Top 10 most ancient European surnames by country

European surnames boast pedigrees that span hundreds of years. The fate of aristocrats is often intertwined with historical events. Many representatives of noble families influenced the politics of states. The kings and emperors listened to their opinion.

European surnames: The Old and Famous

Surnames of rich European families

1. Medici  ( VIII  century)

One of the most famous families. The name of the oligarchic clan is associated with Florence, which was ruled by its representatives in the  XIII – XVIII  centuries. Later, the influence of the Medici spread to Tuscany. Four members of this family became carriers of the title of Pope.
The clan often played at the intersection of the interests of the masses and representatives of noble families. This allowed him to achieve political power and love of the people. The most successful carriers of the surname are considered  Cosimo  Medici and  Lorenzo Medici. Both were politicians.

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The family also became famous for patronage. The current head of the house is the president of the International Medici Association, which is engaged in the protection of art, literature, and science. Ottaviano Medici devotes much attention to the glorification of his ancestors.

2. Wettins  (IX century)

The House of  Vettins, without exaggeration, is the most extensive in Europe. Windsor and  Saxe – Coburg – Gothic branches of the family are represented by Queen Elizabeth II of Great Britain and Philippe King of Belgium.

Family estate Wettin Castle is located in the state of Saxony- Anhalt. Members of the genus held high titles throughout the life of the surname. Among them were kings and Margraves,  Elector of the  Roman Empire and the Duke of Warsaw, Emperor of India and King of Bulgaria. Such a family could not but influence political events in Europe.

3. The Habsburgs  (X century)

In the Middle Ages, there was no more powerful royal house than the  Habsburgs. His ancestors were modest property owners in Alsace and Northern Switzerland. By the end of the  13th  century, they ruled Austria and were considered skilled diplomats. Members of this family at different times are the rulers of the Czech Republic, Hungary, Croatia, Spain, Portugal, the Kingdom of Naples and even Mexico.

Territories subject to the family are so vast that the  Habsburg crown is called rulers over which the sun never sets. At the end of the  18th  century, the Habsburgs became related to the Romanovs. Today, the genus is not so influential.

4. Tseringen  (XI century)


The Swabian clan of the  Tseringenes was  founded by  Bertold  I. The clan occupied influential positions in Germany. For a century  Tseringen were electors of the lands of Germany, dukes, and Margraves. The most extensive possessions of the family are represented by the Baden House. The favor of Napoleon allowed the descendant to advance. Since then, a series of successful marriages has made them part of many royal and royal families. Our contemporaries from the Tseringen family own castles in Rastatt and Karlsruhe.

5. Liechtenstein  ( XII  century)

The owner of the small castle of Liechtenstein, located in the south of Vienna, is the founder of a noble family. By the sixteenth century, this baronial clan grew stronger and gained the opportunity to influence in the territories of Moravia, Bohemia, Austria, and Silesia. Even the Habsburgs borrowed from Liechtenstein for some time.

In 1719, the family bought two small feuds from the bankrupt owners of Hohenems. They were located on the Swiss border. the emperor of the Holy Roman Empire admitted that the head of the family, Anton  Florian,  is a prince. His sovereign dignity was the reason for the emergence of the Principality of Liechtenstein on the European map. Today it is ruled by the son of the head of the Liechtenstein House, Prince  Hans- Adam II.

6. Grimaldi  ( XII  century)

The Consul of Genoa  Grimaldo Canella became the ancestor of this family. Propapian politics helped the clan occupy a high position for several centuries. But the dislike of the people and enmity with the Ghibellines became the reason that the clan was twice expelled from its hometown.

After that, Grimaldi settled in Monaco. Safety provided them Spain. Recognizing vassal dependence, the family found a second homeland here. Prince of Monaco  Albert  II is the head of the house today. Grace Kelly became his wife and mother of a noble house.

7. Hohenzollern  ( XII  century)

Burchard  I is considered the initiator of the Hohenzollern family. The name of the dynasty comes from the name of a high rock in southwestern Swabia, on which stood a castle, which became the family nest of the family. Translated from the South German language, the word ” Hohensoller ” means “high rock”.

The Hohenzollerns brought Germany into a series of colonial powers that had powerful military-industrial potential. Emperor Wilhelm II, a representative of this noble family, became the last monarch of Germany.

One of the heirs to the Russian throne, Georgy Mikhailovich Romanov, is recognized by many monarchists as the heir to the leadership in the Russian Imperial House. It belongs to one of the  Hohenzollern branches since it is the son of the Prussian prince  Franz  Wilhelm.

8. Bourbons ( XIII  century)

The Bourbon Royal House is one of the most numerous clans in Europe. The branches of an orgomic genealogical tree of this kind are spread across the continent. The dynasty has different branches. Among them are Spanish, French, Parma, Sicilian, Seville and Orleans clan branches.

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Some noble branches have ceased. The older line of the Bourbons from France was a witness and survived the French Revolution, as was the execution of Louis  XVI. Its existence ceased with the death in 1883 of Count de Chambord.

The Spanish Bourbons are in power today. Its head is the king of Spain, Philip VI. The Parma branch is crowned with the crown of the Grand Duke of Luxembourg.

9. Radziwills  ( XIV  century)

There is a legend according to which the Radziwill family began from the high priest Lizdeika, who took root at the court of the Lithuanian prince Gediminas. Later, when the war with Poland was unleashed by Prince Jagiello, members of a glorious family were given the opportunity to become famous.  Legends circulated about the courage of the  Radziwills among the people. One of the representatives of the clan swam across the river, grabbing the tail of his horse. His courage inspired all the warriors to win. They followed the example of a brave man and won.

The Radziwills were princes of the Holy Roman Empire, patrons of warlords, and owners of manufactories. They influenced the economy and politics of Europe. They were respected. Sophia  Radzivil for righteous deeds after death was canonized by Orthodox saints. Today, one of the most prominent Radziwills is the financier  Maciej Radziwill.

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But there were scammers in the family. So, Catherine Radziwill, who lived in the XX century, was charged with fraud. She served in prison for several years, which became a black spot on the reputation of the family.

10. Oran  ( XVI  century)

The Princes of  Orange were members of an oligarchic family amoung European surnames, whose influence extended to the territory of the United Kingdom of Luxembourg. William I, the leader of the Dutch bourgeois revolution, became the founder of this dynasty.

In the  XIX  century, the family survived several unpleasant decades associated with financial losses. After the death of King  Willem  II, Grand Duchess Anna Pavlovna had to sell the property of the family in order to pay off her creditors. The male line of the dynasty faded in 1890 after the death of  Willem  III . Now the house is represented by descendants of the female line.

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