Descents from Antiquity
Internet genealogies suffer a well-known defect -- many of them accept as true many lines that are known by scholars to be false. Geni is no exception. In Geni’s early days, many users uploaded GEDCOM files with sleo purious and fantastic genealogies. As users we’ve done a lot of cleanup, merging duplicates and cutting bad connections, but there is a lot of work still to do.
Usually, the term “Descents from Antiquity” refers to modern efforts to find plausible lines of descent. However, it can also include traditional descents that have varying degrees of reliability.
This project is designed to help clean up the many fictitious genealogies and to focus attention on legitimate debate about extending our shared genealogy. You can help us by identifying questionable lines. It is generally unhelpful to simply say something like, “No one can prove a descent from Julius Caesar.” What is most helpful is to identify the specific generations where the evidence fails, search for reliable sources, then start a discussion.
Because Geni is a collaborative environment, you should be cautious about cutting any connections mentioned here without starting a discussion and giving other users ample opportunity to weigh in.
There are no proven descents from the ancient world. This cannot be emphasized enough.
"The oldest surviving royal genealogies in Europe go back to the sixth century A.D. for Gothic sovereigns, to the seventh century for their Irish, Lombardic, Visigothic, and Frankish counterparts, and to the eighth and ninth centuries for Anglo-Saxon and Carolingian kings." (François Weil (Chancellor of the Universities of Paris), Family Trees (Harvard Univ. Press, 2013), pp. 10-11)
A common belief in antiquity and in the middle ages was that tribes took their name from a common ancestor. For example, the Historia Brittonum (Nennius, 9th century) names Alanus as the first man to live in Europe. He had a son Hiscion, and Hiscion’s four sons Francus, Romanus, Alamanus, and Brutus were the ancestors respectively of the French, Romans, Germans, and British. The name of this Alanus was probably a corrupted form of Mannus, the Old Germanic god who was the ancestor of mankind. Some scholars believe that Mannus was another name for Bor, the father of the god Odin in Norse tradition. In English, German and the Scandinavian languages we get our word man from Mannus.
When the Europeans converted to Christianity, they had a problem. Their royal families were only a few generations removed from the old gods. And, worse. Exposed to Roman arts and sciences, they discovered the idea of “historical time”. The world was older than they had ever thought about. Their royal pedigrees weren’t long enough to go back to the creation of the world.
From the Romans they learned that modern science had proved that everyone on earth was descended from Adam and Eve. (It said so in the Christian scriptures, which were absolutely true -- according the scholars.)
The answer was simple and obvious. The old gods had to have been humans, famous men and great warriors who came to worshipped as gods. And, if they were human, they must have been descended from Adam and Eve like everyone else. The trick was to figure out how.
One of the earliest surviving attempts to create this kind of genealogy is the Historia Brittonum by the Welsh monk Nennius (9th century), who recorded the following genealogy:
(1) Noah, his son (2) Japheth, his son (3) Joham, his son (4) Jobath, his son (5) Bath, his son (6) Hisrau, his son (7) Esraa, his son (8) Ra, his son (9) Aber, his son (10) Ooth, his son (11) Ethec, his son (12) Aurthack, his son (13) Ecthactur, his son (14) Ecthactur, his son (15) Mair, his son (16) Semion, his son (17) Boibus, his son (18) Thoi, his son (19) Ogomuin, his son (20) Fethuir, and his son (21) Alanus.
Nennius also tied Alanus to Rome by making him a husband of Rhea Silvia, whose twin sons Romulus and Remus are said to have founded Rome in 753 BCE. The connection is scarcely credible historically, but served neatly to graft the eponymous ancestors of the northern Europeans onto classical tradition by making them brothers of Romulus, the eponymous ancestor of the Romans.
These medieval genealogies connecting ancient kings to Adam are pure invention. They are interesting now because they show the history of history.
The Anglo-Saxons, forerunners of the modern English, were ruled by kings who claimed to be descended from the god Woden (Odin in the Norse versions). In later Scandinavian versions, Woden was the son of Bor, son of Búri. Some scholars believe that in the Germanic version, which included the Anglo-Saxons, Woden was the son of Mannus, the ancestor of mankind, who was son of Tuisto.
English monks kept Woden, but dumped Bor and Búri. They “discovered” that Woden was descended from Noah, but the process took several tries.
In one place, the 9th century Anglo-Saxon chronicle gives the following line. There are too few generations here, but this fragment might preserve the earliest non-divine version of Woden’s ancestry.
About the same time, Nennius in his Historia Brittonum gives a slightly different version. Here we get two more generations beyond Finn, which might also represent an authentic tradition.
(1) Geat, “who, as they say, was the son of a god”, his son (2) Godwulf, his son (3) Finn, his son (4) Frithuwulf, his son (5) Frithowald, and his son (6) Woden.
Nennius gives us more theology than genealogy. He says that Geat “as they say, was the son of a god, not of the omnipotent God and our Lord Jesus Christ (who before the beginning of the world, was with the Father and the Holy Spirit, co-eternal and of the same substance, and who, in compassion to human nature, disdained not to assume the form of a servant), but the offspring of one of their idols, and whom, blinded by some demon, they worshipped according to the custom of the heathen.”
The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle is a collection of documents rather than a single document. In another place (855), it gives a fuller line.
(1) Noe [Noah], his son (2) Sceaf, his son (3) Bedwig Sceafing, his son (4) Hwala Bedwiging, his son (5) Haþra Hwalaing, his son (6) Itermon Haðraing, his son (7) Heremod Itermoning, his son (8) Sceldwea Heremoding, his son (9) Beaw Sceldwaing, his son (10) Taetwa Beawing, his son (11) Geat Taetwaing, his son (12) God wulf Geating, his son (13) Fin Godwulfing, his son (14) Frealaf Finning, and his son (15) Woden Frealafing. (Two of the Saxon Chronicles Parallel, Plummer and Earle (eds.), 66, 67 and note 6).
A note says, “id est filius Noe se waes geboren on þaere earce Noes.” That is, “he [Sceaf] is the son of Noah, he was born in Noah’s ark.” This detail ties the old pagan tradition to the new Christian tradition. Sceaf was a Norse god who arrived by boat as a baby to rule the Danes. Now, he is neatly made the son of the Christian ark builder.
Later monks, perhaps competing for prestige with the Franks, decided to dump Noah and take Woden’s ancestry back to Troy, then connect the Trojans to the Jewish scriptures. This version runs as follows. Note that the names of the new generations, between (10) and (16) have been drawn chiefly from nicknames of the old god Thor. Some of the other names might have been invented in a similar way.
(1) Judah, ancestor of the tribe of Judah, his son (2) Zara, his son (3) Darda, his son (4) Erichthonious, his son (5) Tros, his son (6) Ilus, his son (7) Laomedon, his son (8) Tithonius, his son (9) Memnon, his son (10) Thor, his son (11) Einridi, his son (12) Vingethor, his son (13) Vingener, his son (14) Móda, his son (15) Magi [Noe], his son (16) Sceaf [Seskef], his son (17) Bedwig [Bedvig], his son (18) Hwala, his son (19) Hrathra [Annarr], his son (20) Itermon [Ítermann], his son (21) Heremod [Heremód], his son (22) Heremod [Heremód], his son (23) Beaw [Bjárr], his son (24) Tætwa, his son (25) Geat [Ját], his son (26) Godwulf [Gudólfr], his son (27) Finn, his son (28) Frithuwulf, his son (29) Frealaf [Fridleifr], his son Frealaf [Fridleifr], his son (30) Freawine, his son (31) Frithuwald, and his son (32) Woden.
Attempts to reconcile these genealogies by equating the human Frithuwald with the divine Bor, and the human Frealaf with divine Búri have been problematic, because they end by giving Woden a set of mythical relatives that include the Ice Giants.
For information about the later scholarship on Odin's ancestors and descendants, see the Odin's Kin project.
The Franks, a confederation of Germanic tribes that formed the core of modern France, claimed descent from Francus (or Francio). According to one version of the story, Francus and his people were defeated by the Roman general Drusus in 11 BCE. Francus was killed, and they were relocated to the region between the Rhine and the Danube.
Frankish monks linked Francus to the kings of Troy. The Chronicle of Fredegar (7th century) mentions the legend. It was elaborated in the Liber historiae Francorum (probably 727). Successive generations continued adding new details.
In other words, the Franks claimed to be the distant cousins of the Romans (who claimed descent from Aeneas, another Trojan). It was a nice piece of political propaganda because it fit nicely with two things the Franks wanted to emphasize: (1) as cousins of the Romans they were equal to the Romans, and (2) as cousins and equals, they were the legitimate successors of the Roman empire.
The Grandes Chroniques de France (13th - 15th centuries), a vast compilation of historic material, refers to the Trojan origins of the French dynasty.
Johannes Trithemius' De origine gentis Francorum compendium (1514) describes the Franks as originally Trojans (called "Sicambers" or "Sicambrians") after the fall of Troy who came into Gaul after being forced out of the area around the mouth of the Danube by the Goths in 439 BCE (1:33). He also details the reigns of each of these kings—including Francus (43:76) from whom the Franks are named—and their battles with the Gauls, Goths, Saxons, etc.
(Source: Wikipedia, Francus)
John O'Hart (1824-1902), an Irish genealogist used ancient sources, such as the Lebor Gabála Érenn and the Annals of the Four Masters, to compile a genealogical history of Ireland, Irish pedigrees; or, The origin and stem of the Irish nation (1876). According to his work, the Irish kings are descended from Adam as follows:
- Magog. Magog's four sons Boath, Faithechta, Jobbath, and Emoth are said to have been ancestors of the Irish kings.
- Baoth ("to whom Scythia came as his lot")
- Phoeniusa Farsaidh (Fenius Farsa), King of Scythia
- Gaodhal (Gathelus), married Scota
- Sruth (who fled Egypt to Creta)
- Heber Scut (returned to Scythia)
- Beouman, King of Scythia
- Ogaman, King of Scythia
- Tait, King of Scythia
- Agnon (who fled Scythia by sea with the majority of his people)
- Lamhfionn (who led his people to Gothia or Getulia, where Carthage was afterwards built)
- Heber Glunfionn, King of Gothia
- Agnan Fionn, King of Gothia
- Febric Glas, King of Gothia
- Nenuall, King of Gothia
- Nuadhad, King of Gothia
- Alladh, King of Gothia
- Arcadh, King of Gothia
- Deag, King of Gothia
- Brath, King of Gothia (who left Gothia with a large band of his people and settled in Galicia, Spain)
- Breoghan, King of Galicia, Andalusia, Murcia, Castile, and Portugal
- Bile, King of Galicia, Andalusia, Murcia, Castile, and Portugal
- Galamh (also known as Milesius of Spain), King of Galicia, Andalusia, Murcia, Castile, and Portugal, married Scota
Milesius had four sons, Heber, Ir, Heremon, and Amergin, who were involved, along with their uncle Ithe, in the invasion of ancient Ireland. Milesius himself had died during the planning. Amergin died without issue during the invasion. It is from the four other invaders -- Heber, Ir, Heremon, and Ithe -- that the Irish descend. Conn of the Hundred Battles was a descendant of Heremon, and Brian Boru was descended from both Heber and Conn.
(Source: Wikipedia, John O’Hart)
Note: We need to clarify the extent to which O’Hart’s genealogies follow ancient sources, and whether any of it was his own invention.
The historian Jordanes wrote De origine actibusque Getarum ((The Origin and Deeds of the Getae/Goths, c531), commonly called the Getica. In it, he gives the history of the Goths.
Jordanes traces the Ostrogothic royal family, the Amelungs (Amali), to Hulmul, son of Gapt (Getica, 14). This Gapt is thought to be the same person as the Norse god Gaut or Geat. His son Hulmul was probably the same person as Humli, the ancestor of the Danes in Norse tradition. In a vairant version, Hervarar saga ok Heiðreks (13th century) says, "Of old, they say, Humli over Huns did rule, Gizur the Gauts, the Goths Angantyr, Valdar the Danes, the Romans Kjar, Alrek the Valiant the English people."
The genealogy seems to be artificial. Athalaric (?-534), king of the Ostrogoths in Jordanes time, is presented as the 17th Amal king of the Goths since Gapt, just as there had been 17 Roman kings between Aeneas and Romulus. Thus, the Amal dynasty presented itself as a second gens Iulia, ruling both Romans and Goths. In fact, the Amal dynasty is documented no earlier than Theodoric's father or grandfather, an ally of Attila the Hun. The Goths themselves are documented no earlier than 291.
- Amal (from whom the name of the Amali comes)
- Theodoric the Great (454-526), King of the Ostrogoths
Key figures and gateway ancestors
The legend that Aeneas escaped the Fall of Troy (about 1200 BCE) and journeyed to Italy goes back to at least the 5th century BCE. By 400 BCE, Aeneas was being venerated in Italy as the god Iuppiter Indiges, the tribal ancestor of Latins and Etruscans.
In some Roman traditions, Iulus, the semi-divine ancestor of gens Iulia, was identical with Aeneas’ son Ascanius (Vergil). In other traditions, Iulus was the son of Aeneas by his Trojan wife, Creusa, while Ascanius was the son of Aeneas' Latin wife Lavinia, daughter of Latinus (Livy). And, in still another tradition, Iulus was son of Ascanius, and disputed the throne with Silvius after Ascanius' death (Dionysius of Halicarnasus).
When medieval monks were inventing new genealogies Aeneas was a popular figure. In the Norse saga, the Deluding of Gylfe, he is called Anea. Medieval Welsh genealogies called him Annyn Tro. In one Welsh source he is called a son of Brydain (eponymous of Britain) and a grandson of Aedd Mawr (Edward the Great) who lived about 1300 BCE. These chronologies are too confused to be credible.
Anna, kinswoman of the Virgin Mary
The early Welsh royal families claimed to be relatives of the family of Jesus.
According to Harleian MS. 3958, Beli Mawr was husband to Anna (who may be a confabulation of Dôn), a "near kinswoman [consobrina] of the Virgin Mary." A medieval tradition identifies her as a sister (or daughter) of Joseph of Arimathea, but the tradition is not old enough to be authentic. There is no reason to think she was an historical figure.
Dôn seems to have been a Christianized version of the Celtic goddess Anû, the mother goddess of the Celts. In Gaul she was called Belisama. In Ireland she was Danu, the matriarch of the Túatha Dé Danann, who took their name from her. The Mabinogion, a collection of Welsh legends, calls her Dôn, sister of Mâth mab Mathonwy, King of Gwynedd.
"Chronologically speaking, if Anna married a Briton after her father arrived in this country, then we must assume that she was nearer to Jesus' age than her cousin, Mary (ie. born c. 0). Beli is recorded in the Mabinogion and Welsh Genealogies as having been the father of Caswallon (or Cassivellaunus), the leader of the Celtic tribes who repelled Cæsar's invasions of 55 & 54 bc. He could, therefore, not possibly have married Anna of Arimathea. Moreover, the local ruler whom Joseph received his land gift from, is said to have been Arfyrag (or Arviragus), Beli & Anna's supposed great great grandson." (David Nash Ford, "St. Joseph of Arimathea: Ancestor of Kings?" in Early British Kingdoms (visited Nov. 21, 2011).
If King Arthur was a real person, as many scholars believe, then he was a war leader in 6th century Britain. Some part of his life might have been authentically recorded by English monks such as Gildas (c500-570), Bede (672/3-736), Nennius (9th century), and Geoffrey of Monmouth (c1100-c1155). However, these accounts are confused and contradictory. Arthur might have been related in some way to the Roman aristocrat Ambrosius Aurelianus, although the relationship is first recorded by Geoffrey of Monmouth, who was writing 600 years later.
There is no doubt about Ambrosius’ existence. He was mentioned in a near contemporary document by the monk Gildas, who says he won an important battle against the invading Anglo-Saxons. Some scholars believe it is possible to sketch a brief genealogy for Ambrosius, perhaps from the Roman usurper Constantine III or from a distant cousin of the Emperor Theodosius I (or both).
In modern times there has been an explosion of genealogies drawn from Grail romances that turn fictional characters from the 11th and 12th centuries into historical people. The seminal works for these genealogies are Holy Blood, Holy Gail, by Michael Baigent, Richard Leigh, and Henry Lincoln (1982) and Bloodline of the Holy Grail, by Laurence Gardner (1996). They are best characterized as “alternative history”.
The early Welsh royal families claimed to be descended from Beli Mawr.
Beli Mawr was in fact a Welsh version the Celtic sun god. Among the Brythonic Celts he was Belenus (the Shining One), a fertility god who looked after sheep and cattle. In Ireland, he was Bilé, the god of death. His festival was Beltaine (Fire of Bel), held May 1st. On that day, purifying fires were lit.
According to the Mabinogion his name was Beli son of Mynogan. Wikipedia says, "However, it should be noted that in medieval Welsh tradition, Beli Mawr is often given the patronymic fab Manogan / Mynogan ("son of Manogan"). This appears to derive from a textual garbling of the name of a real historical figure, Adminius, son of Cunobelinus; after being transmitted through the Roman authors Suetonius and Orosius, this name became Bellinus filius Minocanni in the medieval Latin text from Wales, Historia Brittonum. Thus, although Beli became a separate personage in medieval pseudohistory from Cunobelinus (Welsh Cynfelyn, Shakespeare's Cymbeline), he was generally presented as a king reigning in the period immediately before the Roman invasion; his "son" Caswallawn is the historical Cassivellaunus."
According to Geoffrey of Monmouth, his name was Heli, he succeeded his father Digueillus, and he reigned 40 years.
The Mabinogion names his three sons as Lludd, Casswallawn and Nynnyaw, or four sons Lludd, Casswallawn, Llevelys and Eveyd. According to Geoffrey of Monmouth, he had three sons, Lud, Cassivelaunus and Nennius.
Brân the Blessed
Brân was legendary king of the Silures, probably originating as a Christianized form of the Celtic god Brân. He is one of the principal characters of the 1st Branch of the Mabinogion, which begins "Bran the Blessed (Bendigeidfran), the son of Llyr and Penarddun, daughter of Beli son of Mynogan, was ruler of Britain. Bran was the brother of Manawyddan and Branwen (Bronwen), and the half-brother of Nissyen and Evnissyen." He is said to have been succeeded by his uncle Caswallawn.
In Christian legend Brân is said to have been baptized in Rome in 36 CE. "Bran was said to have been taken as a captive to Rome where he joined the household of St. Paul. Returning to Britain, with SS. Aristobulus and Joseph of Arimathea some years later, he became among the first to introduce Christianity to the Island, hence his epithet of "the Blessed". This whole story is a late 17th century fabrication based on misinformation." (David Nash Ford, "Bran Fendigaid alias Bendigeitvran: Celtic God of Regeneration" in Early British Kingdoms(http://www.earlybritishkingdoms.com/bios/bran.html, visited Nov. 21, 2011)
The story of Brân's conversion to Christianity is probably a confusion with the historical Cunobelin (Arfyrag's father) who was thought to have been taken captive to Rome where he became converted to Christianity. (David Nash Ford, "St. Joseph of Arimathea: Ancestor of Kings?" in Early British Kingdoms (http://www.earlybritishkingdoms.com/articles/josanc.html, visited Nov. 21, 2011). Brân and Cunobelin both had sons named Caradoc, and the different Caradocs became confused. There is, no doubt an added confusion of Caradocs here, as far too few generations are given.
In Arthurian romance Brân became Bron(s), the Fisher King. He is said to have married Enygeus, a sister of Joseph of Arimathea and of Anna the Prophetess (perhaps the same person as Anna, the near kinswoman of the Virgin Mary. She had 12 sons, including Alain de Borron. This story mangles the earlier version, in which Brân was a grandson of Anna, the sister (or daughter) of Joseph of Arimathea.
In the Arthurian romance 'Bonedd yr Arwyr, Brân is made both a paternal and maternal ancestor of King Arthur.
The early Welsh kings claimed descent from Brutus, the legendary 1st King of Britain, which is said to have been named for him.
Welsh genealogists called him Brwt. He is said to have founded Troia Nova ("New Troy"), which became corrupted to Trinovantum, and now is London. He is not mentioned in any classical source and is not considered to be historical.
Brutus was first mentioned in the 9th century, by Nennius, who says he was a son of Hiscion, grandson of Alanus (Mannus), and a descendant of Noah. One variant makes him a grandson or great grandson of the Trojan hero Aeneas, great grandson of the legendary Roman king Numa Pompilius, and traces his genealogy to Japheth, son of Noah. Another variant makes him the son of Silvius and grandson of Ascanius, the father of Aeneas, and traces his genealogy to Ham, son of Noah. [Historia Brittonum.]
Geoffrey of Monmouth says Brutus was son of Silvius and grandson of Ascanius. He was exiled from Italy. He went to Greece, and liberated the Trojans enslaved there. Then, he crossed to the island of Albion, which he re-named for himself, and became the first king. After his death, each of his sons received one-third of Britain, Locrinus (England), Albanactus (Scotland) and Kamber (Wales).
Many scholars believe the Hiscion son of Alanus named by Nennius as Brutus' father was identical to the Istro son of Mannus, who appears in Germanic tradition as the eponymous ancestor of the Istvaeones, one of the three divisions of Germanic proto-tribes.
Millions of people in the world today are descendants of the Frankish emperor Charlemagne, and they can prove it. Charlemagne’s family were upstarts, however. There are no proven links between Charlemagne and his predecessors in the Merovingian dynasty. In fact, Charlemagne has only 10 proven ancestors. Using Ahnentafel numbering, his ancestry looks like this:
- Pepin the Short, father
- Bertrade of Laon, mother
- Charles Martel, father’s father
- Rotrude, father’s mother
- Caribert of Laon, mother’s father
- Pepin of Herstal, father’s father’s father
- Alpaida, father’s father’s mother
- Bertrada of Prüm, mother’s father’s mother
- Ansegisel, father’s father’s father’s father
- Begga, father’s father’s father’s mother
In Charlemagne’s time, genealogists working under the patronage of the royal family claimed that Charlemagne had several connections to the Merovingian dynasty. These claims enhanced the royal family’s prestige and made it look like Charlemagne’s family had a genuine claim to the throne. Modern scholars doubt these connections. Even though the evidence is reasonably contemporary, the political motivations make it suspect.
Some modern scholars, working with original documents, believe they have found evidence to show that Charlemagne’s ancestry can be traced, probably, to an old Roman senatorial family. The reconstruction is plausible, because the Franks who Charlemagne ruled had conquered the old Roman province of Gaul in 486, and the Franks are known to have intermarried with the surviving Gallo-Roman aristocracy.
- Flavius Afranius Syagrius, of Lyons; a Gallo-Roman senator
- (Syagria), his unknown daughter; married Ferreolus
- Tonantius Ferreolus, a Gallo-Roman senator; married Papianilla, clarissima femina, a relative of the Papianilla who was a daughter of the emperor Avitus, and who married Sidonius Apollinaris
- Tonantius Ferreolus, a Gallo-Roman senator; married Industria
- Ferreolus, a Gallo-Roman senator; married Dode, abbess of St.-Pierre de Rheims
- Ansbert, a senator; married Bilichilde
- Arnoald, Bishop of Metz
- Dode, probably his daughter; married St. Arnulf, Bishop of Metz
- Ansegisel, probably their son; married St. Begga; daughter of Pepin I, Mayor of the Palace of Austrasia
- Pepin of Herstal, Mayor of the Palace of Austrasia; married Alpais / Alpaida
- Charles Martel, Mayor of the Palace of Austrasia; married Rotrude
- Pepin the Short, Mayor of the Palace of Austrasia; married Bertrada of Laon
(Based on the work of David H. Kelley and Christian Settipani. See, for example, Don Stone, soc.genealogy.medieval, March 11, 1998)
Using this reconstruction as a starting point, many other scholars have attempted to extend Charlemagne’s ancestry further, with varying degrees of success.
Charles Constantine (c903-c962), comte de Vienne and de Bellay, was a son of Louis III the Blind (c883-928), Holy Roman Emperor. His mother was either the Burgundian princess Adelais or the Byzantine princess Anna Myakes.
The debate over Charles Constantine’s ancestry is very heated. Anna Myakes was a daughter of the Byzantine emperor Leo VI. There were negotiations to betroth her to Louis III but it isn't clear whether the marriage ever took place. If the marriage did take place, and if Charles Constantine was a son of that marriage, his ancestry would include Byzantine emperors Leo VI and Leo's father, either Basil I or Michael III.
A key part of the debate is whether Charles really had the nickname Constantine. The name was uncommon in the west, so it supports the theory, accepted by Septimani, that his mother was the Byzantine princess Anna. However, the name might refer only to his imperial ancestry. Flodoard (894-966) called him Charles Constantine, but the evidence that he used the name in his lifetime is too weak to be reliable. A diploma of his father and his own charters call him only Charles.
Érimón mac Míl Espáine
According to ancient Irish sources Érimón mac Míl Espáine brought his people, the Milesians, to Ireland about 500 BCE, and conquered it from an older race, the Tuatha Dé Danann. (See the Lebor Gabála Érenn, and others.) The story might (very arguably) have some foundation, but cannot be proven or disproven. (See above, under Ireland)
French monks claimed that a Trojan prince, Francus, was the eponymous ancestor of the Frankish kings. Francus is first mentioned in Nennius' Historia Brittonum (8th century) as the son of Hiscion, and eponymous ancestor of the Franks. His Trojan ancestry came later.
In the Renaissance, Francus was generally considered to be another name for the Trojan hero Astyanax (son of Hector), who was saved from the destruction of Troy.
Jean Lemaire de Belges's Illustrations de Gaule et Singularités de Troie (1510–12) has Astyanax survive the fall of Troy and arrive in Western Europe. He changes his name to Francus and becomes king of Celtic Gaul (while, at the same time, Bavo, cousin of Priam, comes to the city of Trier) and founds the dynasty leading to Pepin and Charlemagne. He is said to have founded and named the city of Paris in honor of his uncle Paris.
Gilles Corrozet's La Fleur des antiquitez... de Paris (1532) describes the French king Francis I as the 64th descendant of Hector of Troy.
In Pierre de Ronsard's epic poem La Franciade (1572), the god Jupiter saves Astyanax (renamed Francus). The young hero arrives in Crete and falls in love with the princess Hyanthe with whom he is destined to found the royal dynasty of France.
(Source: Wikipedia, Francus)
Genuissa, wife of Arvirargus
Venissa (Genissa, Genvissa, Genuissa) is a fictional person who serves to link the Welsh kings to ancient Rome.
According to Geoffrey of Monmouth's 12th century Historia Regum Britanniae, she was a daughter of the Roman Emperor Claudius, whom he gave in marriage to the British king Arvirargus once he had submitted to Rome.
According to Geoffrey's account she was very beautiful, and so enchanted Arvirargus that he preferred her company to anyone else's. He founded Gloucester, supposedly named after Claudius, in her honour. When Arvirargus fell out with Rome and Vespasian was sent to enforce a reconciliation, Venissa acted as mediator between them.
Venissa cannot be considered historical. She is not mentioned in authentic Roman history; her supposed husband Arvirargus is known only from a cryptic reference in Satire IV, a 2nd century satirical poem by Juvenal; and it is in any case inconceivable that a daughter, even an illegitimate daughter, of a Roman emperor could be given in marriage to a barbarian without attracting comment. Nonetheless, she and her husband, identified with the historical Caratacus, appear in many uncritical genealogies originating in the Tudor period.
(Source: Wikipedia, Venissa)
Joseph of Arimathea
The Christian scriptures say that Joseph of Arimathea was an influential member of the Sanhedrin who petitioned Pontius Pilate for Jesus’ body, but give no details about his life or family. According to the Talmud, he was the younger brother of the father of the Virgin Mary. That is, he was Mary's uncle and Jesus' great-uncle.
Some modern writers venture that he might be identified with Josephus (Jewish: Yosef ben Matityahu, Roman: Titus Flavius Josephus), a Jewish historian and an apologist for the Roman empire. However, scholars dismiss the idea. Josephus was born in 37 CE, making him a generation younger than Jesus, so it would not be possible he was Jesus' great uncle.
The first mention of Joseph of Arimathea in connection with Britain is the Life of Mary Magdalene by Rabanus Maurus (766-856), Archbishop of Mainz. Jseoph first appears as the legendary Keeper of the Holy Grail in Robert de Boron's Joseph d'Arimathie (early 13th century), which says he settled in Britain after the Crucifixion of Jesus, bringing the Holy Grail with him. The story spawned a rich literature on the same theme. Later tradition says he was a wealthy merchant who owned tin mines in Cornwall. Some popular fiction has him bringing Jesus with him to Britain to be trained by Druids there.
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The story is not reliable. Llyr was a Celtic sea god, cognate of the Irish god Lir, but perhaps also a historical King of the Silures. As an historical figure, he is said to have been educated in Rome by Augustus Caesar. His home was at Dunraven castle, situated on a hill called Twyn Rhyvan (the Hill of Rome) in Glamorgan.
He was used by Shakespeare as a prototype for King Lear.
Makhir of Narbonne
Makhir of Narbonne (8th century) was the leader of the Jewish community of Narbonne, and the ancestor of an important family there. Prof. Arthur Zuckerman suggested that he was the same person as Natronai ben Habibi, an exilarch who was deposed and exiled from Baghdad (A Jewish Princedom in Feudal France, 1972). He also suggested that Makhir was the same person as Maghario, Count of Narbonne.
Zuckerman went further. In the poem Willehalm by Wolfram von Eschenbach (c1170-c1220), the hero Guillem de Gellone is the son of Aymeri de Narbonne by his wife Alda / Aldana, daughter of Charles Martel. Guillem de Gellone's real-life counterpart was Guillaume I, comte de Toulouse, son of Theodoric, a count in Septimania. Zuckerman suggested that the poem changed the names, but memorialized actual relationships. So, Guillaume's father Theodoric must have been the same person as Aymeri. Then, Zuckerman identified Theodoric / Aymeri with Makhi / Natronai / Maghario.
Scholars have dismissed Zuckerman's methodology as flawed. Nevertheless, Guillaume de Toulouse might have been Jewish. He led the Frankish forces when they captured Barcelona in 801. The campaign was memorialized in a poem In honorem Hludovici imperatoris ("In honour of Emperor Louis") (826), by Ermoldus Nigellus. The poem uses Jewish dating and portrays Guillaume de Toulouse as an observant Jew.
- Aryeh Graboïs, "Une principauté juive dans la France du Midi à l'époque carolingienne" in Annales du Midi : revue archéologique, historique et philologique de la France méridionale Année 1973 Volume 85 Numéro 112 pp. 191-202.
- Patric Choffrut, "Le Royaume juif de Septimanie, mythe ou réalité ?" in L’Écho des Carrières : Bulletin de l'Association Culturelle des Juifs du Pape N°76 2014, pp. 11-27.
- Nathaniel L. Taylor, "Saint William, King David, and Makhir: A controversial medieval descent" in The American Genealogist 72 (1997), pp. 203-21.
Modern genealogists have attempted to find a line of descent from the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) through the rulers of Muslim Spain.
The first problem with the line is that it comes through Ayesha, the wife of Yazîd I, the 2nd Umayyad Caliph (680-683). The Caliph’s descendants claimed that Ayesha was a daughter of Mohammad, a link that would substantially enhance their legitimacy. However, Muslim scholars say she was Muhammad's step-daughter, not his daughter. The title Sharif is accorded only to descendants of Muhammad’s daughter Fatima.
The second problem is that it is not entirely clear that Zaïda was really descended from Ayesha. Zaïda was a daughter-in-law (and probably also niece) of al-Mutamid, ruler of the taifa of Seville. He was a descendant of Ayesha, and if she was his niece, she shared that descent. Zaïda’s first husband was (her cousin?) Fath al-Ma'mum, the ruler of Córdoba and son of the Emir of Seville. He was killed in 1091 while trying to escape a seige of Córdoba. Zaïda made her way as a refugee to the court of Alfonso VI. He was already mature (age 51), married to a queen who was ill, and was lacking a male heir. Zaïda became his concubine, converted to Christianity, and took the Christian name Isabel. She bore Alfonso his only surviving son Sancho. It is not clear whether Alfonso subsequently married her. Her tombstone, erected long after her death, says, "Aqui descansa la reina Isabel, mujer del rey Alfonso, hija de Aben-Abeth, rey de Sevilla; que antes se llamaba Zayda," which translates as "here lies Queen Elizabeth, wife of King Alfonso, daughter of Aben-abeth, king of Seville; previously called Zaïda."
The third problem is that there are no known descents from Zaïda. Her only proven son Sancho died in childhood. It’s possible, however, that Zaïda might have been the same person as Alfonso’s wife Elisabeth. Elisabeth had two daughters who became the ancestors of many European royal families. Elisabeth’s burial plaque, erected long after her death, says she was a daughter of Louis [VI], but that would be chronologically impossible. She might have been a sister of Louis VI, or the plaque might be an attempt to disguise her non-Christian identity.
Pagano Ebriaci (?-c1091), of Pisa, ancestor of the Christian Ebriaci family, might have been a convert from Judaism, a son of Joseph of Fustat. The relationship is conjectural, and seems to have originated in the suggestion that the surname Ebriaci means "the Hebrew". Another theory is that the name Ebriaci might derive from a Latin word meaning drunk.
If Pagano Ebriaci was a son of Joseph of Fustat, then he was a grandson of Hezekiah IV, 38th Exilarch and a descendant of King David.
She is a legendary figure from whom the Scots took their name. She is said to have been the daughter of an unnamed Eyptian pharaoh. The context of her story shows that the Irish thought of her as a daughter of the pharaoh of the Exodus and a contemporary of Moses.
An 11th century rescenison of the Historia Brittonum menions Scota. She also appears in the Book of Leinster, a 12th century redaction of the Lebor Gabála Érenn, where she married Geytholos (Gaodhal Glas). The earliest Scottish sources claim Geytholos was "a certain king of the countries of Greece, Neolus, or Heolaus, by name", while the Leinster redaction of the Lebor Gabála Érenn calls him a Scythian.
In variant manuscripts of the Lebor Gabála Érenn, Scota's husband was Míl Espáine.
Faced with the discrepancy, modern genealogists have created two Scotas.
There are many guesses about her father, Scota the wife of Gaodhal Glas being (perhaps) daughter of Pharaoh Cingeris, and Scota the wife of Míl Espáine being (perhaps) daughter of Pharaoh Nactabaeus. Both pharaohs are named only in medieval Irish sources, not in Egyptian sources.
Some genealogists make one or both women the daughter of whichever pharaoh they believe was the pharaoh of the Exodus.
Tamar Tephi and Teia Tephei are said to have been daughters of Zedekiah, King of Judah, but they are fictitious. Their descents from the kings of Judah is a 19th century fraud, from a misreading of old Irish sources.
According to the colorful story, Tamar Tephi and her sister Teia avoided the fate of their brothers, who were killed by the King of Babylon at Riblah. The prophet Jeremiah spirited them off to Ireland via Egypt and Spain, along with the Stone of the Covenant, which became known as Lia Fail (Stone of Destiny). (We are left wondering why Jeremiah was not equally helpful to the rest of the royal family.)
(Source: Wikipedia, [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_legendary_kings_of_Britain#Tea_Tephi, List of legendary kings of Britain])
- Wikipedia, Descent from antiquity