"People don't know how entertaining a study [genealogy] is. Who begot whom is a most amusing kind of hunting; one recovers a grandfather instead of breaking one's own neck—and then one grows so pious to the memory of a thousand persons one never heard of before."
—Horace Walpole to the Rev. Mr. Cole, 5 June 1775
Magna Carta sureties:
Robert fitz Walter, leader of the barons (d. 1235). 25X-great grandfather.
Richard de Clare, Earl of Clare (1153-1217). 25X-great grandfather.
Gilbert de Clare (1180-1230). 24X-great grandfather.
Saher de Quincy, Earl of Winchester (1155-1219). 25X-great grandfather.
Henry de Bohun, Earl of Hereford (1175-1220). 24X-great grandfather.
Roger le Bigod, Earl of Norfolk (1140-1221). 23X-great grandfather.
Hugh Bigod, later Earl of Norfolk (d. 1225). 22X-great grandfather.
William de Mowbray (d. 1224). 25X-great grandfather.
Robert de Roos (1171-1227). 24X-great grandfather.
John de Lacy, Constable of Chester (1192-1240). 24X-great grandfather.
William d'Aubeney (1146-1236). 24X-great grandfather.
William Malet (1174-1216). 26X-great grandfather.
John fitz Robert (d. 1241). 24X-great grandfather.
Mentioned in the Magna Carta preamble as advisors to King John:
William Marshal, Earl of Pembroke (1146-1219). 23X-great grandfather.
William Longespee, Earl of Salisbury (1170-1226). 24X-great grandfather.
William de Warenne, Earl of Surrey (d. 1138). 25X-great grandfather.
William d'Aubeney, Earl of Arundel (1180-1221). 23X-great grandfather.
Alan fitz Roland, Constable of Scotland (1199-1234). 25X-great grandfather.
Peter fitz Herbert (d. 1235). 24X-great grandfather.
Hugh de Neville (d. 1234). 26X-great grandfather.
Thomas Basset (d. 1220). 24X-great grandfather.
Alan Basset (d. 1233). 25X-great grandfather.
Also present at Runnymede:
John, King of England (1166-1216). 24X-great grandfather.
Murderers of Thomas Becket, Archbishop of Canterbury:
Henry fitz Ailwin (1135-1212), first Mayor of London. 27X-great grandfather.
Reynold atte Conduit, Mayor of London, 1334-35. 21X-great grandfather.
Diego Gomez (d. 1373), notorio mayor and alcade mayor of Toledo, Spain. 18X-great grandfather.
Robert Humfrey (1570-1637), Mayor of Thaxted, Essex, England. 11X-great grandfather.
A Speaker of the House of Commons:
James Pickering (1332-1398), member (variously) for Westmorland, Cumberland, and Yorkshire. 19X-great grandfather.
A Chief Justice of England, son-in-law of the aforementioned James Pickering:
Sir William Gascoigne (1350-1419). 18X-great grandfather.
A troubador poet:
William IX of Aquitaine (1071-1127). 27X-great grandfather.
Doges of Venice:
Rodrigo Díaz de Vivar (1042-1048). 29X-great grandfather.
Bruno of Carinthia (972-999). Pope Gregory V, 33X-great uncle.
Bruno of Eguisheim-Dagsburg (1002-1054). Pope St. Leo IX, 32X-great uncle.
Frederick of Lorraine (1020-1058). Pope Stephen IX, 29X-great uncle.
Guy de Burgundy (1065-1124). Pope Callixtus II, 28X-great uncle.
Raymond Bertrand de Goth (1264-1314). Pope Clement V, 23X-great uncle.
Jacques Dueze (1244-1344). Pope John XXII, 22X-great uncle.
[Note that the first four are predicated on pre-Carolingian descents which have been plausibly conjectured but never proved.]
St. Rusticus, Archbishop of Lyon, b. abt. 455. 45X-great grandfather.
St. Clotilde, b. 475. Wife of Clovis I, King of the Franks. 45X-great grandmother.
St. Dode, Abbess of St. Pierre de Rheims, b. bef. 509. Daughter-in-law of Tonantius Ferreolus, Senator in the Narbonne. 43X-great grandmother.
St. Gondulphus of Maastricht, b. abt 524, Aquitaine. 42X-great grandfather.
St. Arnulf, Bishop of Metz, b. abt. 13 Aug 582, Heristal, near Liege. Earliest historically-certain ancestor of Charlemagne. 40X-great grandfather.
St. Itta of Metz, b. abt 592, Aquitaine. Wife of Pepin of Landen; mother of St. Begga (see below). 40X-great grandmother.
St. Begga of Landen, b. 615, Landen, near Liege. Wife of Ansegisel, Mayor of the Palace of Austrasia, himself son of St. Arnulf, Bishop of Metz (see above). 39X-great grandmother.
St. Balthild of Ascania, b. abt 626. Wife of Clovis II, King of Neustria. 40X-great grandmother.
St. Caintigern, d. 734. Daughter of Cellach Cualann mac Gerthide, King of Laigin (in Ireland). 38X-great grandmother.
Guillaume I (St. Guillaume), Count of Toulouse, b. 754, Septimanie. 35X-great grandfather.
St. Eberhard, Margrave of Friuli, d. 865. 34X-great grandfather.
St. Ludmila of Bohemia, b. abt 860, Melnik, now Czech Republic. 37X-great grandmother.
St. Olga of Kiev, b. abt 890, Pskov, Russia. Daughter-in-law of Rurik, founder of the Rus. 31X-great grandmother.
St. Matilda, b. abt 895. Wife of Henry "the Fowler," King of Germany. 31X-great grandmother.
St. Alfgifu of Shaftesbury, d. 944. Wife of Eadmund, King of Wessex and Mercia. 31X-great grandmother.
St. Pietro I Orseolo, Doge of Venice, b. 928. 34X-great grandfather.
St. Adelaide of Italy, b. abt 931, Burgundy. Wife of Otto I, Holy Roman Emperor. 35X-great grandmother.
St. Vladimir of Kiev, b. 958. Father of Yaroslav the Wise, Grand Prince of Kiev. 29X-great grandfather.
Olaf II (St. Olaf), King of Norway, b. 995. 32X-great grandfather.
St. Anna, b. 1001, Sigtuna, Sweden. Wife of Yaroslav the Wise, Grand Prince of Kiev. 28X-great grandmother.
Pope Leo IX (St. Leo), b. Bruno of Egisheim-Dagsburg, 1002, Eguisheim, Alsace, Swabia. 32X-great uncle.
St. Adele of France, b. abt 1009, Ypres, Flanders. 28X-great grandmother.
St. Ida of Verdun, b. abt 1040. 30X-great grandmother.
St. Margaret of Scotland, b. abt 1045, possibly in Hungary. Wife of Malcolm III, King of Scotland. 27X-great grandmother.
St. Leopold, Margrave of Austria, b. 1073. 28X-great grandfather.
St William of Breteuil, d. 1130. 28X-great grandfather.
St. Waltheof, d. 1159. 26X-great uncle.
St. William fitz Herbert, Archbishop of York, b. 1102, Winchester, Hampshire, England. 27X-great uncle.
St. Umberto, Count of Savoy, b. abt 4 Aug 1136. 25X-great grandfather.
Fernando III (St. Fernando), King Of Castile, b. 1201 en route between Salamanca and Zamora. Full title: King Of Castile, León, Galicia, Toledo, Córdoba, Jaén, and Seville. 24X-great grandfather.
Louis IX (St. Louis), King of France, b. 25 Apr 1214, Poissy, Yvelines, France. 25X-great grandfather.
St. Thomas de Cantelowe, Bishop of Hereford, b. abt. 1220, Hambledon, Buckinghamshire, England. 24X-great uncle.
Special All-Bloodshed All-the-Time Late Medieval Battles Appendix
"We are very fond of some families because they can be traced beyond the Conquest, whereas indeed the farther back, the worse, as being the nearer allied to a race of robbers and thieves."
Present at the battle of Lewes, 14 May 1264, at which Henry III was defeated by rebel forces led by Simon de Montfort:
For the king—
Fulk IV Fitzwarine, 22xG (drowned in the Ouse trying to escape)
Alan la Zouche (1217-1270), 23xG (taken prisoner, escaped to Lewes Priory, recaptured and imprisoned)
John Fitz Alan (1223-1267), 24xG (taken prisoner)
Richard of Cornwall (1209-1272), 23xG (discovered hiding in a windmill; taken prisoner)
Prince Edward, later Edward I (1239-1307), 23xG (taken as hostage)
Henry III (1207-1272), 24xG (forced to accept the Provisions of Oxford)
Robert de Vipont (b. 1234), 23xG (died weeks later of wounds sustained in the battle)
John Giffard (1232-1299), 21xG (taken prisoner, although he had already captured Alan le Zouche (see above); later switched sides) (1)
Gilbert de Clare (1243-1295), 22xG (survived)
Nicholas de Segrave (1238-1295), 23xG (survived)
Henry de Hastings (1235-1269), 22xG (survived)
Present at the battle of Evesham, 4 Aug 1265, at which rebel forces led by Simon de Montfort were defeated by the royalist army of Prince Edward:
Hugh le Despenser (b. 1223), 23xG (killed by Roger de Mortimer)
Peter de Montfort (b. 1210), 24xG (killed)
Peter de Montfort (1240-1287), 23xG (wounded, captured, pardoned in 1267, some of his lands restored)
Henry de Hastings (1235-1269), 22xG (wounded, taken prisoner)
Ralph Basset, 23xG (killed) (2)
For the king—
John Giffard (1232-1299), 21xG (survived)
James de Audley (1220-1272), 22xG (survived)
Roger de Somery (1209-1273), 22xG (survived) (3)
Roger de Mortimer (1231-1282), 24xG (survived) (4)
Prince Edward, later Edward I (1239-1307), 23xG (survived)
Henry III (1207-1272), 24xG (spent the battle as a hostage, survived)
Present at the battle of Bannockburn, 24 Jun 1314, at which the English army led by Edward II was defeated by a much smaller Scottish force led by Robert the Bruce:
For the king—
Robert de Clifford (b. 1276), 21xG (killed)
Pain de Tibetot (b. 1279), 21xG (killed)
Guiscard de Charron, 21xG (killed)
John Hardreshull (1291-1369), 20xG (taken prisoner; released by 1317)
Present at the battle of Crécy, 26 Aug 1346, at which the English led by Edward III defeated a larger army of the French led by Philip VI:
For the English—
John le Strange (1306-1349), 20xG (survived)
Henry le Scrope (1312-1391), 20xG (survived)
Peter de Salford (d. bef 1382), 21xG (survived)
John Giffard (1301-1369), 21xG (survived)
Ralph Daubeney (1305-1378), 21xG (survived)
Robert de Holand (~1311-1373), 20xG (survived) (5)
John Hardreshull (1291-1369), 20xG (survived) (6)
Present at the Siege of Calais, 4 September 1346 – 3 August 1347, another early English victory in the Hundred Years' War:
Present at the battle of Shrewsbury, 24 Jul 1403, at which a rebel army led by Henry "Hotspur" Percy was defeated by Henry IV:
For the king—
Walter Blount (b. 1348), 17xG (killed by the Earl of Douglas while bearing the royal standard) (7)
For the rebels—
Richard de Venables, 18xG (beheaded on the field directly following the battle)
For the English—
John Chichester (1386-1437), 17xG (survived)
Thomas Gresley (1366-1445), 17xG (survived)
William Tyrwhit (1390-1451), 18xG (survived)
John Waterton (1365-1417), 18xG (survived) (8)
Walter Culpepper (1399-1462), 17xG (survived; later known in Kent as "the Squire of Agincourt")
Present at the battle of Towton, 29 Mar 1461, at which the Lancastrian army led by Henry Beaufort was defeated by the forces of Edward, Duke of York:
(1) According to one account, the prisoner captured by John Giffard, before he was himself captured, was instead Alan la Zouche's brother William la Zouche (d. 1272), 23xG, but we find no other mention of William being present at the battle.
(2), (3) Ralph Basset, who fought for the rebels at Evesham and was killed, was a son-in-law of Roger de Somery, who fought for the king and survived.
(4) Roger de Mortimer is known to have killed Hugh le Despenser at Evesham; some accounts state that he also delivered the death-blow to Simon de Montfort.
(5) Probably, but not certainly, present at Crécy.
(6) Probably, but not certainly, present at Crécy.
(7) He appears in Shakespeare's Henry IV, Part I as "Sir Walter Blunt," transformed from a middle-aged man into a young one. His death at Shrewsbury is the occasion of Falstaff's bitter monologue about the uselessness of knightly honor.
(8) On the expedition to France in 1415, he was Master of the King's Horse for Henry V. He was at Agincourt with six men at arms.
(9) Described by the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography as a "landowner and gang leader" and "one of Suffolk's henchmen," he was a thoroughly bad man whose violence and cupidity flourished in the lawless conditions that led up to the Wars of the Roses. Following Towton he continued to fight on the Lancastrian side. After the battle of Hexham he was discovered hiding in a coal mine with 3000 marks intended to pay Lancastrian soldiers. He was taken to the Sandhills in Newcastle and summarily beheaded.