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Forum LockedGenealogists discover royal roots for all

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    Posted: 04-Jul-2006 at 13:36

Genealogists discover royal roots for all

Millions have provable descents from medieval monarchs

By MATT CRENSON
 
 

Actress Brooke Shields has a pretty impressive pedigree — hanging from her family tree are Catherine de Medici and Lucrezia Borgia, Charlemagne and El Cid, William the Conquerer and King Harold, vanquished by William at the Battle of Hastings.

Shields also descends from five popes, a whole mess of early New England settlers, and the royal houses of virtually every European country. She counts renaissance pundit Niccolo Machiavelli and conquistador Hernando Cortes as ancestors.

What is it about Brooke? Well, nothing — at least genealogically.

Even without a documented connection to a notable forebear, experts say the odds are virtually 100 percent that every person on Earth is descended from one royal personage or another.

"Millions of people have provable descents from medieval monarchs," said Mark Humphrys, a genealogy enthusiast and professor of computer science at Dublin City University in Ireland. "The number of people with unprovable descents must be massive."

By the same token, for every king in a person's family tree there are thousands and thousands of nobodies whose births, deaths and lives went completely unrecorded by history. We'll never know about them, because until recently vital records were a rarity for all but the noble classes.

It works the other way, too. Anybody who had children more than a few hundred years ago is likely to have millions of descendants today, and quite a few famous ones.

Take King Edward III, who ruled England during the 14th century and had nine children who survived to adulthood. Among his documented descendants are presidents (George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, John Quincy Adams, Zachary Taylor, both Roosevelts), authors (Jane Austen, Lord Byron, Alfred Lord Tennyson, Elizabeth Barrett Browning), generals (Robert E. Lee), scientists (Charles Darwin) and actors (Humphrey Bogart, Audrey Hepburn, Brooke Shields). Some experts estimate that 80 percent of England's present population descends from Edward III.

A slight twist of fate could have prevented the existence of all of them. In 1312 the close adviser and probable lover of Edward II, Piers Gaveston, was murdered by a group of barons frustrated with their king's ineffectual rule. The next year the beleaguered king produced the son who became Edward III.

Had Edward II been killed along with Gaveston in 1312 — a definite possibility at the time — Edward III would never have been born. He wouldn't have produced the lines of descent that ultimately branched out to include all those presidents, writers and Hollywood stars _ not to mention everybody else.

Of course, the only reason we're talking about Edward III is that history remembers him. For every medieval monarch there are countless long-dead nobodies whose intrigues, peccadilloes and luck have steered the course of history simply by determining where, when and with whom they reproduced.

The longer ago somebody lived, the more descendants a person is likely to have today. Humphrys estimates that Muhammad, the founder of Islam, appears on the family tree of every person in the Western world.

Some people have actually tried to establish a documented line between Muhammad, who was born in the 6th century, and the medieval English monarchs, and thus to most if not all people of European descent. Nobody has succeeded yet, but one proposed lineage comes close. Though it runs through several strongly suspicious individuals, the line illustrates how lines of descent can wander down through the centuries, connecting famous figures of the past to most of the people living today.

The proposed genealogy runs through Muhammad's daughter Fatima. Her husband Ali, also a cousin of Muhammad, is considered by Shiite Muslims the legitimate heir to leadership of Islam.

Ali and Fatima had a son, al-Hasan, who died in 670. About three centuries later, his ninth great-grandson, Ismail, carried the line to Europe when he became Imam of Seville.

Many genealogists dispute the connection between al-Hasan and Ismail, claiming that it includes fictional characters specifically invented by medieval genealogists trying to link the Abbadid dynasty, founded by Ismail's son, to Muhammad.

The Abbadid dynasty was celebrated for making Seville a great cultural center at a time when most of Europe was mired in the Dark Ages. The last emir in that dynasty was supposed to have had a daughter named Zaida, who is said to have changed her name to Isabel upon converting to Christianity and marrying Alfonso VI, king of Castile and Leon.

Yet there is no good evidence demonstrating that Isabel, who bore one son by Alfonso VI, is the same person as Zaida. So the line between Muhammad and the English monarchs probably breaks again at this point.

But if you give the Zaida/Isabel story the benefit of the doubt too, the line eventually leads to Isabel's fifth great-granddaughter Maria de Padilla (though it does encounter yet another potentially fictional character in the process).

Maria married another king of Castile and Leon, Peter the Cruel. Their great-great-granddaughter was Queen Isabel, who funded the voyages of Christopher Columbus. Her daughter Juana married a Hapsburg, and eventually gave rise to a Medici, a Bourbon and long line of Italian princes and dukes, spreading the Mohammedan line of descent all over Europe.

Finally, 43 generations from Mohammed, you reach an Italian princess named Marina Torlonia.

Her granddaughter is Brooke Shields.

© 2006 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
 
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Mila Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 04-Jul-2006 at 14:23
That's very interesting. It's unusual to think in this way but it's not really a surprise. Everyone on earth can trace their links back to the same point, whether religiously or scientifically.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Master_Blaster Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 04-Jul-2006 at 15:28
This is utter nonsense.
 
The Seyedis are the direct descendants of the Prophet, the Windors are the descendants of the kings of England, and the same goes for any other royal, or notable figure in human history. There is no way that a handful of nobles, parliamentarians, religious figures, and other historical figures are responsible for populating the globe with 6.5 billion descendants. The numbers just do not add up.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Mixcoatl Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 04-Jul-2006 at 15:57
Originally posted by Master_Blaster Master_Blaster wrote:

There is no way that a handful of nobles, parliamentarians, religious figures, and other historical figures are responsible for populating the globe with 6.5 billion descendants. The numbers just do not add up.

Actually, it does.
Let's assume everyone gets 2 children which survive into adulthood (which is a low estimate, historically speaking) and there are 4 generations in a century. That means that somebody who is born in 1500 has got 2^20 descendants now, which is 1,048,576 people. If you add one generation, that number doubles. So William the Conqueror has about (2^39=) 549,755,813,888 descendants nowadays, and Muhammed  (2^50=) 1,125,899,906,842,624. If you take into acount that most people are descendants from Muhammed and William by both parents, and the same is true for their parents etc. the number becomes significantly lower, but still large enough to assume that Muhammed is an ancestor of virtually all people living in the West and the Middle East.


Edited by Mixcoatl - 04-Jul-2006 at 15:57
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Master_Blaster Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 04-Jul-2006 at 16:18
You're not taking into account the extremely HIGH infant mortality rates which existed prior to the latter part of the 20th Century and have only been reversed by MODERN medicine. If everyone has two children - chances are that prior to the 1950s - both of those two children would have died before reaching puberty (or reproducing age).

Edited by Master_Blaster - 04-Jul-2006 at 16:18
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Serge L Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 04-Jul-2006 at 16:49
However, present time population is a lot more than global population at any age in the past so, on average, he number of children reaching reproductive age had to be more than 2.

This article puts on evidence (from an interesting perspective) a phenomenon which is well known by biologists. It all comes from the fact sexual reproduction is a very efficient sistem to mix genes.

In fact, we all have a very big number of ancestors, and it's quite likely some of them were kings or famous people.

The trick is, we have very little genetic material from each of theses ancestors, and, of course, most of them were not famous at all.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Master_Blaster Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 04-Jul-2006 at 17:28
I must disagree with your assertion. Amongst every great civilization, there were only a handful of nobles. If we are to assume that the a population of 100,000 owed their allegiences to a single king - then it is more likely that today, if that population has reached 1 million or 100 million or 1 billion - that the overwhelming majority are descended from the peasants and common people than they are from that 1 nobleman.
 
The researchers are not taking into account that the common people ALWAYS greatly outnumbered the nobility and/or any other historical figures.
 
Take for example, the current population of the United States which stands at roughly 300 million, yet, there is just 1 American president, 435 Congressmen and women, and only a few hundred more celebrities - actors and athletes.  Even if we assume that there are (liberal estimate) 10,000 notable people in America today and if the population keeps reproducing itself over the centuries to stand at 300 billion one day (bear in mind that this is all hypothetical) - would it not be more plausible that the vast majority of those people will be descended from the average American instead of all of them claiming descent from a single American president or other notable Americans of today?
 
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Frederick Roger Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 04-Jul-2006 at 17:42
I heard before than more than half of the world's population descends from Ghenghis Khan. Is there any truth in this?
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Northman Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 04-Jul-2006 at 17:59
If the perspective is turned upside down, and we look at ancestry instead of decendants - the possibility for famous ancestors becomes evident.
 
If someone is born in 1980 - and we assume a generation to be 35 years, plus the fact that we all have 2 parents, 4 grannies, 8 great-grannies and so on - the math looks like this:
 
In other words - there are 68 billion "possibilities" for anyone to be a decendant from any male living in 685.
How big was world population at that time?
 
I have traced my family back to 1400 (blue line) - but that was only possible because that one person was a knight (Danish Nobelity).
There are still 65.535 more people to trace in the same generation, and that is probably more people than living in Denmark at that time - just to put the number in relation.
 
The actor in the first post probably had one of these companies who take big money to trace ANYONE's relation to any ancient celebrety (very questionable - although likely in some cases)...
 
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Master_Blaster Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 04-Jul-2006 at 18:35

Northman,

Your assertion is only possible if we are to assume that the male reproduced and each of his descendants reproduced without any interruptions, i.e. infant mortality, non-marriage, unable to reproduce.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Northman Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 04-Jul-2006 at 18:49
Originally posted by Master_Blaster Master_Blaster wrote:

Northman,

Your assertion is only possible if we are to assume that the male reproduced and each of his descendants reproduced without any interruptions, i.e. infant mortality, non-marriage, unable to reproduce.
 
No MB - here you are dead wrong mate.
 
Any living being must have had 2 parents - and those two parents must have had a sum of 4 parents - and so on.
None of my ancestors died as infants, none werent unable to reproduce etc. If so - I wouldnt have been here, would I?Wink
 
Thats why I turned the perspective.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Mila Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 04-Jul-2006 at 19:03
What impact would incest have? It was surely more common the farther back in time you go...

(Like that joke, a family tree without branches... )


Edited by Mila - 04-Jul-2006 at 19:04
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Northman Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 04-Jul-2006 at 19:18
Originally posted by Mila Mila wrote:

What impact would incest have? It was surely more common the farther back in time you go...

(Like that joke, a family tree without branches... )
 
Bad genes Mila Smile
- but no consequence in the number of ancestors involved.
 
However - a somewhat weird case - my wife is her own aunt, and our sons grand-aunt - pedigree wise.
Go figure that one out... LOL
 


Edited by Northman - 04-Jul-2006 at 19:21
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Master_Blaster Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 04-Jul-2006 at 19:26
Northman,
 
I'm sure that if we traced our ancestory as far back as the dawn of mankind, we would all be descended from the same father, but that is not the theory being presented here. The theory claims that we may all be descended from royalty or historical figures, and the probability of that being true isn't a valid one.
 
I recall a similiar theory being concucted a few years back in which it was claimed that upto 8 percent of Central Asian males (those found in the states of Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Krgyzstan, East Turkistan, and Mongolia) bore a similar gene. This gene was thought to be derived from Genghis Khan, and although we are all familiar with Genghis Khan and his sons sexual exploits (forced rape of slaves and women from conquered lands, multiple wives, concubines) - it would still be impossible for 8 percent of the Central Asian population to be descended from that man let alone the entire Central Asian population. I'm sorry, I understand your theory, but I just don't believe the numbers add up. It is far more likely that we - the common man of today- are descended from commoners of yesteryear than we are related to any notable historical figure.
 
 
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Mila Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 04-Jul-2006 at 19:30
It's a cool theory though. I remember reading one about matter. It said when we breathe in, which every breath we take, we inhale something that either formed a part of, or was breathed in by, every other thing that ever lived.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Master_Blaster Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 04-Jul-2006 at 19:41
I am related to Alexander the Great to the one-billionth degree.Embarrassed
 
Of course, through the centuries, the blood of my ancestors became so diluted that not a single ounce of Skander's blood runs through my veins.LOL


Edited by Master_Blaster - 04-Jul-2006 at 19:42
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Northman Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 04-Jul-2006 at 19:58
Originally posted by Master_Blaster Master_Blaster wrote:

Northman,
 
I'm sure that if we traced our ancestory as far back as the dawn of mankind, we would all be descended from the same father, but that is not the theory being presented here. The theory claims that we may all be descended from royalty or historical figures, and the probability of that being true isn't a valid one.
 
I recall a similiar theory being concucted a few years back in which it was claimed that upto 8 percent of Central Asian males (those found in the states of Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Krgyzstan, East Turkistan, and Mongolia) bore a similar gene. This gene was thought to be derived from Genghis Khan, and although we are all familiar with Genghis Khan and his sons sexual exploits (forced rape of slaves and women from conquered lands, multiple wives, concubines) - it would still be impossible for 8 percent of the Central Asian population to be descended from that man let alone the entire Central Asian population. I'm sorry, I understand your theory, but I just don't believe the numbers add up. It is far more likely that we - the common man of today- are descended from commoners of yesteryear than we are related to any notable historical figure.
  
 
It would take a better mathematician than me, to figure out the pro's or con's of this.
The model I presented is not true if you think of it as individuals, because from some point down the lineage, there will be an increasing number of "repeating individuals" in each generation.
This will decrease the numbers of individuals dramatically in each step backwards down the line, but the possibility in respect to world population will remain (I think), since the total population also decreases at the same speed, the longer back in time we get. 
 
We need a Ph.D in math here - and its way over my bedtime....  Smile
 
Mila - you are quite a poet Smile
 
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Odin Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 04-Jul-2006 at 22:16
The book Mapping Human History, a good into to using our genes for studying history and prehistory, had the same conclusion. An example it gave was an Ethiopian diplomat who settled in medieval Europe and married a local woman, that diplomat had an 80% chance of being ancestor of large numbers people today in the region he settled. Most Western Europeans are decended from Charlemangne, most Chinese from Confucius, and middle-easterners from Muhammed.
 
Of course geneological decent doesn't mean you have any of that person's DNA because of all the chromosomal mixing during meiosis in each generation.


Edited by Odin - 04-Jul-2006 at 22:17
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote machine Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 04-Jul-2006 at 22:39
Interesting, no surprise really. Go back far enough and everyone is related in way or another.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Aelfgifu Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 05-Jul-2006 at 04:32
It is estimated that king Henry I of England had aprox. 25 illegitimate kids surviving into adulthood. We know because he used them to make useful alliances by marrying them strategically. Imagine how many descendants he must have by now.... every single person in England, France and Flanders must be related to him...LOL

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