We’re all descended from Charlemagne … and related to each other.

Charlemagne, or ‘Charles the Great’, was the ruler of what is now France in the early Middle Ages.  He had 18 children by 10 different wives and concubines. His children then went on to populate Europe, which is why everyone with European ancestry is descended from Charlemagne.  From the BBC: “Charlemagne (Charles the Great) was king of the Franks and Christian emperor of the West. He did much to define the shape and character of medieval Europe and presided over the Carolingian Renaissance. Charlemagne was born in the late 740s near Liège in modern day Belgium, the son of the Frankish king Pepin the Short. When Pepin died in 768, his kingdom was divided between his two sons and for three years Charlemagne ruled with his younger brother Carloman. When Carloman died suddenly in 771, Charlemagne became sole ruler. Charlemagne spent Read more…

Medieval Moneylending

Edward Longshankes (Edward I) got himself in debt to various moneylenders in order to fund his wars.  During his reign, he fought with his father in the Baron’s War against Simon de Montfort, against Llywelyn ap Gruffydd, the Prince of Wales, against the French, and against the Scots.  All of these wars cost money. A king had a couple of options when on a quest for funds.  One, he can tax his people.  Edward certainly did that.  Two, he can confiscate funds from those over whom he wields power.  I blogged earlier about what he did to Jewish coinsmiths in 1278 (http://www.sarahwoodbury.com/?p=179).  Henry VIII had the great plan of starting his own religion and confiscating the wealth of the Catholic Church.  That was a little more radical than Edward, who often relied on the third method, money lending. In the Read more…