Top DNA Articles for 2018

2018 Top 10

It’s always interesting to look at the most popular articles at DNA-Explained at the end of each year. Out of millions of page views, these are the Top 10 in 2018, with the * indicating articles that were in the 2017 Top 10 list as well. If you missed some, now’s a good time to catch up or to share with friends.

*Proving Native American Ancestry Using DNA
*Concepts – Calculating Ethnicity Percentages
*Which DNA Test is Best?
Ancestral DNA Percentages – How Much of Them is in You?
*Ethnicity Testing – A Conundrum
*How Much Indian Do I Have in Me?
Autosomal DNA Transfers – Which Companies Accept Which Tests?
Concepts – Percentage of Ancestors’ DNA
X Marks the Spot
*Mythbusting – Women, Fathers and DNA

Spread the Word – What You Can do to Help!

The purpose of writing articles is to educate people who have taken genetic genealogy tests along with providing motivation for potential testers.

With more and more companies performing tests, and record numbers of people testing – there’s a lot of confusion and misinformation out there.

You can help by spreading the word.

If you see a question and know that I wrote about that topic, you can enter key words into the search box at the top of any blog page to find the article.

You can always share the links to articles on social media, with friends and at genealogy meetings. If you want to share the actual text of the article in more than a summary fashion or relatively short excerpts (with attribution), as in a reprint, please check with me first – but as for links – please share away. You don’t need to ask first. Sharing is the purpose of writing these articles.

Educating others with credible information helps all of us have a better experience.

What Would You Like in 2019?

To some extent, I maintain a list of articles that I’d like to write at any given point in time. My candidate list always seems to be longer than the time I have, but I do try to prioritize the topics based on, in no particular order:

  • Discoveries in my research
  • Industry happenings
  • The need
  • Reader requests

So, given that criteria, what topics would you like to see me cover in 2019? I’m also open to suggestions during the year as well. In fact, this article is in response to a reader’s “wish.”

Please post your suggestions in the comments. I’d love to hear from you!

Ethnicity is Just an Estimate – Yes, Really!

Lots of people will have received DNA tests as gifts over the holidays. This pleases me to no end, because I know I’ll match any number of them and maybe, just maybe, those matches will help me fill in those pesky blanks in my tree or break down brick walls.

However, for the most part, those testers probably aren’t genealogists, at least not yet. They are most likely curious about “who they are” or didn’t even realize they might be curious about anything until they unwrapped that gift and discovered a DNA test inside.

Let’s hope they test with one of the major 4 companies, being Family Tree DNA, MyHeritage, Ancestry or 23andMe. (Sale prices are still in effect.) Some additional firms are certainly reputable and provide ethnicity only tests (meaning no matching), such as the Genographic Project, LivingDNA and Insitome, but then there are also a growing number of questionable pop-up DNA testing, upload sites and interpretation “services.” And yes, I’m using that word loosely. Buyer beware.

For genealogists, the gold is in the cousin matching. We already know that DNA is more than ethnicity, and ethnicity is far more than percentages.

Ethnicity, for the most part, is a shiny red bauble that the magic wand of advertising transforms from a diamond in the rough into the glittery Hope diamond with a free kilt to lederhosen conversion (or vice versa) thrown in to boot.

Ethnicity bauble

Yay – Results are Back

Everyone who received DNA test kits during the holiday season has hopefully spit or swabbed and mailed and is now waiting excitedly. Waiting is always the hardest part!

Soon, they will be discussing their ethnicity results. Reactions will vary, swinging like a pendulum – and you may well get to help interpret.

  • Some people will be thrilled because their results will confirm what they see or believe and their family stories. For example, if their family carries oral history of a Native American ancestor and their DNA ethnicity results show Native American heritage, they’ll be thrilled.
  • Some people will be pleasantly surprised with whatever information they receive – treating their ethnicity results as a nice package to unwrap, regardless of what’s inside.
  • Another large group will be confused? My mother said her grandmother was French! Why don’t I see France? Substitute <country of your choice> for French/France.
  • And then we have the truly upset. The distraught. The entirely disbelieving. “My great-grandmother was a full-blood Cherokee. Why don’t I show Native American? These tests are wrong!”
  • Some people will doubt their parentage based on ethnicity results alone. This is NOT under any circumstances appropriate. Please have them read Ethnicity and Physical Features are NOT Accurate Predictors of Parentage or Heritage.

Explanations

To help people understand, you may need to explain about how Native Americans, especially east of the Mississippi were admixed very early in our national history, so their “fully Native” ancestor probably wasn’t.

You can explain about how autosomal DNA is diluted in each generation since their Native (or French, or Italian, etc.) ancestor lived – to the point that the Native DNA might not show today.

You can talk about reference populations, or the lack thereof, and that people in France and Israel can’t legally take DNA tests for recreational purposes.

You can educate people about how we all need to research our genealogy, and how, as Blaine Bettinger writes in this classic article, we have both a genetic and genealogical tree. The ancestors are always there in our tree, but we may not have inherited measurable DNA from a particular individual if they are several generations back in time.

If that coveted Native ancestor doesn’t appear in their DNA, then they need to look in their family tree. She or he might be waiting there, AND, they may still be able to prove their Native heritage using either Y or mitochondrial DNA testing at Family Tree DNA.

There’s more than one kind of DNA and more than one way to prove Native heritage.

The Underlying Truth

But the truth of the matter is, while each and every one of those statements above is entirely valid, the fundamental truth about ethnicity testing is that…

Ethnicity percentages.png

Yes, really.

Let’s take a look at some of the reasons why.

Size Matters

Everyone in the Americas (except for Native American, First Nations or aboriginal peoples) wants to know where their ancestors “came from.” As genealogists, we deal with no records, damaged records, misplaced records, burned records, rapid westward migration with no links “back home” and at least three wars on our soil. It’s no wonder that we often can’t track those ancestors back across the pond or even to the shore.

Therefore, we hope that DNA testing can help us bridge that gap. And indeed, both Y and mitochondrial DNA testing is wonderful for doing just that for matrilineal and patrilineal lines.

But ethnicity results, in most cases, are really only useful for making continental-level discoveries. What we really want, refinement and granularity to the country level within Europe, for example, isn’t really feasible.

Size is part of the reason why. Look at the size of the contiguous 48 US states as compared to Europe, courtesy thetruesize.com.

Ethnicity US over Europe.png

Would you expect to be able to tell the genetic difference between people that live in Washington State from people that live in Idaho? That’s roughly the same distance as from the UK to Germany. France is located down in California and Nevada.

Can you tell the difference genetically between people who live in Washington State from California or Nevada? That idea sounds rather preposterous when you look at it that way. Now, is it any wonder that your ancestor’s “French” doesn’t show up, but German does?

Ethnicity Texas over Europe

Here’s Texas compared to Europe. Can you tell the people in Dallas from the people who live in San Antonio from the people who live in Houston, genetically? That’s the same difference as Germany, Italy and Austria. The Czech Republic is over near Shreveport. You get the drift.

Western European Countries are the Size of US States

Western European countries are even more difficult.

Ethnicity states over Europe

How about discerning the difference between Indiana and Illinois residents, or Illinois and Missouri? European countries are the size of medium sized US states. Larger states, like Texas cover most of the Iberian Peninsula including Spain and Portugal and reach over into Morocco.

To make this relatively small region even more complex, people have moved freely across these areas for thousands of years. The people from the Russian Steppes moved into Eastern Europe displacing and assimilating with the hunter-gatherer population that had resided there for millennia.

The Germanic tribes moved towards the coast and into the British Isles. The people from “Indiana and Ohio” moved into “Illinois” and then that entire group populated parts of Scandinavia. According to a recent genetic paper, some of those “New Yorkers” and on east moved into Scandinavia too.

Oh, and the Sephardic Jewish people moved from the Middle East into “Texas” aka Spain and then on up to “Indiana, Ohio and Pennsylvania” some 500 years ago to join their Ashkenazi brethren. Fortunately, Jewish people generally stayed together and didn’t intermarry or assimilate much into the local population, so we can still identify them genetically.

Europe is indeed a great melting pot.

Ethnicity Alaska and states over Europe and Asia

Adding the largest US state, Alaska onto the map makes the rest of the states and their corresponding European countries look really tiny.

Ethnicity is Really Only Reliable at a Continental Level

Ethnicity really is only reliable at a continental level, plus Jewish and in particular, Ashkenazi. Very small or trace percentages may not be reliable at all. We’ll discuss ways to prove or disprove minority admixture in my next article, Minority Ethnicity Percentages – True or False?.

This continental-level-only phenomenon is more understandable if you look at a world map.

Ethnicity continents

It’s extremely difficult to discern any reliable level of granularity between regions as tiny as US states in Europe, no matter how badly testers want to know. Of course, that doesn’t keep the testing companies from trying, and kudos to them. As they make improvements, your intra-continental estimates will change over time – so don’t fall in love with them. And don’t trade that lederhosen for a kilt or vice versa – or get that Viking tattoo just yet.

It’s much more reasonable to rely on ethnicity estimates based on much larger regions, where people after migration have been separated from people in the other regions for a much longer period of time, allowing time for unique mutations to develop.

Less admixture happens with greater geographic distance. People who aren’t neighborly don’t produce offspring because begetting requires proximity. Mutations that occurred after the populations split into different regions are found only in the new or the old populations, but not both – at least not in high frequencies. Of course, population boundaries are fluid and people (continue to) move from place to place, back and forth.

What You Can Do!

When your family and friends begin to discuss their confusion or disappointment with their ethnicity results, you’ll have this article to explain the situation visually. Please feel free to share and encourage them to learn more.

Sometimes it’s difficult to be the cold voice of reason in a positive way, but there is so much more to learn. I always hope to spark curiosity about why, and then provide ways that the person can fall in love with discovering their ancestors and ancestry.

Another good resource is the article, Ethnicity Testing – A Conundrum which explains how DNA ethnicity testing actually works – in terms that everyone can understand.

If your family is wondering what happened to their Native American DNA, you’re not alone. I’ve put together a page of Native American Resources to help everyone!

Have fun, enjoy and let’s hope that newly baptized ethnicity testers will like the water enough to engage in a bit of genealogy. You can encourage them by helping construct their first tree by recording what they know about their parents and grandparents. Maybe give them a taste of success by helping them find a record or two. Give them a taste of genealogy crack.

You never know, it just might be habit forming!

______________________________________________________________

Disclosure

I receive a small contribution when you click on the link to one of the vendors in my articles. This does NOT increase the price you pay, but helps me to keep the lights on and this informational blog free for everyone. Please click on the links in the articles or to the vendors below if you are purchasing products or DNA testing.

Thank you so much.

Childhood Christmas Memories

This is the time of year, of course, that families gather.

But families change, sometimes slowly, and sometimes abruptly.

Slowly as babies are added, one by one and children grow.

And abruptly when people depart this earth, leaving behind that empty chair and its accompanying empty cavern in our hearts, having carved great gashes with the roughhewn saw of grief.

For some of us, when the here and now become a bit overwhelming, there is a happier place to visit in that space of our childhood. Those first Christmas memories when we dreamed all starry-eyed of what Santa would bring. No matter what was wrong, everything would be alright – because after all – Santa was coming and we had been (relatively) good.

Your Earliest Memories?

What are your earliest memories of Christmas?

Roberta second Christmas

I was too young to remember anything in this photo, but this is me in the first recorded Christmas photo at my grandmother’s house. This would have been my second Christmas and I was probably full of energy; bound and determined to get into that attractive distraction called a Christmas tree.

That’s my ornery brother, John on the right side of the photo, and my cousin, Mike on the left. Mike’s sister, Nancy is holding me. I wonder what was going on, because both boys are eyeing me askance. I do believe that’s called the “stink eye” and brothers excel at that!

Christmas Tree Special Delivery

At our house, Santa Claus also visited a week or two before Christmas and put up the Christmas tree. I waited daily, for days and days and DAYS until that fateful morning when Santa would have arrived secretly during the night. As I cracked the door open, the Christmas tree stood silently waiting with its lights twinkling and its tinsel gently swaying with the air currents in the living room.

I KNEW when Santa arrived one year, because I HEARD him. Not in the living room, mind you, but on the roof. I was just positive and sure enough, I discovered the next morning that he had in fact been there. If I ever doubted, I was convinced.

Roberta Christmas age 4

I do remember the Christmas in this picture when I was age 4. See that tiny piano against the wall – I LOVED that piano. I think I loved it so much that it disappeared or maybe I loved it to death!

My father was present that year, because I was holding his little dog, Timmy. Dad’s arrival, with Timmy, would have been the best present EVER. Kids are so exuberant.

My Dad bought that rocking chair for me and I still have it, although I clearly haven’t sat in it in decades. But my children did and bears with quilts do now too.

Roberta rocking chair

I also recall my absolutely favorite gift that year.

A drum.

Yes, that’s right, a tin marching drum. Somewhere I know there was a photo at one time, but that photo apparently disappeared.

I’m sure my mother wished she could have made that drum disappear too. I’m positive that my much-beloved father brought me said drum, because I’m equally as positive that my mother would NEVER have bought me that noisy thing. NEVER!

I distinctly remember proudly parading around the house in my new too-big brown bathrobe gleefully beating with all my strength on that drum, much to my mother’s chagrin.

Grandmother’s House

Over the river and through the woods, to grandmother’s house we go.

Our version was a tad bit different, but we did indeed go “home” to grandmother’s house every Christmas. For mom, Christmas wouldn’t have been Christmas otherwise.

As you can see, my brother was by that time a teenager and had begun to drive. He didn’t have much use for his pesky little sister.

Roberta Christmas age 4 grandmother's house

I don’t recall this particular day, or Christmas at my grandparents. Christmas, the holiday, was overshadowed by what followed.

My grandmother suffered a heart attack, collapsed on the floor and died just a few days later, on January 4th.

Roberta Christmas grandparents

This photo of my grandmother and grandfather, with Nancy’s son, Bruce was taken that Christmas. I notice that the photo was printed in July, and it must have pained my mother greatly to open that packet of photos when she picked them up at the drugstore.

My grandmother loved Christmas and the fact that her grandchildren, and then great-grandchildren were all gathered together at home. My mother inherited that from her as well.

I’m in the corner of a second very poor photo taken at this same time. I remember the throw on the back of the couch. I could put my fingers in the little inverted popcorn-like shapes. The couch was brown and made from scratchy rough fabric. It’s amazing the memories these photos trigger.

While I don’t specifically remember this Christmas, or any Christmas at my grandmother’s house, I do have very fond memories of my grandmother herself. In particular, she always ran to hug me.

I also have very vivid memories of the heart attack, her laying on the kitchen floor, and the aftermath. For a young child, it was a frightening time. Not only was something wrong with my beloved grandmother, but my mother and everyone else was a wreck too, and I didn’t understand why. My understanding of “sick” was that you threw up, and I kept looking at the floor for evidence of her being sick.

Sick meant something else altogether. Sick meant our life was about to change forever.

I’m glad we had that final Christmas together.

Suffice it to say, my mother was never really “alright” with Christmas again, although she made every effort to hide that fact from me.

Over time, as her grandchildren began to gather in her home as well, enough Christmases had been put between her and that devastating year that she could smile and sing again.

But that didn’t happen for a very long time.

Change Cometh

Christmas and our family traditions changed dramatically at that point in our lives.

I have only vague recollections of the next several Christmases. My grandfather was still living in December of 1960, but would have been ill in December of 1961. I remember that he asked for peanuts for snacks and I was so pleased to give him a can of peanuts. The kind with Mr. Peanut on the side.

My grandfather passed away in June of 1962 and by that December, the house my mother had grown up in had been sold. Mom took her portion of the inheritance and purchased a house. We moved in, you guessed it, on December 23rd.

I was in first or second grade that year, and I was quite worried that Santa wouldn’t be able to find us at our new house.

Would he know to come on the night of the 23rd to put the tree up?

Yes, mother asserted me, Santa was magical.

Would we have to do without a tree that year?

“No, of course not,” mother assured me.

I wasn’t very reassured.

Not only that, but I couldn’t sleep very well in my new bed in a strange new house and I heard a strange “rustling” in the living room, right beside my bedroom.

Sure enough, the next morning, Santa had somehow managed to find us and put up that tree among the boxes of our still-packed household.

What a sight, boxes and boxes and a fully decorated Christmas tree.

All was well in my young world again. My mother, however, was incredibly sleep-deprived for some reason. Apparently, she had been up waiting for Santa too!

Three Years Later

The next Christmas photo I have was taken three years later in 1965 sitting on the floor in front of the fireplace and the Christmas tree. In fact, there’s my rocking chair again.

I’m hugging my mom, who is dressed up for Christmas Eve, and my sister-in-law is to our right. My brother is partially visible behind her. They didn’t have children yet at this point, so it would have only been our small family gathered. My father had passed away the year before. I think my Mom’s boyfriend must have taken the photo.

Mom always decorated the fireplace mantle with the Christmas cards we received after faithfully writing any changed addresses on the Christmas card list.

Roberta Christmas age 9

At the time, I didn’t realize of course that my grandmother’s tree had merged with our own, but looking at our Christmas tree now, I realize that’s exactly what happened. Of course, today my tree and Mom’s have merged too.

The Ubiquitous Camera

In that day and age, photos were rarely taken and then only on very special occasions. It wasn’t unusual to go for years with no family photos and one roll of film often lasted several years. So long that you had no idea what photos were actually going to be printed.

The next Christmas photo was taken in 1970 when my mother just happened to have the flu on Christmas Day. She opened her packages laying on the couch. She’ll haunt me if I publish that one.

Roberta Christmas age 15

Grandchildren’s pictures are on the table, of course, with the ever-present Christmas candle choir in front. God help you if you decided to light one of those candles.

By this time, our tree was artificial but still dripping with tinsel. Artificial trees were so much easier. In fact, I think that tree itself was a gift one year.

I have several of these ornaments on my tree today.

This was the first year that Christmas photos were in color.

Roberta Christmas Snowball

What memories – the “record player,” our old television, the stuffed Santa that I still own and our rescued cat, Snowball. Um, now that I think about it, I might still own that record album too.

These photos sure bring back memories of what life was like then.

Roberta Christmas age 15 gifts.jpg

In case you’re wondering what the heck was in that huge package, I had saved my money for weeks to purchase Mom this “painting” at Woolworths. Did she want this? I have no idea, but it hung in her house for the next 25 years. I surely hope she liked it!

The small framed item was a print I had purchased in Paris as an exchange student. Mom had the set of prints framed for me. I still have those as well.

Of course today, we’re used to taking digital pictures with our cell phones and photos are just a daily fact of life. Instant gratification, no printing costs and delete them if they don’t turn out well.

Of course, finding them in another few years, or decades – well, that might be quite another matter because today’s photos aren’t printed and in most cases, aren’t archived either.

Poof, the phone or computer is gone and so are your photos.

What About Your Family Memories?

I bet by now you’re thinking about your own childhood Christmas photos.

  • Where were they taken?
  • Who was there?
  • What year was it?
  • What gifts did you give or receive?
  • Do items in the background jog any forgotten memories?
  • How did life change in the following years?
  • Was that photo of a first or last something?

The best thing you can do with your photos is to get them out of the box and share them with your family this Christmas, as you gather.

If you have siblings or older family members, ask them to share their memories with you.

As they tell their stories, write them down.

If you ARE that older family member now, share your memories with others. They might not appreciate them today, but they will be polite and humor you. (If they don’t, just cast that stink-eye in their direction – just like my brother did.)

Then, do them a favor – write down your memories. Include the photos.

Some day they will wish desperately that they had paid attention, and you can leave them the best gift of all!

Free MyHeritage LIVE 2018 Webinars Are Online

MyHeritage LIVE 2018 webinars

For everyone that has been waiting for the MyHeritage LIVE 2018 webinars, they are available free at Legacy Family Tree Webinars, here.

One really nice thing MyHeritage did was to include the actual speaker’s slides on the left side of the screen, with the speaker shown to the right. This means that you’re going to be able to see the slides better than many people attending the conference.

I spy several that I need to watch – like learning more about the MyHeritage Mobile App, Newspaper Research strategies and how to more effectively use SuperSearch.

I mostly attended the DNA sessions, so I need to watch the genealogy ones online.

I do have a recommendation for you though.

Gilad Japhet’s keynote was incredible. So inspirational, powerful and moving – in a way that all genealogists can relate to. Riveting is the word that comes to mind. You could have heard a pin drop.

The great thing is that Gilad is making the changes happen in how records are searched and indexed at MyHeritage that will benefit his own research – and ours too, right along with his. Not to mention leading edge genetic technology like extracting DNA from envelopes and stamps. The jury is still out on this, so stay tuned.

Happy Holidays to You

You can give yourself an early (free) holiday present by setting time aside to watch these information-filled sessions.

There are a total of 18 free sessions from the conference and another 27 free classes about how to use MyHeritage for a total of 45.

Make yourself a list of the sessions you’d like to watch and watch one a day – sort of a genealogical version of the 45 days of Christmas😊

Of course, genealogy research works much better if it includes DNA testing.

Upload Your DNA

Don’t forget that DNA uploads and tools are free at MyHeritage until December 1, but after that there will be a cost for their advanced tools. Anyone who tests there or uploads before December 1 will be grandfathered in for free. That’s just 2 more days so don’t wait!

Click here to upload your DNA for free.

I wrote step-by-step instructions here for downloading your DNA from other sites and uploading to MyHeritage.

Test Your DNA

If you haven’t tested your DNA, order a test now by clicking here while the holidays sales are in full force.

_____________________________________________________________________

Disclosure

I receive a small contribution when you click on the link to one of the vendors in my articles and make a purchase. This does NOT increase the price you pay, but helps me to keep the lights on and this informational blog free for everyone. Please click on the links in the articles, on the sidebar or to the vendors below if you are purchasing products or DNA testing.

Thank you so much.

This standard disclosure appears at the bottom of every article in compliance with the FTC Guidelines.

Concepts – Paternal vs Patrilineal and Maternal vs Matrilineal

Sometimes a single word – and its interpretation – makes a world of difference.

For example, maternal versus matrilineal and paternal versus patrilineal.

What’s the difference and why does it matter?

In genetic genealogy, it’s very important.

Y and Mitochondrial DNA Lineage

When we explain the differences between Y, mitochondrial and autosomal DNA, we used to tell people that Y was your paternal line and mitochondrial (mtDNA) was your maternal line.

People became confused.

Y and mito

Here’s the pedigree chart generally used to explain the people in your tree represented by Y (blue boxes) and mtDNA (red circles) testing. Unlike autosomal, Y and mitochondrial only tests one line, but tests that one line VERY deeply, providing information not available through autosomal testing.

Y DNA tests only the Y DNA of the line shown with the blue boxes, NOT everyone on your paternal side.

Mitochondrial DNA tests only the line shown in red circles, NOT everyone on your maternal side.

That’s a good thing, not a bad thing, because this type of testing reveals information and matching opportunities not available through autosomal testing.

Maternal Versus Matrilineal, Paternal Versus Patrilineal

When we say maternal and paternal, the meaning can easily be confused.

Paternal and maternal

Anyone on the father’s entire side of the tree literally is paternal, and anyone on the mother’s side literally is maternal. The line is drawn straight down the middle, with half of your ancestors on each side.

Paternal and Maternal sides

What we really mean when we discuss Y and mtDNA testing is patrilineal and matrilineal. Those words mean the direct paternal line only, and the direct maternal line only, shown below.

patrilineal vs matrilineal

There doesn’t seem to be as much confusion with understanding that the Y chromosome follows the patrilineal line – probably because we’re used to this concept as the surname follows the same Y DNA path.

Matrilineal means the same thing on the maternal side, but there isn’t any key anchor concept, such as surname to go along with it. Therefore, when I’m discussing mitochondrial DNA testing, I say, “matrilineal, meaning your mother’s mother’s mother’s line, on up the tree until you run out of mothers.”

Why is this So Important?

Aside from the fact that expectations can easily be mis-set resulting in misinterpreted results, the concept of patrilineal and matrilineal are important because this confusion results in the confused person in advertently confusing others.

For example, when people want to take a mitochondrial DNA test to see if their Native American ancestor is on their mother’s side, what they are really testing is their matrilineal line, not everyone on their mother’s side of the tree.

Native American mitochondrial haplogroups are known to be subsets of haplogroups A, B, C, D and X. If the matrilineal line is Native, the mitochondrial results will fall into the proper Native subgroup. If not, they won’t.

However, a maternal Native American ancestor could well exist in any other ancestor or ancestors whose circles and squares aren’t colored at all – shown below by haplogroup B2a.

Native nonpatrilineal nonmatrilineal

Conversely, a male Native American ancestor could exist in any of those other lines as well, shown above by C-M217. The only way to discover that information is to DNA test someone who carries the Y or mitochondrial DNA of each of your ancestral lines.

At Family Tree DNA

At Family Tree DNA, the only vendor that does full Y and mitochondrial testing and matching, one of the information fields that testers are asked to provide is titled “Earliest Known Ancestors.”

FTDNA earliest known ancestor

Although this field says specifically how to determine the relevant ancestor they are asking about, many people either don’t read this, or don’t understand, or they enter the information before their results come back and never think to update this field when they discover that this isn’t their Native line after all.

On the Matches Map tab, where this information can also be entered, there is no explanation for which ancestor they are asking for. Often, I see males names have been entered in the direct maternal field, so the person interpreted this as their OLDEST person on their mother’s side – which of course is inaccurate – instead of their most distant matrilineal ancestor.

The problem is that if the tester enters a person who was born in Germany, and the matrilineal ancestor is a Native American female (or vice versa), this provides incorrect information to the system which then uses that compiled information to populate Haplogroup Origins, Ancestral Origins and the locations on the Family Tree DNA universal Y haplotree and mitochondrial public haplotree for other people. This is why you often see people in European haplogroups shown as “Native American.” Other testers’ information is part of what is provided on those pages. Collaboration is the underpinning foundation of genetic genealogy, but it also carries with it the opportunity for error.

Family Tree DNA provides a lot of information to customers, but some of it relies on information from other testers, so please test, and please be sure that your information is accurately reflected in these fields. Now might be a good time to check.

What About My Other Lines?

You can’t test for lines other than your patrilineal (males only) and your matrilineal (both genders) personally, BUT, other family members can – and you can surely gift them with tests. I look at it this way; they are testing for me, and if I could, I’d test for that line in a heartbeat – so I’m more than willing to provide a scholarship for their testing.

In the situation above, your mother’s father carries the mitochondrial DNA that you seek, shown as Native American B2a. If he’s not living, his siblings carry that same mitochondrial DNA. If he has sisters, their children, both male and female carry his mother’s mitochondrial DNA too. You need to follow the lineage through all females to a living relative who’s willing to test.

To obtain the DNA of the Native male, shown above as C-M217, you’d need to test your father’s mother’s father, or her brothers, or their sons. Follow this line up and down in the tree to find a male who carries that surname who is not adopted into the family.

I wrote about determining who to test in this article, along with a more detailed article about who to test for your father’s Y and mtDNA DNA, here.

DNA Haplogroup Pedigree Tree

I’ve been gathering my own ancestors’ Y and mtDNA information, because only Y and mtDNA provides a periscope view directly down a single line without admixture from the other parent.

DNA 8 grandparent

There’s just so much to learn! Where they originated, the history of their lineage, who you match and more. Y and mtDNA reaches back before surnames.

What can you learn about your family lines, and who can you ask to test?

What About You?

You can order the Y DNA for males and the mtFull test for either males or females at Family Tree DNA. When I ask a family member to test, I always offer to also purchase a Family Finder test at the same time so we can utilize their autosomal DNA as well, which is inherited from all of their lines. The cousin and I both get to know our ancestors better and advanced matching feature allows combined matching between all kinds of tests.

The Family Finder test can then be leveraged by uploading the autosomal DNA files to other free databases such as GedMatch and MyHeritage to obtain even more matches.

Your cousins and family members are goldmines containing the DNA nuggets of your ancestors just waiting to be found!

Ready for More?

If you have enjoyed this concepts article, you may enjoy other articles in our concepts series.

______________________________________________________________

Disclosure

I receive a small contribution when you click on the link to one of the vendors in my articles. This does NOT increase the price you pay, but helps me to keep the lights on and this informational blog free for everyone. Please click on the links in the articles or to the vendors below if you are purchasing products or DNA testing.

Thank you so much.

A Short Timeout

I know all of my faithful followers are used to my posting schedule, but unfortunately, we have a bit of a problem this week.

Call it:

Garden: 1
Roberta: 0

We finally had a nice day and I went to ready the perennial beds for summer.  Apparently, that was a mistake.

I did something that did not agree with my back on Sunday and have been rather incapacitated ever since.

OK, enough with the niceties – it hurts like bloody hell.  And you cannot blog or write in a prone position.

So please bear with me for the next few days as my normal publication schedule is interrupted.  I do have a few articles nearly prepared and I’ll see what I can do with those.

And as for that cliffhanger…I really didn’t do that on purpose.  Seriously.

In the mean time, there are almost 700 articles on this blog and it’s fully searchable by key word in the search box in the upper right hand corner – so maybe this is a good time to read about something new!

My apologies.

daffy and bug

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Frank Sadowski (1921-1945), Almost My Father, 52 Ancestors #73

Frank Sadowski

His name was Frank Sadowski.

This Memorial Day, I couldn’t help but think of all of the people who made that ultimate sacrifice and how their deaths changed history – and I don’t necessarily mean history on the battlefield.  I’m talking about personal history.  Many changes are invisible in the big picture – but life-altering to the people on the receiving end.

You see, Frank was scheduled to be my father.  Frank was engaged to my mother.  But Frank never came home from WWII.  All gave some, and some gave all.  Frank gave all.  The ultimate sacrifice.

poppy

When I was about 10 years old, I found a man’s ring in my mother’s jewelry box that I didn’t remember seeing before.  Not her “current” jewelry box, but the special box for “old things.”  I got the ring out, put it on and started playing with it.  I thought it might have been my Dad’s, who had died a few years earlier.  The ring, of course, was much too large. I waltzed out into the kitchen with the ring dangling from my finger, and the look on my mother’s face would have stopped a freight train.  Someplace between shock and horror – and then pain as she cried.  She came, retrieved the ring, put it away and told me I couldn’t play with that.  I asked whose it was, and she simply said she couldn’t talk about it.  I felt just awful.  So did she.

It would be many years, but then one day, as I faced Vietnam married to a Marine, she told me the story of Frank.

I felt like I was an intruder into a sacred space made just for two, a time capsule all sealed up.  That capsule was full of both joy and sorrow.  It was the sorrow that sealed it for years.

We sat on the edge of the bed, and Mom told me about Frank, and about her and Frank.  I stared at the pattern on the bedspread, burned into my mind yet today, unable to look at her.  She wasn’t there anyway.  She was someplace else – back in Chicago with Frank in the 1940s.  Her sorrow, even after all those years, was current, real, palpable and painful.  You could feel it in every word she spoke, and even in the pauses between words and the sometimes long stretches between sentences.  Tears silently rolled down her cheeks.  Tears roll down mine today as I remember…

Frank had hopes and dreams and plans.  He was the all-American boy, participating in clubs in high school.

Frank Sadowski yearbook

He wanted to be a doctor.  He wanted to get married – to my mother.  He wanted a family.  But the war interfered.  That war interfered with nearly everything.

Mom went to Chicago in 1943 or 1944 to dance with a professional tap and ballet company that performed primarily at the Edgewater Beach Hotel, a swanky upscale beachside hotel on Lake Michigan that featured acts like Bing Crosby.  Her troupe was sometimes the main attraction, and sometimes the backup act for big name talent. You can see a video about Chicago nightlife in 1947 here.  I think mother is the dark haired women in the front beginning about minute 6:14.

Dorothy Hild Dancers

Mom was a beautiful, talented lady and had many beaus and suitors.  She lived in a house with a widow lady, who she called Mommie Mackenzie, who acted as her surrogate mother/grandmother and chaperone.  It was just not acceptable for a respectable young woman to be unchaperoned in Chicago.  Mother was 20 in 1943.

I don’t know how Mom and Frank met.  I didn’t have the heart to ask Mom any more questions that would be painful. I do know they fell in love in Chicago and planned to marry as soon as he came home.

Frank enlisted in February of 1943, perhaps before he met mother.

By Christmas of 1944, they were an item.  He was stationed in San Francisco at that time, but would ship out to the Pacific theater in early 1945 and faced some of the bloodiest battles of the war.  Those, he survived.

Frank Sadowski christmas

Mom said Frank was a doctor.  I think he actually was a medic, but I really don’t know.  It doesn’t matter now.  What matters is that Frank enlisted to help people.  He died doing just that in a medical unit.  Mom said that Frank was killed trying to help another man “after the first truce but before the second one.”

Mom said that she knew the last time she saw Frank off at the train station that he would never come home. I asked her how she knew and she said she didn’t know, but that she cried too hard – and she knew.  Mom always had a way of knowing things like that.

Mom repeated to herself over and over that things would be alright, that Frank would come home…trying to make it true by virtue of sheer willpower.  But it wasn’t to be.

VE Day, or Victory in Europe Day was celebrated on May 8, 1945 but it would be another three months until VJ Day, Victory in Japan Day, was celebrated on August 15th, 1945.  Frank was stationed in Okinawa during that time.  He never saw VE or VJ Day, because he was killed on April 19th, just days before the end of the war.

Mom tells how she was called and asked around noon on VJ Day, the 15th, to participate in the impromptu Chicago celebrations held in the streets downtown.  The country went insane with celebration described as an “outbreak of giddy.”  Life was going to return to normal and Johnny would come marching home.  Except Frank didn’t.

Mother said she wanted to be happy, and to celebrate, and she did go and sing with the group of performers – but she could not be happy. One of her songs was a patriotic solo and she said she very nearly could not make it through the performance.  The celebration could not overcome her somberness and grief.  While, she was glad that the war was over and no one else would be killed, there was no joy in the celebration for her.

The man who was to be my mother’s husband and my father, would never be those things.  He was robbed of that opportunity, and so was Mom.  Frank gave all.

Frank Sadowski and father

Frank came home, but in a different way.  Frank is pictured above with his father, also Frank, who would bury his son four years later and request a military headstone. Yes, it took the family four years to get Frank’s body back. Four very long years.  On the back of that photo is written “Who’s that handsome fellow in the zoot suit?” and then a note below it with an arrow that says “Sis’s corny cracks are on all pix she sends.”

Frank Sadowski headstone request

I don’t know who called mother with the news of Frank’s death.  I’m guessing it would have been Frank’s parents.  I know she corresponded with Frank’s sister for decades.  Mom was treated as Frank’s future wife by his family, and then as his widow.

Mother never talked about Frank’s funeral.  Nothing, ever.  I think it was just too difficult for her – even 20 years and then decades later.  I know she came entirely unglued every time she heard taps and would do almost anything to avoid that circumstance.

To me, 20 years seemed like an eternity ago, more than a decade before I was born, but looking back now at things in my life that happened 20 years ago, it doesn’t seem so long and many that are painful are still quite fresh.  Sometimes it’s extremely difficult to verbalize experiences that were overwhelmingly painful.  Sometimes talking about them opens that terrible gash again.

Mother was heartbroken.  Devastated.  It would be another decade before she met my father and nearly 20 years after that until she married again, in her 50s.  And that decade in-between Frank’s death and my father, well, let’s just say it wasn’t wonderful.  It’s difficult to live with unrelenting grief so profound.  I don’t think anyone ever measured up to Frank, at least not until she met my step-father.  My own father was simply another heartbreak for mother.

Frank’s death took his life, but it also took the life that mother and Frank had planned, and it took the lives of the children they never had.  It robbed them of their future together…and altogether.  It changed the course of my mother’s life in such a fundamental way that I can’t even imagine the different life she would have had with Frank, or who I would have been or would be today.  Would I even be me?  Half my DNA and half my ancestors would have been different – as would my entire set of life experiences.  I would have been a Catholic child raised in Chicago with Polish ancestors – not a Hoosier with ancestry throughout Appalachia.

Frank Sadowski cemetery

Frank was supposed to be my father, but instead, on a train, someplace between Philadelphia and Chicago, while traveling with the dance troupe, almost a decade later, my mother met my father, a devilishly handsome and extremely personable stranger who already had a wife…but failed to mention that pesky little detail.

The rest, as they say, is history.

frank-sadowski-stone

RIP Frank.

Mom's stone

RIP Mom.

At least they are together now.  I imagine that was one incredibly joyful reunion – delayed by 61 years.  Love never dies.

Update:  To see “the rest of the story,” that happened as a result of this article, click here and here.

King Edward I, (1239 – 1307), Longshanks, Hammer of the Scots, 52 Ancestors #34

king edward i

Last week, when Valerie Bertinelli was featured on WDYTYA, I whined on Facebook about how jealous I am that not only is there ALWAYS a parking place in front of the library or archives in the series, but the celebrity’s records are always just waiting for them, while, mine, if there at all, are buried so deeply they require an archaeologist to excavate them. 

My husband said to me, “You just have to find a gateway ancestor, like Valerie, and then your pedigree will be done too.”  I told my husband that all my gateway ancestor would lead to is likely a prison cell.  My ancestors, at least some of them, were none too well behaved and let’s say that sometimes the only records they left were related to prosecution of some type.  Thank heavens they at least did that!!!  My family is always colorful, and interesting, and infamous…but seldom famous. 

As you all know, I write one of these “52 Ancestors” articles every week, generally late at night, and I often mutter rather unspeakable things at Amy Johnson Crow in the process.  Let’s just say that doing this series forces you to go back through your records, all of your records, for each ancestor, and to be sure they are in order.  Now, on the surface this is a good and admiral thing to be doing, but in the middle of the night, it just doesn’t seem so.

This week, I was working on my Bolton and Clarkson lines out of Claiborne County, TN and I noticed a rather large article on the Brooks family that my now deceased cousin, Bill Nevils, had written.  Bill was a retired Episcopal Priest, which is a story all by itself, especially being from Claiborne County in the Bible Belt south.  After his retirement, he moved home to “take care” of his mother, Thelma.  Now I met Thelma and Bill some years ago and let me tell you, I’m not at all sure it was Bill taking care of Thelma.  When we arrived, this little 90 year old lady had just finished mowing the yard with a push mower (and not because Bill wouldn’t, because she insisted) and came in to make lunch for us, and not one single hair out of place.  Fittingly, Bill had written the article about the Brooks family in tribute to his mother, Thelma.  Little did we know that Thelma would outlive her only child.  Not only that, after Bill’s death, she wrote me a lovely letter after I sent her a sympathy card.  She was celebrating Bill’s life, not grieving his death, although of course she was saddened by his passing. 

So you can understand why, when I saw this article, I paused to read it.  I mean, I’m already down to about 4 hours sleep so what are a few more lost minutes.  I was reading Bill’s lovely tribute to his mother and just kept reading when the article, of course, shifted to genealogy.  It was a “People’s History Book,” after all.  I should have stopped reading, but I was tired and just kept skimming.  I read that Thelma was descended from King Edward I.  I thought to myself, “Oh, Thelma is related to Valerie Bertinelli.”  And I kept reading, when I started recognizing familiar names.  And then more familiar names, and then I realized that the family that Thelma descended from that descended from King Edward I was my family too.  I read it a second time, because I was sure I had misread it.  Then a third time.  Then I went to bed, because I was sure I was hallucinating due to lack of sleep.

I read this again the next day, in broad daylight, after at least 4 hours sleep, and it said the same thing. 

Bill was a fastidious researcher.  He listed sources.  I checked them.  Bill, it seems, was right.  I was shocked and couldn’t quite believe my eyes.

And the great irony was that this line, this article that felled the wall, was right on my own shelf AND HAD BEEN for years.  Just like those celebrities at the archives, just waiting for me with no parking space needed.  I have to retract my whine. 

I have suddenly, for some unknown reason, developed a fascination with King Edward I, British history and royal genealogy.  Edward’s father, Henry III is at the bottom of this first tree and the top of the second tree.

brit royals 2 crop

brit royals 1 crop

How I wish I had known this before I went to England last year.  I skipped Westminster Abbey entirely and that is where Edward is buried, and was crowned.  I did visit Westminster Abbey in 1970 when I was in London, and I has absolutely NO IDEA that I had any history of any kind in England, let alone an ancestor buried in Westminster Abbey.

westminster abbey

What’s worse yet, is that Edward’s  coronation “chair” is in Westminster, and I could have seen it. 

edward's coronation chair

King Edward’s Chair (also known as St. Edward’s Chair), the throne on which English and British sovereigns have been seated at the moment of coronation, is housed within the Abbey and has been used at every coronation since 1308. From 1301 to 1996 (except for a short time in 1950 when it was temporarily stolen by Scottish nationalists), the chair also housed the Stone of Scone upon which the kings of Scotland are, or were, traditionally crowned. Although the Stone is now kept in Scotland, in Edinburgh Castle, at future coronations it is intended that the Stone will be returned to St. Edward’s Chair for use during the coronation ceremony.

The Stone of Scone would have been located beneath the seat of the chair.  A replica is shown below.

stone of scone

The photo below is of the coronation chair, before the stone was re-kidnapped and then broken in half.

coronation chair with stone

The stone and the coronation chair is show in this drawing from Westminster Abbey in 1855.  The Stone of Scone has a rich and mysterious history all of its own. 

coronation chair 1855

King Edward was born during the night of June 17/18, 1239 at Westminster Palace and died on July 7, 1307, the son of Henry III of England and Eleanor of Provence

He married Eleanor of Castille in 1254, between October 13th and November 1st, in the church of the monastery of Las Huelgas at Burgos, the capital city of Old Castille in northern Spain, shown below.  This was an arranged marriage.  Edward was only 14 years old and Eleanor 12 or 13, although their first child would be stillborn the following year. 

las huelgas

He and Eleanor perhaps walked in these protected cloisters, before or after their marriage, discussing their dreams for the future.

las huelgas cloister

Eleanor died on November 28, 1290 at in the house of Richard de Weston, the foundations of which can still be seen near Harby parish church.  Her body was taken to Westminster Abbey for burial where she and Edward were crowned August 19, 1274.

westminster abbey front

Eleanor had survived 16 pregnancies, but likely died of malaria or complications thereof.

Tomb effigy of Eleanor of Castile, Westminster Abbey

Grieving his Eleanor terribly, he had twelve “Eleanor Crosses” constructed at each location that her body stopped on its way from Harby, Nottinghamshire, to London for burial, including Charring Cross in London.  Three remain today, although none entirely.  There were originally massive crosses on the top of each monument.  The one at Northampton is shown below.

eleanor cross

After her body had been embalmed, which in the 13th century involved evisceration (removal of some of the internal organs, including the bowel,) Eleanor’s viscera were buried in Lincoln cathedral, and Edward placed a duplicate of the Westminster tomb there. The Lincoln tomb’s original stone chest survives; its effigy was destroyed in the 17th century and replaced with a 19th-century copy.  I must admit, having an ancestor with parts buried in two locations is a first for me.

eleanor tomb lincoln cathedral

Eleanor’s tomb in Lincoln Cathedral.

Edward and Eleanor had the following children:

  1. Daughter, stillborn in May 1255 in Bordeaux, France. Buried in Dominican Priory Church, Bordeaux, France.
  2. Katherine (before 17 June 1264 – 5 September 1264) and buried in Westminster Abbey.
  3. Joanna (January 1265 – before 7 September 1265), buried in Westminster Abbey.
  4. John (13 July 1266 – 3 August 1271), died at Wallingford, in the custody of his granduncle, Richard, Earl of Cornwall. Buried in Westminster Abbey.
  5. Henry (before 6 May 1268 – 16 October 1274), buried in Westminster Abbey.
  6. Eleanor (18 June 1269 – 29 August 1298). She was long betrothed to Alfonso III of Aragon, who died in 1291 before the marriage could take place, and in 1293 she married Count Henry III of Bar, by whom she had one son and one daughter.
  7. Daughter (28 May 1271, Palestine – 5 September 1271), probably buried in Dominican Priory Church, Bordeaux, France. Some sources call her Juliana, but there is no contemporary evidence for her name.
  8. Joan (April 1272 – 7 April 1307). She married (1) in 1290 Gilbert de Clare, 6th Earl of Hertford, who died in 1295, and (2) in 1297 Ralph de Monthermer, 1st Baron Monthermer. She had four children by each marriage.
  9. Alphonso (24 November 1273 – 19 August 1284), Earl of Chester.
  10. Margaret (15 March 1275 – after 1333). In 1290 she married John II of Brabant, who died in 1318. They had one son.
  11. Berengaria (1 May 1276 – before 27 June 1278), buried in Westminster Abbey.
  12. Daughter (December 1277/January 1278 – January 1278), buried in Westminster Abbey. There is no contemporary evidence for her name.
  13. Mary (11 March 1279 – 29 May 1332), a Benedictine nun in Amesbury.
  14. Son, born in 1280 or 1281 who died very shortly after birth. There is no contemporary evidence for his name.
  15. Elizabeth (7 August 1282 – 5 May 1316). She married (1) in 1297 John I, Count of Holland, (2) in 1302 Humphrey de Bohun, 4th Earl of Hereford & 3rd Earl of Essex. The first marriage was childless, but by Bohun, Elizabeth had ten children.
  16. Edward II of England, also known as Edward of Caernarvon (25 April 1284 – 21 September 1327). In 1308 he married Isabella of France. They had two sons and two daughters.

My ancestor was their 15th child, Elizabeth.

Edward and Eleanor as Parents

It has been suggested that Eleanor and Edward were more devoted to each other than to their children. As king and queen, however, it was impossible for them to spend much time in one place, and when they were very young, the children could not travel constantly with their parents. The children had a household staffed with attendants carefully chosen for competence and loyalty, with whom the parents corresponded regularly. The children lived in this comfortable establishment until they were about seven years old; then they began to accompany their parents, if at first only on important occasions. By their teens they were with the king and queen much of the time. In 1290, Eleanor sent one of her scribes to join her children’s household, presumably to help with their education.

In 1306 Edward sharply scolded Margerie de Haustede, Eleanor’s former lady in waiting who was then in charge of his children by his second wife, because Margerie had not kept him well informed of their health. Edward also issued regular instructions for the care and guidance of these children.

Two incidents cited to imply Eleanor’s lack of interest in her children are easily explained in the contexts of royal childrearing in general, and of particular events surrounding Edward and Eleanor’s family. When their six-year-old son Henry lay dying at Guildford in 1274, neither parent made the short journey from London to see him; but Henry was tended by Edward’s mother Eleanor of Provence. The boy had lived with his grandmother while his parents were absent on crusade, and since he was barely two years old when they left England in 1270, he could not have had many worthwhile memories of them at the time they returned to England in August 1274, only weeks before his last illness and death. In other words, the dowager queen was a more familiar and comforting presence to her grandson than his parents would have been at that time, and it was in all respects better that she tended him then.

Similarly, Edward and Eleanor allowed her mother, Joan of Dammartin, to raise their daughter Joan in Ponthieu (1274–78). This implies no parental lack of interest in the girl; the practice of fostering noble children in other households of sufficient dignity was not unknown and Eleanor’s mother was, of course, dowager queen of Castile. Her household was thus safe and dignified, but it does appear that Edward and Eleanor had cause to regret their generosity in letting Joan of Dammartin foster young Joan. When the girl reached England in 1278, aged six, it turned out that she was badly spoiled. She was spirited and at times defiant in childhood, and in adulthood remained a handful for Edward, defying his plans for a prestigious second marriage for her by secretly marrying one of her late first husband’s squires. When the marriage was revealed in 1297 because Joan was pregnant, Edward was enraged that his dignity had been insulted by her marriage to a commoner of no importance. Joan, at twenty-five, reportedly defended her conduct to her father by saying that nobody saw anything wrong if a great earl married a poor woman, so there could be nothing wrong with a countess marrying a promising young man. Whether or not her retort ultimately changed his mind, Edward restored to Joan all the lands he had confiscated when he learned of her marriage, and accepted her new husband as a son-in-law in good standing. Joan marked her restoration to favour by having masses celebrated for the soul of her mother Eleanor.

Looks like spoiled children are nothing new to our life and times.  I would simply view her as “spirited” or perhaps she simply took after her father who, it seems, had a bit of a temper himself.

King Edward I

king edward i drawing

Drawing of Edward I taken from the various carvings.  He seemed to be a very handsome man, but his drooping eyelid was not portrayed in the drawing.

Edward I was known as Edward Longshanks and the “Hammer of the Scots.” The first son of Henry III, Edward was involved early in the political intrigues of his father’s reign, which included an outright rebellion by the English barons.  In 1259, Edward briefly sided against his father with a baronial reform movement, supporting the Provisions of Oxford.

After reconciliation with his father, however, he remained loyal throughout the subsequent armed conflict, known as the Second Barons’ War. After the Battle of Lewes, Edward was hostage to the rebellious barons, but escaped after a few months and joined the fight against Simon de Montfort. Montfort was defeated at the Battle of Evesham in 1265, and within two years the rebellion was extinguished. With England pacified, Edward left on a crusade to the Holy Land.

The crusade accomplished little, and Edward was on his way home in 1272 when he was informed that his father had died. Making a slow return, he reached England in 1274 and was crowned at Westminster on 19 August.

He spent much of his reign reforming royal administration and common law. Through an extensive legal inquiry, Edward investigated the tenure of various feudal liberties, while the law was reformed through a series of statutes regulating criminal and property law. Increasingly, however, Edward’s attention was drawn towards military affairs. After suppressing a minor rebellion in Wales in 1276–77, Edward responded to a second rebellion in 1282–83 with a full-scale war of conquest. After a successful campaign, Edward subjected Wales to English rule, built a series of castles and towns in the countryside and settled them with Englishmen.

Next, his efforts were directed towards Scotland. Initially invited to arbitrate a succession dispute, Edward claimed feudal suzerainty over the kingdom. In the war that followed, the Scots persevered, even though the English seemed victorious at several points. At the same time there were problems at home. In the mid-1290s, extensive military campaigns required high levels of taxation, and Edward met with both lay and ecclesiastical opposition. These crises were initially averted, but issues remained unsettled. When the King died in 1307, he left to his son, Edward II, an ongoing war with Scotland and many financial and political problems.

Edward I was a tall man for his era, hence the nickname “Longshanks”. He was temperamental, and this, along with his height, made him an intimidating man, and he often instilled fear in his contemporaries. Nevertheless, he held the respect of his subjects for the way he embodied the medieval ideal of kingship, as a soldier, an administrator and a man of faith. Modern historians are divided on their assessment of the King: while some have praised him for his contribution to the law and administration, others have criticized him for his uncompromising attitude towards his nobility.

Currently, Edward I is credited with many accomplishments during his reign, including restoring royal authority after the reign of Henry III, establishing Parliament as a permanent institution and thereby also a functional system for raising taxes, and reforming the law through statutes. At the same time, he is also often criticized for other actions, such as his brutal conduct towards the Scots, and issuing the Edict of Expulsion in 1290 by which the Jews were expelled from England. The Edict remained in effect for the rest of the Middle Ages, and it would be over 350 years until it was formally overturned under Oliver Cromwell in 1656.

Edward as a Young Man

Edward was born at the Palace of Westminster (shown below) during the night of June 17/18, 1239, to King Henry III and Eleanor of Provence.  Ironically, I visited this location in 1970 as a student and bought a charm of the clock tower, known as Big Ben, which I still have.

westminster palace

Edward was an Anglo-Saxon name, and was not common among the aristocracy of England after the Norman Conquest, but Henry was devoted to the veneration of Edward the Confessor, and decided to name his firstborn son after the saint.

Edward was in the care of Hugh Giffard – father of the future Chancellor Godfrey Giffard – until Bartholomew Pecche took over at Giffard’s death in 1246.

There were concerns about Edward’s health as a child, and he fell ill in 1246, 1247, and 1251.

His illnesses apparently didn’t impair his health, as he became an imposing man; at 6 feet 2 inches (1.88 m) he towered over most of his contemporaries, and hence perhaps his epithet “Longshanks”, meaning “long legs” or “long shins”. The historian Michael Prestwich states that his “long arms gave him an advantage as a swordsman, long thighs one as a horseman. In youth, his curly hair was blond; in maturity it darkened, and in old age it turned white. His speech, despite a lisp, was said to be persuasive.”

Edward’s features were marked by piercing blue eyes and a drooping left eyelid, a trait that he inherited from his father and is depicted in the 14th century manuscript, below, where he is shown with Eleanor.

edward eleanor manuscript

In 1254, English fears of a Castilian invasion of the English province of Gascony induced Edward’s father to arrange a politically expedient marriage between his fourteen-year-old son and Eleanor, the half-sister of King Alfonso X of Castile.

Eleanor and Edward were married on or about November 1, 1254 in the Abbey of Santa María la Real de Las Huelgas in Castile. As part of the marriage agreement, the young prince received grants of land worth 15,000 marks a year. Though the endowments King Henry made were sizeable, they offered Edward little independence. He had already received Gascony as early as 1249, but Simon de Montfort, 6th Earl of Leicester, had been appointed as royal lieutenant the year before and, consequently, drew its income, so in practice Edward derived neither authority nor revenue from this province. The grant he received in 1254 included most of Ireland, and much land in Wales and England, including the earldom of Chester, but the King retained much control over the land in question, particularly in Ireland, so Edward’s power was limited there as well, and the King derived most of the income from those lands.

From 1254 to 1257, Edward was under the influence of his mother’s relatives, known as the Savoyards, the most notable of whom was Peter of Savoy, the queen’s uncle. After 1257, Edward increasingly fell in with the Poitevin or Lusignan faction – the half-brothers of his father Henry III – led by such men as William de Valence. There were tales of unruly and violent conduct by Edward and his Lusignan kinsmen, which raised questions about the royal heir’s personal qualities. The next years would be formative on Edward’s character.

Back in England, early in 1262, Edward fell out with some of his former Lusignan allies over financial matters. The next year, King Henry sent him on a campaign in Wales against Llywelyn ap Gruffudd, with only limited results. Around the same time, Simon de Montfort, who had been out of the country since 1261, returned to England and reignited the baronial reform movement.  It was at this pivotal moment, as the King seemed ready to resign to the barons’ demands, that Edward began to take control of the situation. Whereas he had so far been unpredictable and equivocating, from this point on he remained firmly devoted to protecting his father’s royal rights.  He reunited with some of the men he had alienated the year before – and retook massive Windsor Castle, built by William the Conqueror, Edward’s 4th great-grandfather, shown below, from the rebels.

Through the arbitration of King Louis IX of France, an agreement was made between the two parties. This so-called Mise of Amiens was largely favorable to the royalist side, and laid the seeds for further conflict.

Wars and Crusades

Between 1262 and 1267, the Second Baron’s War took place in England.  In the end, after being held hostage for nearly a year, the Royalists were victorious and Edward began to plan for his Crusade to the Holy Land.

Edward took the crusader’s cross in an elaborate ceremony on 24 June 1268, with his brother Edmund and cousin and childhood friend, Henry of Almain.

With the country pacified, the greatest impediment to the project was providing sufficient finances. King Louis IX of France, who was the leader of the crusade, provided a loan of about £17,500. This, however, was not enough; the rest had to be raised through a tax on the laity, which had not been levied since 1237. In May 1270, Parliament granted a tax of a twentieth, in exchange for which the King agreed to reconfirm Magna Carta, and to impose restrictions on Jewish money lending.  On  August 20, Edward sailed from Dover for France. Historians have not determined the size of the force with any certainty, but Edward probably brought with him around 225 knights and all together less than 1000 men.

Originally, the Crusaders intended to relieve the beleaguered Christian stronghold of Acre, but Louis had been diverted to Tunis. The French King and his brother Charles of Anjou, who had made himself king of Sicily, decided to attack the emirate to establish a stronghold in North Africa. The plans failed when the French forces were struck by an epidemic which, on  August 25th, took the life of King Louis himself. By the time Edward arrived at Tunis, Charles had already signed a treaty with the emir, and there was little else to do but return to Sicily. The crusade was postponed until next spring, but a devastating storm off the coast of Sicily dissuaded Charles of Anjou and Louis’s successor Philip III from any further campaigning. Edward decided to continue alone, and on May 9, 1271, he finally landed at Acre.

crusade operations

Operations during the Crusade of Edward I.

By then, the situation in the Holy Land was a precarious one. Jerusalem had fallen in 1244, and Acre was now the center of the Christian state. The Muslim states were on the offensive under the Mamluk leadership of Baibars, and were now threatening Acre itself. Though Edward’s men were an important addition to the garrison, they stood little chance against Baibars’ superior forces, and an initial raid at nearby St Georges-de-Lebeyne in June was largely futile.  The area is shown below.

crusade holyland

An embassy to the Ilkhan Abaqa (1234–1282) of the Mongols helped bring about an attack on Aleppo in the north, which helped to distract Baibar’s forces. In November, Edward led a raid on Qaqun, which could have served as a bridgehead to Jerusalem, but both the Mongol invasion and the attack on Qaqun failed. Things now seemed increasingly desperate, and in May 1272 Hugh III of Cyprus, who was the nominal king of Jerusalem, signed a ten-year truce with Baibars.  Edward was initially defiant, but an attack by a Muslim assassin in June forced him to abandon any further campaigning. Although he managed to kill the assassin, he was struck in the arm by a dagger feared to be poisoned, and became severely weakened over the following months.

It was not until September 24th that Edward left Acre. Arriving in Sicily, he was met with the news that his father had died on November 16th. Edward was deeply saddened by this news, but rather than hurrying home at once, he made a leisurely journey northwards. This was partly due to his health still being poor, but also due to a lack of urgency. The political situation in England was stable after the mid-century upheavals, and Edward was proclaimed king at his father’s death, rather than at his own coronation, as had until then been customary.

In Edward’s absence, the country was governed by a royal council, led by Robert Burnell. The new king embarked on an overland journey through Italy and France, where among other things he visited the pope in Rome and suppressed a rebellion in Gascony. On August 2, 1274 he returned to England, and was crowned with Eleanor on August 19th in Westminster Abbey in London.

The Round Table

Edward had a reputation for a fierce temper, and he could be intimidating; one story tells of how the Dean of St Paul’s, wishing to confront Edward over the high level of taxation in 1295, fell down and died once he was in the King’s presence.

When Edward of Caernarfon demanded an earldom for his favorite Gaveston, the King erupted in anger and supposedly tore out handfuls of his son’s hair. Some of his contemporaries considered Edward frightening, particularly in his early days. The Song of Lewes in 1264, a very enlightening, if difficult to read poem translated from Latin about Edward, described him as a leopard, an animal regarded as particularly powerful and unpredictable.

Whereunto shall the noble Edward be compared? Perhaps he will be rightly called a leopard. If we divide the name it becomes lion and pard; lion, because we saw that he was not slow to attack the strongest places, fearing the onslaught of none, with the boldest valour making a raid amidst the castles, and wherever he goes succeeding as it were at his wish, as though like Alexander he would speedily subdue the whole world, if Fortune’s moving wheel would stand still for ever; wherein let the highest forthwith know that he will fall, and that he who reigns as lord will reign but a little time. And this has, it is clear, befallen the noble Edward, who, it is agreed, has fallen from his unstable position. A lion by pride and fierceness, he is by inconstancy and changeableness a pard, changing his word and promise, cloaking himself by pleasant speech. When he is in a strait he promises whatever you wish, but as soon as he has escaped he renounces his promise. Let Gloucester be witness, where, when free from his difficulty, he at once revoked what he had sworn. The treachery or falsehood whereby he is advanced he calls prudence; the way whereby he arrives whither he will, crooked though it be, is regarded as straight; wrong gives him pleasure and is called right ; whatever he likes he says is lawful, and he thinks that he is released from law, as though he were greater than the King. For every king is ruled by the laws which he makes; King Saul is rejected because he broke the laws; and David is related to have been punished as soon as he acted contrary to the law; hence, therefore, let him who makes laws, learn that he cannot rule who observes not the law; nor ought they, whose concern it is, to make this man king.

Despite these frightening character traits, however, Edward’s contemporaries considered him an able, even an ideal, king. Though not loved by his subjects, he was feared and respected. He met contemporary expectations of kingship in his role as an able, determined soldier and in his embodiment of shared chivalric ideals. In religious observance he also fulfilled the expectations of his age: he attended chapel regularly and gave alms generously.  He was also a model, loyal, husband in a time when model husband did not exist and loyalty was not expected in a royal marriage.

glastonbury abbey

Edward took a keen interest in the stories of King Arthur, which were highly popular in Europe during his reign. In 1278 he visited Glastonbury Abbey, in ruins today, shown above, to open what was then believed to be the tomb of Arthur and Guinevere, recovering “Arthur’s crown” from Llywelyn after the conquest of North Wales, while his new castles drew upon the Arthurian myths in their design and location.

glastonbury abbey 1900

Glastonbury Abbey Photochrom photo taken about 1900, above.

glastonbury king arthur tomb

He held “Round Table” events in 1284 and 1302, involving tournaments and feasting, and chroniclers compared him and the events at his court to Arthur. In some cases Edward appears to have used his interest in the Arthurian myths to serve his own political interests, including legitimizing his rule in Wales and discrediting the Welsh belief that Arthur might return as their political savior.

edward round table

This round table was made by Edward and is now hung in Winchester Castle.

Cleanup

Soon after assuming the throne, Edward set about restoring order and re-establishing royal authority after the disastrous reign of his father. To accomplish this, he immediately ordered an extensive change of administrative personnel. The most important of these was the appointment of Robert Burnell as chancellor, a man who would remain in the post until 1292 as one of the King’s closest associates.

Edward then replaced most local officials, such as the escheators and sheriffs. This last measure was done in preparation for an extensive inquest covering all of England, that would hear complaints about abuse of power by royal officers. The inquest produced the set of so-called Hundred Rolls, from the administrative subdivision of the hundred.

The second purpose of the inquest was to establish what land and rights the crown had lost during the reign of Henry III.

The Hundred Rolls formed the basis for the later legal inquiries called the Quo warranto proceedings. The purpose of these inquiries was to establish by what warrant various liberties were held. If the defendant could not produce a royal license to prove the grant of the liberty, then it was the crown’s opinion – based on the writings of the influential thirteenth-century legal scholar Bracton – that the liberty should revert to the king.

By enacting the Statute of Gloucester in 1278 the King challenged baronial rights through a revival of the system of general eyres (royal justices to go on tour throughout the land) and through a significant increase in the number of pleas of quo warranto to be heard by such eyres.

edward long cross penny

Long cross penny with portrait of Edward.

This caused great consternation among the aristocracy, who insisted that long use in itself constituted license. A compromise was eventually reached in 1290, whereby a liberty was considered legitimate as long as it could be shown to have been exercised since the coronation of King Richard I, in 1189. Royal gains from the Quo warranto proceedings were insignificant; few liberties were returned to the King. Edward had nevertheless won a significant victory, in clearly establishing the principle that all liberties essentially emanated from the crown.

edward groat

Groat of Edward (4 pences).

The 1290 statute of Quo warranto was only one part of a wider legislative effort, which was one of the most important contributions of Edward I’s reign. This era of legislative action had started already at the time of the baronial reform movement; the Statute of Marlborough (1267) contained elements both of the Provisions of Oxford and the Dictum of Kenilworth. The compilation of the Hundred Rolls was followed shortly after by the issue of Westminster I (1275), which asserted the royal prerogative and outlined restrictions on liberties. In the Mortmain (1279), the issue was grants of land to the church. The first clause of Westminster II (1285), known as De donis conditionalibus, dealt with family settlement of land, and entails. Merchants (1285) established firm rules for the recovery of debts, while Winchester (1285) dealt with peacekeeping on a local level. Quia emptores (1290) – issued along with Quo warranto – set out to remedy land ownership disputes resulting from alienation of land by subinfeudation or subletting their land. The age of the great statutes largely ended with the death of Robert Burnell in 1292.

Wars and Castles

Wars in medieval England seem to be a way of life.

From 1276 to1294, conflicts erupted in Wales.  They ebbed and flowed, and were politically motivated as most wars are.  In 1277, 15,000 English forcefully invaded Wales on a punitive mission.  Of those 15,000, 9000 were Welsh.  The Welsh surrendered.  However, in 1282, war broke out again and episodic rebellions would occur until 1294.  In 1284, the Statute of Rhuddlan incorporated the principality of Wales unto England.  Edward then focused on the English settlement of Wales and building castles.

An extensive project of castle-building was initiated under the direction of Master James of Saint George, a prestigious architect whom Edward had met in Savoy on his return from the crusade. These included the castles of Beaumaris, Caernarfon, Conwy and Harlech, intended to act both as fortresses and royal palaces for the King.

caernarfon castle

Caernarfon Castle where Edward’s son, Edward II, was born.

Aerial view Beaumaris Castle (CD34) Anglesey North Castles Historic Sites

Beaumaris Castle

Harlech Castle - A general view of the castle

Harlech Castle

edward's conwy castle

Conwy Castle

Many of these new towns, built for the English to settle in Wales, were extensively walled, such as Conwy.  The Conwy Castle walls extended to be the actual city walls.

Conwy Castle mockup

This artists rendition reconstructs Conwy Castle and the village in the 13th century.  You can see the remainder of the city walls extending from the castle below to the left, in 2013.

conwy wall

Conwy Castle, with its massive walls was extremely well fortified.

conwy front

Edward’s program of castle building in Wales heralded the introduction of the widespread use of arrowslits in castle walls across Europe, drawing on Eastern influences.

You can see an example, behind my left shoulder, in the ramparts of Conwy Castle.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

When I visited Conwy Castle in the fall of 2013, I had no idea that I was connected in to this castle in quite this way.  I’m incredibly glad, now, that I visited when given the opportunity.

Also a product of the Crusades was the introduction of the concentric castle, and four of the eight castles Edward founded in Wales followed this design.

conwy distance

The castles made a clear, imperial statement about Edward’s intentions to rule North Wales permanently, and drew on imagery associated with the Byzantine Roman Empire and King Arthur in an attempt to build legitimacy for his new regime.

In 1284, King Edward had his son Edward (later King Edward II) born at Caernarfon Castle, probably to make a deliberate statement about the new political order in Wales. David Powel, a 16th-century clergyman, suggested that the baby was offered to the Welsh as a prince “that was borne in Wales and could speake never a word of English”, but there is no evidence to support this account. In 1301 at Lincoln, the young Edward became the first English prince to be invested with the title of Prince of Wales, when King Edward granted him the Earldom of Chester and lands across North Wales. The King seems to have hoped that this would help in the pacification of the region, and that it would give his son more financial independence.

However, even today when talking with the Welsh, there is clearly still tension between the two countries, or parts of the UK.  One Welchman told us that all he knew about English/Welsh history is that there were “bloody English castles all over the place, but we still speak Welsh here.”

The Great Cause of Scotland

Edward seems to have trouble keeping all of the neighbors under control.  Scotland paid homage to England in 1278, but by the 1280s, the question of succession in Scotland came to a head.  As a result of a long series of royal deaths, Edward’s then one year old son, Edward, was betrothed to the three year old Margaret, Maid of Norway, heir to the throne of Scotland after her parent’s deaths.  This brought Scotland clearly under the rule of England.  Her parents died, then she died in 1290.  Fourteen men claimed the heirless throne, but it came down to John Balloil and Robert de Brus.

balloil homage to edward

Edward was asked to mediate this dispute, which he did in favor of John.  However, Edward continued to assert his authority over Scotland, especially militarily.  The Scots took issue with this, especially as Edward pushed the issue, which led to Edward invading Scotland and taking the town of Berwick in a particularly bloody attack. 

At the Battle of Dunbar, in 1296, Scottish resistance was defeated.  Stirling castle surrendered – “the garrison having run away and left none but the porter, who did surrender the keys.”

However, while in Scotland, to add insult to injury, Edward confiscated the Stone of Scone, known as the Stone of Destiny, the Scottish coronation stone and brought it back to Westminster, placing it in King Edward’s chair.  The message to Scotland was clear – they were subjects of England.

Money Issues

Constant warfare drained the coffers and caused Edward to have to raise funds by levying taxes.  In 1275, he permanently taxed wool.

The Jews were another source of income as many English were indebted to and despised them. Christianity forbade money-lending, so the Jews were the financiers of English people.  In 1275, Edward outlawed usury and encouraged Jews to take up other occupations.  In 1279, he arrested all heads of Jewish households and executed about 300.  They still did not convert, and in 1290, following the lead of other European leaders such as France and Brittany, he expelled them in the Edict of Expulsion.  This generated revenue through royal appropriation of Jewish loans and property.

In 1295, Edward summoned 2 knights from each county and 2 men from each burgh to attend Parliament, setting the stage to collect lay subsidies on the entire population.  Lay subsidies were collected on a fraction of the moveable property of all laymen and were occasionally collected for special purposes during a King’s reign.  Henry III collected 4 during his reign and Edward collected 9 in total; three before 1294 and 4 between 1294-1297.  In addition, he seized wool and hides and the burden of prises (appropriation of food.)

Warfare is expensive.

Edward became very unpopular and his policies created a great deal of resentment.  However, the straw that broke the camel’s back was the clerical subsidies ordered in 1294 which demanded half of all clerical (church) revenues.

In 1295, a papal bull from the Pope prohibited the Catholic churches from paying taxes to lay authorities without explicit consent from the Pope.  A compromise was reached which allowed clergymen to pay the tax “in cases or pressing urgency.”

In 1297, the Earl of Norfolk objected to the King’s right to demand military service.  He argued that the King’s ability to demand service was limited to those serving with him, but that he could not sail to Flanders, for example, and send his subjects to Gascony.  In July, Roger Bigod and Humphrey de Bohun, Earl of Hereford and Constable of England drew up a series of complaints known as The Remonstrances which included required military service and extortive levels of taxation.  Humphrey de Bohun was the father of Humphrey de Bohun, the 4th Earl of Hereford, born about 1276 who married King Edward’s daughter, Elizabeth in 1302, and from whom I descend.  Edward responded by levying another lay subsidy which was particularly provocative.

The King left for Flanders with a greatly reduced force and the country seemed on the brink of civil war. 

Ironically, it was the Scots that saved England.  The defeat by the Scots at the Battle of Stirling Bridge (below) provided a threat to the homeland and united the English, the King and the magnates in a common cause.

battle of stirling bridge

Edward signed a confirmation of the Magna Carta called Confirmatio cartarum (in Norman French) and the nobility agreed to serve with the King on the campaign in Scotland.  Edward’s father, Henry III, signed the original 1225 Magna Carta document, below.

1225 magna carta

Back to Scotland

The situation in Scotland had seemed resolved when Edward left the country in 1296, but resistance soon emerged under the leadership of the strategically gifted and charismatic William Wallace.  On September 11, 1297, a large English force under the leadership of John de Warenne, Earl of Surrey, and Hugh de Cressingham was routed by a much smaller Scottish army led by Wallace and Andrew Moray at Stirling Bridge. The defeat sent shockwaves into England, and preparations for a retaliatory campaign started immediately. Soon after Edward returned from Flanders, he headed north.

stirling bridge today

Stirling Bridge with the Abbey Craig today.

On July 22, 1298, in the only major battle he had fought since Evesham in 1265, Edward defeated Wallace’s forces at the Battle of Falkirk by utilizing longbows, creating gaps in the Scot’s defenses allowing the cavalry to charge.

longbow practice

Edward, however, was not able to take advantage of the momentum, and the next year the Scots managed to recapture Stirling Castle. Even though Edward campaigned in Scotland both in 1300, when he successfully besieged Caerlaverock Castle and in 1301, the Scots refused to engage in open battle again, preferring instead to raid the English countryside in smaller groups.

caelaverick castle

Caelaverick Castle in ruins, about 1900.  The castle, shown from the air today, is triangularly shaped and was built in the 1200s.

caelaverick castle aerial

The defeated Scots, secretly urged on by the French, appealed to the pope to assert a claim of overlordship to Scotland in place of the English. His papal bull addressed to King Edward in these terms was firmly rejected on Edward’s behalf by the Barons’ Letter of 1301. The English managed to subdue the country by other means, however. In 1303, a peace agreement was reached between England and France, effectively breaking up the Franco-Scottish alliance.

Robert the Bruce, the grandson of the claimant to the crown in 1291, had sided with the English in the winter of 1301–02. By 1304, most of the other nobles of the country had also pledged their allegiance to Edward, and this year the English also managed to re-take Stirling Castle.

stirling castle 1693

Stirling Castle drawn in 1693.

A great propaganda victory was achieved in 1305 when Wallace was betrayed by Sir John de Menteith and turned over to the English, who had him taken to London where he was publicly executed. With Scotland largely under English control, Edward installed Englishmen and collaborating Scots to govern the country.

The situation changed again on February 10, 1306, when Robert the Bruce murdered his rival John Comyn and a few weeks later, on 25 March, had himself crowned King of Scotland by Isobel, sister of the Earl of Buchan. Bruce now embarked on a campaign to restore Scottish independence, and this campaign took the English by surprise.

King Edward was suffering ill health by this time, and instead of leading an expedition himself, he gave different military commands to Aymer de Valence and Henry Percy, while the main royal army was led by the Prince of Wales. The English initially met with success; on June 19, Aymer de Valence routed Bruce at the Battle of Methven. Bruce was forced into hiding, while the English forces recaptured their lost territory and castles. Edward responded with severe brutality against Bruce’s allies; it was clear that he now regarded the struggle not as a war between two nations, but as the suppression of a rebellion of disloyal subjects. This brutality, though, rather than helping to subdue the Scots, had the opposite effect, and rallied growing support for Bruce.

Unfulfilled Crusades and the War on the Continent

edward depiction

The portrait above has been reported to be Edward I and also his son, Edward II.

Edward never again went on crusade after his return to England in 1274, but he maintained an intention to do so, and took the cross again in 1287. Like pilgrims, each crusader swore a vow (a votus) to be fulfilled on successfully reaching Jerusalem, and they were granted a cloth cross (crux) to be sewn into their clothes. This “taking of the cross”, the crux, eventually became associated with the entire journey. They saw themselves as undertaking an iter, a journey, or a peregrinatio, an armed pilgrimage. The inspiration for this “messianism of the poor” was the expected mass apotheosis at Jerusalem.

This image from the Jena Codex in the 1400s shows the Crusader’s Cross.

jena codex crusader cross

This intention of leaving on a second Crusade guided much of Edward’s foreign policy, until at least 1291.

To stage a European-wide crusade, it was essential to prevent conflict between the greater princes on the continent. A major obstacle to this was represented by the conflict between the French House of Anjou ruling southern Italy, and the kingdom of Aragon in Spain. In 1282, the citizens of Palermo rose up against Charles of Anjou and turned for help to Peter of Aragon, in what has become known as the Sicilian Vespers. In the war that followed, Charles of Anjou’s son, Charles of Salerno, was taken prisoner by the Aragonese. The French began planning an attack on Aragon, raising the prospect of a large-scale European war. To Edward, it was imperative that such a war be avoided, and in Paris in 1286 he brokered a truce between France and Aragon that helped secure Charles’ release. As far as the crusades were concerned, however, Edward’s efforts proved ineffective. A devastating blow to his plans came in 1291, when the Mamluks captured Acre, the last Christian stronghold in the Holy Land.

siege of acre

Medieval painting called “Les Templars” depicting the Siege of Acre.

After the fall of Acre, Edward’s international role changed from that of a diplomat to an antagonist. He had long been deeply involved in the affairs of his own Duchy of Gascony. In 1278 he assigned an investigating commission to his trusted associates Otto de Grandson and the chancellor Robert Burnell, which caused the replacement of the seneschal Luke de Tany. In 1286, Edward visited the region himself and stayed for almost three years. The perennial problem, however, was the status of Gascony within the kingdom of France, and Edward’s role as the French king’s vassal. On his diplomatic mission in 1286, Edward had paid homage to the new king, Philip IV, but in 1294 Philip declared Gascony forfeit when Edward refused to appear before him in Paris to discuss the recent conflict between English, Gascon, and French sailors (that had resulted in several French ships being captured, along with the sacking of the French port of La Rochelle).

edward homage to philip

Edward I (right) giving homage to Philip IV (left). As Duke of Aquitaine, Edward was a vassal of the French king.

Second Marriage

Eleanor of Castile died on November 28, 1290. Uncommon for such marriages of the period, and even though it was an arranged marriage, the couple loved each other.

edward and eleanor

Carvings of Edward and Eleanor at the Lincoln Cathedral.

Like his father, Edward was very devoted to his wife and was faithful to her throughout their married lives — a rarity among monarchs of the time. He was deeply affected by her death. He displayed his grief by erecting twelve so-called Eleanor crosses, one at each place where her funeral cortège stopped for the night. As part of the peace accord between England and France in 1294, it was agreed that Edward should marry Philip IV’s half-sister Margaret, but the marriage was delayed by the outbreak of war.

Edward made alliances with the German king, the Counts of Flanders and Guelders, and the Burgundians, who would attack France from the north. The alliances proved volatile, however, and Edward was facing trouble at home at the time, both in Wales and Scotland. It was not until August 1297 that he was finally able to sail for Flanders, at which time his allies there had already suffered defeat. The support from Germany never materialized, and Edward was forced to seek peace. His marriage to Margaret in 1299 ended the war, but the whole affair had proven both costly and fruitless for the English.

Edward married Margaret of France in 1299  and was married to her until his death in 1307.

Edward and Margaret had three more children.

  1. Thomas born 1 June 1300, died 4 Aug 1338, buried in the abbey of Bury St Edmunds. Married (1) Alice Hales, with children; (2) Mary Brewes, no children.
  2. Edmund born 1 Aug 1301, died 19 Mar 1330, married Margaret Wake, had children.
  3. Eleanor born 6 May 1306, died 1310.

It was sweet of Margaret to name her daughter Eleanor, especially as Henry’s health was declining.  Sadly, Eleanor died three years after her father.

Edward’s Death

In February 1307, Robert the Bruce reappeared and started gathering men, and in May he defeated Aymer de Valence at the Battle of Loudoun Hill. King Edward, who had rallied somewhat, now moved north himself.

The ailing but indomitable King , then aged 68, mortally ill but refusing to admit defeat, embarked on horseback on the journey June 26th which was to prove his last. The protracted journey underlines the poor state of his health, he finally had to be carried in a litter. He reached Kirkandrews-on-Eden on 2nd July but struggled on until three days later he arrived at Burgh by Sands (which is pronounced bruff, not burgh,) just south of the Scottish border, where he finally breathed his last, dying of dysentery.  When his servants came the next morning to lift him up so that he could eat, he died in their arms.

king edward's monument

This monument rising from Burgh Marsh marks the location of King Edward I’s death.

Various stories emerged about Edward’s deathbed wishes; according to one tradition, he requested that his heart be carried to the Holy Land, along with an army to fight the infidels. A more dubious story tells of how he wished for his bones to be carried along on future expeditions against the Scots. Yet another says that Edward wanted his flesh to be boiled from his bones so that they could be carried with the army on every campaign into Scotland and that his heart be buried in the Holy Land.  Another account of his deathbed scene is more credible; according to one chronicle, Edward gathered around him the Earls of Lincoln and Warwick, Aymer de Valence, and Robert Clifford, and charged them with looking after his son Edward. In particular they should make sure that Piers Gaveston was not allowed to return to the country. This wish, however, the son ignored, and had his favorite recalled from exile almost immediately.

King Edward’s body lay in state in St Michael’s Parish Church at Burgh by Sands before being taken to London in stages for burial at Westminster Abbey, the mausoleum of English kings. Below, the sculptured head of Edward I from Winchelsea Church.

edward image

He laid in state at Waltham Abbey, before being buried in Westminster Abbey on October 27th in a dalmatic (long tunic) of red silk damask with a mantle or rich crimson satin fastened with a fibula (brooch) gilt in gold.  His grave bears this epitaph ‘Edwardus Primus Scottorum Malleus hic est 1308. Pactum Serva’ (Here lies Edward, the Hammer of the Scots. Keep this vow).

His body was visited there by his eldest son, Edward, Prince of Wales, who had been in Scotland at the time of his father’s death, he was proclaimed Edward II the following day at Carlisle. The new king, Edward II, remained in the north until August, but then abandoned the campaign and headed south. He was crowned king on 25 February 1308.

The map below of Westminster Abbey, from Mark Humphrey’s page shows the location of Edward’s tomb circled in blue and Eleanor’s in red.

westminster abbey map

There are few records of the funeral, which cost £473. Edward’s tomb was an unusually plain sarcophagus of Purbeck marble, without the customary royal effigy, possibly the result of the shortage of royal funds after the King’s death. The sarcophagus may normally have been covered over with rich cloth, and originally might have been surrounded by carved busts and a devotional religious image, all since lost. The Society of Antiquaries opened the tomb in 1774, finding that the body had been well preserved over the preceding 467 years, and took the opportunity to determine the King’s original height.

According to Westminster Abbey, when Edward’s tomb was opened, they found the body wrapped in waxed linen cloth and wearing royal robes of red and gold with a crimson mantle.  He had a gilt crown on his head and carried a scepter surmounted by a dove and oak leaves in enamels.

Traces of the Latin inscription Edwardus Primus Scottorum Malleus hic est, 1308. Pactum Serva (“Here is Edward I, Hammer of the Scots, 1308. Keep the Vow”), can still be seen painted on the side of the tomb, referring to his vow to avenge the rebellion of Robert Bruce. This resulted in Edward being given the epithet the “Hammer of the Scots” by historians, but is not contemporary in origin, having been added by the Abbot John Feckenham in the 16th century.

edward tomb opening 1774

A drawing of Edward’s tomb from when it was opened in 1774.

Ironically, Edward has no decorative tomb, per se, and is buried under a plain marble slab, shown below.  I wonder why ornamentations weren’t later added.

edward tomb westminster

His tomb is shown in the drawing below from “The History and Antiquities of the Abbey Church of St. Peter, Westminster” by Edward Brayley, Vol 2, 1823.

edward tomb westminster drawing

The burial location of Eleanor is shown below at right.  The tomb of Henry III, the father of Edward I is shown at left.  Edward buried Eleanor beside his father.  The Norman-French inscription can be translated as “Here lies Eleanor, sometime Queen of England, wife of King Edward son of King Henry, and daughter of the King of Spain and Countess of Ponthieu, on whose soul God in His pity have mercy. Amen”.

eleanor tomb westminster drawing

Westminster Abbey probably hasn’t changed a great deal.  This drawing below shows the choir in 1848.

westminster choir 1858

Edward’s 26 year old widow, Margaret of France retired to Marlborough Castle after his death and never remarried, she is recorded as saying “when Edward died, all men died for me”. She lived on for ten years after her husband’s death, dying at the age of 36 and was buried at Greyfriars Church, Greenwich.

The King and I

King Edward I is my 23rd great-grandfather, or said another way, I’m the 25th generation downstream from him.  This means that I’m also related to Valerie Bertinelli.  Grandpa King Edward is her 16th great grandfather, so that means that she and are I are 16th cousins 7 times removed, or genetically equal to 19th cousins once removed.  Actually, I think she descended through the same daughter, so we’re actually at least one (and possibly more) generations closer.

Sixth cousins share under 1% of their DNA, So 19th cousins share a miniscule amount, if any.  It’s absolutely possible that Valerie and I share absolutely no DNA at all from King Edward.  In fact, it’s possible that neither Valerie nor I, individually, inherited ANY DNA from King Edward.  But let’s face it, despite the odds of not receiving any DNA from a specific ancestor that long ago, we did inherit DNA from ancestors that long ago, and even longer ago, so it had to come from someone, or we wouldn’t be here today with a full DNA compliment.  In other words, several someone’s beat the odds and their DNA survived.  Seems to me like Edward just might have had some of that survivor DNA to share.

I hope that Valerie will become curious and test her autosomal DNA, and will then have someone work with her to download her DNA to GedMatch where we can drop the thresholds to 1cM to see if we so share even a shred of Edward’s DNA. I’d be glad to volunteer!

I actually did the math, and at 15th cousins, we are down to only one matching base pair from a common ancestor.  But, given that, we also know that autosomal DNA is not inherited exactly at 50% in each generation and that it is inherited in clumps, sticky segments, so, indeed, maybe, just maybe…..

One thing we can do, however, is to check and see if the Plantagenet line is represented in DNA testing for the Y line.  That would be quite interesting.

In August 2013, Bradley Larkin published a paper about the Y DNA of the British Monarchy in honor of the birth of the Prince of Cambridge.

Bradley said: “A review was made of existing genetic genealogy findings that infer characteristics of the Y-DNA of members of the British Monarchy. Nine sustained Y-DNA lineages since the year 927 CE were noted as dynastic groups. Haplogroup and haplotype characteristics of three of the dynasties were presented with two more dynasties noted as testable but unpublished. Cultural and geographical origins of these dynasties were considered as context for their DNA haplogroups. Specimen candidates for further testing were identified noting that some will require Ancient DNA (aDNA) recovery and analysis.”

Bradley identified the dynasties of the British monarchy beginning in the year 927 and ending in 2013, as shown below.

  • Mountbatten/Romanov
  • Hannover
  • Windsor
  • Stuart
  • Tudor
  • Plantagenet
  • Blois
  • Wessex
  • Norman
  • Knytlinga (Viking)

Bradley then researched each dynasty and lineage. If lines have been tested, he provides the results. Several lines have no male descendants, so for those, we would need ancient DNA. The connections and interconnections are fascinating.

To view the detail and summary data about each dynasty, read Bradley’s paper here, especially the summary table near the end.

Now, you do know, that of course my Plantagenet line is one that is not yet represented in the DNA data bases.  However, King Richard III, being King Richard of the Car Park fame, descends from the same paternal male line.  King Richard is, in fact, the great-great-grandson of Edward I, through all males, so Richard should indeed carry the same Y DNA that King Edward I carried.  In February, 2014 the University of Leister announced that they were going to sequence the entire genome of Richard III.  I think that is absolutely wonderful news.

Richard would be my 7th cousin, 16 times removed, or genetically equivalent to my 15th cousin.  He’s more closely related to Valerie, 7th cousins 9 times removed, or equivalent to 11th cousins once removed.

I checked with Debbie Kennett who, being a genetic genealogist and blogger in Britain, is familiar with and interested in all things British, and she indicated that a paper is due imminently reporting the results of Richard III’s DNA testing, including Y DNA. I can hardly wait.  I did not inherit the patience gene from anyone!

It looks like Bradley will be able to update his table, I’ll be able to discover the Y DNA of my 23rd grandfather and so will Valerie Bertinelli.

And I don’t even have to chase down any relatives and try to figure out how to persuade them to test, nor do I have to pay for any testing.  I think this is wonderful.  And I didn’t even have to dig anyone up either!!!  All done for me!  How does this get better?

So, my husband asked me if I’m in the royal line of succession.  I had to admit, I had no idea.  It never occurred to me, and now that I think about it, I surely hope not!  I can’t even curtsey.

I’m not quite sure how things shifted from family lines, or why, since Edward I, so I googled.  I found out a lot about the British line of succession, and while Valerie and I both might be in that line along with thousands of our cousins, I discovered one thing for sure.  I hate to disappoint Valerie, but both of our families have a Catholic marriage between us and the good King Edward I, so even if we were in the line of succession, we’re disqualified now.  Sorry Valerie.  I know you’re crushed:)

So, I think that to celebrate our newly found royal ancestor, Valerie and I need to have a sitting to be fitted for our new royal tiaras.  Every girl wants to be a princess and my granddaughters would think this is THE coolest thing since sliced bread.  I mean, Grandma is a REAL princess.  Ok, 24 times removed, but who’s counting.  Details.  And they are real princesses too, 26 times removed.

So, I kind of like this tiara.  What do you think?

?????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????

I don’t think they’ll let me borrow this one with those luscious green emeralds from the Louvre.

???????????????????????????????

The granddaughters like this pink one.  Now there’s a surprise.

tiara 3

I’m thinking, this is probably about as close as I’m going to get.

tiara me

A couple of years ago, during one the Lost Colony Research Group archaeology digs on Hatteras Island, I fixed the computer in the library, which was refusing to print.  For that, I got to wear the honorary tiara.  It’s a local tradition.  It felt so comfortable, I forgot all about it and then wondered why people were looking at me strangely:)

What fun!

If you descend from the Sarah Ludlow and Reverend Nathaniel Brewster lines in the US, you too descend from King Edward I.  Sarah’s father was the Honorable Roger Ludlow, Deputy Governor of Massachusetts in 1634 and 10th great grandson of Edward I.  He’s the “gateway ancestor” who married Mary Cogan.  The Rev. Nathaniel Brewster, a member of the first graduating class at Harvard in 1642, married their daughter, Sarah Ludlow.  And the rest, is indeed, history.

Maybe you’ll need a tiara too!!!

Big Y Results to be Released February 28th

Big YY DNA Project administrators received the following announcement from Family Tree DNA today.

Three more days…..