Hallstein Torleivsson - The connection between the deposed king of Isle of Man and the noble Skanke family i Norway, Sweden and Denmark

Started by Stein Aage Sørvig on Thursday, February 25, 2016
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2/25/2016 at 12:16 AM

Recent a today Skankes have a family association, which has encouraged genealogical and prosopographical research.

Amongst the sources the Skanke Association relies on, are the writings of George Vaughan Chichester Young, O.B.E., who wrote more historical books about the Isle of Man than anyone else, living or dead. One Young O.B:E. quote that supports the Skanke claims is found in his work "A Brief History of the Isle of Man":

“ "The rebellion {of 1275} was, however, abortive and resulted in some members of the royal family emigrating to Norway, where their descendants are still to be found in the Norwegian family of Skankes, the Swedish family of Skunck(e)s and the Danish family of Barfods. The emigrants took with them as their Arms "the three legs", which had been the Royal Arms of the Sudreyan Kings since about the middle of the thirteenth century. These Arms (a modification of the ancient Indo-Germanic sun symbol) were simplified in Norway and Sweden to one leg and in Denmark to three bare feet, and later to one bare foot" ”

— Young, G.V.C.: A Brief History of the Isle of Man, The Mansk-Svenska Publishing Co. Ltd., Peel, Isle of Man, 2001: p. 12

Private User
2/25/2016 at 2:58 AM

What is Young's source for this though? Is it only a theory based on the similarity of the Arms, or does he have anything else?

Private User
2/25/2016 at 3:33 AM

The similarity of the arms are a strong indication that it's right.

This is just a big abuse of the power of some single curator who apparently are to skeptic to do any serious genealogy at all, I would very much like to see some serious consequences for such people who are acting like a single judge, jury and executioner.

2/25/2016 at 4:43 AM

The connection between these historic persons is validated by three independent professors in medieval history, that is professor Munch in Norway, professor Ahnlund in Sweden and the latter professor Young whose view is referred above in this thread.
In my view the actions of Remi Trygve Pedersen in this part of the genitree should qualify for dismissal as curator.

2/25/2016 at 3:50 PM

First problem, Professors Nils Gabriel Ahnlund wrote in his "'Jämtlands och Härjedalens historia" that Hallsteins sigill was similar to both Isle of Man and Sicily, so Stein Aage, you are wrong when saying that Professor Ahnlund is validating a link between Hallstein and Isle of Man, which he is not. He is just mentioning that his sigill is simililar to the weapon of Isle of Man among alot of others.

Second problem, Barney Young or G. V. C Young, was never a professor. Here is his obituary where you all can read that he was a Manx's goverment's legislative draughtsman. http://www.theguardian.com/news/2005/sep/19/obituaries.readersobitu... His writing's has no foundation in primary sources and both norwegian and swedish historians and genealogists do not rely on his writings, nor does the most knowledgeable genealogist on the Schancke family, Roger de Robelin, who rejects the relationship to Isle og Man on the pages 10, 12 and 384 in his book about the Skanke-family.

It would also be helpful to read what one of Norway's most knowledgeable heraldics are saying about this (you would need to read norwegain to read this): https://forum.arkivverket.no/topic/134702-49262-sysselmannen-hallst...

And the whole disussion could be interesting, in norwegian: https://forum.arkivverket.no/topic/134702-49262-sysselmannen-hallst...

Private User before you are accusing anyone of not doing any serious genealogy, maybe you should check your facts. I have researched thouroughly in the norwegian, danish and swedish diplomatarium for any references to the persons in question, and there are no mentioning in these sources linking Hallstein to Isle of Man. So that leaves only the similarity of the weapons, which one of norwegians most knowledgeable heraldicist has said shouldn't be taken in to account when researching the Schanke family origins. So, Private User what research have you done in primary sources about this family, since you can say that I'm abusing my power. And what do you think should be the consequenses of users accusing people of acting like a single judge when the accuser hasn't done any research at all to back his accusations, but just relying on someone elses accusations? Now, Private User I would really like an answer to that question!

2/25/2016 at 4:22 PM

For this period, a similarity of arms is very weak evidence unless within the same small geographic regions. Even families within the same kingdom adopted the same or similar arms.

The design here is unusual enough to raise the question of a possible relationship, but the resemblance to a tryskella should be obvious to prevent making it the center piece of a theory.

Private User
2/26/2016 at 3:19 AM

Remi Trygve Pedersen did you start a discussion before you cut the parents or not?
I can't see that you did, still, this is exactly what I have been told that user should do. here you have a profile where some believe are the son of Torlack Skenck
still, you just cut him off, telling us that no one know who the father was to Hallstein Torleivsson . Well, you know best, but why didn't you also delete his last name as well? According to the profile, his father name was Torleiv...

Private User
2/26/2016 at 3:21 AM

Now, show me the link to your pre-discussion, or just prove me right.

2/26/2016 at 5:15 AM

I agree that heraldry and similarity of symbols are pretty weak arguments, but now at least we have DNA as a back up or rejection of the assertion. If detailed DNA studies were done among members of the related Schanke, Skanke families in Norway, Sweden, Denmark, and more importantly probable Manx descendants it would be more helpful. Unfortunately that would be an expensive endeavor as DNA results from places like Ancestry.com, or 23 and me are not detailed enough to do this. In any event, it would show whether those of us with even the remotest relationships have genetic similarities. As I said, it would be expensive, but might solve the problem.

2/26/2016 at 7:21 AM

Ulf Ingvar: There has been numerous debates and discussions on that topic and it takes only a week before the supposed parents are back again. Theres no use to discuss something over and over again, before you actually have New actual SOURCES that can confirm a relation. This Construction of a relationship made by Young on the basis of heraldry are extremely weak. It could be possible, but its only through primary Sources and DNA that you can know for sure. There are a DNA Project at familytreedna for the Schancke Family. But there has been very little progress in finding out anything New yet. The relation has been disputed by most serious medieval genealogists and heraldists. Youngs Research can in no way be called serious. What Norwegian professor Munch
do Stein Aage refer to? If its the historian Munch you mean, then he was in no way an expert in medieval genealogy and his other research in genealogy is considered weak.

2/26/2016 at 8:53 AM

Looking at the discussions on the profile is an obvious first step if you want to see previous discussions.
This one is from 2013: Hallstein Torleivsson

Private User
2/26/2016 at 9:54 AM

We have other areas with similar "problems", - people claiming support from known researchers for a connection, when if you take time to see what they actually have written you will not find such a support.

2/26/2016 at 1:09 PM

Ulf, I used discussions from norwegian genealogical forums where norwegian historians and geneaologists discuss things like this. These forums are among others https://forum.arkivverket.no/forum/3-digitalarkivet/ /the one on the top and the one on the bottom), http://www.genealogi.no/phpbb/viewforum.php?f=5 and http://www.disnorge.no/slektsforum/ You can search these forums yourself to find all the discussions about Hallstein and his possible link to Isle of Man, but I can show you one comment from one of the leading historians and geneaolgists in Norway, Lars Løberg (http://www.genealogi.no/mediawiki/index.php/Lars_L%C3%B8berg): http://www.genealogi.no/phpbb/viewtopic.php?f=5&t=175

Private User
2/26/2016 at 2:28 PM

"And for the idea of the Skanke family being descendents of the kings of Isle of Man, please forget that you've ever heard of it.This isn't even fanciful speculations. It is science fiction."

Very credible...no counterarguments, just ,Sci-Fi.

2/26/2016 at 3:05 PM

Genealogy is a quite narrow and modern topic, David Howden. The traditional historian links historical persons and historical events into an understandable analysis and is not arguing in the "true" and "false" parameter. For historians, as in other social sciences, arguments are in the "more" or "less" likely parameter.

The conflict arises when someone attacks the very basis for the scientific work done by authorative scientists. What is the long term interest that is pursued ? How many historical persons and their ancestral inks can meet the demands of the pure (and puristic) geneaologist ? The "fairytales" must be numerous, and to argue in such a manner is quite ridiculous !

My angle as an outsider and amateur is to close into the uncertainities with respect for all collected knowledge, both the "pros" and the "cons". This is what in my opinion makes the topic interesting !

When an alleged geneaologic expert like Remi Trygve Pedersen calls himself, most arrogantly superseeds many years of work done by the foremost expert in history science I am looking for his basis : but there is none !

Remi Trygve Pedersen does not contribute to any understandig of the links between the historical persons involved, he does not offer any evidence for the links and no evidence against the links. In my view his opinions are not scientific but political. He seems to aim to eradicate the link between these persons. That is why he in my opinion should not be accepted as a curator for these persons.

The collected knowledge of the links between these persons is similar in both Isle of Man, where Barney Young did a substantial work and in Sweden, where the geneaologists knew these links from oral tradition. Professor Ahnlund was in no doubt of the links between Hallstein Torleivsson and Isle of man !

On Frøsøn in Jämtland from where the Skankes ruled the community, there is made a "historical trail" for pupils telling the story and pointing at the possible link to Isle of Man. This is part of basic education in primary school in Østersund !

In my opinion, geneaologists with insight should limit their omnipotense, specially for historical ancestral links. In time, the possibilities for DNA evidence can increase, but until then : dont slip the baby out with the washing water !

2/26/2016 at 5:30 PM

Private User, when you are arguing that Hallstein is a descendant from the kings of Isle of Man , you have to show the evidence and the sources to back it up. Barney Young isn't presenting any evidence, only theories. Please present your credible evidence. When you do, the historians and genealogists can examine them, and then we all can come to a conclusions. But until credible evidence can be presented to support the claim that Hallstein came from Isle of Man, the history won't be changed.

So now the ball is in your and Stein Aage Sørvig ballpark. You need to present the evidence for your claim, and please do it in a forum where norwegian historians and genealogists are active, like http://www.genealogi.no/phpbb/viewforum.php?f=5 or https://forum.arkivverket.no/forum/6-brukernes-eget-forum/ the reason being that you need to convince these people, and not us that are active on Geni. We just rely on what the really professionals are writing, no matter wether they are calling it science fiction or not.

And until the professionals change their minds, we won't change our minds either, so now you know what you have to do. You need to convince the norwegian professional historians and genealogists. After you have done that, the rest of us would follow easily.

Private User
2/26/2016 at 7:27 PM

It's not my job to convince stiff-necked people who makes an career on maintaining their odd ideas, to walk between these so called "experts" are like walking in a minefield and one thing that are certain are that they do act in groups against each other as well.

Norwegian immigrants, mainly nobles who once emigrated from Norway oppressed by taxes, to Iceland would probably have been rejected just as easily if we just let so called experts have their sayings,
because the very idea that people on similar grounds 400 years later left the Isle of Man are unthinkable, It is science fiction!

I sometimes get afraid of the dark when I see how many people think, or rather not think. The very idea that just anyone! who lived during the middle ages under strict feudalism could become anything, even get into power, are ridiculous, still, this is exactly what you and many others claim because of lack of historical insight.

And what about the similarity of the arms? Ordinary people have been using ownership marks for thousands of years, the upper class have been using their variants in Scandinavia since at least 400 A.D.

The triskelion was originally an Celtic symbol, and shown with armored legs it's hardly no guessing work to claim it was reentered to Norway with people who came from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Isle_of_Man

2/26/2016 at 8:50 PM

Stein Aage Sørvig, I don't agree with your entire line of thought but I want to applaud you for this part of your message:

"The traditional historian links historical persons and historical events into an understandable analysis and is not arguing in the "true" and "false" parameter. For historians, as in other social sciences, arguments are in the "more" or "less" likely parameter."

I've been preaching this idea to genealogists as long as I can remember. Very few people understand why this is such an important distinction. But then, I don't think I've ever said it as well as you did ;)

Many of our debates on Geni are the result of a basic confusion about this difference. Genealogists want a higher standard of proof than historians do, because historians are content to analyze social and cultural relationships to decide whether they are more likely or less likely. Genealogists generally want much more.

And very, very often it happens that the genealogy answer is that something is an intriguing possibility but has not been proven. If we're honest with ourselves, that's where we have to leave it.

Private User
2/27/2016 at 12:14 AM

Families with one leg in their coat of armour.

1. Beenvaaben, Known (-1394-1449-). Jylland

2. Fod, Known (-1553-1684-). Sydjylland

3. von Lüskow,Known (-1311-1778-). Vorpommern

4. Schinkel, Known (-1496-1611-). Pommern

5. Skanke, Known (-1394-1498-). Norge

6. Steenvær, Known (-1370-1424-). Pommern

7. Steinwehr, Known (-1370-1424-) Holstein

With 3 legs

8. Jean "Baudrain" de La Heuze

9. Guillaume Montagu, Comte de Salisbury

10. King of Mann

11. Halstein Thorleifssön

2/27/2016 at 1:30 AM

Justin Swanstrøm, my criticism of Remi Trygve Pedersens actions, who is no longer an expert in his own eyes as you can see from his "defencescript" above, is his desavuation of the work done by authorative historians, a desavuation he is repeating in this discussion.

Are geneaologists in oposition to historians in general or are they collaborators, I am very confused by this ? Who amongst the oponents are willing to go to Østersund and explain the school teachers there that the story on the trail at Frøsøn is a fairytale ?

You say : "geneaologists generally want much more." Does this mean that you curators in reality are not able to verify ancestral links other than by DNA tests ?

If this is the case, you have a significant task to inform the users of Geni and other geneaological tools that there is a scientific difference between a geneaological link and a historical link between persons.

You should rather dismiss instead of defend those among you that are not able to understand the difference and who argues the fails of historians with arrogance but with no knowledge. No one profits from such a behaviour.

2/27/2016 at 3:00 AM

There's an unsigned article on the Skanke website here that repeats the Isle of Man claim:


And a previous Geni discussion from 2013 about the same subject:


I don't see any of these bringing new primary or historical sources to the table, but it's more links to sift through - is someone keeping a list?

2/27/2016 at 3:55 AM

Harald Tveit Alvestrand : I would recommend the homepage www.skanke.se for an oversight of the collected knowledge about these persons. The genealogists in Sweden have been working on the links since late 1960 ´s.

2/27/2016 at 5:20 AM

Stein Aage, I have never said that I am an expert, it is you that have called me that. But what I am using is the information norwegian historians have published in different forums, and since I have been doing this for more then 30 years, and I have personally met and worked with many of them, I know how thorough work they do, that is why I trust what they are saying. And they say that there are no sources that gives any link from Hallstein to Isle of Man, and that is reflected in his profile.

2/27/2016 at 6:45 AM

Remi Trygve Pedersen, you are not an expert in your own opinion, you are "using the information (of others) ...... for more than 30 years", but still you are able to conclude in an experts manner ? What are your sources ?

Do you differ between personal opinions and scientific work at all ?

As I have mentioned before to you, I find your agitation regarding these persons unprofessional and of no scientific value. By refrasing your "political agenda" against these historical links you will not be able to convince me or anyone else that your statement is more valid than those of others. Your actions in the Genitree on these persons are likewise in my opinion to be regarded as abuse.

2/27/2016 at 7:11 AM

Stein Aage, you need tounderstand, the opinions are not mine, they are the opinions of the norwegian historians. And the sources are the same historians and what they have written on the subject. As I have told you before, you need to discuss this with them, not me, sinve I'm not the expert, they are. I'm just writing what they are concluding. I have no political agenda on the subject of Hallstein and only write what the professionals are writing in their discussions about him.

So by saying this is unprofessional and of no scientific value, you are at the same time saying that the norwegian historians that have worked on this problem are unprefessional and that their conclusions are of no scientific value. That is your opinion and one you are allowed to have. But until the professionals conclude differently, there won't be any change on Hallstein's profile. And if you disagree, you should take the discussion in the forums where the historians are active, I hace linked to them above.

2/27/2016 at 8:30 AM

Stein, here is how I would describe it.

Historians are interested in the social relationships among people who live in a particular time and place. Generally, they do not think it is their work to find an absolute truth about genealogical relationships. In fact, many of them are skeptical about the way genealogists work because genealogists chain together a bunch of different sources over many generations.

So a historian might say there is this local story. They look at the sources for it. If there are no conclusive contemporary sources there is no way to prove it. One historian might decide it could be true. Another historian might decide there isn't enough evidence. Usually, they don't argue about it because they both understand that it is just background. But they might argue if one of them thinks the other is pushing a political agenda.

A genealogist would do it differently. If there are no conclusive contemporary sources, the genealogist says it could be true (particularly if there is a historian who agrees) but it isn't proven so it can't be on the tree.

It can be more complicated than this, but this is the general way it works. A story is just a story and a theory is just a theory, but they go different directions with it.

For the last 100 years there are has been a lot of research and debate about oral traditions. Most modern historians think it is not reliable at all, unless it comes from a pre-literate society with a very rigid way of preserving it. Almost all genealogists agree.

For Hallstein Torleivsson there have been hundreds of years for someone to notice that his coat of arms was the same as the kings of the Isle of Man and make up a story about it. The story could be true, but the fact that there is a logical way it could have been invented leaves room for doubt.

And, the fact that his coat of arms has a common motif leaves more doubt. We would not say that every family with a lion in their coat of arms is related. A lion is a common symbol, so many families used it. Many families used the three legs too, but that doesn't mean they are all related.

I've been doing some reading here. From what I can see, this is a fun story, an interesting story, and it could be true but there is no firm evidence. It's not a fact, it's just a possibility.

2/27/2016 at 8:42 AM

I took a little bit of time to look at the DNA evidence.

The Skanke project shows a particular DNA signature (S3207). This is a subgroup of Z18, which is known to be a Germanic / Viking group. It makes sense that S3207 could be a lineage in Norway and the Scandinavian kingdoms in the Hebrides and Man. The group even includes the descendant of a man named Alexander Douglas from Galloway.

But the thing that stands out for me is that it does not include any of the families that claim to have a male line descent from the kings of Man.

That means this family and those families do not have the same male line ancestry. One or both must be wrong. That is some very strong evidence against the Skanke claim, although it is the kind of thing that could change overnight with new evidence.

2/27/2016 at 12:43 PM

Remi Trygve Pedersen, i do not think I have any problems understanding you. My concern is that you exercise a role on geni that you in my opinion is not capable of doing. I think that is a weakness in this geneaological tool that we are using and paying for.
Justin Swanstrøm, I am not sure what you mean by "families that claim to have a male line descent from the kings of man"? Please advise.

2/27/2016 at 1:15 PM

Stein, many Scottish families including the McLeods and Gunns also claim to be male-line descendants of the kings of Man.

Those two genealogies have come under intense scrutiny and criticism in the last generation, but the McLeod version (from Olaf the Black) seems to be holding up well (although not everyone agrees). I'm a doubter myself, because of this article:


There are also many questions and problems about the kings of Man. You can read about those here (when the site is back up):


However, one point on which I have no doubt at all -- this particular problem you are all debating cannot ever be more than a theory or old story until you have DNA evidence to back it up.

2/27/2016 at 1:29 PM

Justin Swanstrøm, you wrote : "The story could be true but the fact that there is a logical way it could have been invented leaves room for doubt".

When recapturing the situation in 1275 (the rebellion at Isle of Man) and in 1302 (first documentation of use of HTs´sigill, the kings were Magnus Lagabøte in 1275 and Håkon Magnusson in 1302. The timespan was at most 27 years. In the meantime we have a guarantee issued by Torlack Schenck in 1295 to secure king Eirik Magnusson.

Would you not think that the norwegian kings were aware of and approved the using of a sigill a knight or a sysselmann or a riksråd placed on official documents ? Is it logical that anyone in high ranks in Norway actually copied the sigill of the king of an abandoned province ?

Do you have any examples showing proof of geneaological links between persons from this period in Norway ? If the lack of geneaological evidence is scimilar to other relations between historical persons I think this discussion regarding links to HT is ridiculous.

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