Monday, October 31, 2016

Finn McCool & Brian Boru

Fionn MacCumail (anglicized as Finn McCool)  was a famous hunter and warrior from Irish mythology. My ancestry goes directly back to him through his daughter Samair, who married Corman Cas, King of Munster. Corman Cas was a direct paternal ancestor of Brian Bóruma (or Brian Boru) who is often considered as the most famous Irish Ruler, who lived during the 10th and 11th centuries.

I am descended through 3 children of Brian Boru. Richard "Strongbow" de Clare, one of the English Norman leaders that conquered Ireland (whom we will discuss in a later blog) was married to Eva (Aoife) McMurrough, a descendant of Brian Boru through his son Donnchad.  Brian had a daughter Slani , who married Sihtric III "Silkbeard", one of the Viking Kings of Dublin, whom we we also discuss in a later blog.

Finn's father Cumhail was the chieftan of the Fianna. He had abducted Muirne, daughter of the druid, Tadg mac Nuadat. Tagd appealed to the High King, Conn of the Hundred Battles, who outlawed Cumhail. After Cumhail was killed, Muirne delivered the boy, Fionn, who was secretly raised by a druidess and a warrior woman, who taught him skills to survive and avenge his father's murder.

When Finn was grown he served under various Irish Kings who sent him away once they knew he who was. Discouraged, he wandered Ireland. At one point he was asked by an old Poet near the river Boyne to catch the Salmon of Knowledge and cook it for him. But during the cooking, Fionn burned his thumb. Instantly he put his thumb in his mouth which imbued the Salmon's wisdom to him.  He now knew what was needed to challenge his father's murderer.

Later, after Finn had killed the fire-breathing man of the Sidhe, he became the leader of the Fianna. Finn's wife, Sadhbh, had been turned into a deer by a druid for refusing his love. While hunting, Finn's hounds recognized the deer as human, but when Finn brought the deer home, she turned back into human form. Their famous son, Oisin, also has many legendary stories around him.

There is also a famous legend that as a giant it was Finn who created the Giant's Causeway as stepping stones to Scotland.

Finn is considered legendary. Certainly if he really existed, there are many mythical and legendary stories attributed to him. But a clearly historical figure is Brian Boru, who was first the King of Munster, then subjugated Leinster, and eventually becoming High King of Ireland. He was also the founder of the O'Brien dynasty.

For about 500 years before Brian, the High Kingship was held by the Uí Néill clan. Brian led a political and military struggle to change this. By the year 1002 he had forced Máel Sechnaill mac Domnaill, to recognize him as his superior, thus taking over the High Kingship.

The famous Battle of Clontarf (23 April 1014) in which Brian died, is often considered a watershed event in which Brian Boru was able to defeat the Vikings forever. However, this is not historically quite accurate since the Vikings did not control Ireland and the half-dozen earlier Viking settlements had become integrated with the Irish culture. Nevertheless Brian was often depicted as the savior of the Irish, and his death a noble sacrifice. 

When the English Normans invaded Ireland in the late 12th century and began the integration of Ireland into the English polity, the High Kingship of Ireland came to an end. The last High King was #184 Ruaidhrí Ó Conchobhair, which has been anglicized as Rory O'Connor. I am not descended directly from Rory, but from two of his great-grandfathers; Toirrdelbach (High King #178), a grandson of Brian Boru and Ruaidri, King of Connaught, his paternal great-grandfather, through a sister of Ruaidrí na Saide Buide, who was married to Diarmait macToirrdelbaig, King of Munster (not shown in the charts, but are in my online genealogy database).


Here are links to some of the key people in my online genealogy database:

Here are some links to help you learn more:

Here are some useful books to read pertaining to the subjects in this blog:




Cumberland Family Software: www.cft-win.com

If you would like to have new blog posts emailed to you as they are posted, email me a note with your email address and I will add you iralund@cft-win.com



Wednesday, October 26, 2016

The Cattle Raid of Cooley

The Cattle Raid of Cooley (or in Irish Táin Bó Cúailnge) is an old legendary tale, perhaps the most famous of the Irish myths. Having linked most of the characters from the story into my genealogical database, it suggests that the tale occurs during the second century BCE, although I have seen elsewhere scholars think of it as occurring during the 1st century CE.

Queen Medb (or Maeve) - as well as some of her other sisters - was originally given to Conchubar mac Nessa as a wife after her father had killed Conchubar's father and taken over as High King. Later Mebd married Ailill mac Mata, King of Connacht. She felt that she should be as wealthy as her husband and so they counted out their possessions and discovered that they were equal but for one powerful stud bull that her husband had. She searched Ireland and discovered that Dáire mac Fiachna of Ulster had a powerful bull called Donn Cuailnge, the Brown Bull of Cooley. She initially offered Daire quite some compensation in exchange for the bull, which he accepted. But when Daire heard from the messenger during a drunken stupor that she was willing to go to war over the bull he withdrew his agreement. Thus started the famous Irish war over a bull.
The only person fit to defend Ulster is seventeen-year-old Cú Chulainn, and he lets the army take Ulster by surprise because he's off on a tryst when he should be watching the border. Cú Chulainn, assisted by his charioteer Láeg, wages a guerrilla campaign against the advancing army, then halts it by invoking the right of single combat at fords, defeating champion after champion in a stand-off lasting months. However, he is unable to prevent Medb from capturing the bull. [Wikipedia: Táin Bó Cúailnge]
Medb brings Donn Cuailnge back to Connacht. The bull has a fight with Ailill's bull and kills him. But Donn Cuailnge was mortally wounded and eventually dies of exhaustion. There is a lot more detail to the story than I am summarizing here and even additional Legendary Irish tales that tell more about these people. But these stories have made both Queen Medb and Cu Chulainn national Irish hereos!

I am not descended directly from any of the protagonists of the tale. But as can be seen in Chart #18 I am closely related to all of them. Queen Medb is a sister to the three Fineamhas and Clotherne, who I am descended from and discussed in the previous blog. Conchobar was married to at least four of the daughters of Eochaidh Feidhleach (the 93rd High King) who I am descended from. Chart #18 can look confusing because several of the main characters were married multiple times. Queen Medb had at least three different lovers, Conchobar as well as the half-brothers, Fergus and Ailill. Ailill's surname is matronymic, rather than the usual patronymic, as his mother's name was Mata, but his father was Rossa Ruadh. Cú Chulainn also had several lovers. Where you see double lines "=", this indicates a marriage or love affair, while a single line "-" represents a line of descent (a child).


Here are links to some of the key people in my online genealogy database:

Here are some links to help you learn more:

Here are some useful books to read pertaining to the subjects in this blog:




Cumberland Family Software: www.cft-win.com

If you would like to have new blog posts emailed to you as they are posted, email me a note with your email address and I will add you iralund@cft-win.com

Monday, October 24, 2016

Legendary Kings of Ireland

The Book of the Taking of Ireland (Lebor Gabála Érenn) from the 11th century, tells the history of Ireland from the beginning, starting with Adam. After the great flood it was Noah's son, Japeth and then Gomer, who were the progenitors of Feinus Farsaid, King of Scythia, who helped build the Tower of Babel. His son Nel married Scota a daughter of an Egyptian Pharoah. Their son, Gaedel Glas is the one who invents the Gaelic language from the confusion of tongues after the destruction of the Tower.

Then on the stories go for many generations  until we find Brath conquering Spain and his son Breogan built a high tower that still exists today called the Tower of Hercules, but until recently was called Farum Brigantium after Breogan. Breogan's son, Ith spied the land of Ireland across the sea from the top of the tower. Eventaully the sons of Milesius attack Ireland and overcome the existing inhabitants, the Tuath Dé and Fomorians.

Thus the sons of Milesius, Heber, Ir and Heremon are the ancestors of the High Kings of Ireland. This occurs about the 18th century BCE. The High Kings are typically numbered as shown in the numbers at the end of the names in Chart #17 up to High King number 184 Ruaidhrí Ó Conchobhair (Anglicized as Rory O'Connor) of Connacht, the last king before the Norman invasion in 1167. I am not descended from Rory, but I do show descent from both sets of his grandparents.

The High Kings are all descended from Heber, Heremon and Ir, three of the seven sons of Milesius. Stories are told about constant fighting between the various descendants with the kingship first on one line, then over to the next as can be seen by the numbering in the chart. I do not show descendants of Ir, but many of them were also High Kings. Various kings are described as the ancestors of the various Kings in the counties of Ireland. For example Connla mac Breasal Breac is the ancestor of the Kings of Ossory (Osraige) and Lughaidh Loithfhionn is the ancestor of the Kings of Leinster (Laigin),

From the Milesian Legends:
Bress, Nar and Lothar were triplets and called the Fineamhas, i.e., the three vine branches. Clotherne was debauched by her own brothers, who in a drunken fit lay with her, all three, the product of which union was a son named Lugaidh, who had (a strange thing to be told) a red circle about his neck and another about his middle. To distinguish each brother's proportion of him, the head and face resembling Bress; the middle part between the two circles, Nar; and thence downward resembling the third brother, Lothar. For which he has the nickname of Sriabh ndearg, i.e., red circled.
To make the prior story even worse, Lugaidh, the 98th Monarch had a son with his own mother, Clotherne, by the name of Crimthan Nainir, who became the 100th High King of Ireland.

Most of this is legend, but perhaps there is some truth to some of the old stories. Starting somewhere about the second century the kings are considered historical or semi-historical with perhaps embellishments around the stories and genealogy.

Conn Ceadchathach "of the Hundred Battles" was called such from the hundreds - not just 100 - but hundreds of battles that he fought and won, all with other Irish clans. Such internecine warfare was constantly going on generation after generation in Ireland, so it is difficult to understand how there can always be a single High King of Ireland for thousands of years.

My database has a lot of this old Irish genealogy, even on many lines that I may not show as a direct ancestor and definitely a lot that is not presented in Chart #17 or even subsequent charts I may show in later blogs. However, I am certain it is far from complete. There would be additional information that could be added from various old Irish sources.


Here are links to some of the key people in my online genealogy database:

Here are some links to help you learn more:

Here are some useful books to read pertaining to the subjects in this blog:



Cumberland Family Software: www.cft-win.com

If you would like to receive notification of new blog posts emailed to you, email me a note with your email address and I will add you to the list:  iralund@cft-win.com

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Legendary and Early Kings of Britain

Brutus of Troy was the legendary founder of Britain. He was a descendant of the Trojan hero Aeneas. There are actually quite the stories about Brutus and many of his subsequent descendants, but here I only include a minimal amount of stories to tie people together genealogically. Here are some short stories of some key people in the accompanying Chart #16:
  • Brutus divided Britain into three parts for his three sons: Albanactus was given Scotland, Kamber (or Cymryw) was given Wales and Locrinus was given the rest of Britain. The Historia Britonum primarily gives an account of the Kings of Lloegria rather than a genealogy, especially towards the end. Thus the large number of missing generations in Locrinus descent. However, the descent from Kamber down to Baran who married Caswallon is quite reasonable. Even the average generation gap of about 35 years makes sense over the 1000 years difference between  Kamber and Baran.
  • King Leir (Lear) succeeded his father to enjoy a reign of 60 years. He founded the city of Kaefeir, known today as Leicester, and "immortalised" in Shakespeare's play, King Lear, which recalls the events of his reign.  King Lear only had 3 daughters - no sons. Through deceit his two elder daughters (Goneril and Regan) received the kingdom.
  • There are more than 1000 years between Brutus and the first semi-historical kings of early Britain.  By semi-historical I mean that most scholars would accept that these rulers existed, but the genealogy may not all be correct.  Most of the British and Welsh rulers can trace their genealogy back to Beli Mawr. "Mawr" in Welsh means "Great". Remember that the current Royalty of England traces their kingship lines back to the Anglo-Saxon rulers that invaded Britain after the Romans pulled out. So the current Royalty would not trace strictly paternally back to these early kings. But the Welsh rulers can. Beli Mawr had 5 sons, but only two are shown here with descent. 
  • Beli's son, Lludd "of the Silver Hand" rebuild Trinovantum (New Troy) to become his city of Lud or London.  Lud was eventually buried in London, close to Ludgate that still bears his name. 
  • Caswallon (Cassivellaunos) was the ruler of the Catuvellauni tribe (Hertfordshire). In 55 BCE he withstood the invading armies of Julius Caesar. Cassivelaunus was starved into submission after betrayal by Androgeus, his brother Lud's eldest son. The British resistance, however, had been great and fierce, evoking from the Roman author Lucan much praise concerning one particular engagement: "Territa quaesitis ostendit terga Britannis" when Caesar fled in terror from the very Britons whom he'd come to attack!" (Lucan's Pharsallia, ii, 572. See Thorpe, p. 117.)
  • Cubobelin, one of the most powerful kings of ancient Britain, received a Roman upbringing in the Imperial household. Like King Lear, Cymbeline has been "immortalized" by Shakespeare in his  play, Cymbeline.
  • Caratacus and his brother, Togodumus, led the main armies in defense of Britain against the Roman invasion of 43 AD. After being pushed westward he maintained a guerrilla war against the Romans until his eventual defeat in Northern Wales. Another brother, Arvaragus, ended up ruling Britain as Rome's puppet-king. 
  • Anna, who married Bran the Blessed, was the daughter of Joseph of Arimathea who had buried Jesus. This link ties all the way back to Chart #2.  Anna was the cousin of the Virgin Mary. The old legends state that Joseph of Arimathea left the Holy Land and eventually went to England where he was given land around Glastonbury where the famous Glastonbury Thorn (the Hawthorne Tree) grows at the spot where Joseph thrust in his staff. This tree would bloom on Christmas day. Cuttings were made and more holy trees resulted. Illnesses could be cured by touching it's leaves on Christmas day. Merchants paid large sums for cuttings of the tree.
  • Prasutagus' wife, Boudica, was actually more famous than he. When the Romans stationed at Colchester pillaging the land, Boudica objected and then she was flogged and her two teenage daughters raped. This brought an outrage from the Britains who then rose up in revolt. The town of Colchester (Camulodunum), where a temple to Claudius was being erected, was destroyed by the rebels. They then turned to London where they massacred many. Queen Boudica then led the British against a major battle with the Romans in which the British were defeated. The name Boudica means Victoria and she became the symbol of "Britannia". It is her image that is often displayed as the great Queen, defender of the British Empire.
  • The story goes that St. Helena (mother of Constantine the Great) went on a pilgrimage to Jerusalem after her famous son, Constantine, became Emporer. There she uncovered many of the holy sites where Jesus walked and even found the true cross, whereby fragments of the cross were placed in many churches throughout Europe.
  • Magnus Maximus was emperor of Britain, Spain and Gaul (France) sent to Britain by the Emperor Valentinian. Magnus was declared emperor by the British. He was Emperor in the west when Theodosius the Younger was emperor in the east. His Welsh name was Macsen Wledig. He was supposedly raised on the estate of his uncle Count Theodosius "the Elder" in Spain. his son Constantine III became a co-Emperor of Western Roman Empire, but there seems to be some dispute on his parentage.
  • Vortigern, was the Ruler of Powys and King of Britons after the Romans retreated from Britain in the fifth century. He invited the Saxons Hengist and Horsa to aid him in fighting the Picts and Scots. However, they revolted, killing his son in the process and forming the Kingdom of Kent. Thus began the first movement of Nordic Rulers into what would become "England" instead of "Britain".



Here are links to some of the key people in my online genealogy database:

Here are some links to help you learn more: 

Here are some useful books to read pertaining to the subjects in this blog:




Cumberland Family Software: www.cft-win.com

If you would like to have new blog posts emailed to you as they are posted, email me a note with your email address and I will add you iralund@cft-win.com

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

 "Beowulf", Famous Old English Poem


Many people have at least heard of Beowulf. It was first introduced to me in High School as the oldest piece of literature written in Old English. Of course, back then I was thinking of England, but not understanding the historical context that the Anglos (English) had actually come from Denmark, the events in this poem actually take place in Denmark. These events took place prior to the Anglo-Saxons invasion of Britain.

I suspect many people do not realize that the protagonists in this story were actual historical people. The nearby genealogy chart shows not only the family relationships of the main characters but also my descent from almost all of them, all through Scandinavian lines of descent.

King Hrothgar (spelled Hroðgar in Icelandic & old Norsk) lived in Denmark, descended from Skjold, King of Denmark. Beowulf & his father were Kings in Geatland (Sweden), but Beowulf did not become King until after the he slays Grendel.

Here is a short summary of the story from Wikipedia:
The poem is set in Scandinavia. Beowulf, a hero of the Geats, comes to the aid of Hrothgar, the king of the Danes, whose mead hall in Heorot has been under attack by a monster known as Grendel. After Beowulf slays him, Grendel's mother attacks the hall and is then also defeated. Victorious, Beowulf goes home to Geatland (Götaland in modern Sweden) and later becomes king of the Geats. After a period of fifty years has passed, Beowulf defeats a dragon, but is fatally wounded in the battle. After his death, his attendants cremate his body and erect a tower on a headland in his memory.
Attils (Eadgils) the Great is a direct male line descent from Njord the Rich, who traveled with Odin from Asaland near the Black Sea. Attils' male descendants go directly down to Harald "Hårfagre", the first king of United Norway as shown in a prior blog (Chart #13).

Here is a strange story about Helge Halvdanson to explain the strange diagram surrounding him and Yrsa. Helge was married to Queen Alof. Helge made war on Sweden and captured Queen Yrsa, Swedish King Adil's wife. Helge and Yrsa had a son, Rolf Krake. But when Queen Alof came to Sweden and saw Yrsa, she told her husband that Yrsa was their own daughter. Then Yrsa went back to King Adil. 

There are many other stories surrounding many of the people in these charts, mostly in old Icelandic Sagas. The Yngling Saga from the Heimskringla as mentioned in the previous blog contains the stories of the kings along the left hand side of Chart #15.


Here are links to some of the key people in my online genealogy database:

Here are some links to help you learn more:


Here are some useful books to read pertaining to the subjects in this blog:



Cumberland Family Software: www.cft-win.com

If you would like to have new blog posts emailed to you as they are posted, email me a note with your email address and I will add you iralund@cft-win.com

Sunday, October 16, 2016

The Völsunga Saga & The Nibelungenlied

The Nibelungenlied, translated as the Song of the Nibelungs, is an epic poem in Middle High German. The Völsunga Saga is basically the Icelandic Saga that tells a similar story. In my short summary below I am kind of intermixing the two legends.

The story (at least the Icelandic version) really begins with Sigi, the great-grandfather of Sigurd and tells a bit about Sigurd's ancestry. Sigurd (born about 370) has a sword made by Regin and then kills Fafnir the dragon who is sitting on an enormous treasure trove. Regin plots to kill Sigurd for the treasure but upon tasting the blood of Fafnir when he is roasting the dragon's heart for Regin to eat, Sigurd is able to hear of Regin's plot from the birds who he can now understand.

There is a longer story of Sigurd at the Burgundian (Nibelungen) court at Worms in present day Germany. Burgundy in those days covered a much larger area than it does today. King Gunther of Burgundy requests Sigurd to go with him to sail with him to the fictional city of Isenstein (Iceland) to win the hand of Iceland's Queen, Brünhild. In the Icelandic version Brynhild is not in Iceland, but has been put in a deep sleep by Odin and is awakened by Sigurd - maybe the genesis of the Sleeping Beauty fairytale. Sigurd proposes to Brynhild with a magic ring. Some of this story finds it's way into the popular J.R.R Tolkien novels The Lord of the Rings.

Part of the story is that Sugurd is to marry Kriemhild (Gunhild in the Iceland saga). I am not going to tell the whole story here, but eventually Hagen (Hogni), Gunthur's brother kills Sigurd and throws the dragon's hoard into the Rhine River so Kriemhild cannot use it. Years later King Etzel (Attila) of the Huns proposes to Kreimhild. Later Kriemhild's brothers are invited to Etzelburg (modern day Budapest in Hungary) where she plots against her brothers due to their killing her first husband.

As you can see in Chart #14, most of the people in this story are in my genealogy. Theodorick the Great is also mentioned in the story, although he is called Dietrich of Bern. King Gjuke and his wife Grimhild, who is a witch, are also in the story. In any case, the various tales of this story recorded in Iceland as the Völsunga Saga and Germany as the Nibelungenlied are really very interesting and have inspired many others including The Lord of the Rings (as mentioned earlier) and Richard Wagner's Der Ring des Nibelungen, a series of four music dramas popularly known as the Ring Cycle. These stories have also inspired some early movies and various TV shows. The beautiful and famous Neuschwanstein Castle in Bavaria, Germany has some beautiful paintings representing scenes from the story. The old Hyllestad Stave Church in Norway had beautiful carvings on the door post depicting scenes from the Völsunga Saga.

If there is any truth to Odin as a historical person and if there is any truth to any of this legendary genealogy there must be missing generations between Odin's son, Sige and the Volsunga clan as you can see in the chart below that there are far fewer generations than shown on the other two of Odin's sons shown here.


Here are links to some of the key people in my online genealogy database:

Here are some links to help you learn more:

Here are some useful books to read pertaining to the subjects in this blog:




Cumberland Family Software: www.cft-win.com

If you would like to have new blog posts emailed to you as they are posted, email me a note with your email address and I will add you iralund@cft-win.com

Friday, October 14, 2016

Legendary Kings of Scandinavia

We discussed the paternal ancestry of Odin in an earlier blog (Chart #11). In Chart #13 I am showing Odin's maternal ancestry as well as Njord's paternal ancestry. Njord married his sister - as can be seen in the diagram. According to Snorri Sturluson (1179-1241), Odin and Njord belonged to two warring nations on the east side of the Black Sea. They had devastated each other's lands so much they called a truce and traded hostages. Thus Njord and his son Yngve-Frey were sent by the Vanaheim people to Asaland (Asgaard), who were installed by Odin as their priests.
But Odin having foreknowledge, and magic-sight, knew that his posterity would come to settle and dwell in the northern half of the world. He therefore set his brothers Ve and Vilje over Asgaard; and he himself, with all the gods and a great many other people, wandered out, first westward to Gardarike (Russia), and then south to Saxland (northern Germany). He had many sons; and after having subdued an extensive kingdom in Saxland, he set his sons to rule the country. He himself went northwards to the sea, and took up his abode in an island which is called Odins in Fyen (called Odense today in modern day Denmark)...
Odin took up his residence at the Maelare lake, at the place now called Old Sigtun (not far from modern day Stockholm, Sweden). There he erected a large temple, where there were sacrifices according to the customs of the Asaland people. He appropriated to himself the whole of that district, and called it Sigtun. [Hiemskringla]
Along the left hand side of Chart #13, I show several of Odin's sons who were the ancestors of several Anglo-Saxon kings who attacked Britain from Southern Scandinavia in the years following the fall of the Roman Empire. I will continue all the lines shown except for Sexneat because he does not show up as a direct ancestor, although I show several generations of his descent in my on-line database.

The Ynglinga Saga portion of the Heimskringla tells the story of each king from Njord down to Halfdan the Black, father of Harald Fairhair (or Hårfagre). Most scholars trust this history beginning at only a few generations earlier than Harald. My thoughts are that there may be some historical basis to some of the stories, but even if there is no truth at all, it is a fun read. So maybe I will mention a few stories.

After Odin's death, Njord ruled at Sigtuna (not far from Stockholm, Sweden). During Njord's reign the "days were peace and plenty, and such good years, in all respects, that the Swedes believed Njord ruled over the growth of seasons and the prosperity of the people." Fjolne, Njord's grandson, died by drowning in a vat of mead. Vanlande was killed by a night mare (horse) that was sent to him as a curse from his wife. Dag was called "the Wise" because he could understand the language of birds.

Attils the Great was called Eadgils in the Poem Beowulf, the son of Ohþere (Ottar). Snorri Sturluson relates that Eadgils (Adils) loved good horses and had the best horses in his day. The Gothic scholar Jordanes also noted that the Swedes were famed for their good horses. Attils was married to Yrsa a daughter of Helge from Lejre, the old capital of Denmark. Later when Helge attacked Sweden, he kidnapped Yrsa and married her not realizing that she was his own daughter. They had a son called Hrólf (Rolf) Krake, also mentioned in Beowulf. Helge's brother was Hroðgar (Hroar) who built the great hall in Denmark at the time that Beowulf came to slay the monster Grendel. We will revisit Beowulf in a later blog.

Olof Tretelgia was the first of the Ynglings to settle in Norway after fleeing Uppsala from problems caused by his father. When the Swedes heard that Olav was clearing the forests for farmland, they laughed at him and called him the "Trelgia" meaning "Tree-feller".

Halfdan the Black gained the kingship over Vestfold, Norway (830 CE) after his uncle, Olof.  Halfdan first married Ragnhild, the daughter of Harald Goldenbeard, King of Sogn. Since Harald had no sons, he gave the kingship to his son-in-law, Halfdan.  Although he was the first to tax the people, they considered him a fair and wise ruler. His second wife was Ragnhild Sigurdsdatter, whose father, Sigurd Hart, was killed by the berserker Haki, who planned on having her for his wife. But Halfdan sent men to kidnap Ragnhild and her younger brother, while Haki was still recovering from battle wounds. Haki died on the way to take his revenge against Halfdan. He conquered Opplandene and Viken (inner part of Oslofjord). He was also King of Agde and Sogn in Norway from 827-860.

Halfdan and Ragnhild were the parents of the famous Harald Hårfagre, the first king of a United Norway. The stories that Snorri Sturluson tells about Harald always seem to be centered around romancing one of his many wives. I show 7 in my genealogy. The story goes that Harald wanted Gyda, daughter of King Erik in Hordaland (Norway), but she refused saying he was too petty of a king. So Harald took a vow not to cut or comb his hair until he conquered all of Norway. After he accomplished this Gyda became one of his wives. In my genealogy I am descended from two daughters of Harald and Gyda, as well as children from his other wives: Eric Bloody-Axe, Sigurd Rise, Bjørn Farmann, Olaf Geirstadalf and Ingebjørg who married the Earl of Finnmark. I will probably discuss some of these in later blogs.


Here are links to some of the key people in my online genealogy database:

Here are some links to help you learn more:



Here are some useful books to read pertaining to the subjects in this blog:



Cumberland Family Software: www.cft-win.com

If you would like to have new blog posts emailed to you as they are posted, email me a note with your email address and I will add you iralund@cft-win.com

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

The Byzantine Empire

The Byzantine Empire was only a continuation of the Roman Empire in the East. So in a way this blog is really a continuation of the blog on Thirty-Three Roman Emperors (Chart #8). Constantinople, the city founded by Constantine the Great was the capital. As the western Roman Empire fell apart in the 5th century, the Eastern Byzantine Empire continued for another 1000 years until it fell to the Ottoman Turks in 1453. During most of it's history, the Byzantine Empire was the most powerful economic, cultural, and military force in Europe.

The nearby Chart #12b shows that by around the year 1000 my ancestry "leaves" the Byzantines, since my ancestry is through daughters being married off to other European powers. I am descended from a handful of other Emperors not shown in this chart, the last being the two brothers, Isaakios II Angelos (died 1204) and Alexios III Angelos (died 1211). In both cases it is through their daughters, one to Hungary and the other to Swabia (in current day Germany).

I will just make a few comments on a few of the more noteworthy Byzantine Emperors:
  • Constantine I the Great (288-337) - always mentioned as one of the most important, also considered the first Emperor of the East. I show him in my ancestry line in Chart #8.
  • Theodosius I the Great (347-395) - (also shown on Chart #8) was the last to rule over both the East and West. He was also the one to make Orothodox Christianity the state religion.
  • Anastasius I Dikoros (430-518)  had one black eye and one blue eye and thus nicknamed Dicorus. He is often rated as one of the best administrators. He introduced new currency, attempted to eradicate corruption and left the Empire with a budget surplus. (See Chart 12a)
  • Justinian I (482-565) attempted to reunite the East and West and restore the Empire to it's earlier glory. He was able to partially recover some of the old Empire. He is also known as the one to build the beautiful Hagia Sofia temple in Constantinople. During his reign a plague killed 60% of the population. He also rewrote Roman Law which is the basis for a lot of current western civil laws.
  • Heraklios (580-641) was the founder of the Heraclian dynasty (610–695) and ancestor of the next 5 Emperors (only 4 shown directly below him in Chart #12). Herclius was the one who officially changed the language of the Eastern Empire from Latin to Greek and is known as one of the greatest Byznatine Rulers.
  • Basil (Basileos) I the Macedonian (812-886). Despite being born of peasants, Basil proved to be an able ruler. He is considered one the greatest of Rulers and began a dynasty that led the Empire during what is considered the most glorious era of the Byzantine Empire.
  • Basil II Bulgaroktonos (958-1025). Bulgaroktonos means the Bulgar Slayer, due to the fact that he was finally able to bring the Bulgarians into the Empire. During his reign he was able to extend the Empire's boundaries further than at any time since the rise of the Muslims four centuries earlier. One of his most important far reaching decisions was giving his sister Anna as a wife to Vladamir I the Great of Keivian Russia, who was of Viking descent which we will discuss in a later blog. This act brought Russia into adopting Eastern Orthodox Christianity as the state religion.
  • Alexios I Komnenos (1048-1118) is also known as a great ruler. He was able to defend the Empire from the incursions of the Seljuq Turks and Normans in the Balkans. His appeal to the West for help against the Turks likely contributed to the beginnings of the Crusades. Although he is a direct ancestor he is not shown on any included charts, but can be found in my online genealogy database.


Here are links to some of the key people in my online genealogy database:

Here are some links to help you learn more:

Here are some useful books to read pertaining to the subjects in this blog:



Cumberland Family Software: www.cft-win.com

If you would like to have new blog posts emailed to you as they are posted, email me a note with your email address and I will add you iralund@cft-win.com


Monday, October 10, 2016

Priam, King of Troy

Chart #11 covers a lot of information, although most is legendary. Dardanus was the legendary King of the Dardanians around the Straits of Dardanelles (shown in yellow on nearby map). According to Greek legend he was the son of Zeus and Electra, although some medieval sources (such as the O'Cleary Book of Genealogies) show his descent from Noah's grandson, Javan as shown in an earlier blog (Chart #1). 

The current town of Çanakkale is the closest to the ancient city of Troy - today called Hisarlik. Scholars a couple of centuries ago thought the Greek story of the Trojan War was strictly made up and mythological. However, when archaeologist Heinrich Schliemann discovered certain treasures at Hisarlik the scholarly world came to recognize that there was some historical basis to the Greek legends. A fascinating biography about Schliemann is The Greek Treasure, by Irving Stone - a highly recommended read.

Homer's Iliad is reasonably well-known today and sometimes taught in US schools along with Greek mythology. Many of the Greek gods and heroes are mentioned in the famous Trojan War, which was taken by the Greeks against Troy due to Priam's son, Paris kidnapping Helen from her husband, Menelaus the king of Sparta.

As can be seen in Chart #11, there are at least four nations that claim descent from the Trojans. It is quite likely that if there is any truth to any of the genealogies shown here, then there are likely mistakes and embellishments along the way. I will discuss each of them below, starting with Rome:

1. Rome: As I have discussed in an earlier blog (Chart #7), Julius Caesar claimed descent from both Ascanius (here in Chart #11) and Numa Pompilius, the legendary second king of Rome.  The first ruler was Romulus, who had a twin brother, Remus who were abandoned to die as infants but were suckled by a she-wolf . Romulus' ancestry goes back to Aeneas, who is shown in Chart #11, but as I have no descendants but for a few more generations I have not included a genealogy chart here for Romulus. 

But there is another legendary king by the name of Latinus, who was one of Aeneas' fathers-in-law who was called the King of Latium (or Italy). This man would have lived several generations earlier than Romulus and was one of his ancestors. The earlier Latinus was King of Italy about 400 years before Romulus founded the city of Rome.

2. Britain: There is also another legend that a grandson of Ascanius, called Brutus was the first to migrate to the British Isles. His name is where the "British" derive the name of their islands. We will discuss Brutus in a later blog showing some of his descendants.

3. France: Priam's son, Helenus married Andromache, a princess of Thebes. They were the parents to a man called Genger (or Cestrinus) who was the father of Franco (whence France gets it's name). An old book written in 727 called Liber Historiae Francorum claims that after the fall of Troy a group of 12,000 refugees from Troy settled on the Tanais (or Don) River, northeast of the Black Sea. Originally these refugees were the founders of the Cimmerians and then moving further west becoming the founders of the Sicambri.  This line descends to connect to Chart #9, the ancestors of the early French kings.

The Sicambri were a Germanic peoples and may have been ancestors to some French, but most scholars would disagree with most of Liber Historiae Francorum. Since DNA evidence as I addressed early in my posts suggest that most western European inhabitants have been in the area since the end of the Last Ice Age and this would support what most scholars claim. However, the more I have looked at some of these conquests and supposed migrations I tend to think most of them involved men (rather than women and children) and whether they conquered or not, they often represent a smaller segment of the population which in only a few generations were totally intermarried with the original inhabitants.

4. Scandinavia: So now we come to the famous Norse God, Odin (or Woden) who according to Snorri Sturluson in his famous Icelandic Saga, the Heimskingla, claims that Odin and Njord migrated from around the Black Sea. Odin settled his many sons as Kings in various places around Scandinavia and eventually he himself settled with Njord at Uppsala, Sweden. Sturluson then follows the stories of Njord's descendants as early Swedish Kings and then eventually migrating to Norway to become the ancestors of the Medieval Norwegian Kings. We will discuss later the Anglo-Saxon invasions of Britain and how these rulers all claimed descent from various sons of Odin. There is an interesting book called After the Flood, by Bill Cooper, which can be obtained in PDF form on the web (link below). Although I do not agree with his conclusions, he does some interesting analysis of various medieval documents in Chapter 7 attempting to show that there is probably some historical basis to the list of Odin's ancestors.


Here are links to some of the key people in my online genealogy database:

Here are some links to help you learn more:

Here are some useful books to read pertaining to the subjects in this blog:



Cumberland Family Software: www.cft-win.com

If you would like to have new blog posts emailed to you as they are posted, email me a note with your email address and I will add you iralund@cft-win.com

Thursday, October 6, 2016

Book Review: Saxon Trilogy by Tim Severin

The title of these three historical fiction books are: The Book of Dreams, The Emperor's Elephant and The Pope's Assassin. The main protagonist in all three books is a minor Saxon prince called Sigwulf (non-historical) who was captured by King Offa of Mercia (in Medieval England) and sent to the court of Charlemagne (Carolus), king of the Franks. 

The first book, The Book of Dreams, introduces us to Hroudland (died 15 August 778), a nephew of Charlemagne, who befriends Sigwulf. The story is an embellished rendition of the legend of Roland who is killed on an expedition to Saracen Spain. The Emir of Cordoba at the time is Abdurahman, who is in my online database as one of my direct ancestors. Some other historical figures are Bertha, Charlemagne's daughter, Alcuin of York is an adviser to  Charlemagne, and Husayn the Wali of Zaragosa.

In the second book, The Emperor's Elephant, Sigwulf is charged with locating a number of exotic animals to deliver to the Caliph of Bagdad, Harun al-Rashid, who is in my online database, but is not a direct ancestor. The Caliph in return, sends back a live elephant to Charlemagne which arrives in July 802.

In the third book, The Pope's Assassin, we find Sigwulf with a new mission to investigate an assassination attempt on Pope Leo. 

I believe that much of the history is basically true - albeit with embellishments fit for a fictional novel. But most of the main characters are actually true historical figures and the overall stories have quite a bit of basis in actual history. For a little more detailed review on all three books I recommend the links below to the Historical Novel Society. Here I am just trying to give a very short overview in connection with genealogy. I am showing links below to several of the historical characters to my online genealogy database.

Another main point I want to make about these books and other historical novels is how they can bring alive the real people showing up as our ancestors. At least for me there is an additional point of interest in seeing the family connections via genealogy of the people in these books.

I am also providing a link to Tim Severin's website and links to several other books that he has written. Eventually I will likely also write a review of his Viking Trilogy - which begins to hit a bit closer in time to my Scandinavian ancestry. Severin has gone on a number of personal expeditions (primarily sailing) that replicate historical or legendary events, such as the Brendan voyage, the Jason Voyage, Spice Islands and so on - and written a book about each of these adventures! I have read several of these books and they are all very interesting reads.

Nearby I am sharing a couple of Relationship Charts produced by Cumberland Family Tree from my database that show the relationship of Muhammad the Prophet to Abdurahman, Emir of Cordoba and to Harun al-Rashid, Caliph of Bagdad.
















Here are links to some of the key people in my online genealogy database:

Here are some links to help you learn more:

Here are some useful books to read pertaining to the subjects in this blog:






Cumberland Family Software: www.cft-win.com

If you would like to have new blog posts emailed to you as they are posted, email me a note with your email address and I will add you iralund@cft-win.com