Archive for February 3, 2010

Granddad Charlie

When I started with my family tree, I silently hoped for some well known people to be my ancestors. Wouldn’t it be fun, to find someone famous.
I was alone in this ambition, as my sensible family couldn’t care less.
Thanks to internet, I found a lot of names, and I even found out one of my ancestors was the sister of a famous poet, (Bredero) wow, but I couldn’t get any further with the branch of my grandmother Clasina. She was born in Rotterdam and I thought all paperwork from the registers had been lost in WWII.
But that was not the case. In The Netherlands we have this archive on line with all registers of birth, death, baptizes and marriages that goes back to the days of Napoleon. It is called GenLias. I found my grandmother, but I found a lot more than just her.

With finding her, a long list of ancestors soon followed. Not only though GenLias, but also thanks to other family trees online. They gave their sources as well, and so, in no time, I had hundreds, thousands of ancestors and the sources to check. And the further back in time I went, the more up class the people seem to be. I came across counts, dukes, kings and even empires.

Of course I haven’t been in the bedrooms of these people while they were making babies, so I can’t be 100 % sure, but these people do have official papers that say they were who they are.

One of them is Charlemagne. English: Charles the Great, Dutch: Karel de Grote, German: Karl der Grosse, Latin: Carolus Magnus, King of the Franks and Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire. He shows up thousands of times in my family tree. This phenomenon is called Ahnenverlust in German, the fact that you have less different ancestors as you go back in time, due to doubles. It is quiet normal to have the same ancestor in three or more generations even. I think just about everyone in Europe has at least one line of ancestors to him somehow. He was the most important figure of our history and all later royals and aristocrats descend from him one way or another.

He was born in 742, on April 2, not quite sure where exactly but somewhere in Northern Europe, prob. in what is now Belgium. His parents were Pippin III and Bertrada of Laon, and he was their eldest son. According to his secretary and biographer Einhard “he was six feet four inches tall, and built to scale. He had beautiful white hair, animated eyes, a powerful nose…a presence ‘always stately and dignified.’ He was temperate in eating and drinking, abominated drunkenness, and kept in good health despite every exposure and hardship.” It is also said he became master of Western Europe by the sword and the cross.
In the year 768 Charles inherited the kingdom of the Franks, together with his brother Carloman, who died in 771, and Charlemagne then became sole ruler of the kingdom. He could not write, but still learned Latin and a little Greek.
He had many children and some of them are ancestors of mine. Was he a nice father I wonder. Did he ever cuddle with his grandchildren?He was tall and had white hair. A sort of santa.
He was the one who invented school, so we learned in history lessons. This is why we children didn’t like him very much. But wouldn’t it be nice to be able to meet him… and say “Hi granddad. I am one of your thousands of offspring. Just a very tiny bit of you is me. As my sons say: when you clip your nails, all you inherited from this Charlemagne might be gone. Oh well. Thank you for giving the world a new chance in civilization. And granddad, I am proud I am almost 6 feet tall. As I got that from you perhaps?” 😉

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