attends the special tribute to Sophia Loren during the AFI FEST 2014 presented by Audi at Dolby Theatre on November 12, 2014 in Hollywood, California.
This is the first installment of my rolling out of what I’ve learned about the most senior line of descent from England’s King Edward III. Why? It’s an intellectual exercise, a fascinating one that’s turned out to be quite fruitful, too!
From a surprisingly revealing ladder by which to get a hold of making sense of the intricate pecking order of Continental European aristocracy over the past 700 years, to both a tidy tale of how down to earth and normal some are today due in no small part to actual changes in the world’s rulership and wealth, as well as succinct lessons in the opposite: how some of them still cling to the money & power.
Inspired by the Wikipedia page on “Alternate Successions” to the throne of Britain/England (& the hilarious tidbit that the most senior line, for instance, of Queen Victoria, was through her daughter to Kaiser Wilhelm II!) and my limited American understanding of the rules of succession, I determined several months back to find out if I could what the senior line was and if there were any descendants. Indeed there are! And you can see her above, next to her royal ancestor, a widely forgotten daughter of Edward III.
So, I’ll start today with the wayback:
Edward III’s eldest son, Edward, gets a lot of press since, well, he was the most apparent heir…whoooo, didn’t quite make it to the throne, as he died a year before his dad. He also gets attention, not only due to his snazzy black armor and “all that” attitude, but because it was his son who inherited the crown and became king after Edward III: Richard II.
Richard II, however, had no children. He selected his cousin, Roger Mortimer to inherit the crown from him.
Roger Mortimer was a great-grandson of Edward III through the next son after Edward, namely Lionel (called “of Antwerp” and also Duke of Clarence). Lionel’s daughter Philippa had married a Mortimer, and they’d had two kids, Roger being the boy. His older sister married Henry “Hotspur” Percy, and you’d think would have a claim to the throne, too; more on that later.
Cousin Roger died before Richard II, so being the heir passed to his 7-year-old son Edmund. But wee Edmund didn’t get to be king since his and Richard’s cousin Henry, who was the son of Edward III’s third son, John of Gaunt, Duke of Lancaster, up and took the throne for himself, becoming King Henry IV.
And as we know, Henry IV’s son, grandson et al (aka: the House of Lancaster) arm-wrestled (ie, battled in most bloody fashion) with the sons etc of Edward III’s fourth son, only a year younger than John, Edmund of Langley (aka, the House of York) for the throne over the next 200 years, this civil war known now as Game of Thrones–er, War of the Roses.
So Edward the Black Prince and his brothers Lionel, John and Edmund all get press. So does their baby brother Thomas, since he was murdered.
And you even hear about poor, young Joan, Edward III’s daughter, because she actually died of the Black Death at age 15 on her way to Spain to marry the prince there.
But you never hear about the couple of other daughters, mostly, it would seem, because they had no kids. But to me it’s very curious why we don’t hear more about the 2nd oldest kid of the bunch. Between Edward and Lionel was–apparently Edward III’s favorite child: Isabella, named for his mother, the French princess whose blood allowed/led Edward III to make war on France, claiming the throne (and by which he added the snazzy blue field with gold fleur-de-lys to the Plantagenet/English royal coat of arms).
Isabella turned down various marriages, and finally wed a nobleman in France. Perhaps it was because her dad has launched that ongoing war with France that she got written off, history-wise. Not sure about that yet. What I am sure of, and am here sharing, is her line of descent to the present. It’s funny to me that they counted descent from Lionel’s daughter Philippa but not a generation up from Isabella.
Here’s a chart showing the great-grandkids (work-in-progress) of Edward III & Philippa of Hainault:
Part II soon…in which we meet the next few generations of Edward III’s most senior descendants, some of the most famous, most powerful, most wealthy noble folks of the Continent….
Its huge wave of popularity emboldended moneymen, er, TV producers to greenlight similar shows set grimly & grimily in that distant past of dark armor, shields & swords that gives Game of Thrones its look and feel.
Surging forth first (or at least most notably) on this cashflow has been the epic & popular “Vikings”, and now “The Last Kingdom”, a BBC adaptation from a book in a series by British historical novelist and former news correspondent Bernard Cornwell that chronicles goings-on in England in the centuries before the year 1000.
And it’s awesome.
It’s set during the reign of King Alfred the Great of England, so in the late decades of the 800s AD/Common Era (CE). Like stories & cinematic adaptations before such as Little Big Man, it inserts a fictional character into totally historically accurate situations to tell the past context in human detail.
For now, and for any fan of the show, here’s a chart I’ve done showing Alfred’s descendants for a few generations. Click on it and in the new tab click it again so you can check it out in detail if you like. More on this show later.
This post serves up a long overdue updated version of a tree capturing the gist of the War of the Roses, showing the kings and queens of England who sprang from the many uncrowned sons of King Edward III (seen above with his wife and 2nd cousin Philippa of Hainault). It’s as tidy as can be, leaves out very little, actually, and conveys a lot without being totally overwhelming.
Firstly, though, here’s a chart as a frame of reference showing Edward & Philippa and their sons, not one of whom was ever King of England. (Always click on it, and then once you go to the tab it opens in, click it again so it assumes its full and I hope enjoyable capacity.)
The king immediately following Edward’s death in 1377 was the son of Edward, the oldest son and was named Richard II. The next king was picked by Richard to be one of the grandkids of the 2nd oldest son Lionel, but instead the oldest son of the 3rd son, John, Duke of Lancaster, decided to be king and simply took the crown, telling his younger (half) brother that neither he nor any of his descendants ever got to be king, and then passed it on down to his son and then he to his son. But then it went to a great-grandson of the 4th son, Edmund, Duke of York named Edward (again, this time the 4th, or: IV), then very briefly to his teenage son before going to his (Edward IV’s) younger brother who happened to nicely bookend this hot-potato-like game of the throne that had commenced with Edward III’s death by being named Richard also, and thus the 3rd, or: III.
But then he went and got killed by someone who was a great-great-grandson of the 3rd son (John of Lancaster) who happened to be married to a lady who was both a 4x-great-granddaughter of the 2nd oldest son (Lionel, Duke of Clarence), a 2x-great-granddaugher of the 3rd son (John, Lancaster again) as well as a 2x-great-grandaughter of the 3rd son Edmund (of York). This guy was named Henry and when he took that crown became the 7th one, or Henry VII. The son of his and wife Elizabeth was of course, good ole Henry VIII, he was, and all three of this Henry’s kids would rule England when their time came, but since none of them had any kiddies, the crown passed, as is well known, to a man who was the great-grandson of Henry VIII’s big sister Margaret, one James, who was already by right of birth James VI, King of Scots, and on the death of his grandma’s and grandpa’s 1st cousin Elizabeth I in 1609, became King James I of England.
Click on this chart below, download it so you can zoom way in.
There will be a follow-up post that offers something in the way of an explanation of chart-making choices and highlighting some of the use-values of the chart.
If you repost, borrow, or in any way use it, please attribute. Thanks. Enjoy!
My hope is that this chart–this war of the roses family tree–will be shared, linked to, and used widely as a reference.