Did you know that Henry 1st of England...who was a son of William the Conquerer...had the most bastard acknowledged children of any other monarch? I didn't know that until today when I found he...Henry...is yet another remote ancestor of the English side...and having said that the further back I go the less 'English' we are...
Anyway Henry had about twenty-four bastard children he acknowledged...there were probably more but those are the ones he bestowed titles on and married off to suitable Princesses and so on...
And I also discovered that Cluniac Monesteries were slightly odd in that the monks did no manual work whatsoever but devoted their days to prayer...extremely unusual in their day when monks devoted much of their time to raising livestock and growing crops...and of course the famous herb gardens which provided the basis of many a tincture or salve...
They still welcomed those women whose lives were wrecked by husbands and sons killed on the battlefields...quite a few of my very remote female ancestors ended their days in the peace of the cloistors and I would presume were buried in the Monastery grounds.
I know it isn't possible, nor is it feasible, that those early places where devout men made their home and elderly ladies retreated could be kept.as they were back in the 1060's...but it is sad to realise most are buried under concrete with fast roads and multi-storey buildings on the sites where once walked pious monks with hands folded beneath their robes. Where ladies from Iceland and Norway and Norfolk enjoyed days of quietude far away from draughty stone castles and news of deaths on battlefields...
From what I have gathered forty years old was practically ancient...to reach the age of sixty was remarkable. Girls married at fourteen and fifteen and birthed their first child soon afterwards...their men went away to fight neighbouring clans and died from wounds inflicted by pikes and swords...the girls married again and again...producing more babies until they too died at twenty-five...thirty...too few reached their forties to see their children grow and marry themselves...
Travel between France and England....Iceland and England, and later on in the 1500's between Ireland and England was commonplace. many girls were born in Iceland to be married to an English Lord and then travel back to their own place of birth to be buried...
English Lords and Earls died in Palestine and France...maybe they were Crusaders...some people have pages of written history devoted to them and some have one line, of which the truth is under doubt...
Dates vary wildly...one man will be stated to have been born in 1009 and died in 1040...and then I find he apparently had children who were concieved in 1050 but I add him to my tree anyway because at some point another will have the real record with the actual dates written down in some manuscript by a person who knew the facts...
And does it matter much when you are writing of a thousand years ago whether someone was born on March 1st or May 20th...
This is where my imagination fails terribly...I cannot visulise living on a remote Scottish island in 1040...I cannot see how information about sieges and battles were relayed to someone living out at sea on a tiny island in a huge rambling stone castle were conveyed...
The journey overland across the Scottish highlands must have been arduous...then the finding of a boat willing to take you across to the Isle of Islay and making your way across the island to the castle and finding the Lord was out fishing...and wouldn't be back 'til tomorrow but you could wait if you like beside the hearth and have a bowl of venison stew...
I can see my Irish ancestors with their travels to Africa and those who died by their own hand and the ocean-going Master mariners...I can relate to the Bohemian cousins who played in pipe bands and learned foreign languages and became difficult priests...
But to go so far back in time that I have little or no comparison to the present day when Kings were named Malcom the Gracious and fought in battles which appear to have been quite unnecessary to a modern mind...who begat so many children the mind boggles and to keep any kind of track of the complicated laws of succession which are more for the learned historian than someone who justs wonders who her ancestors were...
Who were these people with their desperation to keep what they considered to be theirs...who fought awful bloody battles and were carried back to their homes on litters borne by underlings and buried with ceremony in ancient abbies...who were those girls who travelled across the seas to be married to a man they didn't know and have never met...
I am struggling to realise that William the Conquerer was the second cousin of the aunt three times removed etc etc and comes straight down to my Grandpa...who grew cactus plants and loved his little dog and who used to pee in Mother's flowerbeds when he was overtaken with dementia...
I check and recheck and check again and Ancestry insists this is so and I print it all off...pages of it and go through each and every record and it all adds up and I'm left almost saddened that I'll never get into those peoples lives but through the pages of history books.