Version Eight is finally installed! I keep saying ``The Latest Version is Better!'' I feel like the Boy who Cried Wolf, but this version really is better. It's bigger (25% more names than Version Seven, not surprising since it's been over a year since Version Seven), but better, I hope, in other ways as well.
The lists of spouses/partners are more complete now; unfortunately this means they are more misleading as well. If a pedigree page appears to show that someone married two closely related people, it's probably due to conflicting sources: only one of the two is right, but I don't know which one.
(Sorry, but my database format has severe problems I've had to work around. I sure wish I'd used GEDCOM but it would be far too much work to change now. Anyway, GEDCOM doesn't handle uncertainty about parentage very well either.)
I often get asked, by people who have traced their ancestry to someone shown at my site, if there's an error: why doesn't the page show the child from whom they trace descent?
Most children are not shown, unless they are ancestral to someone in my database. (I sometimes make exceptions for children with high titles or whom I know are ancestral to a U.S. President.)
Lists of spouses are not complete either. In Version 7 (or earlier), even the spouses shown as possible parent's of an indicated child are sometimes omitted. I've fixed this in Version 8, so that part of the pages will be more complete. (Spouses not ancestral to a child in the database will still usually be omitted.)
Buried on one of the pages at this site was a puzzle, and an offer of a small cash prize to the first reader who solved the puzzle. Congratulations to Nikolai Scheuring, who won the prize!!
Let me recommend a few books:
I've not used these books for genealogical information, but for notes and speculations. Hancock's book is perhaps the most fascinating I've ever read. It gives a convincing solution to one of history's greatest mysteries.
Hart's book lists the most influential persons who ever lived (excluding anonymous persons like ``the inventor of the wheel''). His arguments seem very reasonable and it is a fun way to learn history. Leonardo da Vinci, Marco Polo and many other very famous or great people do not qualify for the list -- Hart claims history would have developed almost the same without them. On the other hand, Ts'ai Lun, who most people have never heard of, ranks 7th on the list: his invention (paper) is one of the most important ever made. (That paper needed a special inventor is proven by the fact that China was able to keep the recipe secret for many centuries.)
I've added a notation (``MIPHMHH'') and associated index entry, for people in my database who appear on Hart's list. (Of course this won't appear until Version 8.) Twenty-two of Hart's 100 names appear in my database. These include Emperor Justinian I and Queen Elizabeth I, whose parents were already in the database, but themselves were added only when I decided to pursue the ``MIPHMHH'' (which stands for ``Most Influential Persons in History according to Michael H. Hart''). Napolean Bonaparte and Oliver Cromwell are also MIPHMHH's added only recently.
It seems impressive that 22 of the hundred are in my database, but the reason some are missing may be interesting. 'Umar ibn al-Khattab, great conqueror and 2nd Caliph of Islam is missing, although I have a long lineage of hereditary Caliphs. The two greatest Chinese Emperors, Shih Huang Ti and Sui Wen Ti, are missing, although I have partial coverage several Chinese dynasties.
Perhaps the reason the great Caliph and Emperors are missing, is that they weren't hereditary leaders -- their greatness came from merit.
Recently one of my fans (!) e-mailed me a question about about a discrepancy in lists of the earliest Saxon Kings of Deira. I don't have time to pursue all questions, but this discrepancy intrigued me so I did a Google Search for Historia Brittonum, thinking someone might have summarized part of Nennius' famous 8th-century genealogies into a web-page.
Imagine my delight when I discovered, not a summary, but at Paul Halsall's Internet Medieval Source Book, Nennius' entire book, Gildas' 6th-century history, and much more. (Nennius introduces several variations in the Anglo-Saxon genealogies which haven't appeared in other on-line genealogies; I will show some of them as alternates in my database.)
In hindsight, I shouldn't have been surprised to find these books available for free on the Internet. Many of the great classics are: they aren't copyrighted. (It's the latest Grisham novel that you can't get this way.)
I'd like to make the Fabulous Pedigree available to an entrepreneur, either as an Internet website, or to distribute as CD-ROM's. Please help if you know someone who might be interested.
Please add a comment to my guest book. But please E-Mail me also if you want a reply.
One of the original features of my pages was the "ancestor marks," which were color or letter codes allowing you to see at once if a person was descended from King Edward III, Cyrus the Great, etc.
The King Edward III marks are probably mostly accurate, but the experts will not condone calling Cyrus the Great a "certain" ancestor of any modern person or late medieval European King. As I update the database, sometimes a "certain" link will be demoted to "possible." This happened to King Henry II, who used to be shown as certain descendant of Cyrus the Great, but is now just marked "possible." There were several "demotions" in related lineages, the key one concerning the mother of Rotbaud of Arles/Provence (961-1008+). Experts acknowledge that she was named Constantia, but have questioned the theory that she was grandchild of King Louis the Blind, who married a Byzantine princess.
England's King Edward III is still shown as a "certain" descendant of Cyrus the Great, via Shahs of Persia, the ancient Bagratuni family, Kings of Hungary to Kings of France.
Another link was demoted from "possible" to wrong. Previously I showed King Egbert the Great's wife Redburga as possibly daughter of Charlemagne. This was based on an old document describing her as "sister of Frankish monarch." But if the wife of this great English King really were the daughter of the premiere medieval King surely it would be a well-documented fact, not one that had to be inferred from a single document. Recently the medieval genealogy expert John P. Ravilious developed a convincing theory that she was a sister of the Frankish noblewoman Ermengarde who married Louis I King of Franks. ("Sister" in such documents could also mean sister-in-law.)
There has been a full year's gap between Version 7 and Version 8, so naturally the changes are the most extensive ever. I continue to expand the Scottish ancestry of Lady Diana, and have added other ancestors including some Pictish and Anglo-Saxon lineages.
One of the final steps in preparing Version 8 is to scan the index looking for spelling variants that I hadn't noticed. (The index feature where spelling variations are merged together has taken up some time.) Variations that I first became aware of with Version 8, each of which represented several individuals represented twice in the database, included: HOSTADEN / HOCHSTADEN, PENINGTON / PENINTON, JENKS / JENKES, CRISPIN / CRESPIN, HOCES / HOZ. During this process I also noticed that Isak BANER and Isaac ISAACSSON are the same person (he and several relatives had been duplicated) and that MOUBRAY is a branch of the MOWBRAY family (I got a lot of additions when I hooked them together).
The reader will notice many spelling variants that are not coalesced in the index. In some cases this is my mistake, but often I deliberately left the alternate spelling when it seemed more efficient or less confusing.
In the index, secondary surnames are often omitted. For example, many of the NEVILLE's in the database were also known as ABERGAVENNY or WESTMORELAND, but to save space only a few are shown in the index under those headings.
Below is a list of battles in which many people in the database died. Just recently I discovered that the second most bloody of these battles wasn't even mentioned in the earlier version of that list. The Battle of Agincourt claimed the lives of over thirty men in my database. Most of these were Frenchmen, many killed as prisoners due to a misunderstanding. Agincourt was a fantastic victory by the English under Henry V against a hugely superior French force. The exact words Henry used to rally his forces may not be known, but Shakespeare quotes him as saying
``If we are marked to die, we are enough
To do our country loss; and if to live,
The fewer men, the greater share of honour.''
If you want to distinguish fact from fiction in medieval genealogy, or want more details, the Usenet newsgroup soc.genealogy.medieval (available from Google Groups and from a Rootsweb message board) is an excellent resource. Check the archives first, to see if your question has already been addressed in the past; if not, post your question (trying to be polite and helpful) and some of the world's best genealogical experts may be happy to help. John Ravilious and Douglas Richardson are perhaps the two most helpful individuals in this public-spirited group, but there are several others.
After uploading Version Seven I posted a message there, mentioning my List of Flodden Field fatalities, and the fact that Diana Spencer had 51 certain or possible ancestors who died on Scotland's dreadful day (9 September 1513). Immediately, two experts wrote back, providing more ancestors for Diana who fell at Flodden. A few of them were already in my database, but with no cause of death, but most of them were entirely new, and came from parts of Diana's pedigree that I was missing.
One reason my database is so large is that it includes mythical ancestries. Was Achilles of the Iliad really the son of an immortal Water Nymph? Was he really the ancestor of Alexander the Great? Did Achilles even exist at all? I don't claim to know the answers to such questions; I just try to report the Ancient Genealogical Allegations.
If I were to start this project over, I would use GedCom format, but it began as a personal effort before I'd even heard of GedCom. Compared with GedCom, my format has a few advantages but also major flaws.
Problems arise when I show alternative pedigrees for an individual. (Most websites don't run into trouble, because they simply pick the most likely parents and don't mention alternatives.) The software makes the pedigrees themselves look the way I want, but the lists of spouses become misleading.
On my pages when you see ``Wives/Partners'' pretend that it says ``Possible Mothers of Possible Children.'' (In some cases these possible mothers will be the wives of alternative fathers.) Similarly ``Husbands/Partners'' should read ``Possible Fathers of Possible Children.'' With this change the information may make more sense. (I'd have changed the pages myself to read this way, but the wording just seems too clumsy.)
Another way to avoid the confusion is to click on the child or grandchild of interest. The way I show ancestors may be somewhat less misleading than the way ``Spouses/Partners'' are shown.
Question: On the page of Philip de Baumvile (ca 1230 - 1284), you show Agnes de Storeton as both his wife and mother. Did he really marry his own mother?
Answer: No. I've merged information from two different sources and have tried to indicate uncertainty by marking her as ``possible.'' (The different sources each have completely different date estimates, so each is internally consistent.)
I searched my database looking for people who really did have the same person as both parent and grandparent. I knew there were a few legendary people that would fit the bill. Antigone of Thebes was the daughter of Jocasta and also her granddaughter since Oedipus married his own mother. Similarly, according to the Bible, the Moabites and Ammonites descend from Lot's incestuous liasons. But I was still surprised to see how many of these the database had:
One way to mark my progress towards completing this database is to count the number of ``pedigree at WorldConnect'' indications. These show loose-ends, where the database has no parents for the individual, but can be expanded easily by incorporating the person's pedigree from an Internet GedCom. Over time, I look up these GedComs and incorporate them, so the number of ``pedigree at WorldConnect'' indications should diminish over time. Let's see how that works:
|Version 3:||415 pedigrees wanted from WorldConnect|
|Version 4:||458 pedigrees wanted from WorldConnect|
|Version 5:||487 pedigrees wanted from WorldConnect|
|Version 6:||687 pedigrees wanted from WorldConnect|
|Version 7:||1211 pedigrees wanted from WorldConnect|
|Version 8:||1107 pedigrees wanted from WorldConnect|
The number of loose ends finally started declining! But considering how much effort it was to change Version 7 into Version 8, I'm not sure the number of loose ends will ever get much smaller.
Version 7 has some changes, compared with Version 6, to the list of ``famous descendants'' near the top of each pedigree page:
Version 8 made more additions to this list (with redundancy rules similar to above):
Along with myself, the following famous descendants from Version 6 are still shown in Version 8 (subject to rules similar to those of Version 6): Winston Churchill, George Washington, King Louis XVII, King Juan Carlos, King Baudouin I, Queen Beatrix, Kaiser Wilhelm II, Jullus of Rome, and Agnes Harris.
Version 5 showed only three children for Jacob/Israel, the progenitor of the Hebrew people; in Version 6 I added his remaining ten children and some of his grandchildren. I discovered that Asenath, the wife of Jacob's favored son Joseph, was probably Joseph's own niece, conceived in Canaan, with Potipherah of Egypt just the stepfather. This fact is part of Jewish legend, but was confirmed a few years ago by John P. Pratt's discovery that the relation between Asenath and Dinah is hidden in Genesis 46 like a logic puzzle!
When I was quite young, I had two great-great aunts and a great-great uncle who had preserved family records. I meticulously copied some of this information but, as travels rambled on over the years and decades, I lost all my copies of this, except for a pedigree summary I had prepared at the birth of my first niece. Eventually that pedigree was the only extant remnant of the earlier compilation. (A year after I started this project, my mother and sister found, buried under hundreds of other documents and artifacts in their garages, copies of the genealogical tribute to his mother-in-law by Earl Rosenberg, my great-great uncle by marriage.)
One day, to pass the time, I tried to look up some of my early American ancestors on the Internet. It took a while for me to find the right sites for searching, but eventually the Internet showed me the 17th-century ancestors I'd vaguely remembered from Rosenberg's work. I was trying to create a nice printable pedigree, and was pleased to recover this information. But then I took one more fateful step.
The fateful step was to practice the Internet genealogy search. From the Internet I discovered that King Edward III may have been my ancestor and, although I now know that connection is not accepted by experts, I decided to add King Edward's pedigree to mine....
The rest is history, as they say. My connection to English Kings may be fraudulent, but I eventually added British Kings to my database all the way down to Lady Di's eldest son, so my database does include valid pedigrees to the English Kings, just not mine!
With my pedigree extending back to prehistoric Anatolia, I tried, with little success, to make sense of the phases of the fabled city of Troy (Ilion). Here's what I've gleaned; further help appreciated:
|Phase||Culture||End, approx date and cause|
|Troy founding estimated between 3500 and 3000 BC|
|Troy I||Aegean ?||2500 BC, fire|
|Troy II||prob. same as I||2300 BC, war|
|Troy III||prob. same as II||-|
|Troy IV||prob. same as III||ca 1950 BC|
|Troy V||prob. same as IV||1750 BC|
|Troy VI||``Trojan'' (Luvian?)||ca 1280 BC, earthquake|
|Troy VIIa||``Trojan''||ca 1210 BC, fire (Trojan war?)|
|Troy VIIb1||Phrygian||1150 BC|
|Troy VIIb2||??||1050 BC, fire|
|Troy VIII||Greek||85 BC|
|Troy IX||Roman||ca 500 AD, earthquake|
(While Central Anatolia was dominated by the Hattic people, the earliest Troy culture may have been closely related to the Minoan culture of Crete, but as far as I know there is no general agreement on what language early Crete or Troy spoke. Note that an invading culture which destroyed a Troy phase militarily, was probably often not the culture which rebuilt the city. The destruction of Troy II may coincide with the arrival of proto-Hittites, but there's no evidence they occupied Troy III.)
One thing that makes genealogy fun is learning about the past in a roundabout way. I'm in such a hurry that I seldom record dates and months, just keeping the year, and don't bother with cause of death unless it catches my eye, yet I noticed many Scottish nobles, including King James IV, dying at Flodden on Sept. 9, 1513. Much of my best information is e-mailed to me by people who browse my site. It was Jeanette Forbes-Hood O'Reilly who pointed out that James IV King of Scots was the last British King to die in battle.
Since then I've checked up a little and found several other battles where several persons in my database died. (The following table should not be viewed as ``statistically significant.'' Because of my ancestry, this database emphasizes late medieval Scotland. Also, many battle deaths who show up in other databases don't make it into mine, for the simple reason that the early death prevented them from having living descendants.)
(I didn't notice the four deaths at the Battle of Barnet until after Version Seven ``went to press.'' Doubtless I am missing many other battles.)
Diana Spencer, Princess of Wales, has 51 ancestors in my database who died on Sept. 9, 1513 at Flodden Field. (Is that why there was so much bad blood between her and the Windsors?) I suspect there are more; most of the dead were her 15-great grandfathers, but of 131072 15-great grandparent slots in her pedigree, I've filled only about 7%. (Of course there is much duplication. Archibald Campbell, 2nd Earl Argyll, appears in her pedigree 1267 times.)
(You can also check my Version 5 newsletter and my Older newsletters.)