How Reliable Is the Record of Hildis Marriage to Valdar

Started by Hugo Schroeder on Wednesday, March 23, 2011

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3/23/2011 at 9:31 AM

Note on the Reliability of this Genealogical Lineage

Is it possible that this genealogical link of the Kings of Denmark/Sweden with the Vandals, and so with Roman Imperial families contains a germ of fact? That is the question a genealogist has when he comes across a lineage like this, that purports to trace ten generations from Harald Bluetooth to Hilderich, King of the Vandals into classical antiquity. Genealogies like these abound on the Internet, but are they at all verifiable?

After considerable effort trying to vindicate this genealogical link, here are my conclusions. Responses will be most welcome.

The question cannot be answered easily. On the one hand, ancient historians do indeed mention the Vandal king Hilderich, son of Huneric, and his marriage to Amalfleda. That much is clear. It is not hard to trace the lineage from Godigiselus to Hiderich in ancient historians. But I have found no reference to a daughter of Hilderich and Amalfleda named Hildis, and certainly not to her marriage to a Danish/Swedish king named Valdar Hroarson, nor do I expect to.

First of all, the last named king of Denmark/Sweden generally acknowledged to have been a historic person was Harald Bluetooth, King of Denmark, 940-985. It is fully four hundred fifty years from Harald Bluetooth to the purported marriage of Hildis, the Vandal Princess, and Valdar Hroarson, the Scandinavian king. Where, then, did this genealogical lineage come from, and how reliable might it be?

It comes from Norse Sagas, tales of various age, which purport to recount the history of the Nordic peoples. These derive from ancient bards who sought to preserve their people’s history through the long centuries of the Dark Ages. The sagas were eventually written down, beginning in the 10th century or so, often by monks with a sense of history. But through the long centuries in which this process played out,, the sagas were continuously susceptible to change and alteration, especially at the hands of bards, monks, courtiers and others trying to glorify their king and provide him a more illustrious lineage.

At some point in history, an unknown hand examined the sagas seeking to trace a genealogical lineage. Hopping from one saga to another as guided by the matches he thought he saw, he and others like him laboriously put together the various genealogical lineages which we find on the internet and other places. Some go all the way back to Adam and Eve! Others to Odin! But who were these compilers, and what were their motives? What sagas did they use, and how might students evaluate these sagas? Such questions cannot be answered! So the lineages presented in these genealogies must be considered legendary at best, and, often as pure myth. [1]

In the Modern Library edition of Edward Gibbon's The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire,[2] ch. xxxix (Vol. II, p 99, n. 1) appears the following: "Peringsciold (the Swedish commentator of Chochloeus, Vit. Theodoric. p. 271, etc., Stockholm, 1699) labors to connect this genealogy with the legends or traditions of his native country. If [the argument presented by Gibbons] is correct, then the difficulties which surround the connection of Visigothic kings descending from Thiudimir to Scandinavia are a sign that the line of descent has been forced and is untrustworthy.” That is Gibbons’ evaluation of genealogies like this one.

So two scholars, writing centuries apart and in different languages, agree in warning us to place no confidence in the reliability of this genealogy as a blood line.

But does that mean the lineage has no value whatever? I do not think so, for it may help us better understand developments between cultures and peoples in the past.

This lineage covers a period known as the “Volkerwanderung,” which is often called “The Dark Ages.” Across these centuries vast migrations of populations were taking place, occasioned in part by the very nature of cultures, many of which had not yet become thoroughly sedentary, but were to one extent or another nomadic. Also, the invasion of eastern Europe by Asian peoples who moved from western China and Manchuria into the steppe lands of Russia during Roman times, forced nations which had previously occupied those lands to move on. Germanic populations especially were on the move, and constituted a perennial threat to the northern borders of the Roman Empire from the early third century on. While it has proved impossible for both ancient historians and modern commentators to unravel the complex relationships between all these peoples, and there is much disagreement between scholars on such issures, it is certain that among these roving peoples were the Goths (Ostrogoths and Visigoths), the Vandals, and the Heruleans (or Eruleans)

The Free Online Encylclopedia (http://encyclopedia2.thefreedictionary.com/Ostrogothi) says of the Ostrogoths: "According to their own unproven tradition, the ancestors of the Goths were the Gotar of southern Sweden." [Note--one of the original kingdoms which later coalesced to form Sweden was Gothia, which still exists as two provinces of Sweden, Ostrogothia and Visigothia] "By the 3d cent. A.D., the Goths settled in the region north of the Black Sea. There they split into two groups, the names of which reflect the areas in which they settled; the Ostrogoths" [or East Goths] "settled in Ukraine, while the Visigoths, or West Goths, settled further to the west. By c.375 the Huns conquered the Ostrogothic kingdom ruled by Ermanaric,, which extended from the Dniester River, north and east to the headwaters of the Volga River. The Ostrogoths were subject to the Huns until the death (453) of Attila, when they settled in Pannonia (roughly modern Hungary) as allies of the Byzantine (East Roman) empire. The Ostrogoths, who had long elected their rulers, chose (471) Theodoric the Great as king. A turbulent ally, the Byzantine emperor Zeno, commissioned Theodoric to reconquer Italy from Odoacer. The Ostrogoths entered Italy in 488, defeated and slew (493) Odoacer, and set up the Ostrogothic kingdom of Italy, with Ravenna as their capital. After Theodoric's death (526) his daughter Amalasuntha was regent for her son Athalric. She placed herself under the protection of the Byzantine emperor Justinian I. Her murder (535) served as pretext for Justinian to send Belisarius to reconquer Italy. He crushed the Ostrogothic kingdom, but on his recall (541) the Ostrogoths rebelled under the leadership of Totila. In 552 the Byzantine general Narses defeated Totila, who fell in battle. As a result, the Ostrogoths lost their national identity...." From this, it does not seem illogical for a group of the now defunct Ostrogothic peoples to have returned to the homeland in Scandinavia, especially, as we shall see, since they had maintained demonstrable ties with the homeland.

The Vandals [3] are also said to have originated in Sweden, whence they moved across the Baltic to the area of the Vistula river-East and West Prussia, Pomerania, etc. [4] Here they remained briefly before moving into Poland and down the corridor that leads to the Ukraine (Pannonia), near the Sea of Azov. Pressured by the Huns, they also made their way westward, settling briefly along the Danube before driving east into Germany, where in 406 they joined other Germanic tribes in crossing the Rhine into Roman Gaul. After ravaging Gaul for two years or so, they crossed the Pyrenees into Spain, dividing to settle briefly in Galicia and Andalusia (to which they gave its name) before reuniting in Andalusia. The Romans, however, enlisted the Visigoths to drive them from Spain, so they next crossed the Mediterranean and established a kingdom in North Africa. From this they ravaged the entire western Mediterranean by sea, eventually conquering and despoiling Rome itself. In a round-about way, this led to Emperor Justinian’s campaign against them, commanded by the great Roman general Belisarius, who finally defeated them.

Exactly what next became of the Vandals is not fully known. Gibbons opines that many made their way to the Atlantic coast, where their descendants, says he, were still to be found in his own day.

Here we enter into murky waters. About 550 A.D. the Greek historian Procopius, in his Vandalic Wars, spoke of a people he calls the Herulians, The Herulians, like the Vandals and Ostrogoths,, had Nordic roots. They are met for the first time in 267 plundering in Greek waters and living near the Vandals and Ostrogoths along the Black Sea. After the invasion of the Huns, like the Vandals and Goths, they wandered. In 456 and 460 “Herulic Vikings” were plundering all the way down to Aquitania and Galicia. All of this, of course, is very reminiscent of the Vandals, and indeed, Procopius says [5]

There were many Gothic nations in earlier times, just as also at the present, but the greatest
and most important of all are the Goths, Vandals, Visigoths and Gepaedes. In ancient times,
however, they were named Sauromatae and Melanchlaeni (Black-cloaks); and there were
some too who called these nations Getic. All these, while they are distinguished from one
another by their names, as has been said, do not differ in anything else at all. For they all
have white bodies and fair hair, and are tall and handsome to look upon, and they use the
same laws and practice a common religion. For they are all of the Arian faith, and have one
language called Gothic; and, as it seems to me, they all came originally from one tribe ....

The Eruleans were described by the Roman poet Sidonius Apollinaris, writing in Bordeaux, who says that in that area in his day the “Eruleans are walking around with their steel-blue cheeks [i.e., wearing helmets], they who live on the edge of the ocean, near the ice-cold deep.” Like the Goths and Vandals, the Herulians had come from the Baltic [Procopius says they came from the Isle of Thule, i.e., Scandinavia, {6}] but at a much later date, and had become intertwined with the Vandals. Perhaps coming from the same racial stock, the two groups simply merged at some point. Any rate, Procopius makes it clear they were living together in North Africa in 536 A.D. [7]

In a remarkable passage, Procopius tells how the Herulians assassinated their own king, a certain Ochus, desiring “to live without a king thereafter.” [8] Soon, however, they repented and sent back to their homeland, Thule/Sweden, to obtain someone from the royal family there to come and rule them. [9] Having second thoughts, they later asked Justinian to provide for them a king, which he did. But when the party returned from Thule with the king from the north, Justinian’s candidate was put to flight, resulting in renewed war between Rome and the Herulians.

Here we take leave of the Herulians, for we have made the connection which we seek. This people from Thule (Sweden), who had invaded the Roman empire, associated with the Vandals, and then sent back to Sweden for a new king to rule over them. Of course, there is no mention of a Hildis, princess of the Vandals, or of a Valdar Hroarson by Procopius. Still the time period is correct. And it is not inconceivable that the Herulians traveling to Thule to obtain a new king would have taken along a princess to bind by a royal marriage these two branches of the same people, and so cement the relationship between two branches of the one people whom time and distance were separating.

Archaeological excavations of settlements in Sweden from at about this time show signs of a significant Roman presence. Troels Brand notes on a website devoted to the Herulians, [10]

In spite of the reservations above, the arrival of the Heruls as referred by Procopius was quite
contemporary with a significant change marked by the three archaeological chronologies of
Scandinavia defined independently of each other - namely the beginning of Younger [i.e. Later]
German Iron Age in Denmark (from 530 AD), the Vendel Period in Sweden (from 550-570 AD
with a period of transition from 520 AD) and the Merovingian Period in Norway (from 550 AD).

To be sure, however, Brandt does not imply that a connection between the Vandals and the Danes
should be read into the archaeological remains. [11]

Gibbons also speaks of connections between the ancient Ostrogoths and their Swedish homeland, saying in [12]: "With the country from whence the Gothic nation derived their origin he (i.e., Theodoric] maintained a frequent and friendly correspondence: the Italians were clothed in the rich sables [44] of Sweden; and one of its sovereigns, after a voluntary or reluctant abdication, found an hospitable retreat in the palace of Ravenna. [This Swedish sovereign] had reigned over one of the thirteen populous tribes who cultivated a small portion of the great island or penninsula of Scandinavia, to which the vague appellation of Thule has been sometimes applied."

These references should not be taken as proving this lineage. Serious problems with the lineage remain. 1) There remains no indication that Hilderic had a daughter named Hildis who married a Valdar Hroarson; 2) Links between the Ostrogothic royals and their distant Swedish cousins does not explain Hildis marriage to a Danish king; and 3) Valdar descent from the Danish king Hroar cannot be demonstrated today from the sagas.

Still, the records left by ancient historians, as well as the remains left in the earth by past ages, make it easy to project that about this time there were connections between the North African Vandals and/or Herulians and the area in Swden/North Germany from which they had originated. We certainly cannot say that a daughter of the Vandal king Hilderic in this way became the wife of a Danish king; but we can see this lineage as demonstrating links between the two peoples that may very well have existed. And even if links between Vandals and Swedes did not exist, there were certainly links between the Romans and the Danes/Swedes.
__________________
Endnotes
1. Troels Brandt, for example, who has studied these matters extensively says of this particular lineage: “Hroar is not a historical king, but in the legends (i.e. Beowulf) he is regarded to be a Dane - and he is the only king of that name unless you want to mix him up with a Hunnic king. In Beowulf the sons of Hroar were called Hrodmund and Hredric. An Icelandic historian of the 17th century, Arngrimur Jonsson, called Valdar a son of Roar when he referred the Skjoldunge Saga, but that is not a part of the fragment we know today. A part of the mess may be caused by the Swedish Hervarar Saga, where a daughter of Ivar Vidfadme (somewhere called Alfhilde) was married to a Valdar (in the 7th century). Their son should be Harald Hildetand who should have lived centuries after Hroar. Valdar could also be the Lombardian king, Waldarius (daughterson of the Herulian Hrodolphus), but he died young. These are the hints I can give you, but I would not pay any attention to a marriage between a Danish prince and a Vandalic princess - or to the genealogies presented on the web.”
2. Written in the 1700s, this work has long since been superceded by later research. Still, it remains the most accessible history of these times and is heavily relied upon.
3. I base this sketch of the movements of the Vandals, Goths and Herulians largely on Gibbons, chapters IX and X, which quotes heavily from the ancient historians.
4. The people named Wends who still inhabit this area, are believed by some to be a remnant of the Vandals.
5. Vandalic Wars, III, ii. (http://www.gedevasen.dk/procopheruls.html)
6. Ibid, VI, xv.
7. Ibid, III, xiv
8. Ibid, VI, xiv.
9. Ibid, Vi, xv.
10. http://www.gedevasen.dk/heruleng.html#C3
11. His exact words to me in an email on 1/5/07 were, “I do not see any connection between the Vandals and the Heruls - except that a group of Herulian mercenaries headed by the Herulian prince, Phara, were in front, when the Vandals were defeated by Justinian. The Danes were definitely not Heruls (Jordanes/Procopius). Therefore you cannot find much about Vandals and Danish kings at my website.”
12. op. cit., Ch. 39, p 110-111.

3/23/2011 at 10:51 AM

I'm quite glad you raised the question, Hugo. To be honest, I've left the supposed connection in place until I could more thoroughly research the connection (and I'm not at all convinced that it is an accurate connection, even less so after reading your passage). There are unfortunately a lot of fictitious wives and connections between barbarian tribes that simply didn't exist, or for which the evidence of their existence is suspect.

The approach I'd use is to identify the origin of the assertions that are out there, and determine how close to contemporary to that person's time any referenced sources are. Knowing where the information came from would help in determining the accuracy of the assertion.

Would be interested in what action you'd like to see in this area of the tree, based on your studies. What arguments (and evidence) would you propose to defend either severing the connection or maintaining it? That to me would be greatly helpful in clearing up this section of tree.

And certainly I'd also be greatly interested in finding out more about where the Vandals did eventually go after their kingdom fell, particularly in light of the events in the past few months in northern Africa (Tunisia, the site of ancient Carthago, having been the start of what appears to be a massive wave of unrest in the region). Much has happened since the fall of the kingdom, certainly, but cultural memory has an odd way of turning up where you least expect it.

4/6/2011 at 8:15 AM

As to the reliability of the generational link, I've said about as much in my article as I can. Actually, I am treating the entire lineage after Harald Bluetooth as of questionable origin. It is all based on the Sagas, and I do not yet have sufficient command of these to know whether the connections are valid or not. It would be easy to move from Saga to Saga to "prove" a desired line, but I think a scholar would need to verify the end product.

I personally would allow the link to remain, with the caveats now on the page. While there is no evidence to prove it, it is instructive as to the movements of the Gothic tribes during the Volkerwanderung, which is of interest to some.

What became of the Vandals? I have noted Gibbons statement that after they were driven out of North Africa they migrated north through Spain to the Atlantic coast. I take he means somewhere area of modern day Normandy, but am not sure of that. He says that remnants of the tribe were still living there in his day. Perhaps someone more knowledgeable with the area could find the towns or area to which he is referring.

10/11/2012 at 3:38 PM

the sources connecting the people in modern provinces of east and west gothia, gotland of sweden with the goths are not taken seriously by any modern swedish scholar, some of my professors like to entertain the idea, but mostly just in good fun, (i'm currently writing my masters thesis in dark age/early historic archaeology at swedens largest and most highly ranked university), all however agree that the story of Hildis is completely fictional...
these kinds of lists of fictional ancestry to boost the claim to power, where common in scandinavia all the way up to the renaissance.

Even if the goths and the sedish geats where the same people, it doesn't really make sense for her to escape Byzantine captivity only to marry a pagan king in old lejre, Denmark. to them the great halls of Lejre, would seem a dirty shed.

personally i want this connection removed, it keeps getting in the way when i try to create the geni graphs over the real danish-roman connection, the one that goes through the Danish - Portuguese princesses.

11/4/2012 at 11:18 AM

Gabriel Norburg, I updated her About Me a few months ago with a brief discussion of why her supposed ancestry is unlikely. I would be very happy if you could improve on it. I"m sending a message to the curator for this profile, asking him to cut the connection. If anyone objects, now is the time to speak up.

11/5/2012 at 5:15 PM

sure i'll go to the university library for archaeology and ancient history and dig up some credible quotes on the matter... shouldn't be that hard, the 19th century theory linking the goths to the geats is really not well regarded at all by modern european scholars. i'll do it as soon as i get a free afternoon to kill

it's really only based on one semi-mythical text by Jordanes... modern archaeology has showed that the gothic homelands where influenced by scandinavia up until the first century AD. the grave monuments from this time is probably why Jordanes thinks they all descend from 3 scandinavian ship crews. but that whole idea shouldn't seem logical to anyone living now, and for Hildis to escape to scandinavia 400 years later is almost as wierd an theory.

12/25/2012 at 5:23 PM

i've done some digging in the archives now... seems like not only Hildis but also her husband Valdars existance is on thin ice.
pretty much all sources are divided on who became king after Hrólfr Kraki, and only 2 mention Valdar, and only one of those has him claim the danish throne.

that is the Skjöldunga saga only makes him the king of Scania (which would place him in the capitol of Uppåkra, where i've excavated 3 times and never seen any Vandals)

the whole story of Valdar as King of the danes is really only based on one source "Hversu Noregr byggdist" which i had a hard time finding ... becuase its never used, why? it's late, it's a very suspect text, it's the only geneology to traces enemy clans back to evil giants and it even contradicts itself.

it really is a prime example of a dark age geneology that is 100% lies and propaganda... it's a wild read i'll tell you.
within a few generations it goes from Adam to Zeus, to the kings of Troy, to Odin...
It's clear that it's main purpose is to link specific Scandinavian clans (those descended from King Harald Fairhair) to as many legendary kings, emperors and demi-gods as possible.

i found paragraphs i believe to be the part that traces the heritage from the Vandals, Goths etc.. but this part had to complex language for me, i have miles to go when it comes to reading old islandic... once i can get transcribed or find an translation i'll post a proper comment on the page with sources and everything... but even now we can say this: the valdar - hildis connection only exist in one source that is not contemporary, it is medieval propaganda written by christian monks, the chronicle is so ridiculous you cannot take it serious in any way shape or form.

the fact that I, in the archives of one of Scandinavia oldest and largest libraries, have trouble finding a translation from the original islandic, also tells me that this source have not been used by historians for a long ,long time

12/27/2012 at 10:16 PM

Gabriel Norburg, I don't think anyone believes that Hildis was a real person, although Valdarr might have been.

We had to read Hversu Noregr byggdist when I was an undergraduate, and we had to sit through a long reading from it in the original language, so I think it might be more familiar to scholars in America than in Scandinavia. It was in a book of saga extracts, in English of course. If I knew which book, I might even be able to find it on my bookshelves still ;)

If you are having problems finding a good translation, try this:

http://www.germanicmythology.com/FORNALDARSAGAS/FraFornjotiHardman....

Valdar is mentioned, but not his wife Hildis. Maybe I'm missing the reference to Hildis, but if so someone will find it.

Hildis is a recurring topic at soc.genealogy.medieval. Scholar Todd Farmerie has repeatedly rejected it. See, for example, https://groups.google.com/forum/?fromgroups=#!searchin/soc.genealog..., where he says, "The entire ancestry of Ragnar Lothbrok is unsupportable, and the particular link to the Vandals is a blatant forgery, not even in the Scandinavian tradition. Ragnar himself is legendary, being a composite of various 9th century people named Ragnall, sons of Ragnall, sons of Ragnar, and sons of Lothbrok."

Scholar Stewart Baldwin has suggested, "Although I suspect that the claimed descent also involves some more modern "scholarship", it seems to me that part of the inspiration probably came from "The Saga of Hervor & King Heidrek the Wise", of which Chapter 15 begins:

"'Angantyr was king over Reidgotaland for many years. He was powerful
and a great warrior, and from him are descended lines of kings. His
son was Heidrek Wolfhide, who succeeded him and ruled long in
Reidgotaland. He had a daughter called Hild. She was the mother of
Halfdan Snjalli, father of Ivar the Wide-Grip.'" https://groups.google.com/forum/?fromgroups=#!searchin/soc.genealog...

BTW, there are two very good sites to use when you are looking for modern translations of saga material:

GermanicMythology.com: http://www.germanicmythology.com/FORNALDARSAGAS/FORNALDARSOGURMAIN....

Northvegr.org: http://northvegr.org/

12/27/2012 at 10:42 PM

We don't yet know when Hildis entered the genealogical tradition. There must be some ur text that started it all. It would be nice to find it.

Continuing through my notes, I see that Hildis is often called the wife of Fróði Peace-Good. The chronology, loose as it is, seems to work better.

She is also said to been the Hildr Heidreksdóttir, who married Valdarr's son Haraldr Valdarsson.

Those two clues are probably just as wrong as calling her the wife of Valdarr, but they might suggest an ambiguity in the original text that was the source of this fiction.

Doing some looking around, I found this intriguing suggestion at soc.genealogy.medieval. The author suggests that Hildis might have belonged to a fragment of the Vandals who lived around Brandenburg, rather than the Vandals in North Africa:

"However, Kohlrausch in his history of Germany (pp 158, 166) mentions that the medieval German noble Albert the Bear, who lived in the middle of the twelfth century, "conquered from the Vandals the middle marches, as well as those on the Uker and Prignitz, together with the town of Brandenburg".

"He also says Heinrich the Lion, Duke of Saxony campaigned against them, and that he restored Hamburg, which they had destroyed. This suggests that there was a separate group of people known as Vandals who occupied part of what is now Brandenburg in eastern Germany.

"Turton is even more explicit, referring to the princes of the Abotrites in the notes to his Plantagenet Ancestry as being Vandals."

https://groups.google.com/forum/?fromgroups=#!searchin/soc.genealog...

Todd Farmerie rejects the suggestion, but it is interesting. If someone wanted to argue that Hildis was a real person, and her identity was preserved in an oral tradition, this would be the way to make that argument.

12/30/2012 at 2:40 PM

well the name is in there (says Hildi in the english translation), but seems to be the name of a male ancestor...

and perhaps there is a possible answer in that name, that somewhere down the line the name was ripped out of context to create an even more fake geneology...

i pondered on Hildr Heidreksdóttir also when i came across that paragraf... that it's also possible that somewhere down the line, in some reading of the manuscript Hildr Heidreksdóttir became hildis hildericsdottir. and then the relationship flipped to fit better timewise...

as for the german theory, yes as the text mentions northern german ancestry that is much more "Occam's razor", far less grand claim even for .
taking all this into account, perhaps we should sever the connection between hildis and hilderic instead?

12/30/2012 at 2:46 PM

here in scandinavia there is a lot of talk of "fake genealogy" in our late medieval/early renaissance sources concerning lineage... it is of course possible that the origin lay there as well, but even then i wouldn't hold my breath that it still exists.

1/2/2013 at 10:40 AM

Many thanks to all for this research into the question. The mention of the Vandals who sacked Hamburg seeming to be a different group than those from North Africa raises another interesting question. What if any is the relationship between the Vandals and the Wendels, who in our textbooks are said to have lived east of Jutland, and to have been driven eastward about the time of Charlemagne? Do you guys have any knowledge of this? The names would sound much alike in German, wouldn't they? I have some East German stamps from the 1980's or 1990's celebrating the Wend culture, which I take to be the modern remnant of this tribe.

1/2/2013 at 3:07 PM

Gabriel, if you do better with Norwegian than with Icelandic, there's a version of "Hvorledes Norge ble bosatt" at http://www.heimskringla.no/wiki/Hvorledes_Norge_ble_bosatt

There's an English version at sacred-texts.com: http://www.sacred-texts.com/neu/ice/is3/is316.htm

I've attempted a page with links for the Danish-related legends here: http://wiki.geni.com/index.php/Skjoldungene

No mention of Hildis of the Vandals in any version I've found..

1/6/2013 at 3:31 PM

yes i can read norweigian as long as it's bokmål and not ny-norsk :) , i'll take a look at that version...

and Hugo... in Scandinavia we have a long tradition of placing them among the slavic/germanic tribes living in the area of Mecklenburg / pommerania, a region with a long historia of tight relations with both denmark and sweden. Danish king Canute VI started to call himself "King of Venders" after he invaded Pomerania in 1185 as a symbol of his refusal to become a part of Barbarossa's empire.

also Swedish Kings also started to call themselves the similar king of Vendes when they colonized Finland in the 1500's, but that was most likely built on the earlier danish tradition.

brandenburg is also along the germanic/slavic border... venders, vendes, vandals, wendels... i don't think it's far removed to in the early medieval period see it as a general term for the people that lived along the northern, germanic/slavic border.

2/5/2013 at 1:43 PM

Thanks. It's interesting to roll the webs of history into a big ball! I have a wuestion about something entirely off this subject. There's a tradition in my family that about 1780-1805 one of our ancestors, named Johan Ruehrdans, emigrated from Sweden into Amt Warenland, Mechlenburg. Is that a Swedish name? Would there have been any reason for a Swede to have made such a move at that time?

2/7/2013 at 8:42 AM

there could have been many reasons, withouth knowing more i can see 3 top reasons

- Population growth... this was slightly before the potato plague, but people where already migrating. Modern reforms resulted in that Swedens population doubled during this time and many left worried about overpopulation. clearly this was nothing to worry about, but when all of your older brothers survived and left you with nothing you might not see it that way.
emiration was still illegal, which could explain why he only crossed the baltic and not the atlantic.

-War. alot of charter warfare in this period. which amry you fought for didn't really matter as long as you got to see the world and they paid you.

-trade. Sweden was part of the german sphere, it wasn't until after WWII that swedes started learning english instead of german. swedish scholars wrote in german, german was taught in schools, germany was the main importer of swedish goods since the early medival period and most of what swedes imported up until the 1700's was German. Mechlenburg has a logn history of trade and political struggle with sweden, we even had a Mechlenburgian king for a brief period.

as for the name, Johan is a typical swedish name of the period... the "ueh" combination in his last name however is not typical... to me it sounds like a germanification of perhaps a swedish letter like å or ö... but if that is his original last name and not one he took to avoid being shipped back to sweden, you will find it in the swedish churchbooks, most of them are digital by now.

2/7/2013 at 7:14 PM

The "ue" might be a transliteration for ü, which may in turn be a corrupted ö - there are exactly 2 profiles named Röhrdans on Geni, but they're both private and in an isolated tree, so I don't know if they relate.
Google search for "Röhrdans" gives only hits from Germany, as far as I can tell.

2/8/2013 at 1:06 PM

Thanks. That's about what I have found so far.

2/8/2013 at 1:06 PM

Thanks. That's about what I have found so far.

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