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Kamehameha dynasty

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Title: Kamehameha dynasty  
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Subject: House of Laanui
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia

Kamehameha dynasty

Country Hawaii
Ancestral house House of Keoua
Titles King, Queen, Prince, Princess, Aliʻi
Founder Kamehameha I
Final sovereign Kamehameha V
Current head extinct
Founding 1795
Dissolution 1884 or 1903, exists as Bishop Estate

The House of Kamehameha (Hale O Kamehameha), or the Kamehameha Dynasty, was the reigning family of the Kingdom of Hawaiʻi between the unification of the islands by Kamehameha I in 1810 and the death of Kamehameha V in 1872. Their most important contributions were the institution of a constitutional form of government, abolition of ancient Hawaiian kapu systems in favor of westernized laws, proclamation of the Edict of Toleration giving freedom of religion and the promulgation of the Great Mahele, allowing private ownership of land for the first time in Hawaii.


The dynasty developed from royalty of the Kona district of Hawaiʻi Island. They supported chief Kamehameha in gradually taking over control of first the other parts of the island of Hawaiʻi, and then the other islands of the Hawaiian Islands archipelago.

His father was Keōua Kalanikupuapaʻkalaninui the Chief of Kona, and his mother was Kekuʻiapoiwa niece of the reigning King Alapaʻi. Relations were wide: for example, Kamehameha's father had also been the father of Kekuʻiapoiwa, the wife of his son's rival Kīwalaʻō and both were parents of Kamehameha's most sacred wife Keōpūolani.

Kamehameha himself descended also from Aliʻi Aimoku of Oʻahu, Maui, Kauaʻi, and Molokaʻi since the princely or chief class (aliʻi) of the islands was rather intermarried, and legendarily all descended, chief Wākea the original star-born chief.

Expansion of realm

Kamehameha I started a series of wars of conquest and strategic alliances. Succeeding his brother as Aliʻi of Kohala and Kona in 1782, he set out to unify Hawaiʻi Island, and later to subdue the neighboring islands. He ultimately unified the whole of the Hawaiian islands into a single kingdom by 1810. His descendants ruled until the death of Kamehameha V on December 11, 1872.

Kamehameha Monarchs

The influence of the foreigners took a toll on the Kamehamehas. Alcoholism and foreign diseases to which the Native Hawaiians had no immunity were the main reason for the demise of the Kamehamehas. No monarch except Kamehameha I lived past the age of 42. Kamehameha III ruled for 30 years only because he came to the throne as a child. He died in 1854 at the age of 41.

Kamehameha V named his sister Princess Victoria Kamāmalu Kaʻahumanu heir, but she died in 1866. After the death of Kamehameha V in 1872 who had not named another heir, the dynasty ended. On his deathbed, he might have offered the throne to Bernice Pauahi Bishop who refused, and died an hour later. The Chiefs and Nobles nominated William Lunalilo who became the first elected monarch of the Hawaiian Kingdom. He was the son of Charles Kanaina and Miriam Auhea Kekauluohi, a niece of Kamehameha I through her father Kalaimamahu, Kamehameha I's half-brother.


Main articles: Kamehameha Schools and Bernice P. Bishop Museum

Bishop, who had rejected the offer of becoming the ruling monarch, was the last living heiress to the House of Kamehameha and died in 1884. Her dying wishes to her husband, Charles Reed Bishop, were to use the estate for the education of the native Hawaiian people. He founded Bishop Museum and Kamehameha Schools. He made preparations for Bishop Estate to continue after his death which came in 1915. Bishop Estate continues to be a large land holder in Hawaii.

Today, many Hawaiians, including many sovereignty activists, claim descent from Kamehameha I and other Hawaiian monarchs. If such claims are true, they still wouldn't be eligible to succeed to the Hawaiian throne as Bernice Pauahi Bishop was his last legitimate descendant and the Hawaiian constitution stipulated that only "heirs of [the] body lawfully begotten" could succeed to the throne.

Family tree

Template:Kamehameha family tree


External links

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