Charlemagne King of the Franks and Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire
742 - 814

Are We Really Related To Charlemagne?

Here is the short version of Ed Pickett's research on the suggestion by British genealogist James B.P.Payne that Claudia de la Riviere is a descendant of Charlemagne.

Are we really related to Charlemagne? The answer is probably, and several historians and genealogist have said so, but at this point the final, vital link is only suggested and not proven. It is certain, however, that we can trace our heritage back to the early royalty of France, especially Normandy, and perhaps even to the Vikings and beyond. If the link leads directly to Charlemagne, then we can trace back on one path of the family tree to about 450 A.D. and along another path to the early kings of Sweden and Denmark. But certainly it is the possibility of having descended from Charles the Great that holds the most interest.

As many Poindexter researchers have noted, James B.P. Payne links that family to the Lempiere family. He did the Armorial of Jersey. But Payne also did a thorough study of the Lempriere family in a "Monograph' published in London in 1862. And in it he makes the tantalizing suggestion that Claudia de la Riviere, who married Phillip Lempriere sometime around 1090 to 1099, was a descendant of Rollo (or Hrolf), the Norman Viking raider who came to terms with the King of France, was given land and settled there and became the first Duke of Normandy.

Payne's chart of the ancestry shows Augustus de la Riviere, father of Claudia, in the line from the family de Vassy, the Counts of Evreux and thus directly back to Richard, Duke of Normandy, his father, William Longsword, Duke of Normandy, and his father, Rollo. However, a closer look at the chart in the Lempriere Monograph reveals that Payne does not actually show that Augustus de la Riviere is the son of Auray de Vassy, it only appears that way until you realize he has left an unexplained gap.

Payne apparently made his assumptions based on information in the Dictionnaire de la Noblesse, a listing by family name of the early royalty and nobility of France. In this book, we find clear indications that when it was published, in the 1600's, that the Riviere family is cited as one of the leading families of the region of Bayeux inNormandy. It includes the information that many earlier historians, including Orderic, Vital and la Roque, say that Augustus is a descendant of the early Dukes of Normandy. But since the Dictionnaire is not a work that lists each generation, we lack the vital links. We can believe these early genealogists writing in France about French nobility are correct, but that is not quite the proof we need. If we take Payne and the Dictionnaire as correct, then we can link the entire Poindexter clan and the descendants of Poindexters to many generations before the year 1000.

As an example, we know that the wife of Rollo was Poppa of Bayeux. A study by K.S.B. Keats-Rohan in the July/October, 1997 issue of The American Genealogist provides the heritage of Poppa, and it leads back to Gisela, daughter of Louis the Pious, the son of Charlemagne. French historian Christian Settipani, in his Les Ancestres de Charlemagne, then takes us back to at least 450 A.D. and a man called Gondioc, king of the Burgondes. The lineage includes, of course, the grandfather of Charlemagne, Charles Martel (The Hammer). Other recognized genealogy sources, including Royalty for Commoners and The Heimskringer, trace the history of Rollo back to various kings and nobility of early Scandinavia, as far back as Njord, King of Sweden in the year 214 A.D.

If we are related to Charlemagne, here is one of the paths back: Louis The Pious succeeded his father, Charlemagne. He and his second wife, Judith, produced Charles I His rule was troubled by internal dissension and wars with pagan tribes. Charlemagne, also know as Charles The Great,(742-814) is considered the greatest leader of medieval Europe. He ruled over what now, with some geographic changes, are the countries of Germany, France and Italy. He was the son of Pippin the Short. Pippin the Short (714-768), the father of Charlemagne, was proclaimed King of the Franks in 752. Having served Childerich, the last of a weak line of royalty in early France, Pippin deposed him in 751 and a year later the Pope proclaimed Pippin the lawful king. His wife, often listed as Bertrada the younger, became known to history as Bertha of the Big Foot. He was the son of Charles Martel. Charles Martel (Charles the Hammer)(688-741), although he held only the title of "Mayor of the Castle" during the reign of a Morovingian king, was considered the real ruler.

He is listed as having three wives: Chrotrude, Sunnichild and Ruodhaid. He was the illegitimate son of Pippin of Heristal, and was given no role in the will of Pippin, but he first escaped imprisonment and then established himself as the Mayor. Many documents of the time acknowledge him as King, although he never took that title. Martel is most famous for having halted the spread of the moslems into Europe when he met and defeated them at Poriters, near Tours, in 723. Pippin of Heristal (c. 650/660 - 714), whose name has variously been listed as Pepin and Peppen, was the majordomo of the court of DagobertII. After the death of the king he was named Duke of the Franks and regent for the young royal successor. Pippin was said to have held the real power, and to have ruled with almost despotic sway. His wife was Alpaide.

Pippin the Elder (Pippin of Landen) (c.570/639) was the first line of governmental officials in very early medieval France who, by holding the title of Mayor of the Castle, exercised ruling power while nominally serving the royal family of the Morovingians. His wife was Itte Idoberge, who was known to be alive in the year 592. Some genealogists say the line continues back through Carloman, who wife may have been Gertrude, to Garibald, the Duke of Bavaria, and his wife, Waldrade, Queen of Austria. The father of Gariblad was a nobleman of France, perhaps Agivard. His father is believed to be Godogisel, King of the Burgondes, married to Theodlinde. And his father was Gondioc, King of the Burgondes, born about 425 to 450 A.D.

Compiled by Edward G. Pickett. Portland, Maine. Email:

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