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Britain's Royal Families: The Complete Genealogy (1989)

de Alison Weir

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"George III is alleged to have married secretly, on 17th April, 1759, a Quakeress called Hannah Lightfoot, daughter of a Wapping shoemaker, who is said to have borne him three children. Documents relating to the alleged marriage, bearing the Prince's signature, were impounded and examined in 1866 by the Attorney General. Learned opinion at the time leaned to the view that these documents were genuine. They were then placed in the Royal Archives at Windsor; in 1910, permission was refused a would-be author who asked to see them. If George III did make such a marriage when he was Prince of Wales, before the passing of the Royal Marriages Act in 1772, then his subsequent marriage to Queen Charlotte was bigamous, and every monarch of Britain since has been a usurper, the rightful heirs of George III being his children by Hannah Lightfoot, if they ever existed.' From Britain's Royal Families Britain's Royal Families is a unique reference book. It provides, for the first time in one volume, complete genealogical details of all members of the royal houses of England, Scotland and Great Britain - from 800AD to the present. Here is the vital biographical information relating not only to eac… (més)
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Obviously a labor of love; it lists every ruler of England (from Egbert) and Scotland (from Alpin) and their descendants down to grandchildren. Most of the time, it reads like a phone directory; however, the point of reference works is to find little gems in the data. For example, if you were of the opinion that the life of a medieval English princess was all balls and feasts and jousts with her sleeve tied to her favorite’s helmet, consider the case of Mary de Bohun, wife of Henry IV. Mary had her first child at age 12 (or maybe 13; her birth year isn’t quite clear), and her last at age 24, when she died in childbed. It was her seventh pregnancy (in The Very Secret Sex Lives of Medieval Women, it’s claimed that Mary was 22 when she died and it was her sixth pregnancy; I can see how you might lose count). It was just as tough later; Queen Anne (that’s the furniture one) had 18 pregnancies. One was a miscarriage; 13 were stillborn (including a set of twins); one died “aged a few minutes”; one “aged two hours”; one at nine months, one at 20 months; and one made it to age 11. Of course it wasn’t all that easy being male either: of the first 20 kings of Scotland, the causes of death were: Killed in battle (14); Murdered (3); Natural causes (3). This fits with Steven Pinker’s contention in The Better Angels of Our Nature that there has been an overall decline in violence since medieval times (not that modern times aren’t violent but that an individual’s chance of dying by violence have decreased). Worth it for reference or as a slow read, for the capsule biographies of the various royals and descendants. No illustrations or notes, but an extensive bibliography of sources. ( )
2 vota setnahkt | May 20, 2022 |
This volume took Alison Weir twenty-two years to research and write. It's quite a feat. She's covers Britain's monarchy from the late 700s up till 2002.

Each royal house is given a summary at the start of each chapter, followed by the essential details of the ruling king/queen, followed by their consort, any siblings they may have had, and any children. Heirs who have children are also accounted for.

This is more of a reference book that can be used to access specific info, but it may also be read from start to finish. I did the latter, however, I did skip most of the Scottish monarchy section, plus some of the second generation offspring details. At times it proved a bit like reading a birth or death register, but on the other hand the info is clear if you wanted to look up someone in particular.

I found the section on pre-conquest England the most interesting, as the country was so vastly different in its structure and way of living from today that it's hard to imagine.

It's also shocking to see how many English queens lost their children in infancy or upon their birth. Queen Anne's misfortune as a mother was especially sad to read. It's hard to imagine what it must've been like to lose one child, never mind nineteen. I've copied the main details below of her unfortunate children:

1 Stillborn daughter
2 Mary or Marie
Born on 2 June, 1685. Died on 8 February, 1687.
3 Anne Sophia
Born on 12 May, 1686. Died on 2 February, 1687.
4 Stillborn child.
5 Stillborn son
6 Miscarriage
7 Stillborn child
8 William Henry
Born on 24 July, 1689. Died on 30 July, 1700.
9 Mary Born on 14 October, 1690. Died aged 2 hours.
10 George Born on 17 April, 1692. Died, aged a few minutes.
11 Stillborn daughter
12 Stillborn child
13 Stillborn daughter
14 Stillborn son Of six months’ growth.
15 & 16 Stillborn twins A male foetus of 2 or 3 months’ growth and a male foetus of 7 months’ growth.
17 Stillborn son
18 Stillborn son
19 Stillborn son ( )
  PhilSyphe | Jun 26, 2014 |
Alison Weir is an exceptional writer, and has done a great job with the Royal history. ( )
  JohnJohnsonII | May 18, 2013 |
Fantastic resource; the result of 22 years work by the author. The only downside is the format which sometimes is confusing when trying to follow a particular family. Other than that - a great book! ( )
1 vota soliloquies | Feb 3, 2009 |
Useful reference book, and definitely one of the best organised genealogical works I've read. A little out of date now, thanks to the births/marriages of some new Windsors, but I'd mostly be using the medieval sections anyway. ( )
  siriaeve | Jun 22, 2008 |
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Author's Note

The reader may find it helpful to note the following points:

1. Britain's Royal Families covers the period from A.D. 800 to the present day.
Forword

In 1965, when I was fourteen, I read for the first time an adult historical novel. It was about Katherine of Aragon, and was entirely forgettable, except for the fact that it left me with a thirst to find out more about its subject.
Chapter One

The Saxon and Danish Kings of England

There have been kings in England for more than 2,000 years, and yet this realm has been a monarchy for little more than half that time. Up until the Dark Ages, kingship was basically tribal, invested in chieftains of Celtic or Romano-British stock. Then, in the middle of the 5th century, England began to feel the impact of the Barbarian invasions that were changing the face of Europe.
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"George III is alleged to have married secretly, on 17th April, 1759, a Quakeress called Hannah Lightfoot, daughter of a Wapping shoemaker, who is said to have borne him three children. Documents relating to the alleged marriage, bearing the Prince's signature, were impounded and examined in 1866 by the Attorney General. Learned opinion at the time leaned to the view that these documents were genuine. They were then placed in the Royal Archives at Windsor; in 1910, permission was refused a would-be author who asked to see them. If George III did make such a marriage when he was Prince of Wales, before the passing of the Royal Marriages Act in 1772, then his subsequent marriage to Queen Charlotte was bigamous, and every monarch of Britain since has been a usurper, the rightful heirs of George III being his children by Hannah Lightfoot, if they ever existed.' From Britain's Royal Families Britain's Royal Families is a unique reference book. It provides, for the first time in one volume, complete genealogical details of all members of the royal houses of England, Scotland and Great Britain - from 800AD to the present. Here is the vital biographical information relating not only to eac

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