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Are you a descendant of Charlemagne ?


Charlemagne has been dead for more than a thousand years, but his blood still runs in the veins of countless thousands of people. Not only princes and high nobility, but also many bourgeois families can trace their line of ancestors back to the great emperor with greater or lesser certainty. But if for us today it is a kind of genealogical sport, at times particularly popular, to prove oneself a descendant of the Carolingians, for the members of earlier generations it was more. We know what an enormous role descent from noble blood played in the early Middle Ages. The old biographers of important personalities cannot do enough in their emphasis. Belonging to the small circle of families of the noblest blood was the prerequisite for political status, which was only dispensed with in exceptional cases, and it was extraordinarily difficult for someone of lower rank to be accepted as an equal in this ruling upper class of people. For those times, descent from the ruler who had created the occidental empire had more than a vanity value. Even if it was not the legally established prerequisite for appointment to the office of ruler, as has been claimed, it nevertheless conferred a political and social prestige that was highly significant for one's entire position in life. 


This esteem for Carolingian origins naturally declined over the centuries. When with the great Hohenstaufens the old imperial glory sank into the grave, the nimbus that the share in the blood of their creator had once granted had also completely faded. I therefore believe that the question of which personalities of these earlier centuries can really be proved to be descendants of Charlemagne has its importance not only for the genealogist but for the historian. 


Charlemagne had a lot of children, almost certainly over twenty, with five known wives and four known concubines. This was, of course, a unique social position at the time. His children, 17 of whom we know by name, and their descendants are better documented than any other family in Central Europe at that time. In 1935 Erich Brandenburg published a work entitled 'The Descendants of Charlemagne', in which the first fourteen generations up to about the year 1200 AD are listed. Therefore, we know that around the year 1200 the entire ruling class in Europe - Italy, Spain, France, Germany up to Russia - belonged to the descendants of Charlemagne. According to Brandenburg, that is already more than 1,000 people who were spread all over Europe. And around the year 1200, this group already extends down to 'normal' knights, and after a further 100 to 200 years, via the ministerials to the lower nobility. Thus,  the descendants of Charlemagne multiplied even more. In the late Middle Ages, many knights and nobles also moved into the towns as burghers and formed parts of the ruling classes there as well. Thus, in the late Middle Ages, many families in the cities were already descended from Charlemagne. Today we can say that every woman and man whose parents, grandparents and great-grandparents lived in Central Europe is probably descended from Charlemagne. The only question is whether the source tradition makes such proof possible.


And now the descendants of Charlemagne were certainly best able to spread themselves genealogically, for they belonged to the leading class. The sources for these descendants of Charlemagne are much better than for all other groups of people in the early and high Middle Ages. Therefore, it is still quite possible today that families can be traced back over 40 generations to Charlemagne. Of course, Charlemagne is not the progenitor of these families, but only their ancestor through many dozens of women. The women are therefore often much more important for the question of one's own descent from Charlemagne.


At first it seems almost impossible that a descent from Charlemagne to a Glarus farmer actually took place - and yet it is possible. The descent of an emperor or king of the Middle Ages from a citizen of the 20th century must theoretically and logically come from different descendants. Consider that Charlemagne's grandsons - Emperor Lothair, King Louis the German and King Charles the Bald - ruled over Italy, Germany and France. Charlemagne's legacy is thus already divided into three major parts. Through which hereditary stream does the descent lead us to Glarus? Geographically and historically, one would assume that the path leads via Louis the German, as he ruled in German lands. King Louis the German did not leave behind a large line of descendants that could have continued for several generations, which is why we have to limit ourselves to his siblings. Emperor Lothar I, King Charles the Bald and his sister Gisela, the wife of Eberhard of Friuli, appear as very strong ancestors in many European genealogical tables.


The area of the Rhine Valley between Lake Constance and the Bündner Herrschaft was known to have been the domain of the Counts of Werdenberg-Sargans and Werdenberg-Montfort in the High and Late Middle Ages. The Counts of Werdenberg-Montfort are in fact the link we are looking for. The genealogy of the Counts of Montfort-Feldkirch records a marriage around 1300 between a Sophie von Montfort-Feldkirch, daughter of Count Hugo von Montfort-Feldkirch, who was murdered in Schaffhausen on August 11, 1310, and Friedrich Thumb von Neuenburg. From this connection, the descent leads in ascending line to Charlemagne and in descending line to numerous Glarus dynasties. The almost three centuries of foreign rule of Glarus over the former county of Werdenberg in the Rhine Valley not only left a deep mark on the region but also led to numerous Glarus dignitaries gaining access to the European noble houses by marrying into the local noble families. 


In my many years of research on Glarus families, I have so far been able to identify 20 Glarus people who intermarried with noble families. 

I have based my research work, especially for the first 14th generation, on the carefully researched and still recognised work of Erich Brandenburg, which was reprinted in 1995 in a facsimile reprint from 1935 with corrections and additions [1] . In the 1930s, Professor Erich Brandenburg undertook to compile a comprehensive account of the ascertainable descendants of Charlemagne up to the 14th generation, primarily on the basis of sources. Brandenburg thus intensively researched the period from 770 to around 1250. His work, which he published in 1935, is still a scientifically recognised special achievement in genealogical and historical research. 


For the subsequent generations up to the 20th generation, I have relied on the two equally recognised genealogical works by Rübel-Blass [2] and Benziger-Müller [3] . Above all, the genealogical table by Rübel-Blass, which was published on the occasion of the Swiss National Exhibition in 1939, is one of the most comprehensive table works showing the descent of Swiss citizen families to the numerous noble families found in Switzerland.


The comprehensive genealogical work by Johann Jakob Kubly-Müller from Glarus served me as a source for the last generations up to the 36th generation [4] . In more than 30 years of work (1893-1923) Kubly-Müller created this unique reference work. It comprises a total of 36 large and small volumes as well as the index for the older Glarus genealogy and an alphabetical index. Kubly Müller's monumental work, based on the entire holdings of the parish registers of the canton of Glarus and supplemented by historical directories, documents and materials from public and private archives, lists all Glarus families from the 16th century to the present in their sequence. 

[1] Brandenburg Erich, Die Nachkommen Karls des Grossen, facsimile reprint from 1935 with corrections and additions by Manfred Dreiss and Lupold von Lehsten, Neustadt an der Aisch 1995.

[2] Rübel Eduard, Ahnentafel Rübel-Blass, Volume 1: Text, Volume 2: Ahnentafeln, Zurich 1939.

[3] Benziger-Müller Ralph / Zwicky von Gauen J.P., Ancestors and descendants of Dr. Ralph Benziger and his wife Maria Donata Benziger née Müller, Zurich 1975

[4] Kubly-Müller Johann Jakob, Genealogies of the Canton of Glarus, manuscript in 36 volumes, Glarus 1893-1923, with updates until about 2004, in the National Archives of the Canton of Glarus.

Link to the List of Glarner families marring into European noble families

Once your family line has been identified and linked to my database, one of the family research services provided by me is presenting to you your pedigree up to Charlemagne.


My own pedigree goes back to Ansbert, the progenitor of the Merovingians.


Are you interested - go to

Brandenburg Erich_Die NachkommenKarls de
Benziger-Müller Stammtafeln_Titel.jpg
Rübel-Blass Ahnentafel_Titel.jpg
Wöber_Miller von und zu Aichholz_Titel.j

Research connections to noble families yourself

I have entered thousands of noble families in my online accessible family tree and partly also provided them with detailed sources and references. If you want to follow these historically very interesting connections yourself, then I recommend you to start with Charlemagne in my Glarus family tree:

Pedigree of Charlemagne

Of course you can start with any noble house, for example the current King of England:

Pedigree of King Georges

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