Monday, October 06, 2008


Back from vacation in sunny Spain and beginning to think about my next trip -- to Salt Lake City in two weeks. The Iberian adventure had nothing to do with genealogy -- it was an Elderhostel program in three cities with emphasis on history, art and architecture. But I could not help thinking about the family interconnections (not mine!) among all those monarchs we heard about. In fact, it is just about impossible to go anywhere without finding some intriguing bit of some family's history.

I was reminded that the ill-fated Catherine of Aragon, first wife of England’s Henry VIII, was the daughter of Spain’s Queen Isabella, as was Juana La Loca, poor soul. These references made me run back to my history books for more information. Juana was formally known (in English) as Joanna of Castile, which makes sense, since her father was Ferdinand of Aragon and Isabella was “of Castile.” (Yes, the same pair who sponsored Columbus’s trip West.) Whether Juana was actually mad is still the subject of dispute.

Then there was the dreadful family scourge of hemophilia, thought to have originated with a mutation in Queen Victoria’s genes (there are rumours of a dalliance, but thought to be highly unlikely). It was passed through her grand-daughter Alexandra, who married Russian Czar Nicholas II and then carried it to their son; but it also tainted the Spanish royal line -- Queen Victoria’s daughter Beatrice passed it to her daughter Victoria, who married Spain’s Alfonso XIII. They had two afflicted sons, Alfonso and Gonzalo.

Queen Victoria had one hemophiliac son, Leopold, and two daughters who were carriers, the above-named Beatrice, and Alice. She had three grandsons with the disorder, and four grand-daughters who were carriers. In the subsequent generation, there were six affected males.

All these factual musings are the result of a “non-genealogical” trip. Who knew?

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