Wednesday, October 05, 2011

Almost all US Presidents descended from Plantagenet King

From Liberty Cap Press:

A twelve-year-old girl in Watsonville, CA has been able to trace the genealogies of all US Presidents except for Martin van Buren back to a Plantagenet monarch of England from the 13th century, King John “Lackland.” The girl, BridgeAnne d’Avignon, conducted the research for a class project at Monte Vista Christian School.

More here.

And here's the Youtube video posted by my former student Robert on facebook that turned me onto this:

Of course, as a couple of asshole commenters on Youtube observed, this isn't exactly new news. Indeed, I remember reading an article in the Atlantic some ten years ago explaining that virtually everyone in the world can trace their lineage back to the Prophet Muhammad: apparently, genealogists have figured out that the further back you go, the more likely it is that we're all related. Consequently, it's not just US Presidents who have royal blood; there's a good chance you have some, too.

But what's eyebrow-raising about this piece of research is the particular family from which virtually all American Presidents come. The Plantagenets produced some of the most ruthless and power-hungry aristocrats in English history. John Lackland, the King mentioned in the excerpt above, was Prince John before he took the throne, the same guy infamously immortalized in the Robin Hood legends as the asshole monarch who ruled in his brother's stead while he was off fighting in the Crusades. And Lackland, was, indeed, an asshole. He lost almost all English possessions on the continent, and pissed off almost all of the English nobility so much that they forced him to sign the Magna Carta, which, admittedly, was good for the people of England in the long run, and was a precursor to the US Constitution, but was also a disaster for the monarchy. More broadly, the Plantagents also laid waste to England with what was essentially an in-family civil war, the Wars of the Roses, which lasted thirty years. They also involved their nation in the Hundred Years War, in which Joan of Arc fought against the English, and which ultimately wiped out nearly half of the French population.

And we should also not forget the infamous final member of the Plantagenet line, Richard III, one of the bigger assholes in English history.

While there is ultimately no real significance that all but one US President is descended from the Plantagenet family, it is somehow symbolically ironic. US Presidents, even though they are our leaders, are, like the royal English family from which they come, ruthless, using the vast power of the state to further their personal fortunes, often killing hundreds of thousands if they stand in the way, sometimes millions, from Native Americans, to African-Americans, to Mexicans, to Filipinos, to Vietnamese, to Iraqis, to Afghans, to Americans themselves.

History always repeats.