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Category Archives: medievalia

Sancha de Ayala’s brother

On Tuesday afternoon I had the chance to inspect the tomb of Sancha de Ayala’s brother, now in the Museu Frederic Marès in Barcelona. A very fine alabaster effigy, like that of his uncle Pero Lopes de Ayala and those of his grandparents Fernán Pérez de Ayala and Elvira de Ceballos, at Quejana (Alava). The […]

Calverly Old Hall

I recently was thumbing through the book of UK Landmark Trust properties for short-term rent, and came across Calverley Old Hall, just outside Leeds, seat of the Calverleys who are ancestral to a cluster of American immigrants, including my ancestor William Wentworth of New Hampshire, who descends from Sir Walter Calverley (fl. 1415), husband of […]

Crusader Ancestors of George W. Bush

When President George W. Bush used the word ‘Crusade’ in a speech about fighting terrorism on September 16, 2001, handlers and spin-doctors interjected quickly to disavow the loaded language. To speak of ‘Crusading’ was rightly perceived as antagonistic to the U.S. and global Muslim community—a group which at least some in the current U.S. administration […]

Magna Carta sureties: libertarians or robber barons?

I broke down and had my copy of James Anderson’s Royal Genealogies (second printing, 1735) rebacked five years ago, but told the binder to retain the interesting bookplate which was there when I bought it: the bookplate of the ‘Magna Charta Library’ of the ‘National Society Magna Charta Dames’. It has the arms of the […]

Descents from Agincourt

Browsing this morning in Sir Nicholas H. Nicolas’ biographical sketches of the Scrope v. Grosvenor deponents, I noticed that Sir Richard Waldegrave (d. 1435), ancestor, via Sir William and Margery (Wentworth) Waldegrave, to many American colonists (including my ancestor Anne [Derehaugh] Stratton), is stated by Nicolas to have fought at the battle of Agincourt (October […]

the ‘past as hoax’ hoax

Did Charlemagne exist? Were the Middle Ages nothing but a vast chronological hoax? Conspiracy fantasies about this have been thriving since the early 1990s, when a German self-promoter, Heribert Illig, began to publish on the subject.

Gateway Ancestors

What is a Gateway Ancestor? In tracing any extended ancestry beyond, say, one hundred years ago, we see ancestors clumping into groups, sharing a single geographic location (perhaps the Connecticut Valley, or the Casco Bay area) or a common economic or ethnic identity (say, working-class Irish immigrants in New York City, or wealthy merchant barons […]

We are all descended from Charlemagne

Back in 1999 Chris Dickinson posted a fine piece of Internet performance art to the Usenet discussion list soc.genealogy.medieval. Beginning with the sentence “We are all descended from Charlemagne,” he funneled it through Babelfish dozens of times, bouncing among the various Western European languages. By the twenty-seventh line the sentence was twisted strangely: All the […]

Abelard, Heloise and the Courtship of Myles Standish

In his autobiographical letter, the Historia calamitatum or ‘story of my problems’, the famous twelfth-century educator and rake Peter Abelard identifies his and Heloise’s love child as a boy by the name of Astralabe.[1] Nothing is known for certain of Astralabe’s life, although it is possible that he became a clergyman, and two attestations of […]