Tag Archives: york

History on the Screen 2: Thanks Be to GOT!


Thank heavens for the success of Game of Thrones!



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.

Bernard_Cornwell copy.jpg

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.

Statue_d'Alfred_le_Grand_à_WinchesterIt’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 &960 copy 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.


More on the show next time.


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Posted by on April 21, 2017 in Uncategorized


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Such Stuff as Kings Were Made of…ReDux 2



Yes, the news is finally here* on the Y-DNA of England’s King Richard III.

Last week (Dec 2) the team at the University of Leicester in the UK released its findings and details of the study it undertook on the skeletal remains found there two years ago under a parking lot of a man who’d died in the Middle Ages and had been, allegedly, when he walked the earth none other than Richard III, last king of the Plantagenet dynasty; a man infamous thanks to his portrayal by Shakespeare in the play of the same name. [King, T. E. et al. Identification of the remains of King Richard III. Nat. Commun. 5:5631 doi: 10.1038/ncomms6631 (2014).]

The richly sourced and detailed study concludes with about as much certainty as is possible that they are the remains of England’s King Richard III (1452-1485). His whole genome has been examined, and among other interesting things about that, some doubt has been cast–perhaps–on some of the historical royal succession.

Chart showing the ruling descendants of Edward III and the lines to Richard III and the living DNA donors.


John of Gaunt

Ostensible ancestor of living male-line descendants whose DNA was compared to Richard III’s.



His ostensible son, John Beaufort, Earl of Somerset.


Click here TUES DEC 23 to find the scoop on the Global Family Reunion’s blog.


the 4 living guys: R1b-U152

Richard III: G2a-P278

*(Yes, many of us out here were actually waiting with baited breath for this news item that to many must sound like it’s among the most esoteric, most meaningless bits of irrelevant trivia ever. But it’s not. If human life is defined by, or at least given shape by the fact that as pattern-recognizers we make meaning through narratives, personal & cultural, then this news serves to elucidate a key tangle of plot point in the narrative of how the world got to be the way it is just now.)


Posted by on December 9, 2014 in Uncategorized


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Me & My Plantagenets


Absolute power corrupts, absolutely.

As if another example were needed, the family tree of the progeny of King Edward III of England — you know, the family that brought you The War of the Roses and the Hundred Year War, the many beheadings of the many Henry’s, among other things — pays a subtle but altogether twisted witness to the mad struggle for power and control that seemingly everybody in this family engaged in after Edward’s death in 1377.

And that so many people are now totally hooked into, thanks to that frikken awesome Game of Thrones TV series. Never has history been so popularly presented!

Oh, wait. You’re all like, the show is Middle Earth for Grown-Ups, dude! History, schmistory!

Aye, and there’s the rub.

George R.R. Martin, creator of the Game of Thrones world, story, characters, plot, etc, (an Englishman) has directly related that he took much inspiration from the REAL, LIVE, CRUDE  girls and boys of England’s infamous War of the Roses (ie, the roughly 100 year power stuggle for control of the English throne) for the details of the wacked machinations of his fictional world.
In other words, it all really happened. Except for no dragons, no actual weird-mystical-physics-defying magic, and the names have all been changed to protect the home audience from anything that might smack of an historical dramatization. (Such — as imminently airing in the USA on _____ — and titled, “World Without End” can be learned up on at this website. 🙂

So this family tree — of English King Edward III’s descendants — shows how the children and grandchildren of a king wove (and mated) their way to unity over a handful of generations. Note the cousin relationships amongst…well, them all!
This will be shortly updated with links to the best family trees of the Lannisters, Baratheons, Targaryens and Starks.

And the REAL rub, of course — of this history…of the TV show — is the things that people will do in order to get, hold, and or prevent others from getting and or holding POWER.    I mean, daaaaamn.

The five or so decades following the death of Augustus Caesar [sic] offer a similar microcosm of just what people will get up to if Ultimate Power seems to be … juuuust ….. rightthere…. allllllmost in their grasp.

Btw, the fueds and backstabbings and crazy multi-cousin intermarriages of Edward’s kids and grandkids is infamously messy to fully transcribe in one family tree. I think you’ll find this is as elegant a transcription as can be made. (There’re only two marraige-indicating lines that have to cross other peoples’ descent lines; ie, the marriage lines go left-to-right, and the lines which show parents and their offspring, or descent, are up and down. Most trees showing this wacked bunch either have multiple such criss-crossings or simply leave out most of the relationship-showing connections cuz it’s too messy an info config.)

Colors on the chart above follow this logic:

eldest son colored the same as Edward III

king who finally (re)-united the Yorks and Lancasters (Henry VIII) is also in that color.

York = white   (Stark….)

Lancaster (legitimate) = red    (Lannister….)

Lancaster (illegit & barred from the throne) = orange

youngest son (Woodstock) = green

spouses who were not (as thoroughly) in the Edward III blood-mix = gray

It’s worth noting that what’s estimated by historians to be 10s of millions of people descend from this crazy bunch (yours truly, included: Edward III was my 18th great-grandfather.)


Posted by on May 9, 2012 in Uncategorized


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