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.
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.
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.
________________________________ *(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.)
My mom’s recently joined the many who’ve read the highly regarded historical novels by Booker Prize winner Hilary Mantel that bring to life the exploits and lives (yet again…but from what I heard on NPR and then from my mom, very much worth it) of Ye Olde Tudors…and of course–at least in spirit and as far as bloodlines go–the last of Ye Olde Plantagenets, don’t’chya know.
Well it happens that her informing me of her getting so much enjoyment out of reading those books coincided with my nailing down our descent from some of those same folks; AND having put it all into pretty charts. Which I promised her months ago. (Really, you don’t want to know how many months ago! Yikes.) So at last, here is the chart.
Clicking on it should open it in another browser window. At the top of the picture you’ll see 4536 × 5264. That’s the link to the full, big honkin’ mama of an image so you can actually see it in detail. Please feel free to download it, which for some of you might be the easiest way to see the largest version. Attribute my authorship if you repost it. (Linking sure is an easy way to do that…)
I hope that this chart could be useful to anyone out there who is responsible for teaching anything related to the Tudors who ruled England for about a century and a half.
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.)