When travelling around
you are bound to learn something new or stir up something you learned long time ago. Last November my wife invited me for some few days to Vienna, the capital of Austria. The city took me by surprice. Beautiful buildings, old and new, and the history is
evident wherever you go. As you know, Vienna is a historical city, once the capital of the Holy Roman Empire. I have always been a bit weak for women and the story of Maria Theresa
(1717-1780), archduchess of Austria, Holy Roman Empress, and queen of Hungary and Bohemia, who began her rule in 1740, interest me. She was the only woman ruler in the 650 years history of the Habsburg dynasty. She was also
|Schönbrunn Castle in Vienna, only 1400 rooms!
The humble home of Maria Theresa.
one of the most successful Habsburg rulers, male or female, while bearing sixteen children between 1738 and 1756.
Her youngest and most beautiful daughter and probably the most famous of her children was Marie-Antoinette
von Habsburg-Lothringen, who married Ludwig XVI, king of France. Unlucky for her she became a victim of the Parisan mob in the French revolution 1789 and met her destiny in October 1793 when lead to the guillotin as did her husband earlier the same year. Having been imprisoned and constantly humiliated the years in the prison, her last words to the crowd that surrounded the guillotin were: "Courage! I have shown it for years; think you I shall lose it
at the moment when my sufferings are to end?" - thus showing that she was the daughter of her strong mother.
Back to Maria Teresia, it's interesting to take a look at the genealogy of her family and her family tree. Her Great-great-great-grandson the Austrian Archduke Franz Ferdinand (1863-1914) was assassinatet June 28 1914 in Sarajevo, then the capital of Bosnia. That started the World War I. The "research" of Maria Theresia's ancestry was an interesting quest for me. Reading through various sources, like encyclopedias, webpages etc., [ crosschecking, you know :-) ] lead me all the way back to Rollo, Duke of Normandy
Ganger-Hrolf, c.860 - c.932, known as Göngu-Hrólfur in Icelandic and as Rollo in French sources, was a Norwegian viking who invaded the area of northern France, now known as Normandy, and founded the Norman dynasty in France. He captured the city Rouen
late in the ninth century and was eventually granted the dukedom of Normandy by King Charles the Simple
of France in 911. His nickname, Ganger (the Walker), alludes to the fact that he was too huge and heavy for any horse to carry.
Rollo, or Göngu-Hrólfur, is a well known figure in the Icelandic Sagas. As a matter of fact he is one of our countless ancestors but also one of those we really like to see in our family tree :-) His father was Earl Rögnvaldur (Ragnvald) Eysteinsson of Mćri in Norway (Rögnvaldur Mćrajarl in Icelandic). When Göngu-Hrólfur went to pound on the Frenchmen he left a daughter in Norway. Her name was Kađlín Hrólfsdóttir - mother unknown. Kađlín's daughter, Niđbjörg, married Helgi Óttarsson, great-grandson of Ketil Flat-Nose, son of Lord Björn buna in Norway. Helgi's grandfather, Bjőrn the Easterner, was a settler in Iceland in the 9th century. Niđbjörg and Helgi´s son was Ósvífur, father of Guđrún Ósvífursdóttir one of the main caracters in the well known Laxdćla Saga
(Paper back. ISBN 0-14-044218-9, read it!) and according to that Saga: "she was the loveliest woman in Iceland at that time, and also the most intelligent." She was "a woman of such courtliness that whatever finery other women wore, they seemed like mere trinkets beside hers. She was the shrewdest and best-spoken of all women; and she had a generous disposition." Oh, ho, ho! Not bad. No wonder that guys were fighting and killing each other to get her! I'm 26th generation descending from her and her fourth husband Ţorkell Eyjólfsson and through her a descendant of Göngu Hrólfur. If you click on the GenWeb
icon below you will be brought to my GedCom family tree. It's your family tree also. Typing Maria Theresia von Habsburg
in the name box, making sure you have the "first name surname or public name or alias
" activated. When her page is loaded, you scroll down and click "Relationship computing
". Then you type my name, Hálfdan Helgason
, in the name box (if you don't have the Icelandic caracter "á", you can copy my name from here and paste it into the name box). Then click OK. Next, click the "upper" Hálfdan Helgason (the other one is my grandson) and then you'll see that I'm a "descendant of the 9th generation of a 20th cousin of Maria Theresia von Habsburg
". Far-fetched? OK, we are not all so closely related.Genealogy is fun!
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