Saturday, March 14, 2009

The (Somewhat) African Queen

According to one historian, Queen Victoria's grandmother Charlotte had African ancestry.

If you google Queen Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz, you'll quickly come across a historian called Mario de Valdes y Cocom. He argues that her features, as seen in royal portraits, were conspicuously African, and contends that they were noted by numerous contemporaries. He claims that the queen, though German, was directly descended from a black branch of the Portuguese royal family, related to Margarita de Castro e Souza, a 15th-century Portuguese noblewoman nine generations removed, whose ancestry she traces from the 13th-century ruler Alfonso III and his lover Madragana, whom Valdes takes to have been a Moor and thus a black African. [Link]


Don't we all have African ancestry? I thought modern-day humans are descended from individuals who may have left the African continent 50,000+ years ago or so. Of course, not all migrated, and so perhaps Queen Charlotte is descended from those who stayed. I don't wish to get into a debate; I found the article interesting, but did wonder who among us doesn't have an African ancestor?


The difference, of course, is that Charlotte's African connection can (allegedly) be documented, which makes it genealogical, rather than simply genetic.

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