Swedish King Receives Family Tree Of His Ancestors
Every ambassador has an audience with the head of state on arrival on station in the country of destination. Before the mission is terminated they are again received by the head of state. If presidential elections take place in the country in question, they may well be received by two different persons. This is what happens in parliamentary democracies. If a country has a monarchist system, however, the head of state does not change and the ambassadors can be sure that the person who welcomed them will also bid them goodbye. This is how the Czech Ambassador to Sweden, Marie Chatardová, attended the opening and closing ceremony. As she was taking leave she presented to the King of Sweden Carl XVI Gustaf a largescale wall-hung family tree showing Czech ancestors of Swedish kings. Its authors Jan Drocár and Pavel Loužecký revealed some details to the readers of Pozitivní noviny.
The idea to compile such extensive family trees emerged a few years ago. It was a time when we were all celebrating and entering the new millennium and Europe was recalling the important anniversary of 1,200 years since the coronation of Charles the Great as the Roman emperor. I was making my own family tree and in the process I began to wonder whether some descendants of this ruler might be still alive... Although I had not studied history I proceeded rather bravely to do research in historic sources.
In these efforts that lasted several years I found and substantiated with documentary evidence many interesting and sometimes surprising facts. Soon it seemed no longer strange that my search for descendants of Charles the Great led alternatively from one European country to another. All of Europe appeared to me then as a continent that was densely interrelated in terms of time and geography, with a great many succeeding generations of Charles’ descendants. I discovered many since the time of his rule over the last 1,200 years.
One of them was the Holy Roman Emperor and Bohemian King Charles IV of Luxembourg, and this caught my attention. Perhaps it is general knowledge, but I didn’t know this then. I was glad to have discovered this by myself and I succeeded in substantiating this with facts. I found that Charles IV was the 20th descendant of Charles the Great in the line of succession. Naturally on the distaff side, because the Carolingian dynasty, which Charles the Great founded, was by then extinct on the spear side. Charles IV himself must have known that he was a descendant of Charlemagne. This is corroborated by the building of a church in the Prague district of Karlov which he consecrated to this ancestor of his.
It is known that Charles IV was on the distaff side a descendant of Bohemian princes and kings of the Premyslid house. >From this it followed that today’s descendant of Charles IV is at the same time a descendant not only of the Bohemian Premyslid dynasty, but also of Charles the Great. If one looks at the history of Europe one generation at a time, it is evident that European aristocracy influenced for centuries historic events in all parts of this continent. Today its members present political, cultural, religious, economic and blood relations interconnecting past and present Europe. Symbolically, through ancestors, the responsibility rests on the shoulders of contemporaries for the historic development of more than a thousand years.
Charles the Great was the first to follow this way and is rightfully called the Father of Europe. And Europe could again recall another anniversary associated with his name. A day of Homage to Charlemagne could be 28 January 2014, 1,200 years after the death of this ruler.
To pay homage to a common ancestor representatives of his descendants should come together. They include today’s King of Sweden, Carl XVI Gustaf.
All that I have mentioned can be uninteresting and dull reading if it is not supported by a corresponding graphic output. I was conscious of this and once I finished my study of the descendants of Charles the Great, Charles IV and the Premyslids I contacted Pavel Loužecký to ask him for assistance. The outcome of our joint effort is several large graphic family trees printed on canvas. The ‘royals’ include the one for the Swedish King.
When I came to face the task of rendering graphically the relatively complex genealogic links between Czech and European noble families, I sought a simple and understandable form whose style recalled a family tree, at the same time would be readable, have enough space for information, and could be in practice always identical and yet slightly variable. After many attempts I reached the conclusion that an ideal solution would be the form of a sign. Well, I worked with Jan Drocár on various family trees... First from the top to the bottom in those that were less demanding and shorter. To do the ‘royals’ we had to resort to a relatively radical and genealogically unconventional solution – the HORIZONTAL direction, where time flows from the left to the right. The reason is quite prosaic: The first of this series of family trees – ‘Premyslid’ – was two metres wide, the second – ‘English’ – meameasured two and a half metres and the third – ‘Swedish’ – just under three metres. The horizontal direction was the only feasible solution if one wished not only to hang it somewhere but also to be able to read it. As no professional genealogists have stoned us for this I believe that this solution could take root.
Genealogic lines lead to Carl XVI Gustaf from many a Swedish rulers. The current Swedish king is referred to in the family tree as a descendant of Charles IV of Luxembourg and thanks to this – as the foregoing facts indicate – also of Charles the Great. He is also recorded not only as a descendant of other Bohemian rulers from the houses of Luxembourg and Premyslid, but also as a descendant of the Bohemian Kings Vladislaus II of Jagiellon and George of Podebrady.
The whole family tree is called Genealogical Table of Swedish Kings in relation to their Bohemian ancestors. And not all of them had royal blood. The family tree also pictures several dozen ancestors of Swedish Kings from the ranks of the Bohemian nobility. The photographs show some of their residences.
We worked very hard and did not worry too much about the thought in what way we would hand over the family trees to those for whom they were intended.
In the case of the Swedish genealogical table we were first helped by chance and later by the helpfulness and goodwill of the staff of the Czech Embassy in Stockholm led by the Ambassador, Marie Chatardová. The chance consisted in the writer, member of editorial board and deputy chief editor of Pozitivní noviny Jitka Vykopalová getting a job at the Czech Embassy in Sweden. She gradually got to know our work, talked to the ambassador, contacted the sponsor of the family tree, the Swedish representation of the car maker Škoda Mladá Boleslav – while helping us all this time to bring the project to fruition.
Marie Chatardová for Pozitivní noviny
It’s incredible how time flies! I realized this again when my term of office as ambassador of the Czech Republic in the Kingdom of Sweden was drawing to a close. Those five years literally flew by. Well, I faced in the second half of October an agreeable and yet somewhat sad marathon of leave-taking meetings, lunches, dinners and receptions, and one specially pleasant duty: an audience before the Swedish king. I had looked forward to it because I had promised to hand over a present: the family tree leading from the first Premyslid on the distaff side to the Swedish king. This print on canvas sized 3x1 metre is the outcome of the work of Mr Drocár and Mr Loužecký, who did not make it as professionals but as enthusiasts. I stressed this to the Swedish king when we went after the audience of several minutes to an anteroom where the family tree was unrolled. After a moment’s examination of the family tree the Swedish ruler thanked me cordially for the present and asked me to convey his thanks to the creators of this work. The family tree should now be examined in detail by an expert from the Royal Palace library, and this remarkable creation certainly will not be forgotten. I brought back from Sweden a warm feeling as the result of the work of Jan Drocár and Pavel Loužecký found its addressee.Marie Chatardová
Unofficial snapshots from the audience before the king
...The King liked the present very much and was very surprised to see its appearance and size and said he did not know that his ancestors lived on our territory. He examined the family tree very attentively, recognizing pictures of chateaux like Český Krumlov, looking with fascination at his ancestors... He sends a big thank-you to all those that participated in the present... In brief, the King was surprised to see how huge and beautifully finished the canvas with the family tree was...
Swedish King Carl XVI Gustaf (born 30 April 1946) succeeded to the throne in 1973 after the death of his grandfather, King Gustaf VI Adolf. The latter lived to the venerable age of 91, to become the oldest king of Sweden. His son, Prince Gustaf Adolf, unfortunately died in 1947 in an air crash and when the current king ascended to the throne he was still young and single. Only three years after coronation did he marry Silvia Sommerlath, with whom he has three children: Crown Princess Victoria, Prince Carl Philip and Princess Madeleine.
The king is the only son of his parents but he is not an only child as he has four elder sisters. All the siblings are after their ancestors members of the Bernadotte dynasty which has ruled in Sweden since the Napoleonic wars. Napoleon’s Marshal Jean-Baptiste Bernadotte was then adopted by King Charles XIII, who replaced him after his death as King Carl XIV John on the Swedish and Norwegian throne. He was succeeded to the Swedish throne by the Kings Oscar I, Carl XV Oscar II, Gustaf V, Gustaf VI Adolf and the present king.Jitka Vykopalová
Translation © Paul Sinclair
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