This all started as a "weekend" project because we wondered (as, we are sure, many families do) if our family had any famous ancestors. Well, as it turns out, we do. Lots of them. Some of our more notable ancestors include Lady Godiva, El Cid Campeador, Old King Cole (yes, he was a real person although his name was actually King Coel the Old), William the Conqueror, Charlemagne, Ivar the Boneless, and a list of over 100 kings, emperors and czars.
All of their descendents eventually married and funneled into the Plantagenet Dynasty of England - with 4 of those Plantagenet kings being our ancestors, the most recent being King Edward I "Longshanks" of England. The beauty of having even one famous ancestor is that their lineage is already detailed in innumerable encyclopedias and history books. That means that, from Edward back, the research was fairly easy. Albeit fairly time consuming following all of the individual threads - but easy nonetheless.
A brief word on the subject of documentation
Ordinarily, a research project would include bibliographical references to document the information. However, in the beginning, it never occurred to us that we would be publishing this for the world to see. It was just a matter of personal curiosity. We did make mental note of the fact that the information was documented, but we didn't bother to write it all down. We did make it a point to exclude information that was vague. Since this was being done primarily for our own amusement we saw no point in lying to ourselves. We stopped the bloodline anytime we ran into comments such as "his father was believed to have been..." If they weren't sure, how could we be. By the time we decided to publish this, under the heading of "what's the point of doing all this if no one ever sees it", we were almost done and, quite frankly, just didn't have the inclination to go back and look it all up again. So you are left with 2 choices - you can accept what we have done at face value, or you can reject it out of hand for the lack of references. We are satisfied it is correct - and for our purposes that's good enough.
A brief word on the layout
You have probably noticed that most genealogical family trees (sort of what you
find on professional research sites) look like the picture to the right.
Now, that's all well and good if you're only going back a few generations.
But our tree is traceable back to 63 generations !
We've always described ourselves as being of English ancestry.
Even though we knew that England had been overrun by, at least,
the Romans. the Vikings, the French, and the Germans
(except then the Germans were called Saxons - hence the term Anglo-Saxon).
So we sort of always knew that we must have had some mixed blood -
we just never knew HOW mixed the blood was.
Our ancestry is made up of at least 30 different countries and empires -
many of which were founded by our ancestors. (See "chest thumping" below).
That's in addition to the Visigoths and the nomadic Slavic tribes who
did not have clearly defined countries of their own.
Plus the peoples who came from areas of Europe that weren't yet a country. Switzerland, for example, didn't come into formal being until 1848 (although it
did exist loosely as a Confederation of Cantons since 1291).
At the time of our ancestors, the area was part of Charlemagne's Frankish Empire. So we don't get to add Switzerland to the count.
In order to emphasize the variety of countries, and the number of people from each country, we decided on a different format.
Our tree is laid out horizontally with the ancestors listed top to bottom in chronological order but ALSO
left to right by their country of origin.
Our research was so successful that we have estimated that in order to print out our tree out on a single piece of paper,
the paper would have to be 5 feet tall and 30 feet wide. We just don't have a wall that big. In order to make it a bit more manageable, we have broken the
tree down into 9 distinct pages.
For example, all of our Spanish ancestors are listed on the far left side of the tree (page 1) and all of our Russian ancestors
are on the far right (page 9). The other countries are spread across the tree (pages), more or less, in the same order as the countries would be shown on a map of Europe. However, that did present one stumbling block. What to do when Henry the Frenchman marries Anna the Russian.
For that matter, how did Henry the Frenchman even MEET Anna the Russian in the first place? 1500 miles apart? A thousand years ago they didn't have a well developed mass transit system. Must have been one heck of a dating service.
As Yente would surely have said "Have I got a girl for you !".
So, for the sake of consistency, we put Henry in the French column and Anna in the Russian column. The beauty of a web page (as opposed to a printed page - trust me that was a lot more difficult) is that we are able to add a "hot link" under each name to jump directly to their mate. So, for example, in Henry's case, directly below his name is a hot link that reads
married Anna Yaroslavna. Clicking that link will jump you directly to Anna's listing, which will appear at the top of the page, so that you can follow her ancestry. Conversely, under Anna's name, there is a hot link that reads married Henry Capet. Clicking that link will return you to Henry's listing, also at the top of the page. (However, since the pages are wider than your computer screen, occassionally the listing will show up in the top right corner - half on the screen and half off. You will need to slide the page sideways to see the full listing)
If, however, the mates were from the same geographical region then the names are side by side with either
an [M] (i.e. married) or [L] (i.e. lovers) between them. [M1] [M2] simply means that (either because of divorce, death, or a kidnapping) one person had 2 or more spouses. Some particularly randy individuals get both (and several) [M]s and [L]s.
Given the rather violent nature of the middle ages, and nobles were expected to fight not farm, death and remarry was fairly common. And, apparently, a noble after a battle would see some lass that he fancied and he would simply pick her up and carry her off - the spoils of war and all that. For example: Poppa was kidnapped by Viking warriors and married to their leader Ganger Hrolf; Almodis de la Marche was kidnapped by and married to Ramon Berenguer (while she was still married to Pons); Judith of Schweinfurt was kidnapped out of a monastery (where her father had tried to hide her) and married to Bretislaus I;
Asa Haraldsdottir was kidnapped in a raid by Gudrod when her father refused permission for them to marry (the father was killed in the raid), and on and on.
Now, in some cases there were multiple marriages and/or multiple lovers but, because those pairings didn't produce an ancestor, we didn't list them all. For example, Adelais of Anjou was married 5 times. We only listed her 2nd and 5th husbands who produced our ancestors. Her others did not produce ancestors and, as such, are not listed. So a single [M] and/or the absence of an [L] doesn't mean that they were faithful - only that our ancestors weren't the other side of the tryst.
As an aside - King Henry I of England allegedly holds the record of an estimated 20 to 25 illegitimate children through at least 7, maybe more, lovers. That's in addition to 2 legitimate children through 2 wives. In the words of Mel Brooks - "It's good to be King". (3 of his children are known to be our ancestors). In fact, VERY large families seemed to be the norm amongst nobles - a dozen or so kids wasn't that unusual. After all, its not like they had television to keep them busy in the evening. After a very long day of Lording it over the peasants and other dregs of the earth, a man really needs to unwind. Keep in mind that in that era they were generally Catholics and big families were prized.
A "down arrow" between names signifies the link from parents to children.
Any name with 3 asterisks *** directly above it means that no additional ancestors could be found and that is the end of that particular bloodline. (Otherwise, you might be inclined to think that we simply forgot to continue.)
You will also notice a lot of instances where only one parent's name is mentioned. Blame it on the times. "Way Back Then" the purpose of a son was to continue the name, the title and the dynasty. The purpose of a daughter was to be married off to another noble so as to cement a peace treaty or alliance. Don't blame us. It was their doing. WAY too many pages read something like: "HE married a daughter of NAME and had a son NAME who inherited HIS title and lands". And then, almost as an afterthought: "HE also had a daughter who married NAME son of NAME." If you then go to the page of the man the daughter married it says "HE married a daughter of NAME .... etc". Do you see what's missing? The names of the daughters and wives. Worse yet, some say even less: "HE was the son of NAME and had a son NAME ... etc" It doesn't even suggest who his wife or mother was. As a result, there are many MANY instances where only one parent is listed or the wife is listed simply as "a daughter of...". It's not that we weren't looking for the name, its that they just didn't bother to record the daughters with the same care as they did the sons.
Betty Friedan would have been BESIDE herself.
A brief word on inbreeding
You may know that there is the stereotype of royals always inbreeding.
Well, its more that just a stereotype. After all, you don't expect the child of a Noble to marry a commoner.
Based on our family, at least, it was constant.
Every name listed on this site is one of our ancestors. Even limiting this to only our ancestors, you will notice that MANY couples are listed as having multiple children, up to as many as 5 - all of whom were our ancestors. (Herbastus de Crepon, King Edward the Elder and Halfdan the Old each had 5). (Frequently, they had many more children but we only listed those that were our ancestors). That means that each of those children listed went off and formed their own families which eventually married back into themselves. ('Cause otherwise we never would have gotten down to just 2 ancestors - our mother and father). In some cases they married within only one or two generations and in other cases several generations later. But 1rst cousins or 5th cousins, they were still cousins.
The family of Henry I "The Fowler" really got carried away. Four too-close cousin marriages within 5 generations.
A few examples of other "too close" marriages of our ancestors:
***Gormflaith married, first, Olaf Cuaran and produced a son. Upon Olaf's death she married Brian Boru
and produced a daughter. The son and the daughter (half-brother and half-sister) then married.
***David, Prince of Scotland, married his niece Maud of Chester.
***Margueritte de Turenne married her nephew William V Taillefer
***But the prize goes to Clothru of Ireland. She seduced all 3 of her brothers in one night which produced a son.
THEN she married that son and, with him, produced her own grandson. Now THAT'S inbreeding !
Yrsa of Saxony was impregnated through an affair with her own father King Halga. Although in the telling of the story it is made clear that she was the child of a previously long forgotten affair by King Halga - and that they didn't know (at the time) that they were father and daughter. (There is a suggestion that those who set up the affair did know and did so because they wanted to embarrass them, or possibly gain "pay back" for some alleged slight.) When he found out the truth he committed suicide in shame. (By the way, although Halga and Yrsa were our ancestors, that child was not.)
And on and on. There are notes on the tree of marriages up to 3rd cousins. We stopped there because both civil and Church law said that 4th cousins and beyond were O.K.
Now, in all fairness, once the Pope became powerful enough (more or less the 9th to 10th century), he occasionally stepped in to marriages which he felt were too close (what was called consanguinity) and offered the couple a choice - accept an annulment or be excommunicated. (Historically, the Pope's "meddling" is what caused Henry VIII to throw out the Catholic church and create the Anglican Church of England). In some cases they chose excommunication and remained married. Even if they accepted the annulment, however, what that did was suddenly make their children (our ancestors) illegitimate. BUT it didn't change the fact that there were, still, children. Of course, that only worked with the Catholics. The Scandinavians, Russians, Slavs and Visigoths were, generally (originally), pagans and beyond the Pope's reach.
A brief word on Multiple Personal Names
You will notice that the names of some people are followed by additional names in parenthesis.
In some cases it may be that different scribes in different countries spelled it according to local customs. (Alyx, Alice)
Or: 2 equally proper names: Walter of Gloucester (where he's from) is also known as
Walter FitzRoger (Fitz meaning "the son of" Roger)
Or: as the person's info page says, they were born into one culture and married or moved into another.
As a result they changed their name to more easily fit into the new culture.
Hrolf the Norwegian settled in France, converted to Christianity and was baptized Robert.
Or: Their birth name was changed upon the investiture of a hereditary rank and title
Born Guy Geoffrey, upon the death of his brother Duke William VII, he became Duke William VIII of Aquitaine
Or: it may be a nickname, even though the reference may not make sense to us.
In any event, we used the name that seemed to be the most commonly used and listed the others just to be sure.
And then there are the aphorisms: some are complimentary "The Victorious", some are descriptive "Greybeard",
and some are insulting "The Cheater" - but all of them add a little color to an otherwise dry recitation.
And, finally, a little chest thumping
Lost amongst the sheer weight of the information enclosed, and under the heading of "give credit where credit is due",
many of our ancestors were nation builders.
William the Conqueror is credited with being the founder of Modern England
(as distinguished from Olde Anglo-Saxon England)
Henry I "The Fowler" is credited with being the founder and first king of Germany
Nor, after whom the country is named, founded the country of Norway
Harald I united the competing Norse Kingdoms to create modern day Norway and become its first modern King.
Rurik is credited with being the founder of Russia and his great-great grandson Yaroslav was the first Czar.
Snae "The Old" is credited with being the founder and first king of Finland
Fjolnir Yngvifreysson is credited with being the founder and first king of Sweden
Fergus Mor mac Eirc is credited with being the founder and first king of Scotland
Llewellyn Fawr united several independent kingdoms to form the country of Wales and become its first King.
Gerolf is credited with being the founder of Holland, separating it from the Frankish empire.
Piast Kolodziej founded the Piast dynasty which laid the ground work for the State of Poland
The Coronation of his great(x3) grandson Boleslaw I finally created the Kingdom of Poland.
And on and on with a veritable pig-pile of First Kings, Czars, Dukes, Counts, Earls, and Barons of various city-states, and innumerable people credited as being the "Founder of the (blank) Dynasty" or "Founder of the Abbey at (blank)", etc.
As unseemly as it may be to brag on our ancestor's accomplishments,
it can be argued that we have a most impressive resume.
Thanks for taking the time to read this - hope we didn't bore you.
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