Early Medieval Era

The Scottish branches of my family tree include my 29 x great grandfather Duncan of Scotland, 1001 – 13 August 1040. Duncan was killed by Macbeth and immortalised by Shakespeare.

My 25 x great grandfather, William “The Lion” King of Scotland, ruled 9 December 1165 – 4 December 1214. He established one of Scotland’s leading symbols, the scarlet rampant lion on a yellow field.

My direct ancestor, Hugh Despencer was an ally of Simon de Montfort. Hugh died at the battle of Evesham on 4 August 1265. His remains ‘performed miracles, curing blind and disabled people.’

Picture: Hugh Despencer, centre, above and the mutilated body of Simon de Montfort, below.

I’ve traced one branch of my family tree back to Lord Tancrède (Tancred) “the Viking” born c880 in Schleswig-Holstein, Denmark. One of the foremost Vikings of his generation, Tancrède built a castle on a spur overlooking the Seine.

Picture: le Château Fort de la Ville Tancrède

Trouble with the neighbours. In 1294 Lady Hornby accused my direct ancestor John de Tunstall of shooting an arrow at her steward because he wanted to seize a wagon laden with corn to make distraint.

A Templar in the family. Sir Robert Maunsell was born c1136, the son of Ralph Maunsell and Cecilia Pagnell. He married Joice Dauncy, daughter of Sir William de Alneto Dauncey, c1165.

In 1163, Sir Robert attacked and defeated Sultan Nouradin at La Bochen, near Tripoli. Later, he became preceptor of the Knights Templars in the East.

A Scottish branch of my family tree has led me to the noble houses of the Isle of Man, Orkney, Norway and Sweden. And to Kiev. This is my direct ancestor, Святослав Игоревич (Святослав I) “Sviatoslav Igorevich, Grand Prince of Kiev, Warrior King”.

A contemporary, Leo the Deacon, described Sviatoslav. He was “blue-eyed, of average height but of stalwart build, much more sturdy than Tzimiskes. He shaved his blond head and his beard but wore a bushy mustache and a sidelock as a sign of his nobility. He preferred to dress in white, and it was noted that his garments were much cleaner than those of his men, although he had a lot in common with his warriors. He wore a single large gold earring bearing a carbuncle and two pearls.”