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Reply with quote  #1 

This is not the new project referred to in the discussion thread. That rather ambitious effort is stalled at present, though I hope it will eventually be seen. Rather, this thread is intended for odds and sods, items of royal genealogical interest that engage my attention from time to time. The first offering in it is concerned with the descent of kings of France from … kings of France.

France, the kingdom of the Franks as it originally was, was ruled in the beginning by the Merovingian dynasty, supplanted after several centuries by the Carolingians. Their rule was interrupted by two Robertians and a Burgundian before the last of them to reign, Louis V, was succeeded by Hugues I, the first Capetian. His line then reigned for the next 860 years, with one interruption.

But it was not an unbroken line. For thirteen generations and over three hundred years it was, then with the death of the infant Jean I, last of those generations, the succession began to branch. He was succeeded by his uncle Philippe V, he by his brother Charles IV, and he by his cousin Philippe VI, who of the kings before him that left legitimate descent lacked any from Philippe IV and his sons Louis X, father of Jean, and Philippe V himself, the first Capetian king not to be descended from every Capetian king before him.

These lacks remained all the way to Charles VIII, who was descended through his mother from Philippe V and his father Philippe IV. His death without surviving issue brought his distant cousin Louis XII to the throne. While he also was descended from Philippe V, he still lacked descent from Louis X and also lacked it from Charles VII and Charles VI, the paternal grandfather and great-grandfather respectively of Charles VIII, and their descent through daughters was abundant.

Descent through daughters was all Louis XII had as well, so his successor was his cousin François I. His accession marked the first return to the French throne of the blood of Louis X, and he could also claim descent from Philippe V. Not, of course, from Louis XII, though as his wife Claude of France was Louis’ daughter that lack would be remedied in the next generation, and also not from Charles VI and Charles VII. Apart from the addition of Louis XII those lacks persisted with his son Henri II and his three grandsons who reigned in turn.

Since none of these had male or indeed any surviving legitimate posterity the throne went to a very distant cousin agnatically, Henri IV. He was a descendant of both Louis X and Philippe V, indeed was cognatic heir of the former (though not by the line shown in the table below), and also after a gap of 91 years restored the blood of the mad Charles VI and France’s liberator Charles VII to the throne. But although he was descended from François I’s sister he was not from the king himself, nor his son Henri II, nor his father-in-law Louis XII. His marriage and those of his son Louis XIII and grandson Louis XIV brought no change, but that of le Grand Dauphin, son of Louis XIV, filled in all the gaps.

The Dauphin predeceased his father, and nor did his son Louis, Dauphin in turn but more generally known as the duc de Bourgogne, ever come to the throne either. He survived his father but not his grandfather, and so it was Bourgogne’s son Louis XV who, at the age of five, became the first King of France since the even younger Jean I, 398 years earlier, to be descended from all other kings of France that left legitimate descent.

In fact, he was in a similar position to Philippe II Augustus, 136 years before that. Why bring that inarguably great monarch, if arguably rather bad man, into the question? He was after all a Direct Capetian, one of the unbroken line that stretched from Hugues I to Jean I. But, as I started out by saying, the Capets were not France’s first dynasty. Hugues Capet was descended from Charlemagne, the second Carolingian, and his father Pepin I the first, and from Robert I, the second Robertian, Hugues’ paternal grandfather. No one can claim Merovingian descent, and there is none known either from Eudes, the first Robertian, or Raoul, the sole Burgundian. But there is plenty from the Carolingians Louis I, Charles II, Louis II, Charles III and Louis IV.

Hugues I though did not have it, nor did his successors Robert II, Henri I and Philippe I. Philippe's wife Bertha of Holland was a descendant of Charles II and his father Louis I, but that still left Philippe's son Louis VI and his son Louis VII three short. Philippe II, son of the last, through his mother was descended from those three, and he and his successors until Philippe V could claim to be kings of France descended from every king of France from whom known legitimate descent survived, a claim eventually resurrected by Louis XV after that gap of nearly four hundred years

Charles II to Louis VIStage IStage II
Louis II to Philippe IIStage IStage II
Philippe V to Charles VIIIStage IStage II
Philippe V to Louis XIIStage IStage II
Louis X to François IStage IStage II
Philippe V to François IStage IStage II
Louis XII to Henri II  
Louis X to Henri IVStage IStage II
Philippe V to Henri IVStage IStage II
Charles VII to Henri IV  
Henri II to Louis XVStage IStage II

Posts: 7,516
Reply with quote  #2 
I looked at the earlier monarchs again today and evidently had not been careful enough before when checking the ancestry of Louis VI, as I found that he did have descent from two Carolingian kings that I had previously said he did not. The text and table have been adjusted accordingly, but my overall point about Philippe II remains valid. While writing, I might as well briefly cover the period after Louis XV. The last reigning French monarch to be able to make the claim he could was his grandson and successor Louis XVI. The reign of Louis XVII was only nominal, and during the reigns of both Louis XVIII and Charles X there was a child of their brother Louis XVI still alive. I personally don't think Louis XIX should be counted, as he renounced his succession before his father Charles X signed his instrument of abdication, but in any case the same would apply (the child in question actually being his wife). During the period when the titular Henri V was claimant, his aunt died and he became the only claimant to date to be able to say that he descended from all kings of France who left legitimate descent (unless you count his great-nephew Don Jaime, which I don't).

In the meantime there had been a reigning French king after Charles X, Louis-Philippe I. He was descended from Louis XIV, albeit not legitimately, but not from either Louis XV or Charles X himself (who was only sixteen years older). He did not however lack the descent from Henri II that Louis XV had restored to the throne (stage I: stage II). His wife, a princess of the Two Sicilies, was of course legitimately descended from Louis XIV, but his grandson and successor in claim still lacked Louis XV and Charles X. As the titular Philippe VII he was also successor in claim to Henri V, and his own wife supplied descent from Louis XV. Continuing for convenience to use the nominal regnal numbers, Philippe VII's son Philippe VIII therefore was missing only Charles X, and that was also the case with his successor, his cousin Jean III, whose mother had also been a Louis XV descendant. Jean III's successors, his son Henri VI and grandson Henri VII, the present claimant, however continued to lack descent from Charles X (though as Jean III's wife was a sister of the childless Philippe VIII they were/are descended from all claimants as well as actual sovereigns, with that one exception, from whom descent is available).

While there is room for argument about which son will succeed Henri VII as lawful claimant (see the first Blood Royal thread post #5 for an explanation) it will be one of his sons. And they are all descended through their mother from Charles X (stage I: stage II), therefore will be able to say as Henri V (d. 1883) could that they, like Louis XV, XVI and XVII before them, are descended from all the kings of France from whom legitimate descent is possible. Finally, my continued stress on legitimate descent is actually due to just one monarch, Louis XI. Plenty of French kings had illegitimate children from whom posterity survives, for example the present claimant is descended in that way not only from Louis XIV as mentioned but also from Henri IV and Charles VII (see the footnote to post #10 of the 1453 thread for more details of these descents). However Louis XI is the only king of France I know of whose only surviving posterity is from illegitimate children. I have looked at it as far as I am able, and have not been able to see that his descent has extended to any subsequent monarch, his son Charles VIII aside. If you want to have a look go ahead, and if you can find a line to later kings I will be happy to hear about it.

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Reply with quote  #3 
Thanks for the comprehensive information above, which includes some Capetian descents from the Carolingians, although, as stated, there is none from the Merovingians.

A cognatic Merovingian line did persist in England , and is traceable until 716. Clovis the Great (466-511) was the grandfather of King Charibert I of Paris, whose daughter Bertha became the wife of King Aethelbert I of Kent (560-616). Aethelbert and Bertha were the parents of Aethelburh, who married King Edwin of Northumbria. Edwin and Aethelburh were the parents of Eanflaed, who married King Oswy of Northumbria (612-670). Oswy and Eanflaed were the parents of Osthryth, who married King Aethelred of Mercia (667-704). Aethelred and Osthryth were the parents of King Coelred of Mercia, who died in 716, and was succeeded by another branch of the Mercian royal house.

Every so often one comes across online genealogies that attempt to trace a descent for Alfred the Great from some of these royal Kentish, Northumbrian, or Mercian royal families. They likely did have posterity. But while such a descent is theoretically quite possible, I believe that they are mostly speculative rather than proven, and so no traceable Merovingian descent exists in England, either.

Dis Aliter Visum "Beware of martyrs and those who would die for their beliefs; for they frequently make many others die with them, often before them, sometimes instead of them."

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Reply with quote  #4 
Very useful information, thank you for sharing it.

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Reply with quote  #5 
Presuming you mean me rather than Windemere, thanks, though I'm not sure if 'useful' is quite the word! Interesting, though, I hope. Thanks also Windemere. Below is another possible tracing of descent from early Merovingians and much more besides, this time via Visigothic kings of Hispania. For some reason all the formatting of this chart is lost when pasting in here, which does not normally happen, and it isn't too easy to follow, but basically people directly above a name are parents, below children, and alongside ignore unless linked by an m, in which case spouses; in other words, you can travel freely up and down within a block of names, defined by either underlining of names or a large space after them, but sideways into another column only via an m. Names in red are Roman Emperors, the chart being actually of a possible DFA (Descent From Antiquity).

Alas, not all the links can be regarded as adequately documented, in particular the vital last one through Counts of Coimbra (strictly, Counts of the Christians of Coimbra). If those gaps were filled, then from Ramiro II (c. 900-951) at the end to the present day is a long journey but straightforward and amply verified. That king's paternal-line forebear Peter of Cantabria is another possible route to the Merovingians, but all we have for his ancestry is plausible guesses rather than documented detail. Still, he was quite possibly a descendant of Athanagild, who appears bolded squarely in the middle, and would then have had a line from Clovis (one to the right and four up from Athanagild). Possibly, and that is really as far as we can go.
Constantius I Constantius I Maximian          
Julius Constantius Constantine ImFausta          
Constantius GallusmConstantina   Valentinian I   Theodosius ImAelia Flacilla  
Anastasiamfather NN   GallamTheodosius I   Arcadius  
  Gallus     Galla PlacidiamConstantius III Theodosius II  
  son NN       Valentinian IIImLicinia Eudoxia  
  AnastasiamPompeius   Anicius OlybriusmPlacidia   Wallia, K. of the Visigoths
    Paulus Areobindus DagalaiphusmAnicia Juliana   Rechila, K. of Galiciamdaughter NN
Empress Theodora   IrenemOlybrius   Chilperic II, K. of the Burgundiansmdaughter NN  
TheodoramAnastasius  Anicius Probus JrmProba Clovis I, K. of the FranksmClotilde    
 (illegitimate) AnastasiusmJuliana   Clotaire I, K. of the Franks Athanagild, K. of Hispania    
  Aerobindus   Liuvigild, K. of Hispania Sigibert I, K. of AustrasiamBrunhilda    
  AnastasiamPeter Augustus ErmengildmIngunthis      
  Chintila, K. of Hispania Flavia JulianamAthanagild Reccared I, K. of Hispania Sisebut, K. of Hispania    
  Tulga, K. of Hispania   Ardabastos Suintila, K. of HispaniamTheodora    
  Aribergamfather NN Erwig, K. of HispaniamLiuvigoto      
    Ergica, K. of HispaniamCixilio        
    Sisebuto, C. of Coimbra          
    Ataulfo, C. of Coimbra          
    Atanarico, C. of Coimbra          
    Teudo, C. of Coimbra          
    Ermengildo, C. of Coimbra          
    Ermengildo, C. of Coimbra          
    Ermengildo, C. of Coimbra          
  Ordoño II, K. of LeónmElvira          
  Ramiro II, K. of León            

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Reply with quote  #6 
I think I posted a possible DFA involving Peter of Cantabria as a possible link via Erwig to the Hellenistic kings and many others besides. Peter, would you mind if I posted links to those threads here?

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Reply with quote  #7 
I don't own this section, I'm just its major user, and while I have the powers of a moderator here that's for practical reasons, enabling me to arrange the threads and so forth. I did not do that without Theodore's prior permission, and as elsewhere in the forum it's him not me that has discretion. If a post fits into his description of the section on the main page, it's automatically going to be OK. So go ahead, not that you need permission from me, and I will add that although I've locked most of the threads that wasn't because I don't want other people's contributions, I welcome them very much on threads that are open. The locking was purely because that is the only way to maintain thread order and make it easy for people to find a year they want to look at.

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Reply with quote  #8 
It doesn't count, but I have found a descent from Louis XI to a French head of state rather later than Charles VIII. Stage I and, prepare for a disappointment, stage II.

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Reply with quote  #9 
Valery Giscard d'Estaing is also descended from an illegitimate daughter of Louis XV says Wikipedia.

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Reply with quote  #10 

Yes, according to Wikipedia this was through his great-great-grandfather Camille Bachasson de Montalivet, 3rd comte de Montalivet, a minister under Louis-Philippe (well, it is since I edited it, originally the suggestion was that the comte was President Giscard's own great-grandfather, rather than his mother's as is actually the case). Comte Camille is supposed to have been a grandson of Louis XV through his mother, the daughter of the King and Catherine Bénard. She may have been, and apparently she bore a notable resemblance to her alleged father. That King did not acknowledge any illegitimate children, which is not to say that he did not have any from his many amours, and Genealogics recognises a number of them. Not, as it happens, this one, and the comte's mother is shown there as the daughter of her own mother's husband Joseph de Saint-Germain, rather than Louis XV. The attribution remains possible; Genealogics is an authority but not the last word, and I disagree myself with one or two of its attributions.

While descent from Louis XV would in one way be more significant than from Louis XI, the later King bringing in a much wider spread of royal ancestors, descent from the former is certainly much more common than from the latter. Having looked again and more thoroughly through the descent shown from Louis XI, I am now convinced that after Charles VIII no sovereign of or claimant to France has had him as an ancestor, unless you count an elected official as being a sovereign. I have however found a group of people who do at least combine descent from Louis XI with descent from all other French kings from whom descent survives, even if they are not themselves in line of succession to the French claim (which, not being Capetians, they cannot be). These are the children and further descendants of Archduke Karl Christian of Austria. Using his daughter Archduchess Marie Christine as an example (since there was a thread concerning her wedding several years ago), here is her descent from Louis XI: stage I, stage II. And from Charles X: stage I, stage II. And finally from Louis-Philippe: stage I, stage II.


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Reply with quote  #11 

A few more musings on descent from French kings. As mentioned above, the route I linked from Louis X to Henri IV was not the line by which he was the earlier king's cognatic heir, necessarily implying that Henri IV was at least twice descended from his forebear. It is in fact four times, I believe, and the line of succession plus the other two routes appear in the table below. Four times is nothing for what was a fairly remote ancestor, but the table continues with descents from rather than to Henri IV, all to one person, his great-great-great-grandson Louis XV.

His great-great-great-grandson six times, plus for good measure his great-great-great-great-grandson once. To be your own fourth cousin once can readily be overlooked, to be it five times over, plus a fourth cousin once removed, might perhaps be considered excessive. Though it won't have been for that reason, Louis XV's own wife contributed no further descents to their children, and nor did the second wife of his son the Dauphin. Confirming that these matters were not much of a concern to anyone, the Dauphin's first wife, Infanta Maria Teresa of Spain (with whom he had just one short-lived daughter) was a three times descendant of Henri IV, and Filippo, Duke of Parma, husband of the only daughter of Louis XV to marry, was Maria Teresa's brother, so the same was true of him.

Louis X to Leonor of NavarreLeonor of Navarre to Henri IV
Louis X to Jean II, duc d'AlençonJean II, duc d'Alençon to Henri IV
Louis X to Marie d'ArmagnacMarie d'Armagnac to Henri IV
Henri IV to Louis XV (1)Henri IV to Louis XV (2)
Henri IV to Louis XV (3)Henri IV to Louis XV (4)
Henri IV to Louis XV (5)Henri IV to Louis XV (6)
Henri IV to Louis XV (7)Stage II

All four of the descents I found from Louis X to Henri IV were through the former’s grandson Charles II of Navarre, known for ample reason as 'the Bad'. Charles was of course himself cognatic heir of his maternal grandfather, and harboured ambitions for the French throne, which might conceivably have been realised were he not such a worthless and generally despised specimen of humanity. He liked to boast that he was 'of the lilies on both sides', meaning that both his parents were of the House of France. He could have gone further; all four of his grandparents were Capetians. And further yet; so were six out of eight of his great-grandparents.

This remarkable concentration of Capetian lineage is not apparent at first glance. Philippe III, King of France and his son Philippe IV are obvious enough, as is Philippe III’s sister Agnès de France. But Philippe d’Artois? Male line from Louis VIII, as you will see if you click the arrow from him. His mother Amicie de Courtenay was by the way also a Capetian, male line from Louis VI. And his wife Blanche de Bretagne? Male line from Robert, comte de Dreux, another son of Louis VI (you have to go back two stages to see this). And finally, Robert II, duc de Bourgogne. Three clicks along his direct male-line ancestry will take you to another Robert II, of France this time, and the son and heir of Hugues Capet himself. It’s remote, but it counts. Oh, and the two exceptions among Charles’s great-grandparents did their best to make up for it. Marie of Brabant’s own two grandparents on her mother's side belonged to the clan, and Jeanne of Navarre’s mother was another member of the House of Artois.

Though Charles II of Navarre fortunately never became Charles V of France, it must be admitted that by lineage he was admirably qualified for the post. Just not in any other way.


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Reply with quote  #12 
Links to my partially completed DFAs from Juan Carlos to the Hellenistic kings:

Peter, I hope you approve. I think these complement that tree you posted in post #5 on this thread rather nicely.

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Reply with quote  #13 

I thought I would give an amplified version here of my answer to KYM in the discussion thread post #37, concerning the descent of Christian I of Denmark and Norway from Harald I Fairhair, traditionally the first king of a unified Norway. As I suggested in my original reply, it is not a question with a yes or no answer. Christian I did descend from Norwegian kings who claimed agnatic lineage from earlier kings, and these in turn claimed to be in male line from Harald I, or rather in the most salient case, that of Harald III, a claim was made for him long after his reign. However, both the lineage of later kings from Harald III and his from Harald I are doubtful.

The problem is threefold. First, much of the earlier history of Norway is known only from Icelandic sagas written down centuries later, and too much of what we have smacks of legend and romance to be entirely credible. When it comes down to it, while we have many (and sometimes contradictory) stories about Harald I’s life and reign, there is little of it that can be regarded as known history rather than tales spun by later generations, and this includes the names, number and deeds of his sons.

Second, in contrast to other Scandinavian monarchies that of Norway was always hereditary rather than elective. You would think that would help, but in fact it hinders, big time. All sons of a king, legitimate or illegitimate, had an equal claim to the throne. Quite often brothers, perhaps by several different mothers, would share the throne, a recipe for fratricidal conflict and civil war, which indeed often occurred. And because illegitimate sons had an equal claim to legitimate, a regular phenomenon was someone appearing out of nowhere and claiming to be the son of an earlier king (invariably conveniently dead, so not available to confirm or deny) by a brief affair or even one-night-stand. Some of these possible impostors gained the throne, too, to wit Harald IV, Sverre and Haakon IV. All three monarchs are in the chain of descent through Norwegian kings from Harald I to Christian I.

Harald IV’s claim, to have been fathered by Magnus III on an Irishwoman, was at least credible, and was accepted by his alleged half-brother Sigurd I, whom he later succeeded jointly with his supposed nephew, Sigurd’s son Magnus IV. A few years of uneasy co-existence were terminated by the deposition and blinding of Magnus, then Harald was murdered by another supposed son of Magnus III, Sigurd Semble. Sigurd gained power for a time but is not counted among Norway’s kings, eventually being defeated, captured and put to death by torture.

Harald IV’s sons Inge, the shadowy Magnus and Sigurd II, all with different mothers and all minors, reigned jointly in succession to the restored Magnus IV, who had been killed in the battle at which Sigurd Semble was captured. Magnus, who may not have been associated with the kingship until later, died young and is not usually counted among Norway’s kings. However, another brother by a fourth mother, Eystein, travelled from Scotland where he had grown up and joined in the kingship. All these were acknowledged sons of Harald IV. Only Inge was legitimate, but that did not matter. However, it was Inge that was the only one left standing after the early death of Magnus, the murder of Sigurd II by Inge’s followers and Eystein’s similar death following a lost battle against his brother. Then things got complicated ….

Rather than go through yet more ever more complex twists and turns, I will just say that King Sverre eventually emerged triumphant. His claim to be a previously unknown son of the murdered Sigurd II lacked all credibility and he was widely regarded as a complete impostor, in his lifetime and since. He was however capable, charismatic and a gifted war leader, and succeeded in establishing rule over Norway, though hardly undisputed. It was undisputed that his successor Haakon III was Sverre’s son, albeit illegitimate. Following Haakon III’s early death from suspected poisoning the succession underwent a few more twists and turns, with accompanying conflicts. After Haakon III’s death a peasant woman came forward and claimed to have been his mistress, a claim confirmed by friends of the late king, and to have born him a posthumous son. In the years that followed support for the child grew, and eventually his mother successfully underwent ordeal by fire, the standard method of testing such claims at the time (Harald IV also did this, but Sverre refused to, further undermining the already limited credibility of his claim), and the boy, thirteen years old by then, was enthroned as Haakon IV.

He had a long, splendid and successful reign, and was followed by his son (legitimate, for once) Magnus VI (also sometimes numbered IV), called Lawmender for his work in updating and unifying Norwegian law codes and another great king, among the best of Norway’s late medieval monarchs along with his father, and actually his putative great-grandfather Sverre, impostor though he may well have been.

Magnus VI’s sons Eirik II and Haakon V succeeded in turn, both legitimate and full brothers, but after Haakon V we leave the Norwegian succession for a time (believe me, though, it does not get any less complicated), as he was the last prior king of Norway from whom Christian I was descended. Rather than do a similar link to summarise the position up to Haakon V (I can’t anyway, as Genealogics at least are unconvinced by King Sverre’s claimed paternity), I will list the chain out from Magnus III, with all its doubtful links.




Magnus III Barefoot


Acknowledged illegitimate son of Olaf III Kyrre

Harald IV Gille


Claimed illegitimate son of Magnus III

Sigurd II Munn


Acknowledged illegitimate son of Harald IV



Claimed illegitimate son of Sigurd II

Haakon III


Acknowledged illegitimate son of Sverre

Haakon IV the Old


Claimed illegitimate son of Haakon III

Magnus VI Lawmender


Legitimate son of Haakon IV

Haakon V


Legitimate son of Magnus VI

As usual, green is safe, orange is caution required, and red is danger. Now, Magnus III was as you can see the son of Olaf III. He in turn was the son, legitimate surprisingly enough, of Harald III, known as Hardrada. The half-brother of the inexplicably (there was nothing in the least saintly about his life) canonised Olaf II through their mother, he had spent much of his life in exile at the courts of Kiev and Byzantium, heading the famous Varangian Guard at the latter. He returned to Norway a wealthy man and a noted warrior, and through a combination of threats and bribes persuaded his nephew Magnus I, an illegitimate son of Olaf who at that time reigned in both Norway and Denmark, to share the Norwegian throne with him. Magnus died childless a year later, and left Norway to Harald and Denmark to Sweyn II Estridsson, ancestor of all subsequent Danish kings as Harald debatably was of all the Norwegian kings that followed.

Harald claimed Denmark too, and England as well, but gained neither, falling to Harold II of the latter country at the Battle of Stamford Bridge, not long before Harold II’s own death at Hastings. What of his claim to Norway, which he did gain and reign over for a time? Centuries later a genealogy was produced showing him as a male-line descendant of Harald I:


Taken from his Wikipedia article, the above in conjunction with the table and link already provided takes us all the way from the first Norwegian king Harald Fairhair to Christian I, first of the Oldenburg kings that, apart from a Bernadotte interruption of a little less than a century, have reigned there ever since his day. But not only are the red and orange links in my table questionable, so are the two generations in italics in the table above. There is literally no evidence for the existence of these people, and especially for Harald I having had a son called Sigurd Rise, except in genealogies of Harald III produced long after his death. He himself is not known to have ever claimed any descent from Harald I, let alone agnatic, which would be surprising if he actually possessed this descent; his half-brother Olaf II did make such claims for himself, through his father who was of course not the same as Harald III’s, so descent from Harald I was something worth claiming at the time by anyone striving for Norway’s throne.

It may fairly be concluded that the descent above is a later invention, and that Harald III made no claim other than might and his affinity to Olaf II. What of Olaf II himself? Was his claim authentic, and did Christian I descend from him? The answer to the second question is yes, via a route I will link, though it had nothing to do with Christian I’s own claim to Norway and was a descent pretty universally shared among royalty of the day. Christian also descended from Harald III by a route avoiding all the questionable claims found in the actual Norwegian succession, and for completeness I will link that too, though as we have seen it does not get us any closer to a credible Fairhair descent. I will get to the first answer for Olaf II after this:

Olaf II to Christian I

Stage 1

Stage 2

Harald III to Christian I

Stage 1

Stage 2

And from Olaf II to Harald I? Wikipedia having neglected to provide a convenient table, I will just list it out. Olaf II was the son of Harald Grenske, son of Gudrød Bjørnsson, son of Bjørn Farmann, son of Harald I Fairhair. Or so it was claimed. Some scholars disbelieve in even the existence of Harald Grenske, and the general belief is that the whole lineage smacks of invention, with these people again more or less unknown outside of Olaf’s genealogy. How could Olaf have possibly claimed this lineage and got away with it, if it was not true? Well, I said at the beginning that the problem in tracing descent from Harald I is threefold, then proceeded to list only two difficulties. The third is that the period following the reigns of Harald I and various of his sons and grandsons was an interregnum as far as the native Norwegian monarchy was concerned, the country being ruled by the Jarls of Lade, a region around present-day Trondheim, in subjection to a succession of Danish kings.

The adventurer Olaf I Trygvasson, son of a petty Norwegian king, interrupted this sequence but established no dynasty, being drowned in a sea battle and the rule of Denmark and Lade restored. Claims of agnatic descent from Harald I were made for him also, and are as little believed today as are those for Olaf II and Harald III. In the context of no continuing Norwegian kingdom after Harald I’s grandsons and a long period of foreign rule carried out by oppressive regents and marked by continuing strife, where an adventurer who, like his namesake Olaf II, was little better than a pirate had already succeeded in taking the crown, one can see how the claims Olaf II made for his ancestry could not readily have been disproved and were anyway not very important, just putting a little gloss of legitimacy on the throne he had actually won through prowess in battle.

Still, if anyone wants to emulate the White Queen in Through the Looking-Glass and believe in at least several highly unlikely things, whether before or after breakfast, I have here provided three different chains of descent from Harald I Fairhair to Christian I, which was KYM’s initial enquiry. Me, I’m a bit more than sceptical, but I had fun setting it all out, and I hope other people will enjoy this too.


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Reply with quote  #14 

As an addendum to the above, there is the question of whether descent to Christian I can be shown from Harald IV, avoiding the highly questionable Sverre, and from Sverre himself, avoiding the slightly dubious Haakon IV. Sverre’s was after all an important reign, whoever his father may have been. Harald IV’s wasn’t especially, but he was at least the forefather of a number of further Norwegian kings, even if debatably so in some cases.

The answer as regards Christian I is no. In fact the answer to the Sverre question is no for anyone. The only known descent from him is through his undoubted son Haakon III and the latter’s not quite undoubted son Haakon IV. Still, this is probably the least dubious of the three claimed paternities, and was generally accepted at the time and has been since. It is not at all unreasonable to believe in it, and in a continuing line from Sverre.

Turning to Harald IV, the answer becomes more positive for later generations of European royalty, and Norwegian kings. Which is as well, as Sverre’s was by some distance the most dubious of the claims (the truth or otherwise of Harald IV’s claimed paternity does not matter in the same way, as the ‘safe route’ linked from Harald III to Christian I above goes through Harald’s supposed father Magnus III).

What follows are links from Harald IV to Gustav I of Sweden, then from Gustav to the first Norwegian king descended from him and therefore indisputably from Harald IV (considering the rapidity with which descent from Gustav I became widespread in European royal houses, the identity of this monarch is surprising – it surprised me, anyway), and finally from Gustav I to Ludwig IX, Landgrave of Hesse-Darmstadt, establishing universality in present-day royalty except for Elizabeth II (see post #15 in the discussion thread).

It would have been more convenient if Jan Willem Friso had been a Gustav I descendant, but he was not.  Elizabeth II is, in a variety of ways. This one goes as far as George III, the first British monarch who was a Gustav I descendant, which ought to be far enough.

Harald IV of Norway to Gustav I of Sweden

Stage 1

Stage 2

Gustav I of Sweden to Carl XV of Sweden & Norway

Stage 1

Stage 2

Gustav I of Sweden to Ludwig IX of Hesse-Darmstadt



PS It has subsequently occurred to me that Frederik VI of Denmark was briefly King of Norway too, 1808-1814 so earlier than Carl XV (1859-1872), and as a nephew of George III he obviously must have been a Gustav I descendant also. Carl XV then was the first King of Norway indubitably descended from Harald IV through Gustav from whom a continuing line of Kings of Norway survives, since Haakon VII, grandfather of the present King Harald V, was Carl XV’s grandson.


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Reply with quote  #15 
One more point on descent from Harald IV Gille. My language above was carefully chosen; there were of course several Norwegian kings undoubtedly descended from Harald IV before Frederik VI and Carl XV, his legitimate and acknowledged illegitimate sons and acknowledged illegitimate issue of these. However, there is no known surviving posterity from any of these monarchs apart from the probable impostor Sverre. My original statement was that Carl XV was the first King of Norway indubitably a descendant of Harald Gille through descent from Gustav I, later qualified as the first from whom there is a continuing line of Norwegian kings. The wording still holds good, but I have just given its final iteration a slight tweak to allow for another Norwegian king both credibly descended from Harald, though not through Gustav I as he was considerably earlier, and an ancestor of later kings, beginning though not with Carl XV but with Haakon VII. This was Karl VIII, discussed in the 1453 thread as the contemporary Swedish monarch. He had however briefly been King of Norway also, and crowned as such in Nidaros Cathedral, the traditional coronation place.

This was in 1449, in succession to Christopher III of Denmark, Norway and Sweden. Karl had already been elected to the Swedish throne, and a faction in Norway decided he should be their choice too, but the Danes had chosen Christian I. He had ambitions to add Norway and indeed Sweden to his realms, and in 1450 the Swedish aristocracy, uninterested in a war with Denmark over Norway and seeing that Christian had powerful support there, forced Karl to relinquish his second throne in Christian's favour. He was though Norway's king, if only for a time, and was a Harald IV descendant. At the end of the 1453 note on posterities part two I show the descent of Christian IX of Denmark from Karl VIII, and thus when in 1905 Christian IX's grandson Haakon VII ascended Norway's throne he returned to it the blood of Karl VIII (Karl I for Norway), who had reigned there briefly so long ago. In Sweden, Karl VIII's blood did not return until 1973 and the accession of the present King Carl XVI Gustaf, a descendant of Christian IX's elder brother as is also shown in the 1453 note.
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