From Charlemagne to Queen Elizabeth II

Historical pedigree tables tell the story. Other monarchs or members of the royal families of Europe who descend from Queen Victoria can also find their place in the following tables. Don’t miss them!

This post respectfully lays out the lineage from one generation to the next, like links in a chain. I pay close attention to the concept of anointed sovereigns. There were many of them from Charlemagne to HRH Queen Elizabeth II. This is important because anointing kings is biblical (1 Sam. 10:1; 16:13; 1 Kings 1:39; 2 Kings 9:3, etc.). It’s also important because millions claim descent from Charlemagne, so we have to focus on direct lineage through anointed royals.

Charlemagne

The links are set out in four stages:

Stage One: From Carolingians to the Normans

Stage Two: The Plantagenets

Stage Three: From the Tudors to the Stuarts

Stage Four: From the Hanoverians to the Windsors, and Queen Elizabeth II.

The following tables were produced by credential historians, not genealogists. But all of these royal houses are so easily tracked that either group of researchers do a fine job.

STAGE ONE: FROM THE CAROLINGIANS TO THE NORMANS

“Carolingian” is the name of Charlemagne’s dynasty (Carolus Magnus or Charlemagne). William the Conqueror was a Norman (from Normandy in northern France).

We look at three family lines from Charlemagne to William the Conqueror or his wife Matilda or William’s great-grandson Henry II or his wife Eleanor.

The most illustrious or highest ranking is Family Line 3, because it tracks the Capetians, the longest-lasting French royal dynasty, all anointed sovereigns. The Valois (pronounced Val-wah) take over from the Capetians, genealogically speaking, and Henry V, the famous warrior king of England, married Catherine of Valois and then so did Owen Tudor, grandfather of Henry VII, the first Tudor king.

Family Line 1

Here is the first line, which is the least complicated. This table takes us from Charlemagne to William the Conqueror’s wife, Matilda:

Tracy Borman, Queen of the Conqueror–Matilda, Wife of William I (Bantam, 2011)

Start from the top left, and work your way down to the bottom right, where Matilda and William the Conqueror are located. Note: After King Louis “the Stammerer,” this line is not made up of anointed sovereigns, until William the Conqueror and Matilda. But sometimes the counts of Flanders were more powerful than the king of “Francia”; France was not close to being a unified nation at that time. Note also Alfred the Great on the center-right. He is Matilda’s ancestor and therefore Queen Elizabeth II’s ancestor too.

We have now reached William the Conqueror, the great-grandfather of Henry II, the first Plantagenet. The Plantagenets are in Stage Two.

Family Line 2

The optional second line takes us from Charlemagne and past William the Conqueror and on to Henry II, the first Plantagenet, who married Eleanor of Aquitaine.

The next table goes from Charlemagne to Beatrix, who married Robert, king of west Franks. (As noted, France was not close to being unified as “France.”) Also note Adela on the far right, who married Arnulf I, count of Flanders. She was Matilda’s ancestor, and Matilda was the wife of William the Conqueror, in the previous table.

Michael Idomir Allen, translator of Pierre Riché’s The Carolingians (U of Pennsylvania P, 1993)

In the above table, on the right (near top), the key link is Beatrix, daughter of count Herbert of Vermandois. She married Robert, king of West Franks, so presumably he was anointed. Their son was Hugh the Great, and his son was Hugh Capet, the founder of the Capetians. Capet’s son was Robert II, the Pious. Matilda, wife of William the Conqueror, descends from him.

Note: Count Herbert I was not an anointed sovereign, but his son-in-law was.

For the primary documents proving the link from Charlemagne to Herbert I and to Beatrix, click on Herbert I, Count of Vermandois, and scroll down to the Addendum.

The next table reinforces the previous one.

Michael Idomir Allen, translator of Pierre Riché’s The Carolingians (U of Pennsylvania P, 1993)

In the above table, Robert I, king of W. Franks, who married Beatrix, is the father of Hugh the Great. His son is Hugh Capet, the namesake of the Capetians, and Capet’s son is Robert the Pious. He will be the link to the first Plantagenet.

From Robert I to Robert II, they were anointed sovereigns.

Otto I was also the anointed Holy Roman Emperor, but I have not researched the HRE’s, but it is a sure thing that HRH Queen Elizabeth II is related to them, through George I, and perhaps even Prince Albert, Queen Victoria’s husband.

For more on the Capetians, see Family Line 3, below.

Next, let’s insert a genealogical table from historian W. L. Warren’s superb biography of Henry II, the first Plantagenet. Remember, Robert the Pious is Hugh Capet’s son. And Capet is the namesake of the longest-lasting French dynasty: the Capetians.

W. L. Warren, Henry II (Yale UP, 1977).

On the bottom right side is Henry of Anjou, soon to be Henry II, king of England, great-grandson of William the Conqueror, and the first Plantagenet. He married Eleanor of Aquitaine, after Louis VII divorced her. Adela (on the right) is the only one who was not an anointed sovereign. Matilda (on right) was anointed in Germany with Henry (Heinrich) V. They never had children, however, when her husband died. Her father Henry I recalled her, so he could make a dynastic match.

On the left side are some of the Capetians, who were anointed sovereigns. See family Line 3, below, for the Capetians.

Henry II

Burial monuments of Henry II and Eleanor. She holds a Bible (or prayer book) to indicate piety and learning.

It should be pointed out that there is another family line, which is not included in this post. It goes from Charlemagne through the dukes and counts of Aquitaine to Eleanor. For those tables, click on Facts and Stories about Eleanor of Aquitaine.

Family Line 3

The present monarch of Great Britain also descends from Charlemagne through the French Capetians, the longest-lasting dynasty of France, and then through the Valois (pronounced Val-wah), who take over from the Capetians.

Recall that Hugh the Great (Hugues le Grand in the next table) is the son of Beatrix and Robert I, king of west Franks, near the top of this table. Beatrix descends from Charlemagne. Each link in all capitals in the chain is an anointed sovereign, from Robert I onward.

Medieval France: An Encyclopedia, eds. William W. Kibler and Grover A. Zinn (New York: Garland, 1995).

In the above table, Hugues le Grand is Hugh the Great. He was the son of Beatrix, and she married Robert I, and Beatrix descends from Charlemagne. Louis IX ends the above table and begins the next one.

In this next table (Part 2), about the later Capetians (in all capitals), look for the VALOIS DYNASTY (in all capitals):

Medieval France: An Encyclopedia, eds. William W. Kibler and Grover A. Zinn (New York: Garland, 1995).

In the above table, the French Valois dynasty begins at the center right, in the rectangular box. The Valois dynasty will produce Charles VI, whose daughter Catherine of Valois will marry first Henry V of England and then she married, second, Owen Tudor, who is the namesake of the Tudor dynasty in England, in the next table.

Catherine of Valois’s funeral effigy–Westminster

Here is the pedigree table of the early Valois:

Robert Knecht, The Valois: Kings of France, 1328-1598 (Bloomsbury Academic, 2007).

On the right, in the third “row” from the bottom, is Catherine, who married Henry V, king of England, the famous warrior. He died young, in 1422. She remarried to Owen Tudor (not shown), a minor figure compared to the illustrious ancestry of the Valois. But this table puts us too far ahead for Stage One. Owen Tudor is in Stage Three.

Henry V

Let’s fill out the picture a little more. Here is a full table from William the Conqueror (and his Norman ancestors) to Henry II.

C. Warren Hollister, Henry I (Yale UP, 2008).

In the above table, the big names are there, for example: Edward the Confessor (top left); Malcolm III, who married Margaret, a queen who was declared a saint (center left);  commoner Herleve (near center-top), the mistress of Robert I, duke of Normandy, who produced William I, the Conqueror and Bastard (center-right); Maud (Matilda) who married Geoffrey, count of Anjou (bottom-left), who fought King Stephen (bottom-right) in behalf of her son, the future Henry II.

Matilda / Maud, mother of Henry II, was an Empress in Germany, so she was anointed, but not in England, where she was titled “Lady of the English.”

Bonus Tables

Before we leave Stage One, let’s look at other very early dynasties that show the illustrious royal persons in the links of the generational chain.

The present royal family today have connections to the Scandinavians:

Source: David C. Douglas, William the Conqueror (Mathuen, reprinted 1983).

In the above table, Emma (in second “row” on top left) is the ancestor of William the Conqueror, as seen in the next table.

The present royal family today also enjoy connections to the earliest English kings in the next table. Recall that Henry I is the grandfather of Henry II, the first Plantagenet:

David C. Douglas, William the Conqueror (Mathuen, reprinted 1983).

In the next table, on the right are the early Scottish kings, and on the far right is Matilda (or Maud) who married Henry I, king of England. His grandson was Henry II (bottom left), the first Plantagenet.

W. L. Warren, Henry II (Yale UP, 1977).

Let’s summarize things so far, before we cross over to Stage Two.

There are at least three family lines that go from Charlemagne to William the Conqueror, a Norman, or Henry II, the first Plantagenet and his queen, Eleanor of Aquitaine. Stage One provided the genealogical tables to reach those generations. The links in the generational chain are secure.

In Stage One, most of the links in the chain, except early on, are anointed sovereigns, particularly the Capetians and Valois.

STAGE TWO: THE PLANTAGENETS

In Stage Two the direct line of anointed sovereigns are broken for a few generations from Edward III to Henry Tudor VII, because of the Wars of the Roses. Henry Tudor had to swoop in (so to speak) and defeat Richard III, and then Henry was anointed as Henry VII. So there is some overlap between Stages Two and Three, just as there was some overlap between Stages One and Two.

Henry II, first Plantagenet

The Plantagenets are the longest-lasting English dynasty, but we trace them only briefly in three tables.

This table gives a good overview of the Plantagenets, before the Wars of the Roses got underway:

Dan Jones, the Plantagenets: The Warrior Kings Who Made England, rev. ed. (Penguin, 2014).

In the table, above, Edward III, on the left, four “rows” from the bottom, had too many children! Their descendants are about to struggle for the throne: .

Let’s continue with the later Plantagenets, as they divided into the Houses of Lancaster and York. Here is the House of Lancaster, which eventually won the struggle, thanks to Henry Tudor (later Henry VII).

Dan Jones, The Wars of the Roses: The Fall of the Plantagenets and the Rise of the Tudors (Penguin, reprint ed. 2015).

In the above table, note Henry VII at bottom, center. His grandfather was Owen Tudor, a minor figure. Henry VII’s mother, Margaret Beaufort, descends from John of Gaunt through Katherine Swynford, John’s mistress. Their relationship had to be legitimized with marriage after their children were born. It is easy to see why, during the reigns of the Tudor monarchs, the royal descendants of the Plantagenets believed the Tudors had a weaker claim to the throne than they did. But Henry could claim Catherine of Valois, a female, as his grandmother, and her ancestry was very illustrious, as we saw in Stage One. But she was a female, and womankind did not count as much as mankind did, back then.

Let’s fill out the bigger picture and include the House of York, because Henry VII, a Lancastrian, married Elizabeth of York, daughter of Edward IV, thus bringing together the two (formerly) warring houses, next: 

Dan Jones, The Wars of the Roses: The Fall of the Plantagenets and the Rise of the Tudors (Penguin, reprint ed. 2015).

Henry VII, the first Tudor king, is on the bottom left. So Henry’s father-in-law was Edward IV. Henry VII defeated Richard III, who fought bravely enough, at the Battle of Bosworth, in 1485. And so the Wars of the Roses ended, apart from some skirmishes and resentment afterwards.

Note: HRH Elizabeth II does not directly descend from Richard III. They are distant cousins, however, through Richard’s niece Elizabeth of York. In fact, HRH Elizabeth II’s line skips over or bypasses Kings Henry IV, Henry V, Henry VI, and Richard III. Her line picks up with Henry VII. His daughter Margaret’s grandfather was Edward IV, a Yorkist, through his daughter Elizabeth of York, who married Henry VII, Margaret’s parents. So there is some Yorkist heritage in the present royal family.

STAGE THREE: FROM THE TUDORS TO THE STUARTS

Here is Henry VII’s Welsh Ancestry

S. B. Chrimes, Henry VII, new edition, Yale Monarch Series (New Haven: Yale UP, 1999).

Do the descendants of the Plantagenets have a stronger case to sit on the throne than the Tudors? The Plantagenets of royal blood thought so, back then.

Henry VII, first Tudor, National Portrait Gallery

Another table to fill out the picture:

David Starkey, Elizabeth: The Struggle for the Throne (New York: Harper Collins, 2001 [in England in 2000]).

Dynastically the Tudor line died out after Henry VIII’s three royal children, Edward VI, Mary I, and Elizabeth I, produced no heir. It was up to Henry VII’s daughter Margaret to continue the Tudor line through a female–herself. Note that she married James IV, and Mary Queen of Scots descends from this union through James V and Mary of Guise. Further note that Margaret married a second time to Archibald Douglas, and her grandson was Henry Stewart (Stuart), who married Mary Queen of Scots.  So dynastically, but not genealogically, the Tudors vanished, so to speak. The Stuarts are about to take over.

Margaret, daughter of Henry VII, was the Queen of Scots, so she was anointed in Scotland. James V was anointed. His daughter Mary Queen of Scots was anointed at one year old, and was probably anointed in France when she became Queen Consort (but the latter claim needs to be researched).

Recall that Elizabeth I signed the death warrant against her cousin Mary Queen of Scots (on left), in 1587. Nonetheless, at the very bottom is James, a Stewart / Stuart, her son. He was a Protestant and was permitted by parliament and Elizabeth I’s old council to become king of England, first of the name in England (James I).

The next table presents basically the same evidence, but with some nuanced differences:

J. J. Scarisbrick, Henry VIII, new edition, Yale English Monarchs (New Haven: Yale UP, 1997)

That table, above, comes from a very, very prominent Tudor historian (I really respect his work on Henry VIII). Note his comment at footnote 1 about the Tudor’s (possibly) weak claim to the throne. Henry VII was a Lancastrian, thanks to his descent from John of Gaunt through John’s mistress-turned-wife, Katherine Swynford. Note James VI (of Scotland) and I (of England), same person, at bottom right. He begins the Stuart / Stewart line. (Yes, he produced the King James Bible.)

Now let’s look at the transition from the Tudors to the Stuarts.

Allan Massie, The Royal Stuarts: A History of the Family that Shaped Britain (Thomas Dunn, 2011).

Family Tree III gives a little more detail on the ancestry of King James VI (of Scotland) and I (of England)–same man.  As for his descendants in Family Tree IV,  the problem is that Queen Anne (bottom, center-right) died in 1714, without a living heir. Who should be the next monarch? James Edward (bottom far right) could have succeeded, but he was much too Catholic. The Protestants had forced his father James II to abdicate in 1688 after an invasion by William and Mary (on center-left, near bottom), because James II was also very Catholic, and his wife, Mary of Modena, even more so. England by now were mainly Protestant. So the Parliament had to look for another successor after Queen Anne.

They found a successor, here:

Allan Massie, The Royal Stuarts: A History of the Family that Shaped Britain (Thomas Dunn, 2011).

Elizabeth of Bohemia was James I’s daughter. She was Queen of Bohemia for a brief time, so presumably she was anointed. She married Frederick, Elector of Palatine of the Rhine. (“Elector” means he and others elected the Holy Roman Emperor). He had died in 1632.

Next, their daughter Sophia married a Hanoverian, who died in 1698, but before his passing they had George (and others). Parliament decided he should be the one to succeed to the English throne after Queen Anne died in 1714. He became George I. The House of Hanover was born, so to speak, in that same year.

Let’s take stock so far. Only one link in the generational chain was not an anointed sovereign: Sophia. But genealogically, the generational links in the chain from Charlemagne to the end of Stage Three are secure, without question.

STAGE FOUR: FROM THE HANOVERIANS TO THE WINDSORS

This final stage is well known, so the comments are few. All the sovereigns from here to the present queen were anointed.

George I, National Portrait Gallery

Here is the House of Hanover:

Alvin Redman, House of Hanover (New York: Coward McCann, 1960)

The next tree overlaps with the first one, but it still moves us forward.

Monica Charlot, Victoria: The Young Queen (Blackwell, 1991).

The family name of the royal family had been Coburg-Saxe-Gotha, but it was changed in 1917, at the height of WWI, when anti-German sentiments ran high in the UK.

This one also overlaps with the previous one, but again moves us forward:

John Fabb, European Royalty of the Victorian and Edwardian Era (London: B. A. Seaby, 1986)

And now let’s finish with the Windsors:

Charles Phillips, The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Royal Britain: A Magnificent Study of Britain’s Royal Heritage with a Directory of Royalty and over 120 of the Most Important Historic Buildings (Lorenz, 2011)

HRH Queen Elizabeth II

OBSERVATIONS

From Charlemagne to the Normans, the family line from him to Matilda, wife of William the Conqueror, skipped over anointed sovereigns for several generations, but ran through the counts and dukes of Flanders

From Charlemagne to the very first Capetians, only one link in the chain was not an anointed sovereign: Herbert I, count of Vermandois. However, his daughter Beatrix married Robert I, king of W. Francis, who was an anointed sovereign (research may tell us she too was anointed as his queen). So from them all the way through the Valois to Catherine, who married Henry V, they were all anointed sovereigns. However, Catherine remarried to Owen Tudor, who was not an anointed sovereign. Then their son Edmund was not anointed sovereign and was the father of Henry VII, an anointed sovereign.

Next, from the Normans, beginning with William the Conqueror, through most of the Plantagenets, the line of anointed sovereigns is unbroken. Henry I’s daughter, Matilda, was an Empress, so she was an anointed sovereign in Germany, but not in England. In England, she was titled “Lady of the English.”

In the Plantagenet dynasty, due to the Wars of the Roses, the generations comprise anointed sovereigns but Queen Elizabeth II’s direct line skips over or bypasses Henry IV, Henry V, Henry VI and Richard III, but not Edward IV, a Yorkist. Four generations from Edward III to Henry VII, Tudor, were anointed sovereigns, but they are not directly related to HRH Elizabeth II.

The fist surviving son of Henry VII, the first Tudor, was Henry VIII. He produced heirs who were anointed monarchs: Edward VI, Mary I, and Elizabeth I. However, none of them produced an heir.

The Tudors continue on through Henry VII’s daughter Margaret (and Henry VIII’s elder sister). Margaret and her husband James IV were anointed. Their son James V was anointed, and presumably so was his wife Mary of Guise. In a dynastic sense, the Tudors die out, but not genealogically. It continues genealogically through Mary Queen of Scots, daughter of James V and Mary of Guise, who was anointed.

Queen Elizabeth II descends from Mary Queen of Scots through her son James VI (of Scotland) and I (of England)–same man. After the last Stuart monarch, Queen Anne, died without a surviving heir, in 1714, the Parliament went back to James I, and his daughter Elizabeth of Bohemia, who was briefly Queen of Bohemia, so (presumably) she was anointed. Her daughter Sophia was not an anointed sovereign. She produced George, a Hanoverian, and the House of Hanover was born when he became George I, in 1714.

So from Henry VII to the present queen, the rest of the lineage is clear and direct: all anointed sovereigns (except Sophia, daughter of Elizabeth of Bohemia).

Time to wrap this up:

Hundreds of thousands, maybe millions, can claim descent from this or that Medieval king, particularly the Plantagenets, but those lines soon become collateral, that is to say, “common.” No, a person is not less important because of a common heritage, but keeping track of anointed sovereigns counts for much in establishing successive monarchs. (For examples at this website of these “common” royal claims, go here, here, here, and here.)

However, after the Plantagenets, very few people today can claim descent from later kings and queens. The offspring seem to have gotten fewer because the dynasties did not last as long as the Plantagenets (and for other reasons).

However, only the current Queen of Britain, Elizabeth II, and some other European monarchs, can claim descent from Charlemagne to themselves through numerous anointed sovereigns in all but a few links in the chain.

BONUS PEDIGREE TREES

These European monarchs descend from Queen Victoria. The tables should be placed side-by-side. Prince Philip descends from Victoria and therefore from Charlemagne.

This one on the left:

And this one on the right:

Note Queen Victoria at the top. Clearly, she was the Grandmother of European royalty.

HRH Prince Philip, Prince Consort of HRH Queen Elizabeth II, also descends from Queen Victoria, and he appears on bottom, far right, in the first table. Therefore he too descends from Charlemagne. He is not a “minor” royal, as some journalists claim.

RELATED

CAROLINGIANS

Charlemagne: Interesting Facts and Stories

Pippin, Son of Charlemagne

Bernard, King of Italy

Pippin, Great Grandson of Charlemagne (transition to the House of Vermandois)

HOUSE OF VERMANDOIS

Herbert I, count of Vermandois

CAPETIANS

Robert I (r. 922-23) of the House of Robertians or Robertines

Hugh the Great (r. 938-956)

Hugh Capet (r. 987-996) (first king of Capetians)

Robert II the Pious (r. 996-1031)

Henri I (r. 1031-60)

Philip I the Amorous (r. 1059 or 1060-1108)

Louis VI the Fat (r. 1108-1037)

Louis VII the Younger (r. 1137-1180)

Philip II Augustus (r. 1180-1223)

Louis VIII the Lion (r. 1223-1226)

Louis IX the Saint (r. 1226-1270)

Philip III the Bold (r. 1270-1285)

Philip IV the Handsome (r. 1285-1314)

Louis X the Quarrelsome (r. 1314-1316)

Philip V the Tall (r. 1316-1322)

Charles IV the Handsome (r 1322-1328) (last Capetian king)

(I have not researched the Valois.)

HOUSES OF NORMANDY AND BLOIS

William the Conqueror

Matilda, Wife and Queen of William the Conqueror

William II, Rufus

Henry I

Stephen (not in the direct line)

Matilda, Empress

EARLY PLANTAGENETS

Henry II

Eleanor of Aquitaine (duchess of Aquitaine, queen, and Henry II’s wife)

Richard I

King John

Henry III

Eleanor of Provence (wife of Henry III and mother of Edward I)

Edward I

Eleanor of Castile (married Edward I)

Edward II

Edward III

Richard II (not in direct line)

LATER PLANTAGENETS

Henry IV (not in direct line to HRH Queen Elizabeth)

Henry V (not in direct line)

Henry VI (not in direct line)

Edward IV

Edward V (not in direct line–too young!)

Richard III (not in direct line)

FIRST TUDOR (click on Henry VII for further links all the Tudors)

Henry VII

1 thought on “From Charlemagne to Queen Elizabeth II

  1. What a fantastic job! Most everyone here in the chart are in my family tree. I have been doing research for 15 years and have loved every minute of it.

    Like

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