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One drop of royal blood

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Charles, Prince of Wales, who one day according to Finnish terminology shall be King Karl III (Charles III) of England, married on 29 July 1981 to Lady Diana Spencer. Newspaper information relates this about the Spencer family’s royal stock: “Five of their forebears were bastard children of Charles II.” For hundreds of years illegitimate children of the rulers have long held a more accepted status than “ordinary” illegitimate children. Moral constrain has seldom been felt at the highest levels in our society.

In Finnish genealogy tables one can touch upon illegitimate children from royal blood. Jully Ramsay mentions, in Björn Pedersson Djäknes’ family, Erengisle Björnsson, commander at Viborg castle, who lived in 1476. In his second marriage he had a wife Karin. She “was said to be King Karl Knutsson’s illegitimate daughter.” Jully Ramsay found the source of information from as early as the 1550’s in Jakob Teitt’s records.

With Karin and her alleged father as the starting point there are a large number of easily accessible sources forward and backward along the paths of regal lines and noble lines. I described in the following the entire line (31 generations) for one such line to the 1700’s and left it to the reader to analyze his own eventual connection in the following illustration.

A Family Line from Karl the Great (Charlemagne) to Katarina Karlsdotter Lindelöf:

  1. Karl the Great, Emperor of Rome (747-814) (Charlemagne)
  2. Ludvig the Holy, Roman Emperor
  3. Karl the Bald
  4. Judit, married Balduin I, Count of Flanders (probably with the following 7)
  5. Balduin II
  6. Arnulf I
  7. Balduin III
  8. Arnulf II
  9. Balduin IV
  10. Balduin V Insulanus
  11. Robert Frisländer, Count of Flanders
  12. Adele of Flanders, married Knut II the Holy of Denmark
  13. Ingegerd of Denmark, married Folke the Stout, Jarl of Sweden
  14. Bengt Folkesson Snivel, Jarl
  15. Birger Brosa, Jarl
  16. Folke Jarl (Folkunge)
  17. N.N. Folkesdotter (Folkung) married Rörik N.N.
  18. Birger Röriksson
  19. Rörik Birgersson
  20. Margareta Röriksdoter, married Tord Bonde
  21. Rörik Tordsson Bonde, married Märta Gisslesdotter Sparre
  22. Tord Röriksson Bonde, married Ramborg Nilsdotter Vase
  23. Knut Tordsson Bonde, married Margareta Karlsdotter Sparre
  24. Karl Knutsson Bonde
  25. Karin Karlsdotter, married Erengisle Björnsson (Diekn)
  26. Märta Erengislesdotter, married Johan Fleming
  27. Anna Fleming, married Olof Pedersson Lille
  28. Tönne Olofsson, married Brita Risbit
  29. Erik Tönnesson, married Karin Andersdotter (Sabelfana)
  30. Hebla Eriksdotter Wildeman, married Karl Lindelöf
  31. Katarina Karlsdotter Lindelöf, married Henrik Lang

I have chosen to go back in time to Charlemagne (747-814) the Frankish and Lombardy king and Roman Emperor. This family line is found in a well-documented modern work, S. Otto Brenner’s “Nachkommen Gorms des alten”. I followed the family line to the beginning of the 1700’s of the Lang Family in Borgå in which I have my own roots.

It is clear that the family line that goes back only to the middle ages can include many errors. Many family connections are based on clear suppositions or conclusions. The genetic significance of a “root” more than 1,000 years old is also exceedingly small. On the other hand it cannot be denied that a little touch of royal genealogy gives an interesting historical perspective, a lively history.

In recent Finnish genealogical literature Osmo Durchman has (in Genos) dealt with Finnish ancestry to European royal houses. An interesting but ungodly statement by Ernst Nordström appears as “Genealogiska tabeller rörande släkterna Nordström, Ottelin, Hirn och Alopaeus” (Helsingfors 1904 + 2 later supplemental bulletins.) Also, before Karl den store (Charlemagne) and in a table before Nordström family, etc. also back to Chlodio (Clodion), king of Franks 428-448. Nordström goes farther back when he takes up clearly legendary kings as “Njord, king of Svealand”, of which Anders Fryxell relates: “Njord, Oden’s successor in Sweden, was worshipped as the god of wind.” Njord’s son’s son Fjolner drowned (still according to Fryxell) in a mead vat at a banquet in Denmark!

It is interesting to see the roots to these medieval-age kings studied by English genealogists. One of England’s most noted genealogists is Sir Anthony Wagner, whose “Pedigree and Progress” (London 1975) includes family lines that not only go to the Frankish kings but also to the Roman Emperor. Diacletianus’ (emperor 284-305) ancestors can be followed through to Karl den store (Charlemagne), with difficulty.

Interesting also is the series “Europäische Stammtafeln” set up by Prince Wilhelm Karl zu Isenburg and obtainable in several new editions (Verlag von J.A. Stargardt, Marburg). Here the German and European royal lines are presented in new editions according to the latest correct genealogy tables. “Neue Folge, Band I” (1980) includes 160 tables from “Die Merowinger” to “Die Hohenzollern.” In “Band II, Die Ausserdeutschen Staaten” (1976) are 108 tables where, for example, Denmark’s sovereign families are presented from Gorm up to our time.

Gorm the Old belongs before the others according to previously mentioned Brenner work, together with the family line I presented. He belongs to generation 7 and his family line to Knut the Holy goes via Harald Blåtand, Sven Tveskägg, Estrid Svensdotter and Sven II Estridsson. Brenner’s source work embraces Gorm the Old’s descendants only to generation 16 – there the descendants are spread in royal lines over the entire Europe.

In the beginning of this outline, I went out from Charles, Prince of Wales. He enters in the gigantic network of the European royal lines with roots entwining each other and obviously with a background to Karl den store (Charlemagne). But he belongs to it through his mother, Queen Elisabet; actually I venture to say he is descended also from the prophet Mohammed!

What did the Queen say when she heard this declaration? So here is how the discussion supposedly went:

“You—are descended from the prophet Mohammed.”
“Oh, really?”
“Yes.”
“How interesting.”

How interesting indeed.

Börje Thilman, Helsingfors släktforskare r.f. 1981

June Pelo


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