GEN-MEDIEVAL-L ArchivesArchiver > GEN-MEDIEVAL > 2011-11 > 1322549333
From: Peter Stewart <>
Subject: Re: Horace Round and Royal myths
Date: Tue, 29 Nov 2011 17:48:53 +1100
On 28/11/2011 5:37 PM, Peter Stewart wrote:
> On 28/11/2011 2:35 PM, taf wrote:
>> On Nov 27, 5:42 pm, Peter Stewart<> wrote:
>>> On 28/11/2011 10:08 AM, taf wrote:
>>>> On Nov 27, 1:25 pm, Peter Stewart<> wrote:
>>>>> On 28/11/2011 7:59 AM, David Teague wrote:
>>>>>> Subject: Re: Horace Round and Royal myths
>>>>>> Date: Sun, 27 Nov 2011 05:56:56 -0800
>>>>>> <snip> My intuition still suggests that links to Royalty are
>>>>>> relatviely uncommon, rather than the norm.
>>>>>> What I've suspected for years is that the most common form of Royal
>>>>>> Descent is illegitimate.
>>>>> I don't see how that could possibly work on the bare numbers - did
>>>>> royal persons have more illegitimate than legitimate offspring?
>>>> I actually think this may be right. If you start with the Norman
>>>> kings, by the third generation there were more illegitimates than
>>>> legitimates. Were all lines, legitimate and illegitimate, to then
>>>> have similar fecundity from that point on, there would be more
>>>> illegitimate royal descents than legitimate ones, even were all
>>>> subsequent kings to have only legitimates. Any additional
>>>> illegitimates would only take a further proportion out of the
>>>> legitimate lines and into the illegitimates, while all children among
>>>> the illegitimate would increase their numbers independent of the
>>>> status of their birth. Even a 'chaste' king like Edward I only manages
>>>> to maintain the status quo with regard to proportions, while you then
>>>> have kings like Charles II who tried their hardest, single-handed, to
>>>> obliterate the ratios. The only force that would have the ability to
>>>> balance this one-way flow is the strong likelihood that the legitimate
>>>> lines had higher average fecundity.
>>> I'm not convinced - the Normans are not the ultimate royal ancestry
>>> anyway, but from the third generation all of William the Conqueror's
>>> known lines to the present day were through descendants of his two
>>> youngest children, Adela of Blois and Henry I.
>>> Adela had three sons and one daughter, all by her husband, with
>>> countless modern descendants through their legitimate offspring.
>>> Henry had, I think, two illegitimate sons with known modern descendants
>>> (Robert of Gloucester and Rainald of Cornwall) with one other (William
>>> de Tracy) who may also have some. There were five (or perhaps six)
>>> illegitimate daughters with descendants living today, but I doubt that
>>> all of them put together could match the numbers descended from Henry's
>>> legitimate daughter Matilda the Empress.
>>> Of course a proportion of her descendants are through illegitimate
>>> links, but considering that half of royal persons are female, highly
>>> unlikely to have recorded bastards, and that of the males very few
>>> indeed had more of these than legitimate children, I would guess that
>>> the numbers are well truly in favour of legitimate lines of descent.
>> But this is looking at the wrong question, I think. You don't need
>> each generation of Matilda's descendants to have more illegitimate
>> than legitimate children for the illegitimate to be bigger. You just
>> need them to have fewer legitimate children than the total of their
>> illegitimate children plus all of the children, legitimate and
>> illegitimate, born to the lines descended from earlier royal bastards.
>> They illegitimate side of the ledger doesn't even have to break even
>> to keep up, as they benefit from each new bastard born to the
>> legitimate side.
>> Of course, if you start at William I or James I or George III, you
>> will get a different outcome (thanks to Henry I, Charles II, James II
>> and William IV), than if you start with, say, Ecgberht or Henry III or
>> Victoria. If, say, you started with Edward the Elder or Edward I, all
>> of their legitimates and no illegitimates (depending on how you view
>> Athelstan) may give enough of a head start that the illegitimate side
>> never catches up.
> With a European frame of reference (and why has this too defaulted to
> a British one?) there would be no catching up with the fact that a
> horde of Charlemagne's legitimate descendants existed by the time of
> William the Conqueror, while none of the emperor's bastards left any
> progeny at all (discounting Alpaidis, who was almost certainly not his
> Of bastards in the next generation of Carolingians, Bernard of Italy
> sired the Vermandois line (from whom I bet there is no living
> descendant without more legitimate lines to Charlemagne anyway) and
> Alpaidis had two sons without modern lines of descent.
> There are no recorded bastards in the following generation who left
> issue. The in the next there were only Bertha of Arles/Tuscany and
> Emperor Arnulf (with no modern descendants). Ditto the latter's son
> Zwentibold who was the only bastard to have children in the next...
> Of cousre this is only the male line, but the pickings are very slim
> indeed for your proposal to be realised across the Channel.
> As for Charles II, the legitimate descendants of his grandfather James
> I far exceed the illegitimate ones - in the 18th and 19th centuries
> European royal families outbred their British ducal cousins many, many
> times over.
I should have pointed out that descent from Bernard of Italy may provide
a legitimate royal ancestry anyway, since he was a king despite being
the son of a concubine.
And in the Capetian royal line there was no known bastard who left
offspring until the 12th century (Isabelle, daughter of Louis VI) unless
counting in Florus the son of Philippe I from his marriage to Bertrade
de Montfort in the preceding generation. The prolific cadet lines of
Burgundy and Vermandois had branched off before Isabelle and those of
Dreux and Courtenay started from the same generation as her. I don't
think there was a bastard line with descendants to the present day from
any of them before the 14th century, though there were many thousands of
legitimate descendants of Hugo Capet by that time. Even the Bourbon
kings' legitimate descendants today vastly outnumber those with links
through bastards. Ditto Hapsburgs and Romanovs.