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Monday, January 09, 2017

Grandpa Saint Arnold and the Bottomless Beer Mug

One of my sainted ancestors has
his very own stained glass window.
I've been working on my family tree in my down time lately and discovered that if you shake your tree very hard, there's no telling what may fall out. If you get into the records of the nobility, it gets really weird. My wife and I share several ancestors - some Frankish kings, some barons and earls, and even a couple of saints. Apparently, one of both mine and my wife's shared ancestors managed to get himself canonized as a Saint, largely because he led an outfit during the First Crusade and exterminated a lot of pagans, Jews and Muslims. Wow! Pope Urban certainly had different ideas about what made one saintly than I do!

Another of my saintly ancestors was Saint Arnulf of Metz or Saint Arnuiph depending on who is spelling it. He supposedly dislike violence in the court where he was adviser to King Theodosius II and threw his bishop's ring into the water. Later his servant caught a fish and when he was cleaning it to prepare for Arnulf's supper, he found the ring inside the fish. The "miracle" he performed supposedly after his death and the one that earned him sainthood would have pleased his McClure descendants mightily....


St Arnold nee Arnulf
It was July 642 and very hot when the parishioners of Metz went to Remiremont to recover the remains of their former bishop (Arnulf). They had little to drink and the terrain was inhospitable. At the point when the exhausted procession was about to leave Champigneulles, one of the parishioners, Duc Notto, prayed “By his powerful intercession the Blessed Arnold will bring us what we lack.” Immediately the small remnant of beer at the bottom of a pot multiplied in such amounts that the pilgrims' thirst was quenched and they had enough to enjoy the next evening when they arrived in Metz.  -Wikipedia: Arnulf of Metz

So apparently the pope decided that if Christ could turn water into wine, Arnulf's "miraculous bottomless beer mug" should earn him a place among the saints. I know many of my Irish ancestors would have agreed. The Germans certainly did. There is a brewery in Houston named after him and he has his own Feast Day on July 18.

Edward I Longshanks
The Cranky King of England
Turns out my family also has several Western Roman emperors up the old family tree, and, to my shame, Edward I "Longshanks" is my great great + grandpappy. You may remember him as the villainous King of England in the movie "Braveheart." We Kings are also related to Clovis I, the first king of the Franks and to Marcus Arelius the Roman general. We're also related to Charles Martel who turned back the Islamic invasion of Europe at the Battle of Tours, October 10, 732.

And don't get me going on the Vikings. There's a whole string of Erics, Olafs, Ragnars and folks with the sobriquet, "The Bold", "The Valiant", and "The Brave". There are also a disturbing number of "The Simples".
And I haven't even got started on the Irish side of the family yet.

Genealogy apparently shakes out the good fruit along with the rotten apples. The nobility kept good records of their family trees. Lots of limbs just disappear into the darkness of the unrecorded peasantry, of course. The nobility did scatter a lot of extraneous seed about, though. A lot of the mothers were unwed mistresses apparently. In several cases the old family tree grows together among its upper branches. One gal had the same Grandmother on both sides of her family. It's kind of fascinating. I'm still adding from my own research and have caught onto several little brand new branches of my family tree in doing so.

It's really an interesting sport.

Charles "The Hammer" Martel - The Scourge
of Islam (we call him Grandpa Chuck).
In digging up the McClure side of my family tree (my Dad's formidable mother's people) I hooked into someone who did a lot of research and shared my great great great grandfather. Through him I got hooked up with some Scots nobility that the McClures went back to through several unwed mothers. It's incredible who you bump into if you're related to the European nobility. They kept quite meticulous family records in order to maintain their position in the nobility and can go back an astonishing way. And many of my progenitors, like Charles Martel, Louis II and others turned out to be historically interesting figures.

I've found records on my wife's side that go back beyond 1520 BC. She has one line that hooked onto a Levite family that claims connections that to go back to Ruth and Boaz and Ruth's side gets into some serious biblical genealogy and goes back all the way to Adam and Eve and you can't go much farther back than that.

My own kin ten to be rather more prosaic by and large and heavily charged with peasant genes. That said, our bloodline does include some very naughty fellows. We have some Swedish kings including a King Olaf (not the snowman from the Disney flick), several dozen princes or so, and a scattering of Earls and barons and baronesses, and, believe it or not, one really unsavory count who bore the cheery nickname of Vlad the Impaler.

Behold, my great, great, great,........etc. Grandpa!
Grandpa Vlad (the Impaler)

That's right I am the great great great+ grandson of Count Dracula. It would certainly explain my problematic relationship with garlic (which it took a long time for me to come to appreciate) and silver (which I cannot seem to collect in any quantity) and my tendency to stay up late at night. I like to make pointy things out of wood though. Go figure!

If you're interested in digging up some of your own ancestors, forgo the shovels please and go visit the Mormons at It's free and as you start to enter your family members into your tree, the software will suggest possible matches from other family trees that other researchers have placed on the website and if the birthdates and stuff match, you will suddenly have all sorts of new ancestors to explore.  How much fun is that? Who knows you too could be related to Boris the Bloody, Ragnar the Vicious or, perhaps, Vlad the Impaler might be great grandpa to both of us. If he is, I recommend lots of sunscreen when you go outdoors. I've seen the movies.....

© 2017 by Tom King

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