It’s always an exciting moment in an episode of Finding Your Roots or Who Do You Think You Are? when the celebrity finds out that they are related to royalty. Their eyes bug out in happy surprise, they exclaim that they can’t wait to tell their family about their noble blood, and we watch with envy, wishing that we could claim the same. Well, guess what! You probably can.
Chances are, if you are have any European ancestors, you are a descendent of Charlemagne. An article in the Atlantic goes so far to state that everyone with European roots is linked this way. This is not surprising when you consider the concept of exponential growth and the 2013 study by Peter Ralph and Graham Coop which showed that any 2 Europeans will most likely have an ancestor in common. Essentially, we are all potentially related, and because of this, we all potentially (and probably) have royal lineage.
With this in mind, it’s no longer a question of if we have royal roots, but how.
I stumbled across my how when I was doing research into my Luce/Luse family (on one of my paternal grandfather’s lines). It began when I came across information connecting me with tennis star Billie Jean King through our mutual 6x great grandfather Shubael Luce, grandson of our immigrant ancestor Henry Martin Luce. This discovery sparked a desire to learn more about my Luce line. In Chapter XLIII Mapes, Wines, Luse, Denny… of the Pedigrees of Some of the Emperor Charlemagne’s Descendants the trail goes up and up and up from my 8x great grandmother Sarah Wines (married to my 8x great grandfather Eleazer Luce) to Charlemagne, King of the Franks and Lombards, Holy Roman Emperor, and my 40th great grandfather (40th!). Along the way, I picked up a few other notable great-grandparents, such as King John of England (my 26th great gramps and “the phony king of England,” according to Disney’s Robin Hood) and King Edward I “Longshanks” of England (my 24th great gramps; considered one of the most important medieval kings), and several other kings and queens across England, France, and elsewhere.
However, I was hesitant to believe this at first, having only seen it documented in one source. I have since found another. The genealogy book for Henry Martin Luce’s descendants, The American Descendants of Henry Luce of Martha’s Vineyard, also documents this connection. I can now say, with two published sources supporting it, that I’m comfortable publicly stating my connection to Charlemagne.
Once you find your connection to one royal figure, with a little research it’s pretty easy to discover your connections to others. Then be prepared for the floodgate to open! In Charlemagne’s days, and those of his royal descendants, marriages were strategic, more like business arrangements than anything else. Highborn ladies (and gentlemen) were valued for their pedigree, wealth, and what kind of alliances marriage to them would offer. Due to this desire for titles to marry titles, royals from the Western World were really not too far removed from each other, so in your research, when you find one royal ancestor, you’ve essentially also found hundreds more.
Good luck in finding your how!
My “how” is as follows:
Langston, Aileen Lewers, and J. Orton Buck. Pedigrees of Some of the Emperor Charlemagne’s Descendants. vol. 2, Polyanthos Inc., 1974, https://www.ancestry.com/interactive/48069/CharlemagneDescII-000547-i?backurl=&ssrc=&backlabel=Return#?imageId=CharlemagneDescII-000549-iii
McCourt, Martha F. The American Descendants of Henry Luce of Martha’s Vineyard. Boston, MA : New England Historic Genealogical Society, 1994.