundred years after his death that he was recognized as one of the greatest composers of all time. He was married twice in his life. First to a woman named Maria Barbara with whom he had seven children. She died suddenly in 1720 while Bach was traveling. A year later, he would meet and marry Anna Magdalena Wilcke, a soprano singer who was 17 years younger than the composer. They had 13 more children, of whom, only six survived to be adults. Of all of his children, three of them: Gottfried Heinrich, Johann Christoph Friedrich and Johann Christian would go onto become famous musicians, like their father.
The first emperor of the Holy Roman Empire also had a lot of children. Charlemagne – or Charles the Great – is considered a legend in medieval folklore. He conquered most of western and eastern Europe and was considered the protector of Rome. Today he is regarded not only as the founding father of both French and German monarchies, but also as the ‘Father of Europe’. While Charlemagne had several illegitimate children, he was a half-way decent father, overall. His sons were given kingdoms of their own and all of his daughters were educated – something that was very rare in early Europe. He also insisted that wherever he placed his children, that they would learn the customs and behave like the people they ruled. One of the strangest traditions that he imposed upon his daughters was that he did not allow them to marry – ever. The reason being was that if they were to bear children to a legitimate husband, that child would have legal rights to Charlemagne’s throne and may challenge his sons. To prevent this, he kept them in his home, yet allowed them to have premarital affairs and bear children through those relationships. Very strange. After Charlemagne’s death in 814AD, his son, Louis the Pious, banished all of the daughters to convents to avoid war.
RAMESSES II – 84-100 CHILDREN
I always find it ironic that the man who the famous prophylactic company named its brand after, obviously never wore a condom. Ramesses II was a pharaoh of Egypt from 1303BC-1213BC (90 years!). He is often referred to as Ramesses the Great. As you can tell, Ramesses had a lot of children in his 90 years. The Egyptians have very good records of these children since Ramesses insisted on making monuments to all of them. Of these children, up to 56 were males and 44 were female. He apparently made no distinctions between the offspring of his first two principal wives, Nefertari and Isetnofret. Ramesses had six more great royal wives during his reign – his own daughters Bintanath, Meritamen, Nebettawy and Henutmire (who, according to another theory was his sister), and two daughters of Hattusilis III, King of Hatti!!! Apparently, there are no rules against incest when you are a living god!
I’ve never heard of Ismail Ibn Sharif before creating this list, but how can you pass up a guy who had 867 children? I am surprised that he had time to even make it into the history books! He was the second ruler of Morocco in the Alaouite dynasty sometime between 1634-1727. Like others of the dynasty, Ismaïl claimed to be a descendant of Muhammad through his roots to Hassan ibn Ali. Apparently, everyone else is a descendent of him. It is said that Ismail Ibn Sharif had more than a thousand children. The 867 number – of which 525 are boys and 342 are daughters – is just what is recorded! He has the most recorded children in history. Scholars claim that he would have had to have had sex nearly 5 times a day for forty years to achieve this number. This would not include twins, triplets or other multiples. Upon the sultan’s death in 1727, his sons went to war with each other to take over his kingdom.