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                                   Eleonora Gonzaga, Duchess of Urbino

31st December

1194: The death of Leopold V, Duke of Austria, Crusader and captor of Richard the Lionheart. Whatever merits his crusading exploits might have gained him, he died excommunicate for his crime against a fellow Crusader, whose person ought to have been inviolate until his return home. Legend credits Leopold with the origin of the Austrian national colours, a white stripe being revealed on his blood-soaked tunic when he took off his belt after fighting at the Siege of Acre. However this may be, a more definite legacy of his was the addition of Styria to the Austrian domains. Descent from him survives through his remarkable son Leopold VI, which I will trace to Euphemia of Sweden, shown to be a universal ancestress in the second part of the 1330 note on posterities.

1493: A daughter and first child is born to the condottiero Francesco II Gonzaga, Margrave of Mantua, and his wife Isabella d’Este, a leading light of the Italian Renaissance. Christened Eleonora, she would marry Francesco Maria I della Rovere, recently made Duke of Urbino by a combination of Papal influence (he was a nephew of the then current Pope, Julius II) and inheritance (his maternal grandfather was Federico III da Montefeltro, hereditary ruler of Urbino and another towering Renaissance figure).

Herself a great patroness of the arts, Eleonora was the formal subject of the above portrait by Titian and appears to have been painted by him at least three other times. Her children with Francesco, of which there were five that lived to adulthood and had issue themselves, had then a formidable artistic heritage. Remote strains of it appear in the ancestries of four of today’s monarchs, the usual Catholic quartet of Hans-Adam II of Liechtenstein, Henri of Luxembourg, Philippe of Belgium and Felipe VI of Spain. There are a variety of ways I could trace this, especially for Grand Duke Henri, but I will do so only to Elisabeth Farnese, second wife of Felipe V of Spain; see the 19th December 1683 entry for further descent from her.

1655: Polish nobleman Janusz Radziwiłł dies, under siege from the Commonwealth forces he once had led. Justly or unjustly, he is considered one of the greatest traitors in Polish history, bringing black shame on his family, powerful and distinguished as it was. Among his descendants belonging to other powerful and distinguished families are the sovereigns of the Scandinavian realms and of Belgium, Luxembourg and Liechtenstein. The link is to Maximilian I of Bavaria, shown in the second part of the 1848 note on posterities to be an ancestor of the first five, and here is a link for Liechtenstein.

1705: Catherine of Braganza, Queen Consort of Charles II, dies in her native Portugal. Pious, virtuous and sweet-natured, her childlessness and Catholicism had combined to make her unloved in her adopted country, but her merits gained a better regard for her from some and especially her husband, who though never faithful was always loyal to her and protected her from various legal attacks. Bombay, now Mumbai, had been part of her dowry and was to remain in British hands until Indian independence, though Tangiers, another part, was soon relinquished as useless. She is credited with the introduction of tea-drinking to Britain, though it is more likely that she popularised rather than introduced it, and with being the eponym of the New York borough of Queens, though this is also doubtful. Upon return to Portugal she was twice Regent for her brother Pedro II and acted as a mother figure for her nephew João V. Had she had children of her own to mother, subsequent British history might have been much different.

1720: The birth in Rome of Charles Edward Stuart, variously known as the Young Pretender, Bonnie Prince Charlie and Charles III, King of England, Scotland, France and Ireland. The last title he failed to make good, and though the insurrection of 1745 that he led came closer to success than any other of the various Jacobite attempts, it still was not very close. In later life a debauched drunkard rather than the romantic figure of his youth, we cannot know how much of this was due to disappointed hopes, or how he would have turned out had those hopes borne fruition.

What we do know is that whatever his other claims he was exactly as English and Scottish as George II, the reigning monarch he attempted to displace. Which is to say around one-sixteenth by blood, the rest of Charles Edward’s ancestry being an indescribable mix of German, French, Italian and Polish, and hardly at all by upbringing, which in his case was mainly in Italy where he was born, died and is buried.

What probably keeps his name most alive today is the Skye Boat Song, pleasantly performed here by soprano Laura Wright. Far from either traditional or contemporary, both of which are often wrongly assumed, it was in fact written in the 1870s. As for any living legacy, it is reasonably thought, though neither proved nor universally accepted, that there are Polish families today descended from his illegitimate daughter Charlotte. That aside, there are people who have his complete ancestry at the great-great-grandparents level.

His paternal grandfather James II & VII had three illegitimate children from whom descent survives, the Duke of Cambridge for example being a descendant of the eldest of them, Henrietta FitzJames. There is no surviving descent either from his paternal grandmother Mary of Modena or any of her siblings, but there is from her father Alfonso II of Modena’s full sister Isabella d’Este, all of which comes through the above-mentioned Elisabeth Farnese. And also from her mother Laura Martinozzi’s sister Anna, which I will trace to Louis-Philippe I of France. For his maternal ancestry, see the 19th December 1737 entry for his grandfather Jakub Sobieski.

There is though no one that I know of descended from all five of James II & VII, Isabella d’Este, Anna Martinozzi, Jakub Sobieski and his wife Hedwig Elisabeth of Pfalz-Neuburg. The first three, yes, the last two, yes, but all five, no. However, if we go back a generation in the first, fourth and fifth cases the problem disappears. The readiest example I can think of to demonstrate this is Archduke Joseph Árpád of Austria, present head of the distinguished line from the first Archduke Joseph, Palatine of Hungary. Here (stage I; stage II) he is from James II’s full sister Henriette Anne, here from Elisabeth Farnese as above, here from Louis-Philippe I as above, here from Jakub Sobieski’s sister Therese, and finally here from Pfalzgräfin Hedwig Elisabeth’s sister Eleonora Magdalena. Which I believe makes up the full set.

1742: The death of Karl III Philipp, Elector Palatine, last of the Neuburg line. He can be seen in the link from Janusz Radziwiłł above, and his successor Karl Theodor, only Elector of the Sulzbach line, was discussed in yesterday’s entry.

1885: Princess Viktoria Adelheid of Schleswig-Holstein-Sonderburg-Glücksburg is born. She would be the last Duchess Consort of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha as spouse of Duke Karl I Eduard, who had been born Charles Edward, Duke of Albany. Abdicating his sovereign title in 1918, he lost his British noble titles and royal rank by virtue of the Titles Deprivation Act 1917 and a consequent Order in Council dated 28th March 1919 (text of both here).

No one could take away his ancestry, though. His daughter Sibylla was the mother of the present King of Sweden, and an interesting point in the latter’s maternal ancestry is that Sibylla, and of course the other children of Karl Eduard and Viktoria Adelheid, had as their agnatic great-grandfather the Prince Consort, Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, and their uterine great-great-great-grandmother Princess Viktoria of Saxe-Coburg-Saalfeld, the Prince Consort’s paternal aunt and the mother of his spouse Queen Victoria. Which gave all these children exactly the same agnatic and uterine lineages (after a generation or three) as Queen Victoria’s own.

I don’t know of any other family of which this has been true. The Queen of course has Prince Albert as her agnatic forebear and the Duke of Edinburgh Queen Victoria as his uterine foremother, but that is the wrong way round for their children to claim the distinction. Other interesting points in Princess Viktoria Adelheid’s ancestry include a measure of Danish blood, which is more than the Queen of Denmark could say, and descent from the scandalous Princess Caroline Matilda, Queen of Denmark and Norway as spouse of Christian VII, though not from her husband. In addition to her grandson King Carl Gustaf, her first cousin thrice removed Felipe VI shares these descents. And in his case, that same uterine lineage.

1946: Diane Halfin is born in Brussels to a Romanian-Jewish father and Greek-Jewish mother, the latter a survivor of Auschwitz. In later life she would become famous as Diane von Fürstenberg, wife of Prince Egon von Fürstenberg and a leading fashion designer, a profession in which he had his own successes. Her mother-in-law Clara Agnelli was a member of the Fiat family, and her and Prince Egon’s son Prince Alexander of Fürstenberg (the marriage having been accepted as dynastic) married Alexandra Miller, younger sister of Marie-Chantal Miller, Crown Princess of Greece as wife of Crown Prince Paul.

Their two children, Egon and Diane von Fürstenberg’s grandchildren, thus have a highly eclectic ancestry to say the least, a mixture of German royal, Hungarian, Scottish and Italian noble, Eastern European Jewish, American (including descent from Mayflower passengers), Canadian and Ecuadorian. Using their son Prince Tassilo as an example, in addition to being the nephew by marriage of the Greek Crown Prince he is the third cousin once removed of Albert II of Monaco, in a rather interesting way.


The Royal Pantheon of Portugal, burial place of Catherine of Braganza

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                   In a scene imagined by Titian, Pope Alexander VI presents a petitioner to St Peter

New Year’s Day

898: Eudes of France dies. He had been the first Robertian King, elected in succession to Charles the Fat, and the first non-Carolingian since Pepin took the throne in 751. The Carolingian Charles the Simple would follow him, then Eudes’ brother Robert I, the second and last Robertian. In 987 Robert I’s male-line grandson Hugues I was elected, but is counted as the first Capetian rather than third Robertian.

1387: The death of Charles II of Navarre, burned alive in his own palace in circumstances which are unclear but were probably accidental. Not that this was how it was seen at the time, the death being universally viewed as divine justice on a wicked, faithless and worthless man, known ever since as Charles the Bad. The first part of the 1330 note on posterities shows his mother Jeanne II as a universal ancestress, tracing through him.

1431: The birth near Valencia of Roderic Llançol. When in 1455 his maternal uncle Alonso de Borja was elected Pope as Calixtus III the young Roderic adopted the name by which he is second best known to history, Rodrigo Borja, or Borgia. His best-known name is of course Alexander VI, the style he chose when himself elected to succeed Innocent VIII. That was in 1492, nearly four decades later, and in the interim he had succeeded his uncle in the bishopric of Valencia, later becoming the see’s first Archbishop, and earned generally golden opinions for his charm, wit, incisive intelligence and wide scholarship.

His election to the highest position of all was not then so surprising as is sometimes made out, nor does it appear to have been obtained by bribery, as is often alleged. His 11-year reign though was far from winning golden opinions, indeed he is often regarded as the worst of Popes, and the worst man to be Pope. In fact, while he was undoubtedly nepotistic and corrupt and lived an immoral lifestyle, he was also a very able and energetic administrator who accomplished significant reforms, and a great artistic patron. He appears to have had a measure at least of genuine piety, and to have been personally humane and surprisingly tolerant for the times, giving refuge in Rome to Jews expelled from the Iberian realms and guaranteeing their freedom to practice their religion.

Nepotism and corruption were the norm for Popes in those days and long before them, so I do not see why Alexander VI should be especially damned for these faults, especially when he was a far more responsible and successful ruler than the average. On the whole I think he was rather splendid and would not even appear on my shortlist for worst Pope, though he might well come under consideration as a candidate for best.

But that’s just me. Where Alexander VI was unusual was not in having illegitimate children (there is known descent from five Popes besides him, and several others had children though without traceable descent from them) but in having so many, and in continuing to be sexually active as Pontiff. It is most probably his libertine ways that have so blackened his name down to the present day, and definitely those that lead to his inclusion here, as he is in a variety of ways an ancestor of four of today’s sovereigns, the customary quartet of Belgium, Luxembourg, Liechtenstein and Spain.

I showed one of these ways in the last paragraph of the 23rd December 1588 entry. I don’t propose to explore any others, but will make the point that the statement in Alexander VI’s Wikipedia article that he is 'an ancestor of virtually all royal houses of Europe ... for being the ancestor of Dona Luisa de Guzmán, wife of King John IV of Portugal’ is quite wrong. Doña Luisa was indeed so descended, but was far from a main conduit for Borgia blood. She is not even an ancestress of the King of Spain, and while she is of the other three monarchs her blood entered their lines long after that of Alexander VI already had by other routes. And ‘virtually all royal houses’ is patent nonsense. I would amend the entry, but one thing life has taught me is that it is too short to waste any of it engaging in virtual combat with Wikipedia’s self-appointed guardians. So I have registered my protest here, and will leave it at that.

1449: Lorenzo de’ Medici is born. Known, with reason, as ‘il Magnifico’, he was a dominant and binding figure in Italian politics and the greatest artistic patron of a family known above all for the cultural achievements it fostered. He is ancestral to the same four sovereigns as Alexander VI, and in ways almost beyond counting. The one I will show is via Elisabeth Farnese once again (and carries the representation of the Medici Grand Dukes of Tuscany as a whole). There is also a future Protestant sovereign of his descent, this being the Duke of Cambridge (link goes to James II, see the 31st December 1720 entry for the rest of the route).

1467: The birth of Zygmunt I Stary, Sigismund the Old, King of Poland and Grand Duke of Lithuania in succession to his brother Aleksander I from 1506. A son of Kazimierz IV and the sixth Polish monarch of the Jagiełło dynasty, his long reign would be marked by considerable successes and notable artistic patronage. Tolerant of his Orthodox and Jewish subjects, he later extended that toleration to those following the new Protestant faith, avoiding the savage persecution seen in other Catholic realms while maintaining the primacy of his own religion. Links from his first wife Barbara Zápolya in the 1558 note on posterities demonstrate his universal ancestor status. Edited to add: there is also a link in the 3rd January 1571 entry immediately below.

1515: Louis XII of France dies and is succeeded by his son-in-law and first cousin once removed François I, a more notable monarch perhaps than his predecessor, but Louis XII’s 16-year reign had not been without its successes and he was popular throughout his time on the throne. This was unaffected even by his scandalous divorce from his first wife Jeanne, the subsequently canonised sister of his predecessor Charles VIII, in order to marry Anne of Brittany, his predecessor’s widow. The entry for 23rd December 1588 gives examples of descents from Charles, duc de Mayenne, who was Louis XII’s great-grandson, and of course the children of François I, descent from two of whom survives, were Louis XII’s grandchildren.

1516: Swedish noblewoman Margareta Leijonhufvud (the family name literally meaning Lionheart) is born. Aged 20 she would become the second wife of Gustav I, founder of the Vasa dynasty, and by him was ancestral to all but four subsequent Swedish sovereigns, and to all sovereigns reigning today (see the 9th December 1594 entry for links from her granddaughter Katarina). Regarded as a model consort, never interfering in matters of state but frequently and usually successfully interceding with her husband on behalf of petitioners, even the Catholicism she maintained lifelong did not dent her popularity and good reputation in a country which had become Lutheran early in Gustav I’s reign.

1559: The death of Christian III of Denmark and Norway, a significant monarch, not least in his forcible and violent conversion of his realms to Lutheranism. His father Frederik I had been nominally Catholic with probable Protestant leanings and had pursued policies of moderation and toleration, but that was not his son’s way. His successor was his son Frederik II, but the agnatic lineage of the present Danish sovereign springs instead from a younger son, Johann, Duke of Schleswig-Holstein-Sonderburg. As indeed do those of the present Norwegian and the next British sovereign.

1766: The day after his son the Young Pretender’s 46th birthday James Francis Edward Stuart, known as the Old Pretender and to Jacobites as James III & VIII, dies in Rome. His death meant the end of Papal support for the Jacobite cause, George III being recognised as lawful sovereign of these islands and diplomatic relations established. This in turn benefited Britain’s Catholic population, as the penal laws against them could now be gradually relaxed.

1801: On the first day of the new century, that same George III of Great Britain and Ireland becomes just that, instead of George III of Great Britain, France and Ireland. The Acts of Union 1800 between Great Britain and Ireland came into force on this day, but had left the choice of official royal style at the King’s pleasure, to be announced by Royal Proclamation (so long and boring that even I haven’t read it all, but the meat is in the first 15 or so lines).

The Union itself I think was probably not the best idea, in contrast to the Union of England and Scotland that took place back in 1707. One of its incidental effects, the abandonment of the centuries-old but long-since ridiculous inclusion of France in the royal titulary, was however welcome if very belated. I like a long, largely meaningless but nevertheless resplendent roll of titles as much as the next person and probably more than most, but not when ‘meaningless’ equates to ‘absurd’.

1877: At the Delhi Durbar, Queen Victoria is proclaimed Empress of India. The necessary legislation had been passed on 27th April the previous year and the title announced by Royal Proclamation the next day (text of both here), but this was the first of three official proclamations of a new sovereign in India itself. Only one, the 1911 Durbar, was in the presence of the Emperor and Empress. There were no further Durbars; Edward VIII’s reign was too short for one to be organised, and there never seemed to be a propitious time for the ceremony during the reign of George VI, to date the last monarch of all India.

             The Nizam of Hyderabad, Asaf Jah VI, pays homage to the King-Emperor and Queen-Empress at the 1911 Delhi Durbar


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                                          The wedding of Henry V and Catherine of Valois

3rd January

1322: The death of Philippe V of France, the first Capetian King since the foundation of the dynasty not to be the son of the previous monarch. In fact he was the preceding monarch’s uncle, and the brother of the one before that. His succession to the throne had by no means been certain; dying in, some thought, suspicious circumstances, Philippe’s elder brother Louis X had left a five-year-old daughter Jeanne by his first wife Blanche of Bourgogne, plus a pregnant second wife.

No one knew what to do. Never before in the three centuries and more of Capetian rule had a King died without a son to follow him. However, perhaps there would be one, and the obvious move was to put the succession on hold until the posthumous child was born. Philippe managed to secure the Regency for himself, and all settled down to wait.

The whole of France heaved a sigh of relief when on 13th November 1316 the Dowager Queen gave birth to a son, who instantly acceded as Jean I. The relief however was as short-lived as the infant, he dying five days later. Some have thought this also suspicious, but the evidence of foul play is nil and, given the prevailing rate of child mortality, there is really no reason at all to suggest that the death was other than natural.

It certainly was convenient for Philippe, though, who moved swiftly to be crowned. Young Jeanne’s partisans, led by Philippe’s uncle Charles of Valois and her own uncle Eudes IV of Burgundy, prepared to fight for her cause, but Philippe won them both over by various inducements, including the offer of his eldest daughter, another Jeanne, to be Eudes’ bride. Then Jeanne’s maternal grandmother Agnès of France demanded the summoning of an Estates-General to determine the question, to which Philippe acquiesced.

The Estates laid down the principle that no female could inherit France, though without reference to Salic law which came in later, and that left Philippe as undoubted successor by proximity of blood. Finally secure on the throne, he proved an energetic and effective King, introducing administrative reforms, continuing his father’s centralising policies and settling the war with Flanders that had been dragging on for years, marrying off his daughter Marguerite to Count Louis II in the process.

The reign though significant was as can be seen from this entry’s date sadly short, Philippe V dying of dysentery after less than six years on the throne, aged only around 30 (we don’t know his exact birth year). He had no sons, but his posterity survives to all the sovereigns of today through the aforementioned Marguerite. I will trace a line from him as far as Marie Eleonore of Cleves; see 16th December 1325 for the rest of the story.

1437: Catherine of Valois, briefly Queen of England as consort of Henry V, mother of Henry VI and grandmother of Henry VII, and thereby an ancestress of all succeeding sovereigns, dies in London aged 35, shortly after giving birth to a short-lived daughter but apparently from a long-term illness rather than childbed fever. Herself born in Paris in 1401, tenth child of King Charles VI and his wife Isabeau of Bavaria, it is often suggested that she was neglected in childhood but in fact all the evidence suggests that she had a proper and careful upbringing.

Married in Troyes aged 18 to England’s triumphant King, she went to England to be crowned and appears to have remained there for the rest of her life. Still young and marriageable when Henry V died, the English Court were concerned that she remained a widow, denying any potential husband the influence of being wedded to the King’s mother. Which she may have done, as there is no evidence that she ever married Owen Tudor, a Welsh squire who it seems won her heart. What she certainly did do is have several children by him, including a son Edmund, father of Henry VII and thus progenitor of the Tudor royal dynasty which rose from its curious beginnings to such glory and power.

1571: Joachim II Hector, first Protestant Elector of Brandenburg, dies ten days short of his 66th birthday. He had married twice, to first cousins, future Electors of Brandenburg, Prussian Kings and eventually German Emperors springing from Johann Georg, his son and successor from the first marriage, to Magdalena of Saxony. The posterity from the second marriage, to Hedwig of Poland, is all through their daughter and first child, another Hedwig, and contains the entire legitimate posterity of Sigismund the Old, the last Jagiellon King from whom descent survives. I will trace it to Jan Willem Friso, Prince of Orange, the nearest common ancestor of the current sovereigns.

1868: The official date of the resumption of direct Imperial rule in Japan, as the Meiji Emperor announced that power had been returned to his hands by the Shogun. However, it had actually been transferred from the Tokugawa clan to an oligarchy using the Emperor, all of 15 years old, as their figurehead. More or less oligarchical rule continued throughout the Meiji Emperor’s long reign and that of his highly eccentric if not actually deranged son the Taishō Emperor, the Emperor revered and not without influence but not exercising actual power. Then during the even longer reign of the Shōwa Emperor crushing defeat in World War II brought about a transformation of all Japan’s institutions of government, though happily the ages-old Imperial dynasty continued to reign, as it does today.

1981: Princess Alice, Countess of Athlone, dies aged 97, the greatest age yet attained by a British princess by birth. Her husband Prince Alexander of Teck, a brother of Queen Mary, in 1917 renounced his German titles and took the surname Cambridge, subsequently being created Earl of Athlone. Under that title he was Governor-General of the Union of South Africa and then of Canada from 1940 to 1946, his wife by his side as Vicereine. Unfortunately Princess Alice was a haemophilia carrier, her father Leopold, Duke of Albany, having been a sufferer, and of their two sons one was short-lived and the other died aged 20, the haemophilia he had inherited through his mother making it impossible to survive injuries received in a car accident.

They had one other child, Lady May Cambridge, who was a bridesmaid at the wedding of the Duke of York and Lady Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon, later to be King and Queen. In turn Princess Elizabeth, our present Queen, was a bridesmaid at Lady May’s wedding, to Henry Abel Smith. The bride’s first and second cousin once removed, the future sovereign was also the fourth cousin once removed of the bridegroom, which might not be expected. Happily the marriage was fruitful, productive of three grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren for Princess Alice to enjoy, the youngest of the latter being seven at the time of her death.


                                                       The present Queen at the wedding of Lady May Cambridge


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                                          The badge of the Supreme Order of the Most Holy Annunciation

4th January

1248: The former Sancho II of Portugal dies in exile in Toledo. He had been removed from Portugal’s throne following a Bull of Deposition issued by Innocent IV. Which is interesting, as while purported Papal depositions of medieval monarchs are two-a-penny, actual ones are more in the nature of hen’s teeth. However, there were other factors; interested only in the Reconquista (in which he had considerable successes in Alentejo and the Algarve) Sancho had neglected affairs of government and was generally disliked and considered a poor monarch. And the actual deposition was accomplished by his brother Afonso, who became Afonso III and was anyway the childless Sancho’s natural heir. Still, the Bull had given the first excuse, so I suppose this still must be considered a rare Papal success in the particular field.

1286: Anna Komnena Doukaina, daughter of Michael II Komnenos Doukas, Despot of Epirus, and wife of Guillaume II de Villehardouin, Prince of Achaea, dies in Thebes. Through her daughter Marguerite came the claim to the Principality of Achaea of her great-grandson Jaume III of Majorca, discussed in the 1330 historical introduction, while descent from him (and therefore her) is covered in part II of that thread's note on posterities.

1334: The future Amadeo VI, Count of Savoy, is born in the County’s capital Chambéry. Both able and gallant, in his 40-year reign he would extend his lands eastward over the Alps into Piedmont, the dynasty’s future power base, and go on Crusade in aid of his cousin the Eastern Emperor, John V Palaiologos. He also founded the Order of the Collar, subsequently renamed the Supreme Order of the Most Holy Annunciation, which much later became the premier knightly order of the Kingdom of Italy and is extant today. Since he lived so long ago you would expect him to be an ancestor of all sovereigns of today, which he is, and by many routes. The one I will show is to the children of Princess Katarina of Sweden; see the 9th December 1594 entry for the rest of the chain.

1428: The death of Friedrich I of Saxony, first Wettin Elector of Saxony. Margrave of Meissen as Friedrich IV, in 1423 the Emperor Sigismund rewarded Friedrich’s support in the Hussite Wars with the electoral duchy of Saxe-Wittenberg, vacant since the extinction in 1422 of the original Ascanian line. He is a male-line ancestor of the Queen and also of the King of Belgium (generation 18 for both).

1581: The birth in Dublin of James Ussher, later to be Archbishop of Armagh and Primate of All Ireland (the Archbishop of Dublin is Primate of Ireland, similar to the Canterbury/York situation). A distinguished scholar of very wide learning, personally he was Calvinistic and very anti-Catholic in his views, but also moderate and conciliatory by nature. He spent the Civil War period in England and was loyal to the last to his friend and sovereign Charles I (literally; he watched the King’s judicial murder, but fainted before the fatal blow).

So respected was he by people of all persuasions that when he died aged 75 the tyrant Cromwell commanded the burial of this prominent Royalist in Westminster Abbey, where he lies today. He is most remembered though not for any of that, but (which will interest my very good friend here BaronVonServers) for his two-volume chronology dating the Creation to 22nd October 4004 BC. Often mocked, this was in fact a wonderful feat of scholarship, the date calculated with exquisite precision using evidence drawn from a very wide variety of ancient sources. Another thing about him is that he is an ancestor (stage I; stage II) of Princesses Beatrice and Eugenie. Which I am glad for, as it gave me an excuse to write about this attractive and admirable figure here.

1695: François-Henri de Montmorency, duc de Piney-Luxembourg jure uxoris, dies at Versailles. Famously and scandalously libertine, he was also a famous general, close friend of le Grand Condé and commander of France’s armies in succession to him (Montmorency’s Wikipedia article inexplicably refers to Condé’s mother Charlotte-Marguerite de Montmorency as François-Henri’s aunt; she was his fourth cousin, and Condé thus his fourth cousin once removed). A notable wit, when he heard that William of Orange, whom he had several times defeated, said of him ‘I never can beat that cursed humpback’ his swift retort was ‘How does he know I have a hump? He has never seen my back.’

He was the progenitor of a famous line of Dukes of Piney-Luxembourg, and besides that has a vast posterity today, extending to many members of the nobility of France, Spain and other lands, also of mediatised and claiming (though no currently reigning) royal lines. As examples, to Marie-Liesse de Rohan-Chabot, wife of Prince Eudes of Orléans, duc d’Angoulême, and mother of his two children; to Diana de Melo, 11th Duquesa de Cadaval, wife of Prince Charles-Philippe of Orléans, duc d’Anjou, and mother of his daughter Princess Isabelle; to the children and grandchildren of Prince Jacques of Orléans, duc d’Orléans; to Bernhard, Hereditary Prince of Baden; to the children and further descent of the late Archduke Carl Ludwig of Austria; and finally to the children of Prince Antônio of Orléans-Bragança, eventual heir presumptive to one of the two claims to the Brazilian throne.

1825: Ferdinando I of the Two Sicilies dies, after a reign spanning 65 years. Becoming Ferdinando III/IV of Sicily and Naples in 1759 aged eight, in 1816 the two kingdoms were united under him into one. For most of his life he was dominated by his wife Archduchess Maria Carolina of Austria, a daughter of the Empress Maria Theresa and as formidable and determined a character as her mother. By her he is an ancestor of the usual four Catholic sovereigns, once apiece for Hans-Adam II of Liechtenstein and Philippe of Belgium, twice for Henri of Luxembourg and nine times (!) for Felipe VI of Spain; obviously, only one chosen route each is shown for the latter two.

                                Inside the Palazzo Reale, Naples, where Ferdinando I of the Two Sicilies was born and died

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                     In a scene from the Bayeaux Tapestry, the body of Edward the Confessor is taken to Westminster Abbey

5th January

1066: The death of Edward the Confessor, last King of England’s ancient and original royal line. He was buried the next day in Westminster Abbey which he founded (though the present building was constructed under Henry III, who whatever his failings as a monarch was a wonderful architectural patron), and lies there still. The only English monarch to be formally canonised, it is hard to assess a man who lived so long ago and the historical sources for whom are neither ample nor entirely reliable.

However, from my reading of his record he appears more petty, vengeful and inept than either a saintly or successful monarch. All the chroniclers agree on his being far more interested in the arts of hunting than of government, and there can be no doubt that the confusion in which he left the succession created an opening for his first cousin once removed William of Normandy to launch his successful invasion, and accomplish the utter destruction of the Anglo-Saxon kingdom of which Edward was the next to last trustee.

A new England rose on the rubble, and England today would be utterly different had there been no Norman Conquest. Better or worse, who can say? But certainly in no way as it is. But, while it may then seem pointless to condemn Edward’s failings, his responsibility was not for the long-term but the immediate future of the realm, and he did not fulfil it.

Had he had a son, that would have been problem solved. But he had no children at all, although for that at least I do not blame him; the story that he refused to consummate his marriage, having vowed lifelong celibacy, appears to be just that, a story invented to aid his cause for canonisation. The blood of his father Æthelred Unræd, commonly called Ethelred the Unready though that is a mistranslation of Unræd, the whole meaning ‘noble counsel the ill-counselled’ and the latter part thus being a pun on the name Æthelred, returned to the English throne with Henry II in 1154, but that was through a half-brother of the Confessor, a son of his father’s first wife.

It took rather longer for that of Edward’s mother Emma of Normandy to return to the throne she had occupied as wife of two Kings, but it eventually did so with Henry VI (stage I; stage II) and then his successor Edward IV (stage I; stage II). So all England’s and Britain’s monarchs from Henry VI onwards have had the full blood of the last King of the House of Wessex, saint or sinner as he may have been.

1209: The birth of Richard, Earl of Cornwall, second son of King John and younger brother of Henry III. Immensely wealthy and very prominent in the Europe of the day, he was offered the crown of Sicily by Pope Innocent IV but declined it, responding, according to the chronicler Matthew Paris, ‘You might as well say, “I make you a present of the moon – step up to the sky and take it down.”’

Richard did however become a King, of Germany, formally of the Romans. Although his election was undoubtedly valid and he was crowned he never really exercised rule there and in fact only visited the country four times, and briefly. He was still though the only English King of the Romans, so his posterity is of some interest. There is none legitimate, he had several children by each of his two marriages but none of them had children in turn. His illegitimate children though were more fruitful, and two descendants of his have occupied his brother’s throne. The first of these is the first Elizabeth, and the second is the second (stage I; stage II; stage III), who still does.

1448: Christopher III of Denmark dies. The country’s only Wittelsbach King, he was also the last non-Oldenburg Danish monarch, his successor (and third cousin) being Christian I of that dynasty. Upon the accession of Frederik X that will change, but in the meantime Oldenburg rule endures, as it has for an unbroken 567 years so far.

1465: At the age of 70 Charles, Duke of Orléans, dies at the château of Amboise, in the Loire region. He had inherited the dukedom from his assassinated father Louis I aged 13, and aged 20 was taken prisoner at Agincourt, spending the next 24 years as a captive in England. He passed the time there writing numerous poems, in both English and French, some of considerable accomplishment. One of his works in English, Is she not passing fair?, was set to music by Sir Edward Elgar and is here performed by the incomparable John McCormack.

He married three times, the first union (to the widow of Richard II of England) producing one daughter who married but had no children herself, the second being fruitless, and the third, to Marie of Cleves after his release and return to France, being third time lucky, as by it the poet-duke was father of Louis XII of France and of two daughters. One of these entered the religious life, while the other was the mother of two children, both notable, but no descent survives from them. It does though from Louis XII himself, and extends to the usual four Catholic sovereigns of today. See the 1st January 1515 entry for more details, and for the verification which that entry lacks here is a link to Elisabeth of Valois, second in the link below from Henri II and Catherine de’ Medici.

1477: At the Battle of Nancy, fought in conditions of heavy snowfall, Charles the Bold, last Valois Duke of Burgundy, perishes at the hands of a Swiss mercenary fighting for René II of Lorraine. The extensive lands the Dukes had accumulated in the Netherlands and elsewhere passed to the Habsburgs through his daughter and only child Mary the Rich, wife of the future Emperor Maximilian I, but ducal Burgundy was escheated to the French crown by Louis XI.

1589: The death of Catherine de’ Medici, one of the most powerful and influential women in the whole history of France, nearly 30 years after that of her husband Henri II. A woman of the keenest intelligence and determined and courageous nature, her name will forever be associated with such black deeds as the St Bartholomew’s Day Massacre. For which she did have some responsibility, but nevertheless there was more than a measure of greatness in her. As Henri IV, Catherine’s son-in-law who barely escaped the massacre alive himself, observed:

 ‘I ask you, what could a woman do, left by the death of her husband with five little children on her arms, and two families of France who were thinking of grasping the crown – our own [the Bourbons] and the Guises? Was she not compelled to play strange parts to deceive first one and then the other, in order to guard, as she did, her sons, who successively reigned through the wise conduct of that shrewd woman? I am surprised that she never did worse.’

I will trace her descent as far as Carlos IV of Spain, shown in the 1330 note on posterities part II to be an ancestor of the current Spanish monarch, naturally enough, and also of those of Belgium, Luxembourg and Liechtenstein. An under-appreciated legacy of Catherine’s is cultural, as a great artistic and architectural patron, and as having played a key role in the development of ballet as an artform. In all, even her most vehement detractors must admit that she was a remarkable woman and Queen.

1614: Archduke Leopold Wilhelm of Austria is born, youngest son of the Emperor Ferdinand II. He never married and had no posterity, but nevertheless left a substantial legacy. A successful general, a governor of the Spanish Netherlands and (though never ordained) the holder of numerous benefices, his real passions were art collecting and artistic patronage. With a connoisseur’s eye and the great wealth accumulated from his benefices he bought a vast number of important paintings, some from the former collection of Charles I of England, the majority of which can be seen today in Vienna museums.

1762: After a twenty-year reign, the Empress Elisabeth of Russia dies. A worthy daughter of Peter the Great, she differed from that monarch in her clemency, never signing a single death sentence in the whole of her reign. She was nevertheless not incapable of ruthlessness, as she showed when she seized the throne from the infant Ivan VI (though he was not put to death either), and in the conduct of the Seven Years’ War. Reigning with great splendour, she never took a consort, though she had several lovers, usually from the lower ranks of society. Her heir was her nephew Peter III, soon overthrown and replaced by his wife, the Empress Catherine II. Descents are traced from children of their son Emperor Paul I, Elisabeth’s great-nephew, to four monarchs and one heir of today in the first part of the 1848 note on posterities.

              Archduke Leopold Wilhelm of Austria (second from right) in his Brussels gallery, painted by David Teniers the Younger

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Pardon me Peter for barging into your topic which I visit every day and look forward to reading. I just had to post this picture of a Queen whom I find so very remarkable and whose death you marked in today's post.  Catherine de Medici a young orphan, last of the elder line of the de Medici family, went through more than the average girl in the tumult filled years of her childhood.  Married off by her uncle the Pope to the second son of the King of France, she seemed destined to be a mere footnote in history.  Even when her husband Henri II became King of France, she seemed an afterthought, in the shadow of the King's mistress Diane de Poitiers who took on a Queenly dignity while the actual Queen served simply as the necessary womb to produce heirs. Yet she emerged as a formidable Queen-Mother who struggled to protect the interests of her sons, the last three Valois Kings of France, as they presided over a country rent by civil war, rebellions and the reformation.  Henri IV was very right in his assessment of her.  


Queen Catherine introduced black mourning for Queens of France, and wore black exclusively after the death of Henri II.  White mourning for Queens had been the norm before her, and remained a privilege for them, but for Catherine, black gowns and stark white collars became her signature.

The Lion of Judah hath prevailed.

Ethiopia stretches her hands unto God (Quote from Psalm 68 which served as the Imperial Motto of the Ethiopian Empire)

"God and history shall remember your judgment." (Quote from Emperor Haile Selassie I's speech to the League of Nations to plead for assistance against the Italian Invasion, 1936.)

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Everybody is very welcome to post comment, criticism, corrections and additions such as yours here, so no need to apologise, and I am glad you are still enjoying the thread. It probably would have been more appropriate for me to have a picture of Queen Catherine rather than Archduke Leopold Wilhelm at the end of the entry, but I thought the latter picture such a wonderful piece of work that I just had to use it!

As an addition of my own, Catherine was seen at the time as by no means a suitable consort for even the second son of the King of France, ‘little more than a private gentlewoman’, as the Emperor Charles V sniffed. Since Catherine’s father had been Duke of Urbino in his own right this was not really fair, though for a fact Catherine’s nearest blood relationship with her husband was quite though not extremely remote, fourth cousin once removed, twice.

But the Pope, Clement VII (who was actually Catherine’s first cousin twice removed rather than uncle), was anxious to remove her and her claims to Florence far away, he having the city in mind for his illegitimate son (never acknowledged, but pretty much universally agreed by historians to be such) Alessandro, and secured the alliance by the offer of an enormous dowry, which proved sufficient temptation for François I. And the rest, as they say, is history.

There is incidentally surviving descent from Alessandro, and on that basis Clement VII, whom I count as one of the six Popes with descent to the present day. I had thought that it extended to the children of the elder Prince Guillaume of Luxembourg, but it would appear not. A number of mediatised and claimant lines and a Liechtenstein cadet branch though do have it. Interestingly, the Empress Eugénie was a descendant. As an example from a claimant line, so is Diana de Melo (stage I; stage II – see 4th January 1695). Finally, it is very much to be hoped that there will be a future sovereign with the descent, since it includes Countess Stéphanie de Lannoy (stage I; stage II), the wife of Hereditary Grand Duke Guillaume.


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                                                               Alessandro de’ Medici, Duke of Florence


1066: The coronation of Harold Godwinson, last native King of the English. The ceremony was probably held in Westminster Abbey following the funeral of Edward the Confessor, in which case it would have been the first coronation of so many down the ages to have been held there (the usual coronation places of the English kings were Winchester, where Edward had been crowned, or Kingston-upon-Thames). There is though no surviving documentation to prove the location, so the first certainly known coronation in Westminster Abbey was that of Harold’s supplanter William the Conqueror.

1367: Richard II of England is born at Bordeaux, where his father the Black Prince had his seat as Prince of Aquitaine, a title unique to him. At four years old Richard became second in line to the English throne following the death of his elder brother Edward of Angoulême, at nine first, when his mighty father succumbed to the debilitating illness which had long rendered him an invalid, and at ten King, upon the death of his grandfather Edward III.

His succession had not been certain, as his father’s death had given his uncle John of Gaunt, Duke of Lancaster, a very arguable claim to be heir by proximity of blood. The Black Prince however had called his father and brother to his deathbed and made them swear to his son’s succession. This oath John of Gaunt very faithfully kept, to be repaid by Richard with several attempts at his assassination. The lawless and turbulent reign of Richard II eventually exhausted the patience of barons and people alike and, having no children, he was deposed in favour of John’s son, who now became Henry IV.

1387: The death of Pero IV of Aragón, a significant monarch who had reigned for over 50 years. See the 1371 thread for further discussion of him and his posterity.

1449: The coronation at Mystras in the Peloponnese of another last sovereign, the Eastern Emperor Constantine XI. It was not unprecedented for a coronation to take place in a provincial city, but usually there would then be a second ceremony in Hagia Sophia. However, the Patriarch Gregory III was in favour of union with Rome and therefore detested by the bulk of the populace, and the new Emperor decided that coronation at his hands would weaken rather than buttress his already fragile position. This then was the last coronation of a Byzantine Emperor.

1537: Alessandro de’ Medici dies in Florence, the city where he had been born and of which he had for six years been Duke, at the hands of a kinsman and comrade turned assassin. Unaware of the date, I had already covered his posterity and probable paternity in the preceding post, so no need to do that again.

Called il Moro on account of his features and complexion, his mother is believed to have been a Moorish slavegirl. Poorly brought-up and ill-educated, he nevertheless showed some ability as a ruler, and his mother’s origins gave him empathy with the poor and oppressed, to whom he was always sympathetic. The Florentines though saw him as a bastard imposed by foreign troops, both of which he was, and he did not help his case by his extreme licentiousness, amounting to serial sexual predation. And this it was that betrayed him into his assassin’s hands, lured from the safety of his palace by the promise of an assignation.

1655: Countess Palatine Eleonora Magdalena of Neuburg is born, eldest daughter of the Elector Philipp Wilhelm. She would be married to the Emperor Leopold I as his third wife, he having no surviving son from the first two, and be the mother of two Emperors, the penultimate and last Habsburgs of the original line, Joseph I and Karl VI. Pious to a degree approaching mania, she nevertheless was quite an effective political actor and played a role in the events of the day. Unusually for a Habsburg consort, she was not all that nearly related to her husband, being his second cousin. That’s quite close, I hear you say? Not for the Habsburgs it wasn’t.

1978: The Holy Crown is returned to Hungary from safekeeping in Fort Knox, where it had been held since the end of World War II. While it was certainly right for Hungary’s most sacred relic to be returned there, many questioned whether it was wise to entrust it to a Communist dictatorship, fearing for its safety. President Carter nevertheless pressed ahead, feeling that Hungary had been moving in a more liberal direction and wishing to encourage this and improve relations, though the Crown was returned specifically to the people of Hungary, not its government. It is on display today in the Hungarian Parliament, and from 1990 was restored to the national coat of arms.

                                                                       Hungary’s Holy Crown

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                                                                               Ludwig III, Bavaria’s last King, aged 70

7th January

1131: The death of Knud Lavard, Prince of Denmark and the first man to be Duke of both Schleswig and Holstein, murdered by his cousin Magnus I of Sweden, who had ambitions for the Danish throne and wished to eliminate a possible rival. The later canonised Knud was the eldest and only legitimate son of Erik I of Denmark, but being a minor when his father died had been passed over in the succession in favour of his uncle Niels, the father of Magnus. Fifteen years after his father’s murder, Knud’s only son Valdemar acceded to Denmark as Valdemar I, reigning gloriously and being the ancestor of all Danish monarchs since, as therefore the sainted Knud Lavard also is. The same is true for the murderous Magnus from Valdemar IV on, though as that monarch’s posterity became extinct I also have to trace Magnus to Christian I.

1285: Charles I of Naples dies. A brother (and also brother-in-law, they marrying sisters) of Louis IX of France, under Papal auspices he had usurped the Sicilian throne, killing the reigning King Manfred and later judicially murdering the proper heir, Manfred’s nephew Conradin. Unquestionably extremely able and unquestionably a major figure in the Europe of the day, he was rapaciously greedy and grasping and utterly unscrupulous in all his acts, and is a figure I find generally repugnant. The island of Sicily he lost when the people there rose up and overthrew him, calling Manfred’s son-in-law the King of Aragón to their aid, but the mainland portion of the kingdom he retained and passed on to his son Charles II, shown to be a universal ancestor of today’s sovereigns in the 1286 note on posterities.

1325: The death of a much more admirable monarch, Diniz of Portugal, covered in the completed portion of the 1286 historical introduction, as his posterity is in that thread’s note.

1451: Antipope Felix V dies. Which I would not normally give any notice to, but he had previously been Amadeo VIII, Count and then first Duke of Savoy, resigning the duchy to his son Louis and becoming a hermit prior to his election. His reign in Savoy had been peaceful and generally unremarkable, and by his wife and first cousin once removed Marie of Burgundy he had 11 children, a further posterity surviving from only two of them.

By both these though he is an ancestor of all today’s sovereigns, the only man I think who ever claimed the Papal throne to be so, though four recognised Popes are ancestors of some. I will show descent from his son Louis to Mary I of Scotland, an ancestress of all except the Prince of Monaco, and to Charlotte de la Trémouille, Countess of Derby, an ancestress of Albert II as shown at the end of the 1517 thread. And from his daughter Marguerite to Ludwig IX, Landgrave of Hesse-Darmstadt, an ancestor of all except the Queen, and to Frederick Lewis, Prince of Wales, father of George III. I expect people can work out the rest of the route for themselves from there.

1647: Wilhelm Ludwig, Duke of Württemberg, is born in Stuttgart, fifth son of the reigning Duke Eberhard III (see the 16th December 1614 entry), but the eldest to survive him. Though not for long, he dying suddenly and unexpectedly two years after his father. There is not much then to say about him, but there is more about his wife, Landgravine Magdalene Sibylle of Hesse-Darmstadt. Only child of Landgrave Ludwig VI and his dearly-loved first wife Maria Elisabeth of Holstein-Gottorp to have further descent, she was a wise and prudent Regent for her son Duke Eberhard IV Ludwig for 16 years, and a notable composer of hymns, with many works surviving to today.

Eberhard Ludwig alas did not take after his pious and widely admired mother, being something of a wastrel. Neither of his legitimate children survived him or had issue themselves, so after his death Protestant Württemberg passed to a Catholic Duke, his first cousin Karl Alexander, male-line ancestor of the four Kings of Württemberg. The posterity of Wilhelm Ludwig and Magdalene Sibylle was left to their daughter Magdalene Wilhelmina, who married the remarkable Karl III Wilhelm, Margrave of Baden-Durlach, known as ‘the tulip friend’ for his horticultural achievements but with much else besides to his credit, including the foundation of the beautiful city of Karlsruhe, later the capital of the Grand Duchy of Baden.

Karl though loved his tulips far more than his ill-favoured wife, in fact the story is that he moved his seat to Karlsruhe mainly to get away from her. They nevertheless had three children together, none of which survived either parent but the middle child, Hereditary Prince Friedrich, left a son to be heir. This was Karl Friedrich, first Grand Duke of Baden, who through his son Hereditary Prince Karl Ludwig was a genealogical lynchpin tying future generations of Catholic and Protestant and Orthodox sovereigns together.

In more ways than one, as Karl Friedrich’s mother Charlotte of Nassau-Dietz was one of the two children of Jan Willem Friso, Prince of Orange and nearest common ancestor of the current sovereigns, of whom two, the Princes of Liechtenstein and Monaco, are descended from Jan Willem Friso only through her and Karl Friedrich (though as shown in the final link of this entry Prince Joseph Wenzel, eventual heir to Liechtenstein, has the other descent, through Willem IV, Prince of Orange). Now for some links, tracing from Wilhelm Ludwig and Magdalene Sibylle with whom I started to the Queen of Denmark, the King of Sweden, the Prince of Liechtenstein, the Grand Duke of Luxembourg, the Prince of Monaco and the Kings of Belgium and Spain. The Queen and the Kings of Norway and the Netherlands are not descendants, but the Prince of Wales is.

I realise that this has been long and discursive even by my standards, and all arising from a briefly-reigning ruler who really was of little consequence except to those who knew him, but one of my aims in this thread (and indeed the section generally) is to show the genealogical importance of otherwise obscure people, and to put a little flesh on the bones of tracings of lines of descent by making people in them seem more real, showing at least a little detail of them and their lives.

This was a stab at doing just that, tracing from Wilhelm Ludwig’s wife Magdalene Sibylle, through whom alone her mother’s posterity survives, to her daughter Magdalene Wilhelmina, ditto for both parents, to her grandson Karl Friedrich, ditto for his paternal grandparents and for half the posterity of Jan Willem Friso, showing along the way both how fragile the chain of descent can be and how impressive and admirable some of these people were. One further point is that Magdalene Sibylle is not the first Protestant hymnodist I have covered in the thread, there was also Emilie Juliane of Barby-Mühlingen (December 3rd), who slightly surpassed Magdalene Sibylle by being ancestral to eight of today’s sovereigns. The latter’s count of Catholic monarchs though includes them all, and thus beats Emilie Juliane’s by two.

1845: The birth of Ludwig III, last King of Bavaria and last sovereign of the House of Wittelsbach. A minor prince when born, nephew of Maximilian II who had two sons to succeed him, Ludwig moved up in the Bavarian succession on the death of Ludwig II, the elder of those sons, his father Luitpold becoming Regent for the insane Otto, the younger son. His father’s rule, seen as a Golden Age for Bavaria, ended with his death on 12th December 1912, Ludwig stepping into the Regency in his turn. The next year large majorities in both houses of the Bavarian legislature voted to give Ludwig the right to depose Otto and ascend the throne himself, which he duly did on 8th November 1913.

The harsh war years eroded the new King’s initial popularity, and though never abdicating he was on 13th November 1918 formally deposed, Bavaria becoming a short-lived Communist republic before reincorporation into Germany. Progressive in his views, greatly interested in the fostering of agriculture and advances in technology, due to the briefness of his reign and the difficulties of the times Ludwig III never really had the chance to show his quality as a monarch. And his son Crown Prince Rupprecht, greatly admired for his stance against Nazism, had no chance at all.

Rupprecht’s parents had met in 1867 at the funeral of Ludwig’s cousin Archduchess Mathilde of Austria. His mother, Archduchess Maria Theresa of Austria-Este (a half-sister of Archduchess Maria Christina, Queen of Spain as wife of Alfonso XII and Regent for her son Alfonso XIII) was the only child of Archduke Ferdinand of the same, who had died when she was just five months old, and heiress to a large fortune. The two were immediately attracted to each other, fell in love and decided to get married, much against the wishes of Emperor Franz Joseph who had another spouse in mind for Maria Theresa. Marry though they did and had a long and happy life together, having 13 children of whom ten lived to adulthood and four have descent to the present day.

While there has never been a sovereign descended from Ludwig III, it is not much of a revelation that there will be, as this is the future Joseph Wenzel II of Liechtenstein, heir apparent to the principality after his father and Jacobite eventual heir presumptive to the kingdoms of England, Scotland, France and Ireland. The claim descends, or will descend, to Prince Joseph Wenzel through Archduchess Maria Theresa, who to Jacobites was Mary IV and III (just Mary III to the slightly more realistic among them).

Naturally, the Archduchess never pretended to be Queen of anywhere except Bavaria, which for five years she was as Ludwig III’s consort. Prince Joseph Wenzel’s birth in England, first Jacobite heir to be born there since the Old Pretender James Francis Edward Stuart, caused a considerable stir in Jacobite circles. The fact that Archduchess Maria Theresa was the first Jacobite claimant (albeit never actually claiming) to be descended from the Hanoverian monarchs George I and George II, the former twice as shown, has for some strange reason never received the same amount of attention.

And thus concludes the second epic in a row, sorry about that. Some days I just can’t help myself.

1989: The end of the Shōwa era in Japan after 62 years, the reigning Emperor dying and being succeeded by his son the present Emperor, whose era is called Heisei, meaning ‘universal peace’. Let us hope that peace continues to prevail in Japan at least, though it hardly seems to do so anywhere else.

                                                                                                           The Shōwa Emperor, aged around five


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Reply with quote  #40 
Are you sure about that 1981 date for the end of the Showa Period as I had it recorded in my 1989 diary at the time?
Yours Sincerely Queenslander

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Reply with quote  #41 
Oops, typo, now corrected. Thanks for pointing it out.

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                                                 Archduke Rudolf of Austria in Cardinal’s robes

8th January

1107: The death of Edgar of Scotland, the second of four sons of Malcolm III to be King there and the first of three from their father’s second marriage, to St Margaret of Wessex. The last of the three was David I, from whom all subsequent Scottish and (much) later British monarchs have descended, as all English sovereigns from Henry II on did from Edgar and David’s sister Edith.

1297: Francesco Grimaldi captures the fortress of Monaco through a ruse, having gained admission disguised as a Franciscan friar then slain the door-guards and opened the gates to his companions. Monaco was a Genoese possession and he from a prominent Genoese family, but it had been held by the pro-Imperial Ghibelline faction of Genoa, whereas the Grimaldis were identified as Guelphs, Papal supporters. Francesco established no permanent lordship, Monaco being surrendered back to the Ghibellines four years later, but began the family’s association with what would become the Principality of Monaco, and is still commemorated in the principality’s coat of arms.

He left no issue, but his kinsman in rather unclear fashion, Rainier Grimaldi, continued the association with and intermittent lordship over Monaco and is counted as Rainier I in the numbering of the Princes. A distinguished admiral in French service, so was his son Charles or Carlo, counted as Charles I, though he does not appear to have been entirely loyal to Philippe VI so perhaps ‘distinguished’ is an overstatement for him.

His son Rainier II held the seigneuralty only briefly, but in 1419 Rainier II’s own three sons obtained it as the permanent and hereditary possession that it has remained ever since, its succession going through Jean (Giovanni) I, youngest of the three, all the way to Albert II today. This link traces from the first Rainier through to Ercole, marquis de Baux: further links in the 1330 note on posterities part II show the chain from him to Rainier III, father of the present sovereign, and also to Grand Duke Henri’s father Grand Duke Jean.

1788: The birth in Florence of Archduke Rudolf of Austria, youngest of the many admirable sons of the Emperor Leopold II, who then was Grand Duke of Tuscany. As the Cardinal-Archbishop of Olmütz he had no issue, his legacy being musical rather than flesh and blood. A pupil, friend and patron of Beethoven, he was the dedicatee of 14 compositions by his mentor-client, including the Archduke Trio, Hammerklavier Sonata, Emperor Concerto and Missa Solemnis (music begins at 7:45), all sublime and all among the Master’s most famous works. As a composer, Archduke Rudolf wrote number 40 of the second part of the Diabelli Variations, though today only the 33 variations by Beethoven that form the first part are generally remembered or performed.

1864: Prince Albert Victor Christian Edward of Wales is born at Frogmore House, Windsor, first child of the future Edward VII and Queen Alexandra. Born eventual heir apparent and second in line to the Throne, he remained so throughout his life, predeceasing both his father and his grandmother Queen Victoria. His historical reputation is that he was highly unintelligent and of poor moral character, the latter extending to accusations of involvement in the Cleveland Street Scandal concerning visits of prominent men to a homosexual brothel and, preposterously, that he was Jack the Ripper. There is zero evidence for the former and inarguable proof that the latter is untrue, but still the stories persist.

While Prince Albert Victor, created Duke of Clarence and Avondale aged 26, does not appear to have been the brightest of boys, nor was his brother the eventual George V and nor, for that matter, had his father been, and they both seemed to manage alright as monarchs. And the best testimony to his character is the love his family who knew him best all felt for him. Had he reigned, I expect as Edward VIII, there is no reason to think he would have been other than a perfectly satisfactory King, and certainly more so than the actual Edward VIII.

But, dying unmarried and childless aged 28, he did not. He had been informally engaged to his third cousin once removed Princess Hélène of Orléans, but the obvious difficulties caused by her Catholic faith put an end to that, and previously had courted his first cousin Princess Alix of Hesse and by Rhine, later Empress Alexandra of Russia, but she refused his proposal. Eventually a formal engagement was concluded with his twice second cousin once removed Princess May of Teck, who ended up marrying his brother George instead, becoming successively Duchess of York, Duchess of Cornwall and York, Princess of Wales, Queen and Dowager Queen.

1873: The birth at Cetinje of Princess Elena Petrović-Njegoš of Montenegro, daughter of the little Balkan principality’s future first King, Nikola I. She would marry the Prince of Naples, only son of Umberto I of Italy, becoming Queen when he ascended the throne as Vittorio Emanuele III. They would preside over the country through two World Wars, Queen Elena earning great popularity for the charitable work in which she was indefatigable, and for which she was awarded the Golden Rose by Pope Pius XI. Their son would succeed as Umberto II upon his father’s abdication and their grandson be Simeon II of Bulgaria, but in both cases alas only briefly.

1918: In a speech to Congress, United States President Woodrow Wilson announces his Fourteen Points, which would become the basis of the subsequent Treaty of Versailles. So superficially reasonable and fair, they would wreak irreparable damage on the nations of Europe, tearing up a monarchical fabric evolved over centuries of history and remaking it in an idealistic, Utopian and inevitably republican fashion that was always doomed to disaster, and duly led to it. Would that the sarcastic gibe of French prime minister Georges Clemenceau ‘Le bon Dieu n'en avait que dix!’ (‘The Good Lord had only ten!’) and the remark also sometimes attributed to Clemenceau ‘What! Must every little language have a country of its own?’ had been more general reactions.


                                                         A WWI poster of Queen Elena of Italy

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Reply with quote  #43 
A Lighter Anecdote (sort-of):

With you mentioning music above, a number (slightly-to-significantly higher than the normal amount born on a specific day of the year) of musicians and artists were also born on this day, and If I can owe an indulgence of you here, the uncrowned "King" of Rock and Roll ( a certain E. A. Presley) be amongst the number of them born. His sole issue is alive with us today and subsequent descent from is well documented.

Yours Sincerely Queenslander

Posts: 7,500
Reply with quote  #44 
Yes, though only one of his daughter's marriages could be considered equal, since it was to the King of Pop, Michael Jackson, and no issue from that one alas. It did actually cross my mind to make mention of Presley, but I sternly restrained myself from frivolity.[smile] Besides, while I certainly recognise Presley's importance and have nothing against his music, I have never been a particular fan. The true King of Rock for me is and always will be Bob Dylan.

Posts: 7,500
Reply with quote  #45 
[xv03]The Château de Langeais, venue of the marriage of Anne of Brittany and Charles VIII of France

9th January

1463: The death of William Neville, only Earl of Kent of the seventh creation. He was the second son of Ralph Neville, 1st Earl of Westmoreland and Joan Beaufort, and thus a great-grandson of Edward III, uncle of a better-known Neville, the Kingmaker, and brother-in-law as well as second cousin of Richard, Duke of York, the father of Edward IV. All these family connections were to prove significant in his career, in which he was an important commander in the English wars with France and then in the Wars of the Roses, switching from the Lancastrian to the Yorkist side and assisting in the campaign that led to Edward IV’s first reign. Obscure today, he was by no means so in his lifetime. It took a very long time indeed, but his blood eventually made it (stage I; stage II) to future occupants of the Throne he helped his nephew to ascend.

1499: Johann Cicero, fourth Hohenzollern Elector of Brandenburg, dies at Arneburg Castle. He is notable for three things. Firstly, for having made Berlin the Electorate’s capital. Secondly, for his marriage to Margaret of Saxony, through whom future Electors were heirs-general of the Emperor Sigismund, last male of the House of Luxemburg, with a consequent claim to Luxembourg and its lands which was never forgotten and after more than three centuries was made good at the Congress of Vienna, leading indirectly to Luxembourg’s existence today as a separate state. And thirdly as first in an unbroken line of succession from father to son that spanned eleven generations of successive Electors then Kings, and 300 years and a month from the accession of Johann Cicero to the death of Frederick the Great.

1514: The death at the Château de Blois of Anne, Duchess of Brittany in her own right and twice Queen of France. Heiress of her father Duke François II, a number of possible husbands had been contemplated for her, including the future Edward V of England to whom she was formally promised, and the future Emperor Maximilian I, whom she actually married by proxy. Charles VIII of France though was having none of that, and had a point; by treaty with François II Anne could not marry without the King of France’s consent, and, intending to marry Anne himself and thus bring Brittany at last into the orbit of the French crown, he most certainly had not consented.

The point was made by laying siege to the Breton capital Rennes and, the city falling after two months, Charles entered in triumph and on 6th December 1491 wed Anne at the Château de Langeais, which like the Château de Blois was a royal residence in the Loire Valley. There were some difficulties to be resolved, such as Anne being theoretically already married and the couple being related within prohibited degrees, but for a price Pope Innocent VIII proved amenable and on 15th February 1492 annulled the first marriage and granted dispensation for the second.

So far so good, from Charles’s viewpoint at any rate, Anne having been most unwilling. The next thing was to produce an heir. To this end Charles kept Anne almost constantly pregnant, but to no avail, the greatest age any of their six children lived to being three. So when in 1498 Charles died, last of the male line of Charles VI, the Crown of France passed to his second cousin once removed the duc d’Orléans, who now became Louis XII. But whither the Duchy of Brittany?

The new King had definite ideas about that. Childlessly married to Charles VIII’s sister and actually more closely related to Anne than her late husband had been, he was nevertheless determined to make Anne his Queen and secure Brittany for himself. Neither would be possible without the agreement of the Pope, Alexander VI, and although the dispensation was routine the annulment of Louis’ 22-year marriage was not, and the oft-maligned Alexander VI reluctant to consent to it. But, after the application of considerable political pressure and some extremely squalid divorce proceedings, consent he did, and Louis was free to marry Anne.

Which happened at Anne’s birthplace Nantes, Brittany, on 8th January 1499. This marriage was much more on Anne’s terms than the previous one had been, her position as Brittany’s ruler being acknowledged in the marriage agreement and it providing that the second heir from the marriage would inherit the Duchy, preserving its separateness. Four children were born of it, two sons of which the first died the same day he was born and the second was stillborn, and two daughters who lived to have children themselves.

The elder of these, Claude of France, was married to Louis' male heir the future François I and was by him mother of the next King, Henri II; see 5th January 1589 above for descent from him. And the younger, Renée of France, married Ercole II d’Este, Duke of Ferrara, and ought to have herself been Duchess of Brittany in succession to her mother. However she never was, the inconvenient marriage agreement being simply disregarded and Brittany passing to Claude and through her to succeeding Kings. Descent survives from Anna d’Este, eldest child of the proper heiress Renée, and is shown in the last paragraph of the entry for 23rd December 1588.

Anne’s tomb in St Denis was desecrated during the French Revolution and her bones thrown into a pit, but the heart of this courageous woman who fought so hard even if without success to keep Brittany independent is preserved today in the Musée Dobrée in Nantes, encased in a sumptuous gold reliquary.

1878: Vittorio Emanuele II, first King of a united Italy, dies in Rome. Liberal in his views but autocratic in his ways, he married his first cousin through his father and first cousin once removed through his mother Archduchess Adelheid of Austria, having five children by her, four with issue themselves. His first son Umberto was King of Italy after his father, and his second Amadeo briefly King of Spain. He was ancestral to two more Kings of Italy, two Kings of Portugal and the Algarves and one Tsar of the Bulgarians, but now has no reigning descendants at all.

1982: Catherine Elizabeth Middleton is born in Reading. On 29th April 2011 she became Her Royal Highness the Duchess of Cambridge in a magnificent ceremony watched on TV by an immense global audience, and on 22nd July 2013 gave birth to the future George VII (we presume), Prince George of Cambridge. Her beauty, regal bearing, sparkling fashion sense and charm have all made her immensely popular and, the marriage seeming rock-solid, there is every reason to expect that she will one day be our Queen.

Normally I mark birthdays of living royalty in a different thread in the general section, though I will not be doing so today as there is already a thread celebrating the occasion. But, as in a roundabout way Her Royal Highness gave me this thread’s title, I decided to make note of it here as well. I can’t claim to have been particularly aware of Psalm 118 before (even though I used 118:23 in the title of the 1558 thread), but This is the Day, an anthem by John Rutter especially composed for her wedding, imprinted 118:24 indelibly on my mind. ‘This is the day which the Lord hath made; we will rejoice and be glad in it’. In the Vulgate it is 117:24, ‘Haec est dies quam fecit Dominus exultemus et laetemur in ea’, and that is what I used.

[925_1293034458_Chateau]              The Château de Blois, where Anne of Brittany died

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