Sunday, May 15, 2011

It runs in the family I: Finding your (possible) roots in deep time

My mom (AnS) and her sister (MB), our aunt, have been digging deep into the genealogical online mines of Swedish historical documents and found some amazing tracks back in time.  As you go back in time you of course have more and more ancestors, and if you are lucky some of these were historically important enough to have been part of the record-keeping for centuries.  First AnS e-mailed me and told us that, in fact, we had royal blood in the family down there in the medieval 1400s.  “1400s!” That was before Christopher Columbus ‘discovered’ the Caribbean, Galileo, and da Vinci (well, Leonardo was born 1452).

A few days later and a new e-mail from mom revealed lineages even deeper in time – now back in time from a princess of Sweden in the early 1200s (Brigida Haraldsdotter).  From her, the old histories and folktales lead the genealogy of our family far back in time into Viking Age (which was approximately during years 700-1100).  Not only that, the old Icelandic sagas and other historical documents trace the family lineages of these famous Vikings all the way back to, you guessed it, the Nordic Gods. 

These mythological and folktale texts, poems, and documents (often called Sagas) provide genealogies like the Bible, but more exact with birth and death dates, which of course might be wrong.  But so far, mom and MB have traced our family back to Yngvi Frej Odinson Tyrkjekonung (year 125-214), son of Odin and Freja, two of the Gods in Nordic mythology.  How is that for amazing genealogy?  It is like being able to trace your family back to Abraham in the Bible.  Do you think the Mormons would be jealous of us?  For Mormons genealogy is very important for religious reasons, while I just think it is interesting and curious, and it roots you in a place and time.

So, we can trace our family nearly 1900 years back in time, and so can probably most Nordic people, since nearly everybody is at least distantly related to some old royal nobleman.  In our case these relationships are directly back in time, based on direct bloodlines not some 'third cousin twice removed' or anything.

In a little series here on the blog we will highlight some of the ancestral people of the family, directly related to us even if their DNA by this time is pretty diluted, maybe 25-50 generations later. This is based on historical documents and who knows who really slept with who (which undoubtedly sometimes led to pregnancies outside of marriage), and it doesn’t help that sometimes kids got adopted, two children could have the same name, cousins married cousins over and over, and so on. It is often unclear who the mother was, and that was less important since only the sons inherited the father, and mothers and daughters were less important (except as marriage material).  It is a tangled but interesting web of stories, people, and places. 

 And, for Stamp of the Day, some viking stamps from Isle of Man.

1 comment:

EH said...

Great post LS, I will follow this with great interest!