Who’s That Girl?

We just watched the Dreamworks movie “Amistad”, and then used the Presidential Family Forest to gain additional perspective on some of the key characters. Of course U.S. Presidents Martin Van Buren and John Quincy Adams were there, as well as U.S. Vice President John Caldwell Calhoun, but we were interested in the 11 year old girl who fanned the flames of this controversy, Queen Isabella II of Spain.

Marie Isabella Louise, who became Queen of Spain as Isabella II, was born on October 10, 1830 and died on April 9, 1904. As long ago as the time frame of Amistad seemed to be, Queen Isabella II was actually living during the lifetimes of people who are still living today.

Queen Isabella II was not included in the first edition of the Presidential Family Forest, but is included in the new edition that is about to be published within the American & European Family Forest. It is fascinating to see all of the European history that lead up to this 11 year old girl being the Queen of Spain at the point in time of the Amistad incident.

A ten generation ancestor view of Queen Isabella II, which reaches back about three centuries, in the Presidential Family Forest has 432 of the possible 512 boxes in the tenth column filled in. Some of the names in those tenth generation boxes are:

King Christian IV of Denmark & Norway, Emperor Ferdinand II, Duke Albert Friedrich of Prussia, King Charles I of England, King Louis XIII of France, King Anthony of Navarre, Queen Joan III of Navarre, Grand Duke Francis Medici of Tuscany, King Philip II of Spain & Portugal, Anne of Austria, Archbishop Karl of Steiermark, Marie of Bavaria, Duke Francois I of Lorraine, Princess Anne of Denmark, Elector Wilhelm II the Religious of Bavaria, Duke Emanuele Filliberto of Savoy, Duke Alessando Farnese of Parma, Marie of Portugal, King Henry IV the Great of Navarre & France, Grand Duke Fernando I of Tuscany, Duke Caesare I d’Este of Modena & Ferrara, Duke Karlo Emanuele I the Great of Savoy, Princess Anne of Denmark, King James I of England, Duke Caesar of Vendome, Duchess Anne of Aumale, Duke Henrico I of Nemours, Elector Christian I of Saxony, Elector Johann Georg I of Brandenburg, Landgrave Georg I of Hessen-Darmstadt, Wilhelm V of Cleve-Julich & Berg, Pfalzgr. Wolfgang of Pfalz-Zweibrucken, Duke Georg I of Hanover, Duke Christian of Baireuth, Markgrave Joachim Ernst of Ansbach, Duke Johann Friedrich of Wurtemberg, Johan Casimir of Pfalz-Zweibrucken, Princess Henrietta Maria of France,Count Victor Amadeus I of Savoy, Elector Maximilian I the Great of Bavaria, King Philip IV of Spain, King Philip II (III) of Spain & Portugal, Duke Charles of Mantua & Nevers, King Frederick V of Bohemia, Princess Elizabeth Stuart of England, Princess Marie Anne Eleanore of Hesse-Darmstadt, and Duke William of Brunswick-Luneburg.

What Were They Thinking?

Comments from a Captain’s Log subscriber brought back thoughts from a springtime drive in Delaware when we were living and working there several years ago.

Kristine and I were making one of our many frequent drives from Sussex County to the Delaware Hall of Records in Dover for the day. The trip took about an hour as we zipped along at a mile per minute. During that hour we heard many voices (via radio) from various points on the planet, and were subjected to hundreds (thousands?) of roadside advertisements and commercial messages. Later in the same day, we would repeat this high-stimuli experience, and sleep in the same bed we had slept in the previous night.

What a contrast! As I study the lives of thousands of people who lived just a relatively few generations earlier, I try imagining what they thought about, and how life on this planet may have appeared to them.

For them, a one way trip from Sussex County to Dover was a real journey. It would take all day. It would unfold at the soothing pace of nature. They would spend the night, or two or three, enjoying the warm hospitality of good friends or relatives.

During the journey, auditory stimuli would be limited(?) to the sounds of nature, and thoughtful conversation with companions and/or people they met along the way. Although they could not enjoy the auditory delights of Vivaldi or Mozart, what they avoided was certainly well worth the loss.

People then were not subjected every half hour to sensationalized bad news and dirt about people they didn’t know. They were not subjected to a heavy and seemingly constant barrage of voices of barkers and hucksters trying to make a sale. And as hard as it is for us to imagine, they never heard the obnoxious rumblings of engines or the high-speed whine of motors.

What price have we paid for giving up long hours of uninterrupted quiet times to explore and examine our own thoughts, and those of our friends? Reading some of the writings of people from centuries ago makes me feel woefully inadequate, and makes me realize that the price may have been far too high.

Where Do They Come From?

Many people believe that all of their ancestors originally came from one particular country. Even though they may be 100% correct about some of their ancestors, they are unaware of the bigger picture.

When viewed within a 2,000 year time frame, it appears impossible to have ancestors from Ireland and not have ancestors from Italy, or to have ancestors from Scotland and not have ancestors from Turkey, or to have ancestors from Portugal and not have ancestors from Russia, etc.

For instance look back just 1,000 years to the family of Jaroslaw I Vlasimirowitsch, Grand Duke of Kiev. In 1009 he married Ingegard of Sweden. Without looking further back, we at least know that all nine or so of his children have both Russian and Swedish ancestry.

Within just a couple of centuries, his six sons had descendants scattered throughout all points of Europe, and probably well into Asia. But let’s look at just the three daughters.

One daughter married Andreas I, King of Hungaria. Their daughter married a king of Bohemia, and had children. So in just a few generations their children have at least Russian, Swedish, Hungarian, and Bohemian ancestry.

Another daughter married Harald Hardrada, King of Norway. Before 1400, she had descendants in Alencon, Anhalt, Aragon, Athens, Austria, Bar, Bavaria, Bohemia, Bourbon, Brabant, Brandenburg, Brittany, Brunswick, Burgundy, Calabria, Castile, Constantinople, Cracow, Cyprus, Denmark, Durazzo, England, Estonia, Exorica, Flanders, France, Galacia, Gandia, Germany, Gravina, Grubenhagen, Hainault, Hapsburg, Hessen, Holland, Holstein, Homberg, Hungary, Ingolstadt, Kalisz, Lorraine, Luxemburg, Majorca, Mecklenburg, Molina, Moncada, Monferrat, Monthemer, Morea, Naples, Narbonne, Nassau, Navarre, Norway, Novgorod, Orleans, Palatine of Rhine, Perche, Perigord, Poland, Pommern, Poznan, Provence, Ribagorza, Rugen, Russia, St. Pol, Savoy, Saxony, Schleswig, Scotland, Serbia, Sicily, Slavonia, Sweden, Taranto, Thessalonica, Toledo, Tortosa, Toulouse, Urgel, Valencia, Valois, Vienna, Waldeck, Wroclaw, and many other places.

But by comparison, a much larger high-probability intersection was created by the other sister. She married Henri I, King of France. The probability of passing through this one intersection multiple times if you follow your ancestral trails long enough must be amazingly close to 100%.

As a rule of thumb, it’s usually true that kings begat kings. But quite often, it’s equally true that kings begat many other children, who begat many other children, who begat many other children, etc. The royal genes spread profusely throughout the general populations of many countries within several centuries.

At the time the small number of Mayflower families began creating their estimated 30,000,000 descendants living today, how many families throughout Europe were creating descendants of Russian couple Jaroslaw I Vlasimirowitsch, Grand Duke of Kiev, and Ingegard of Sweden? Tens of Thousands? Hundreds of Thousands? More?

While traveling along all of your own ancestral trails that will lead you back to Jaroslaw I Vlasimirowitsch, Grand Duke of Kiev, and Ingegard of Sweden, it seems inevitable that you will pass through every country in Europe.


I just entered “Ratpod (Radeboton)” of Habsburg, Count of Altenburg and Duke of Alsace from 990 to 1027, into the Presidential Family Forest. In many ways, he is not very different from thousands of others from his time period who have already been entered into the database.

Although he is probably one of your ancestors, as well as an ancestor of most of the people in America and Europe, I don’t believe he would be considered famous. Maybe somewhere he is still mentioned in school, but probably not often.

What caught my attention, and caused my thoughts to wander, was the date of his death.

According to the source I’m working with, he died June 30, 1027. Not in the first half of the eleventh century. Not about 1027. It specifically says June 30, 1027.

Oftentimes, people today search in vain trying to find an ancestor’s death date from one century ago, and here is the exact month, day, and year of the death of an ancestor who lived a millennium ago. Doesn’t it seem amazing that this particular bit of detailed knowledge has endured for 1,000 years?

And today, after surviving almost ten centuries stored in paper, knowledge about “Ratpod (Radeboton)” of Habsburg, Count of Altenburg and Duke of Alsace, has now been placed into digital storage.

Will knowledge about this ancestor of ours survive until the year 3000? Or for that matter, will knowledge about many (or any) people living today survive until the year 3000?