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Category Archives: medievalia

the mother of all medieval genealogies — the ‘great stemma’

An important new interpretation has just appeared, resolving longstanding questions about the puzzling biblical genealogies that appear mainly in several 10th-century Spanish manuscripts of Beatus of Liebana’s commentary on the Apocalypse (like the Morgan Beatus). Jean-Baptiste Piggin, approaching the whole question of this corpus of genealogies from an interest in informational graphics, has tabulated and […]

hige sceal the heardra: a possible descent from Maldon

In reviewing Stephen Baxter’s Earls of Mercia for The American Genealogist one thing that struck me was a possible descent from a casualty at the Battle of Maldon — even one of those whose stirring speeches are preserved in the great fragmentary Anglo-Saxon poem. Ealdorman Leofwine, founder of a dynasty of Mercian earls, might have […]

Morgan Colman’s big genealogy of James I and Anne

Browsing in my own hard drive I just unearthed Morgan Colman’s huge 1608 genealogy of King James I and his Queen, Anne. Of all the congratulatory heraldic and genealogical stuff prepared early in James’s reign, this might be the most impressive piece of genealogical diagrammatic typography. Great pity that a better version of this is […]

Sancha de Ayala’s prayer book? (and her sister’s tomb)

Last fall I got a message from Sor María Jesús, of the Dominican convent of Santo Domingo el Real in Toledo, noting an error in one of my earlier webpages on Sancha de Ayala, where I had confused the two convents, the convent of Poor Clares, “Santa Isabel de los Reyes,” which is constructed in […]

my medieval XY line

Besides our agnate (male-line) ancestry, and our matrilineal ancestry (also called the umbilical or mitochondrial line, to indicate the uterine mother-child bond or the exclusively maternal inheritance of mitochondrial DNA), what specific lines have any distinction, in an abstract sense, in the vast swath of the pedigree chart that lies between these two bookends? The […]

a royal descent for the American Stirlings of Glorat

Following yesterday’s post on the romantic Stirling of Glorat story, I put together a royal descent (probably the closest one) for the American branch of the Stirlings of Glorat, as follows: 1. James V, King of Scots (d. 1542). 2. (illegitimate by Catherine, daughter of Sir John Carmichael) John Stewart, Commendator of Coldingham, Lord Darnley […]

tewkesbury tiles: medieval heraldic dingbats

One of the hidden treasures that has rewarded my browsing in The Ancestor (of which I recently bought a set of all twelve volumes in their original publisher’s bindings), is a handsome set of cuts made after fourteenth-century encaustic floor tiles from Tewkesbury Abbey. See Hal Hall, “Notes on the Tiles at Tewkesbury Abbey,” The […]

Sancha de Ayala’s heritage — Quejana, the Ayala chapel

[Part of a series of posts and pages dedicated to Sancha de Ayala] More photos of Sancha de Ayala’s maternal ancestral home, the Ayala stronghold at Quejana (Álava), near Bilbao. It is fascinating, and fortuitous, that the houses of both Sancha de Ayala’s paternal and maternal families have been preserved since the fourteenth century due […]

seals and medieval family identity

In Brigitte Miriam Bedos-Rezak’s review of Ted Evergates’ Aristocracy in the County of Champagne, 1100-1300 (U. Penn. Press, 2007), just out in American Historical Review 114 (2009):192-3, she is not the first to point out how Evergates contradicts Duby’s orthodoxy by showing that the most important aristocratic family unit is not the lignage, but rather […]

Oswald Barron, The Ancestor, and Encyclopaedia Britannica, 11th ed.

Not everyone agrees with all of Oswald Barron‘s opinions, but he is one of the revered champions of the golden age of critical genealogy (and other auxiliary historical disciplines) in late Victorian and Edwardian England. His own short-lived journal, The Ancestor, is a splendid readable collection of critical genealogy—Horace Round was a regular contributor. All […]