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By Harry Hoppes – April 15, 2009


            As most of you know, my wife Riki and I have done considerable Happes-family research in Germany and Switzerland in 1971 - 1973.  The results of this effort are documented in my 1985 book, Swiss Roots – A History of the Happes Family to 1800 and in Harry’s Corner of Denise Kern’s website at  The data we transcribed from original old sources allowed me to trace my line-of-descent back to Switzerland, and is summarized below:

GEN            PERSON                        DOB                     DOD           COMMENT

  1                    Harrison Neil Hoppes               1935, Aug 11               -------

  2                    Charles Harold Hoppes            1909, Nov 17              1988, Oct 30

  3                    Harrison Victor Hoppes            1881, Feb 25               1935, Mar 26

  4                    George Washington Happes     1853, Feb 13               1924, Feb 21

  5                    Solomon Happes                      1809, Aug 13               1890, Dec 11

  6                    Christian Happes                      1781, Aug 16               1856, Aug 2

  7                    Michael Happes                       1753, Jan 12                1833, Jul 30

  8                    Michael Happes                       1722 (ca)                     1787 (ca)         First American

  9                    Michael Haps                           1688, Aug 25               1750, Dec 12

10                    Ulrich Haps                              1644, Jun 1                  1688, Oct 4     Swiss to Odenwald

11                    Joachim Haps                           1611, Jan                     1653 (ca)         Last of line in Töss

12                    Peter Haps                               1580 (ca)                     1611

13                    Hans Haps ?                             1559, May or June          † ?                best guess

14                    Christen Haps                           1535 (ca)                     1582 (ca) 

15                    Hans (Schneider) Haps 1500 (ca)                     1543 (ca)

16                    Cunrad Haps                            1475 (ca)                     1515                † Marignano

17                    unknown Haps             1445 (ca)                     ------               To Töss 1466-1489

18                    Hans Hapsen                            1410 (ca)                     >1442              from Richetwil 

19                    unknown Hapsen                      1385 (ca)                     -------

20                    unknown Hapsen                      1360 (ca)                     -------

21                    unknown Hapsen                      1335 (ca)                     -------

22                    unknown Hapsen                      1310 (ca)                     -------

23                    unknown Hapsen                      1285 (ca)                     -------

24                    Habesburc                                1260 (ca)                     >1292              Habesburc Urbar


            Fortunately, I found fairly solid genealogical data back to about 1500 because my Happes ancestors did not leave Switzerland for the Odenwald above Heidelberg, Germany until after the devastating Thirty-Years War (1618 – 1648), and the state archives in Zürich and city archives in Winterthur, Switzerland have a wealth of information beginning about the time of the Reformation.  (See Harry’s Corner on Denise Kern’s website.) Prior to one of my week-long trips to Swiss archives, I made the key discovery at the University of Heidelberg library1 that two censuses of property holders in Switzerland in the years 1290 and 1292 recorded the presence of a farmer by the name of Habesburc living near Obersehen on land owned by the cloister at Saint Gallen, Switzerland.  (This entry was recently confirmed by one of our genetic genealogy working group, Thomas Sacher.)

            For me, this 1972 discovery was a Eureka moment.  These two early Swiss censuses were commissioned by the German King Rudolf von Habsburg/Hapsburg shortly before his death in 1291.  As described in Swiss Roots:

Toward the end of his reign, Rudolph realized that the time had come for him to fulfill his destiny. “Now I must travel to Speyer where my predecessors have gone before me.” With these words he set out on his final journey for the magnificent cathedral at Speyer where the German kings who reigned before him had been entombed. There he died on July 15, 1291. Stonecutters carved his likeness onto the lid of his sarcophagus. Around its border they cut an inscription in Latin which declared in part:



Shortly before Rudolph's death his officials carried out one of his last decrees; they began a census of property holders throughout his domain. Entries from 1290 and 1292 indicated that not far from the Kyburg castle, near a location called Obersehen, resided a farmer also named Habesburc, who paid an annual sum of six measures of wheat, two chickens, and 30 eggs to the cloister at Saint Gallen.1 Earlier this farmer or his parents may have been serfs of the counts von Habsburg and may have moved to this area because of the affiliation of the Hapsburgs with the Kyburgs. In any event, this farmer bore the name of the location from which his ancestors had come—the Habichtsburg.


The next century and a half were full of unrest and terror. The name Habsburg became cursed throughout much of Switzerland as Rudolph's descendants expanded their influence, threatening the independence of the Swiss mountain folk. Local heroes such as William Tell sprang up in revolt. Then one of the worst disasters ever recorded devastated the area. In 1347 a deadly plague reached Sicily and Genoa from the east.2 In its various forms it quickly spread throughout Italy. Over half of the inhabitants of some towns and villages perished. No one suspected that the pestilence was being carried by common fleas; instead, a wide variety of other possibilities was blamed including contact with infected persons, poisonous gases, planetary movements, God's wrath, and the Jews. One distraught resident of Siena, Italy wrote;3


“Father abandoned child; wife, husband; one brother another, for this illness seemed to strike through the breath and the sight. And so they died. And no one could be found to bury the dead for money or for friendship . . . And I, Agnolo di Tura, called The Fat, buried my five children with my own hands, and so did many others likewise. And there were also many dead throughout the city who were so sparsely covered with earth that the dogs dragged them forth and devoured their bodies.”


By 1349 the plague had worked its way north of the Alps and was devastating the countryside around the Kyburg.  The great plague sapped the economic, social, and religious vitality of Medieval Europe. A state of helplessness prevailed for neither armies nor the church could shield the populace from death and despair. Each day had to be lived to the fullest; planning for the future appeared to be sheer folly. Gradually order returned, but intermittently the plague would flare up again serving as a grim reminder to new generations that they, too, were extremely vulnerable.

By the mid-1400's, however, a renaissance had begun to blossom throughout Italy. And near upper Sehen, the same locale where the farmer Habesburg had been living 150 years earlier, a surviving relative (now referred to by the shortened surname Habs) once again was enu­merated. In 1442 Hans Haps from Richoltzwil paid a tax of one pound to officials of the Grafschaft Kyburg.4 Later the land on which Hans Haps was living came into the possession of the St. Gallen indenturer Oswald Schmidt, and the Habs/Haps family reappeared in the nearby town of Toess.5


            At the conclusion of one of our trips to Swiss archives, Riki and I visited Saint Gallen to try our research skills at the cloister there.  We were politely informed that the archives were closed to the public that day, but that there was a good chance that their property records included Richoltzwil/ Ricketwil.  Unfortunately, we never had the opportunity to return to Saint Gallen before we moved back to the United States in October 1973.  We also were concerned with the chaos that the Black Death might have had on the lives of the Richoltzwil inhabitants and the loss of continuity of property records during the plague years.  During later visitations of the Black Death in the Töss – Winterthur area, including the outbreaks of 1565, 1585, and 1611, the church and civil authorities who kept the written records often died - with the result that there are annoying gaps in the available data.


            After publishing Swiss Roots in 1985, I grew increasingly frustrated because progress in learning more about my early ancestors appeared to have reached a dead end.  Then, in mid-2004, I contacted Family Tree DNA (FTDNA) in Houston, TX to try to learn more through the emerging tool of genetic genealogy, which uses DNA testing and analysis to identify genetic relationships between individuals.  Because a father passes a copy of his Y-chromosome along to each of his sons with few changes (mutations), males of probable common origin can be identified for similar surnames.  Moreover, the likelihood that males with different surnames might have had a common ancestor before the time that one’s personal surname emerged from obscurity into recorded history, e. g., the late Dark Ages, can be estimated. For me, genetic genealogy opened up entirely new, exciting revelations about my early ancestors. 


            Research involving the human genome has led to many startling discoveries, including the observations that all males share a common ancestor, who lived about 70,000 years ago, and that this individual originated in Africa.  Between then and now, many subgroups of this single human being have emerged as his descendants populated the earth.  Genetic genealogists have divided major genetic subgroups into so-called haplogroups, which are collections of haplotypes that differ from one another by a single genetic mutation, called a single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP).  The various haplogroups have been assigned alphabetic letters from A to T to denote their divergence from genetic Adam.  Within each haplogroup, further refinements are designated by combinations of numbers and lower-case letters.  For example, my haplogroup has been determined by genetic testing to be R1b1b2a1b4c (formerly R1b1b2a1b7c.)  As genetic genealogists continue to refine this haplogroup still farther getting closer and closer to the present day, other number-letter combinations will be added.  For example, I have recently been tested as being positive for SNP tests L2 and U152 but negative for SNP tests M160 and L20.  Several of these tests were not commercially available at FTDNA a year ago.


            A diagram showing the spread of haplogroups across the earth and a table containing my crude estimate of the number of years to the common ancestor (YTCA) of pertinent haplogroups and subgroups are shown below.




HAPLOGROUP                      SNP                 ORIGIN                                              YTCA 

Adam                                                               West Africa                                          70,000

CT                                           M168               Strait of Gubal region                            50,000

F                                              M89                 Iraq                                                      45,000

K                                             M9                   Caspian Sea (lower area)                      40,000

P                                              M45                 Aral Sea (eastern side)              35,000

R                                              M207               Urals south of Volga River                    30,000            

R1                                            M173               Urals north of Volga River                    30,000            

R1b                                          M343               Western Europe                                   25,000

R1b1                                        P25                  Alpine – south Germany                        20,000

R1b1b                                      P297                Alpine – south Germany                        15,000

R1b1b2                                    M269                                                                             9,500

R1b1b2a                                  P311                                                                              8,000

R1b1b2a1                                P310                                                                              6,500

R1b1b2a1b                              P312                                                                              4,500

R1b1b2a1b4                            U152

R1b1b2a1b4a                          L2       



Authorities differ on the dates at which many haplogroups and their subclasses originated.  For example, Dr. David Faux, a leading genetic genealogist in the area of Haplogroup R1b1b2a1b4, believes that SNP/marker U152 probably originated about 10,000 years ago.6  When I sent Dr. Faux data indicating I belonged to Haplogroup R1b1b2a1b7c for inclusion in his comprehensive Y-DNA R-U152 database available at, he answered:


Glad you found my database and the various resources.  I keep adding to them all the time.  It is interesting to think that you are probably a descendant of the original Swiss Helvetii tribe.  My wife and I travelled through Switzerland this past summer and were in awe of the entire country. 

Actually over half of the Swiss population belongs to Haplogroup R1b, with Switzerland being a “hot-spot” according to Dr. Faux for individuals carrying the U152 marker.  In a related publication,7 Dr. Faux associates the U152 marker with the La Tene culture, which flourished about 450 - 100 BC during the late Iron Age near Lake Neuchatel in Switzerland and was itself an outgrowth of the earlier Hallstatt culture in central Europe north of the Alps. 

            Genetic genealogy researchers such as Dr. David Faux are continually searching for new markers originating ever closer to the present day than the ones they previous had discovered.  But the insights genetic genealogy can provide about the origin and migration of ethnic groups are not limited to events in the distant past; they also pertain to individual family lines that have survived to the present.  In addition to searching the Y- DNA of specimen (cheek swab) donors for unique mutations (SNPs) in their genetic code, available tests also are based upon internationally established markers called DNA Y-chromosome Segments (DYSs).  Each designated DYS marker is given a value, called an allele, which is based upon the number of times a specific sequence is repeated consecutively, i.e., the number of short tandem repeats (STRs).  Individual donors can choose the number of DYS segments they wish to have tested, with many selecting either 12, 25, 37, or 67 DYS markers.  Family Tree DNA, for example, reported that I had a perfect 12-marker DYS match to the following ten individuals:


12 Marker - Exact Match 10 Match(es)

Rev. Gary Wayne Kriss

(Email Address)


Stefan Waldburger (Y37)

Email Address)


Mr. Thomas Konrad Kreis (Y67)

Email Address)


Robert William Messmore (Y25)

Email Address)


Mr. Stefan May (Y37)

Email Address)


Thomas Sacher (Y25)

Email Address)


Mr. Herbert Gene Slaughter (Y67)

Email Address)


James Robert Slaughter (Y25)

Email Address)


Robert Donald Grass (Y25)

Email Address)


Mr. Peter Austin Penczer

Email Address)





Similarly, they reported that 24 out of 25 of my DYS markers matched:


Robert William Messmore

(Email Address)


Steven Roy Messamer (Y67)

(Email Address)


Mr. Herbert Gene Slaughter (Y67)

(Email Address)


James Robert Slaughter

(Email Address)



and that 33 out of 37 of my DYS markers matched:


Mr. Thomas Konrad Kreis (Y67)

(Email Address)


Steven Roy Messamer (Y67)

(Email Address)


Mr. Herbert Gene Slaughter (Y67)

(Email Address)




By clicking the icons in the column to the right side of each entry, one can obtain the probability that each individual and I had a most recent common ancestor (MRCA) within selected numbers of generations.  Because I have fairly solid genealogical data for my line dating back to Cunrad Haps 16 generations ago and have never encountered any of the surnames identified by Family Tree DNA in my earlier research, I entered the number 16 in the FTDNA query phrase did not share a common ancestor in the last ___ generations and kept the selection set at every 4 generatons for calculating results.  Here are the results for those matches based on 37 DYS markers, the number of my DYS markers that have been tested to date:



                        Probability of having a MRCA within the following generations:


INDIVIDUAL                         16-20                 24                    28                    32

Thomas Kreis                           0.634               0.875               0.961               0.998

Steve Messamer                       0.542               0.812               0.928               0.974

H. Gene Slaughter                    0.637               0.879               0.962               0.999


My likely ancestor named Habesburc was listed above as belonging to generation 24 of my line of descent.  The Family Tree DNA analytical tool indicates that it is virtually certain that I shared a common ancestor with Thomas Kreis, Steve Messamer, and Gene Slaughter within the next eight generations, i.e., by generation 32.

            The inclusion of email addresses of all the near Y-DNA matches by FTDNA also was helpful in allowing us to contact one another to attempt to determine how we are related to each other.  We now have formed a working group consisting of the author, Thomas Sacher, Robert Messmore, Steven Messamer, Gene Slaughter, James Slaughter, and Thomas Kreis.  Four of us have tested positive for Haplogroup R1b1b2a1b4 and Steve Messamer and I are positive for marker L2, but negative for L20.  Our Y-DNA test results for 25 and 37 DYS markers are shown below.          


                        Hap-    Mes-               Schlot-                         Wald-              Mode

 DYS               pes      mer1    May1   terer2 Sacher2 Grass3 Kreis4  burger5            value

393                  13        13        13        13        13        13        13        13                    13

390                  25        25        25        25        25        25        25        25                    25

19/394             14        14        14        14        14        14        14        14                    14

391                  11        11        11        11        11        11        11        11                    11

385a                11        10        11        11        11        11        11        11                    11

385b                14        14        14        14        14        14        14        14                    14

426                  12        12        12        12        12        12        12        12                    12

388                  12        12        12        12        12        12        12        12                    12

439                  12        12        12        12        12        12        12        12                    12

389-1               13        13        13        13        13        13        13        13                    13

392                  12        12        12        12        12        12        12        12                    12

389-2               28        28        28        28        28        28        28        28                    28

458                  16        16        17        17        17        18        18        17                    17

459a                  9          9          9          9          9          9           9         9                      9

459b                10        10        10        10        10        10        10        10                    10

455                  11        11        12        11        11        11        11        11                    11

454                  11        11        11        11        11        11        11        11                    11

447                  25        25        25        25        25        25        25        25                    25

437                  15        15        15        15        15        15        15        16                    15

448                  19        19        19        19        19        19        19        19                    19

449                  29        29        30        29        28        29        29        30                    29

464a                15        15        15        15        15        15        15        15                    15

464b                15        15        16        15        15        15        15        15                    15

464c                15        15        16        15        15        15        15        15                    15

464d                17        17        17        17        17        17        17        17                    17

460                  11        11        11        11                                11        11                    11

H4                   11        11        11        11                                11        11                    11

YCAa              19        19        19        19                                19        19                    19

YCAIIb           19        19        19        19                                19        19                    19

456                  17        17        17        17                                17        17                    17

607                  15        15        15        15                                15        15                    15

576                  19        18        17        19                                18        17

570                  18        17        18        19                                18        19                    18

CDYa              36        36        36        36                                36        36                    36

CDYb              39        38        38        37                                38        37                    38

442                  12        12        12        12                                12        12                    12

438                  12        12        12        12                                12        12                    12


1  Steven Messamer and Stefan May from

2  Herbert Gene Slaughter, aka 81959, and Thomas Sacher, aka 81542, in FTDNA Slaughter Project.

3  Robert Donald Grass listed as a close match in Family Tree DNA DYS data.

4  Thomas Konrad Kreis obtained from Kreis by T. Sacher

5  Stefan Waldburger obtained from FTDNA by H. Hoppes

            In this table, DYS markers 390, 392, 389-2, YCAIIb, and 456 are shown in bold because they are common to all members of our genetic family but are very distinctive from the DYS values given in David Faux’ Y-DNA R-U152 database at  Faux provides DYS data for 18 individuals of Swiss origin including Happes, May and Mesmer.  The major differences between the DYS data for our three genetic family members and the other 15 individuals included under the heading CENTRAL EUROPE - SWITZERLAND  are:


Marker             Mode               All 3 of us                     Other 15

390                    24                       25                           14 x 24; 1 x 23 = 15

392                    13                       12                           14 x 13; 1 x 14 = 15

389-2                 29                       28                           8 x 29; 3 x 30; 2 x 31; 1 x 28; 1 x 27 = 15

YCAIIb             23                       19                           14 x 23; 1 x no value given = 15

456                    15                       17                           9 x 15; 4 x 16; 1 x 14; 1 x no value = 15


The significance of this distinct 5-marker pattern for our genetic family has not yet been determined.


            From the table above, it can also be seen that Robert Grass and Thomas Kreis have a perfect 25-marker match.  It appears probable that Grass and Kreis possess the same surname whose pronunciation and spelling evolved slightly differently over time.


            Assuming that Grass and Kreis belong to the same surname and accordingly are not independent of one another, the following analysis of surname differences in the tabular data above can be obtained:




                        Hap-    Mes-               Schlot-             Wald-              Mode             

 DYS               pes      mer      May    terer Sacher   Kreis   burger             value  

385a                11        10        11        11        11        11        11                    11       

458                  16        16        17        17        17        18        17                    17       

455                  11        11        12        11        11        11        11                    11       

437                  15        15        15        15        15        15        16                    15       

449                  29        29        30        29        28        29        30                    29       

464b                15        15        16        15        15        15        15                    15

464c                15        15        16        15        15        15        15                    15

576                  19        18        17        19                    18        17                    18       

570                  18        17        18        19                    18        19                    18       

CDYb              39        38        38        37                    38        37                    38       


Δ from Mode     3          3          5          3          1          1          5                    ----  Σ = 21



            It is important to note that two of the seven lines have experienced five mutations (and therefore appear of more ancient origin than the others); three have had three mutations (and appear of intermediate origin), and two possess only one mutation, indicating they are of the most recent origin.


            Predictions about the frequency of occurrence of mutations can be obtained by using the formula:

Emm =          R x G x Nm 


where Emm is the expected number of mutations (m) observed; R is the rate at which mutations occur (m/G); G is the number of generations in the span of interest; and Nm is the  number of markers for which data are available.  Values of R can differ widely depending on the different markers tested and family differences; however, R most likely will lie within the value 0.002 mutations per marker-generation, a relatively slow rate of change, and a value of 0.004, a relatively fast rate of change.  Using these two values of R to estimate the expected range of mutations over a period of 26 generations for 37 markers results in:


For R = 0.002              Emm = 0.002 x 24 x 37 = 1.8 mutations.


For R = 0.004              Emm = 0.004 x 24 x 37 = 3.6 mutations.


In this example, the number of generations was selected as 24, denoting the 24 generations in my ancestry back to my likely ancestor Habesburc listed above. Of course, my MRCA with representatives of the older May and Waldburger lines in the table above probably lived over a dozen generations before that.  For example, if my line experienced 3 mutations in 30 generations and the average number of years per generation is assumed to be 25, then my mutation frequency was one per 10 generations, or every 250 years.


            For the May and Waldburger lines in the table of DYS values:




DYS                May     Waldburger      Mode   Remarks

455                  12        11                    11        unique change - only for May

437                  15        16                    15        unique change - only for Waldburger

449                  30        30                    29        ← old value - one from mode only for these two

464b                16        15                    15        unique change - only for May

464c                16        15                    15        unique change - only for May

576                  17        17                    18        ← old value - one from mode only for these two

570                  18        19                    18        recent change - Waldburger + Schlotterer

CDYb              38        37                    38        recent change - Waldburger + Schlotterer



May and Waldburger not only each have five mutations from the mode numbers of alleles but are the only two lines to share the same values for two DYS markers: 449 and 576.  Moreover, the Schlotterer (Slaughter) line then appears to have shared mutations with the Waldburger (WB) line at a later date.  One manner in which these mutations might have occurred is illustrated below:





            WB1→→ later individual mutations →→→→→→→→→→→→→→→→→→→→→→→→


                                                                                  DYS 570 (18→19) &

                                                                      WB2    DYS CDYb (38→37) →→→→→→?


                                                                                                                    ↓ Schlotterer →→→→→→

old          DYS 449 (30→29) &         new     

  .                                       . .       →→→ other family surname data →→→→→→→→→

line          DYS 576 (17→18)             line/




            May → later individual mutations →→→→→→→→→→→→→→→→→→→→→→→→→



 ~600 AD               ~850 AD              ~1100 AD          ~1350 AD          ~1600 AD             ~1850 AD



            The diagram above accounts for 12 of the 21 deviations from the modal DYS values in the table above.  The other nine differences are tabulated below. 





                         Mes-  Schlot-                         

DYS    Happes              mer    terer    Sacher Kreis    Mode    Remarks

385a    11        10        11        11        11        11        unique change - only for Mesmer

458      16        16        17        17        18        17        dual change – Happes and Mesmer

                                                                                    unique change - only for Kreis

449      29        29        29        28        29        29        unique change – only for Sacher

576      19        18        19        ---        18        18        dual change – Happes and Schlotterer

570      18        17        N/A*    ---        18        18        unique change - only for Mesmer

CDYb  39        38        N/A*    ---        38        38        unique change - only for Happes


* counted in preceding table.


Most of these differences from the mode appear to be unique changes that occurred between 1300 AD and the present day.  With the possible exception of the dual change involving Happes and Mesmer and the dual change for Schlotterer and Happes, they appear random in nature.  Interpreting the dual change for Happes and Mesmer is especially difficult because the data shown are for Steven Messamer, while his namesake Robert Messmore possesses the modal value 17 for DYS 458.  The availability of additional DYS value from new additions to our family group may be useful in helping to resolve this issue.


            The Y-DNA DYS data for the seven lines shown above provide intriguing insights into the evolution of our genetic family.  Two of the lines, which later were identified by the surnames Waldburger and May, appear to have existed in Europe’s Dark Ages, predating Charlemagne’s coronation as emperor on Christmas Day 800 AD.  The components of the spelling of the name Waldburger appear quite stable with Wald meaning forest, burg meaning fortification or castle, and the suffix er indicating that one was once a resident of the town Waldburg (castle in the forest).   Actually there is a location named Waldburg, which became prominent in the 12th Century.8   Waldburg is located about 25 kilometers north of the town of Lindau, Germany, which lies on the eastern shore of the Bodensee (Lake Constance).  Today many members of the Waldburger family live in the town of Teufen am Rhein in the Swiss Canton of Appenzell about 30 kilometers southwest of Bregenz, Austria, Lindau’s sister city at the eastern end of the Bodensee.   It also is interesting to note that the Schlotterer line in our genetic family might never have resided in present-day Switzerland, because their first identifiable ancestors originated in the German Black Forest town of Bodelshausen, approximately 90 kilometers northwest of Waldburg.

            The May family also appears to have had a prominent history, which can be traced to the city of Bern in the Canton of the same name.  For example, a Bartholomaeus May was born there about 1437 and a Klaudius May about 1470.  Several years later a noble branch of the May family moved westward into the Canton of Aargau.  According to website

The powerfully built castle of Rued east of the village gave the town its name, Schlossrued.  The original dwelling of the knights of Rued stood on the other side of the valley and was probably destroyed in 1386.  The new castle grounds were purchased in 1520 by an old patrician family from Bern by the name of von May, who owned then until the end of the 19th Century.  The castle had an ever changing history; in 1775 it burned down, and was rebuilt by the architect C. A. von Sinner between 1792 and 1796 for the erstwhile castle owner Carl Friedrich von May. . .





            There is a distinct possibility that the Counts von Habsburg had their origin in the same genetic line out of which the Waldburger and May families originated.  My likely ancestor Habesburc, shown as generation 24 above, was a contemporary of the sons of the German king Rudolfus de Habesburc and also the grandsons of his uncle Rudolph III von Habsburg, the taciturn.  The Habsburg line is shown below, numbering backwards from generation 25 to indicate the time-connection of my genealogical chart with that of the Habsburgs:



Guntram (the Rich) * ~ 930 ; †985-990                                                                                        34

Lanzelin vonAltenburg  †991                                                                                                      33



Radbot von Klettgau  *~985, †~1035   Rudolph I †<1063     Werner I * 1028          Landolf           32

↓ Built Schloβ Habsburg                                                   Bischof v. Straβburg



Werner II  * ~1025, †1096                     Otto I   †~1046?            Albrecht/Adelbert I †~1056        31

                                                                      Graf im Sundgau



Otto II *~1111                                      Albrecht/Adelbert  II  †~1141                                        30

↓ Graf v. Habsburg

Werner III *~1135; †1167                                                                                                          29

Albrecht/Adelbert III, (the Rich) † 1199                                                                                      28

Rudolph  II, (the old)  *1158, †1232                                                                                            27




Albrecht IV (the wise) †~1239/40                      Rudolph III (the taciturn) *~1198, †~1249            26

                                                          .                                                                     .


Rudolph IV, *1218, †1291               Werner V    Gottfried I         Rudolf     Otto      Eberhard          25

aka Rudolph I, Romanorum Rex         †1253       *~1219             *~1225   *~1222    *~1227

Austrian, Spanish, and                                        Laufenburg line                            Kyburg line

Schenkenberg-Lőwenstein lines



The key questions now become: Is the property-holder Habesburc enumerated in the Habsburg censuses of 1290 and 1292 (generation 24) related to the Counts von Habsburg (generation 25) and, if so, how?  Those who were mentioned in the Habsburgische Urbar 1 were free men, not indentured to any master.  Generally, they were men of means and/or knights, the who’s who of their day.  Moreover, as of 1290 the surname Habsburg/Habesburc could only be used by someone related to the noble family, according to the best of my knowledge.  The location of the land on which Habesburc was residing is an isolated plateau above the villages of Oberseen and Räterschen.  I vividly remember taking a local train from the Winterthur station to the nearby village of Räterschen, climbing a path from the back of the village to the Ricketwil plateau, enjoying the tranquility there, and then finding another path leading to Oberseen on my half-day walk back to my hotel in Winterthur.  Ricketwil, a sister plateau to the nearby hilltop overlooking the River Töss on which Kyburg castle is perched, was administered by the Counts von Kyburg until the Graftschaft Kyburg was dissolved in 1798. (An excellent satellite map of the
Ricketwil area can be viewed at and of Ricketwil in relation to Kyburg at

            Many of the Habsburgs listed as generations 25 – 34 above had illegitimate children.  In fact, the Holy Roman Emperor Friedrich II, to whom Rudolph IV, his father Albrecht IV (the wise), and his father’s, father Rudolph II, (the old) pledged their allegiance, had no less than a dozen illegitimate children by eight mistresses.  Rudolph IV, later Rudolph I, Romanorum Rex, had at least one illegitimate son Albrecht, who fought side-by-side with his father, and on whom Rudolph bestowed the titles von Schenkenberg and von Löwenstein.  Because of Rudolph I’s beneficence  to his children and the fact that he moved his whole family to eastern Europe after he defeated King Ottokar II of Bohemia in battle in 1276, it appears unlikely that the landholder Habesburc was an illegitimate son of King Rudolph.


            Rudolph II, the old, and his wife Agnes von Staufen (b.~1172; d. ~1232) had a second son Rudolf III von Habsburg, der Schweigsame, in addition to their first-born son Albrecht IV, the wise.  The personalities of these two brothers were as different as day is from night.  Albrecht IV was a dashing knight, an extrovert dedicated to the service of his emperor, Friedrich II von Staufen.  In his early forties, he joined his emperor’s crusade in the Holy Land and soon perished near the fortress at Acre. Rudolf III, on the other hand, was an introvert who sided with the Papacy against Emperor Friedrich II.  His German nickname, der Schweigsame, can be translated as the silent, but also probably more appropriately as the taciturn or the uncommunicative, both adjectives carrying negative connotations.  He was content to stay in the background and allow his agents to impose his will and rapacity. 


            When Rudolf II died on April 10, 1232, his oldest son Albrecht divided the Habsburg possessions between himself and his younger brother Rudolf, whose share included areas in the high Alps (Schwiz and Uri) and Laufenburg on the Rhine about 25 miles upstream from Basel.  According to The Rise of the Swiss Republic: A History10

At the division of the Habsburg inheritance in 1232, Schwiz fell to . . . .Rudolf, the founder of the line Habsburg-Laufenburg, under whose rule the liberties of the people seemed for the first time seriously to suffer. Therefore, emboldened by the success of Uri in obtaining a charter from King Henry, the men of Schwiz sent messengers to Frederic II. as he lay besieging Faenza in Northern Italy, to beseech his protection. The mission arrived just at the right moment, when the relations between the emperor and Count Rudolf were not of the best. Frederic issued a charter to “all the inhabitants of the valley of Swites” (üniversis hominibus vallis in Swites), in which he conferred upon them the imperial immunity. The original of this much prized document, dated 1240, the oldest of the Swiss charters now extant, is religiously preserved in the archives of the Canton, and reads: “Having received letters and messengers from you to prove and make known your conversion and submission to us, we accede to your express desire with gracious and affectionate good will; we praise your submission and loyalty not a little in that you have shown the zeal, which you have always had for us and the empire, by taking protection under our wings and those of the empire, as you are bound to do, being freemen (tamquam hommes liberi), who must turn to us and to the empire alone. Since, therefore, you have chosen our rule and that of the empire of your own free will, we receive your loyalty with open arms, and respond to your sincere affection with our single-minded favor and good-will, by taking you under our special protection and that of the empire, so that we will never allow you to be alienated or withdrawn from our sovereign rule and that of the empire.”


Unfortunately for the inhabitants of Schwyz, Friedrich II died in 1250 and their homeland reverted to papal control. Like many areas around them, they suffered during the Great Interregnum (1254 – 1273), a period of instability and lawlessness during which no emperor ruled, and then the heavy-handed rule of Rudolf III’s nephew, Rudolfus de Habesburc, Romanorum Rex.  When King Rudolf von Habsburg died in 1291, however, the Forest Cantons of Schwyz, Uri, and Underwalden formed a confederation, declared their independence, and eventually gained recognition as the first three cantons of the Swiss Confederation. 


            Rudolf III von Habsburg married Gertrud von Regensburg (b.~1202; d.1253-64) about 1219;  they had the five following sons:


         Gottfried I (b.~1220; d.1271), m.#1 1239 Elisabeth v. Freiburg und v. Urach; m.#2 Adelheid v. Freiburg und v. Urach;  b. Wettingen.  Founder of Habsburg-Laufenburg line, which died out with death of Johann IV in 1408. Had illegitimate son Rudolf von Dietikon (b.~1259; d.1309). Canon at Zürich Cathedral before 1281. Canon at Konstanz Cathedral, 1282; Archdeacon, 1290; and Cathedral Thesaurius, 1297/1308. Provost of Zürich Cathedral, 1306-09. 


         Otto (b.1222; d.>1254?),


         Rudolf (b.~1225; d.1293), Canon at Basel Cathedral 1255; Canon at Strasbourg Cathedral, 1260; Provostof Basel Cathedral, 1260/74; Provost of Konstanz Cathedral, 1262/74; Provost at Rheinfelden, 1272; Bishop of Konstanz, 1274. 


         Eberhard (b. 1227; d. 1284), m. 1271 Anna v. Kyburg, b. 1252, daughter of Hartmann V von Kyburg. Founder (1271) of Habsburg-Kyburg line, which died out in 1415 with Count Berchtold von Habsburg being the last surviving Count of this line.


         Werner (b. 1229; d. 1253); b. Wettingen.


The exact order and dates of birth of these five sons is uncertain, with some authorities believing that Werner was one of the first sons of Rudolf III von Habsburg and Gertrud von Regensburg and others placing him as the youngest, indicating the paucity of accurate data concerning minor sons of prominent 13th Century families.  In any event, the only two Habsburg sons in this family who appear to possess sufficient power to establish Habesburc on the choice Ricketwil lands were Gottfried I, who inherited the Laufenburg properties and title from his father and his younger brother Eberhard. Gottfried is known to have had an illegitimate son Rudolf von Dietikon who became a well-known cleric.  Gottfried also is identified as the progenitor of the fraudulent English Hapsburg line involving the Fielding family.11

            A much more likely candidate to have had Habesburc as an illegitimate son is Eberhard von Habsburg.  Key events in his life are summarized below:

Date     Event

1227     Probable birth year of Eberhart, youngest son of Rudolf III von Habsburg (*~1196; +1249), aka der Schweigsame; 1232, Graf von Habsburg-Laufenburg, and his wife   Gertrud von Regensberg (*~1202; +1264), daughter of Liutold V von Regensberg, Herr von Regensberg, and Berta von Neuenburg.


1245 – 1270 Eberhart enjoys his lengthy bachelorhood.


1263     Count Hartmann V von Kyburg dies, with his daughter Anna (*1252) the sole heiress.  Later this year Rudolf von Habsburg, son of Albrecht IV von Habsburg (b.~1188; d.~1240) and Heilwig/Hedwige von Kyburg (b.~1192; d.~1260), daughter of Count Ulrich III von Kyburg, obtains guardianship over Anna.


<1271   Anna deeds Lenzburg castle and all the lands lying between the Rivers Aare and Reuss to Rudolf von Habsburg for 14,000 marks in silver. Rudolf and his first cousin Eberhart agree that Eberhart should marry Anna von Kyburg and that Eberhart would agree with Anna’s earlier sale of real estate to Rudolf.


1271     30 Oct/12 Dec, Eberhart marries Anna von Kyburg and becomes Eberhart I, Count of Habsburg-Kyburg.


>1271   Rudolf obtains province of Loraine from Eberhard and Anna.


1273     Rudolf buys town of Zug from Eberhard and Anna.


~1275   Eberhart I and Anna have son Hartmann von Habsburg-Kyburg.


?          Eberhart I and Anna have daughter Margaret von Habsburg (+ ~1333).

1277     Eberhart sells city of Freiburg to Rudolf for 3000 marks.

1280     Death of Countess Anna von Hapsburg-Kyburg.

1284, <June 2 – death of Eberhart I, Count von Habsburg-Kyburg.

1284 Hartmann I becomes Count von Habsburg-Kyburg upon death of his father.


            The manner in which Eberhard’s cousin Rudolf IV masterminded his marriage to Anna von Kyburg is entertainingly related in The Cradle of the Habsburgs:12

                                    CHAPTER X  THE ANNEXATION OF ANNA

IT was a curious thing to see that young girl flaxen-haired, blue-eyed, fragile, so young, so inexperienced among the robust surroundings of old-world Lenzburg. She, the heiress, the Countess Anna of Kyburg, descendant of the Emperor Frederick Barbarossa, and representative of the Kyburgs. She had Lenzburg for her inheritance, the lands lying between the Reuss and the Aare, to say nothing of distant Lorraine, all of which had come to her, his sole child, by the early death of Count Hartman V. of Kyburg. As told more fully in chapter xviii. (p. 183), Lenzburg Castle had been left by Frederick Barbarossa to his son Otto, subsequently known as Count of Lenzburg, and his great- grand-daughter, Elizabeth of Burgundy, brought Lenzburg Castle with her on her marriage with Hartman, the Countess Anna being the sole surviving child.

Count Hartman died in the year 1263, when Rudolph of Hapsburg was forty-five years of age, ten years before his succession to the German throne. The young heiress and her possessions were naturally of intense interest throughout Germany; especially so in those warlike days was the old impregnable castle.

There was not a noble in the land who would not have envied the great heiress and coveted her splendid inheritance; for the castle alone would give any family, however great, an added importance in the country. None had more cause for envy than Rudolph. He considered himself more of a Lenzburg than was Anna; for the girl possessed the citadel not by blood but by the gift of the last count to his sovereign. Moreover, to no noble would the castle and its possessions be of such use as to the Hapsburgs; for their lands were all around those of the heiress, and their castle above Schinznach was too small for their growing importance and could in no way boast of the strategical advantages of Lenzburg, which is altogether a kingly place, and as such had been used by emperors, both Frederick I. and Frederick II.

Whereupon Rudolph lost no time in manoeuvring for the guardianship of Anna, and in 1263, the very year of her heiress-ship, he obtained it.

One would infinitely prefer not to write this chapter. Historical accuracy demands that the truth should be told; it constitutes a stain upon the character of Rudolph which indelibly sullies his name. He first of all used his influence over this unguarded girl to make her sign a deed disposing of the castle to him, together with those lands between the Aare and the Reuss which, in any possession other than his own, were an eyesore to him from his castle of Hapsburg. Doubtless he would have given worlds to have married the girl himself and so have avoided all trouble; but as he was already married, this easy way out of the difficulty was scarcely practicable. His next idea lay in utilising an unmarried cousin, whose neediness and family ambition rendered him a plausible tool. He made overtures to a member of the junior branch of his family, his first-cousin, Count Eberhart of Hapsburg- Lauffenburg. By an arrangement made between these two it was agreed that if the latter would give Rudolph a sum of money, and further confirm the sale of a portion of Anna's estate to her guardian, he on his part in his capacity as guardian would give his consent to a marriage between his ward and Eberhart. The count naturally demurred at these excessive terms; he was to marry a great heiress, because she was an heiress, and yet, as the price, to find her stripped of most whereof she was possessed.

"Well, take it or leave it," said Rudolph, with a shrug. "You won't do better elsewhere." Which was perfectly true. This partial heiress was a better match than Eberhart seemed likely to make with any other available maiden, and so he married Anna, and the hapless girl's grand old heritage, the castle itself, and all the lands lying between the rivers Aare and Reuss, passed out of her hands for the very inadequate sum of 14,000 marks in silver. But the gods were down on these two villainous cousins. The very lands thus acquired were afterwards the scene of the murder of Rudolph's son, the Emperor Albert; and Sempach, part of the gains, was the scene of the annihilation of the Hapsburg's Swiss influence. It was not long before Rudolph, having possessed himself of all he could by traffic, wrenched the remainder of the Lenzburg patrimony from Anna and her husband, including the important province of Lorraine. So, in the end, Eberhart gained little by his base perfidy to the woman he swore to shelter.

One can hardly exaggerate the importance of this new possession to the Hapsburgs, or the influential part it played in the after-fortunes of the family. It was acquired by the Count before he was Kaiser, and it needs few words to emphasise how much this strong castle, its impregnable position, its large capacity for containing men-at-arms, and the sumptuous entertainments given therein by Rudolph must have influenced the Electoral Diet assembled at Frankfort in their choice of a man to rule the destinies of the empire. So great was this heritage that, even after its new lord became Emperor, he returned to the schloss, and there gave a series of magnificent entertainments; and in wandering round the olden edifice as of a certainty you will whilst undergoing your cure at to repeople those scenes in imagery with the pageants of the past.

Count Eberhart of Hapsburg-Lauffenburg was not the only cousin of the junior branch whom the Emperor ill-treated. If assertion is to be believed we have a Hapsburg in our own peerage owing to the persecutions experienced by Jeffery (i. e., Gottfried), which occasioned that Count to fly to the court of Henry III., where his Majesty made him welcome. The surname, Feilding, was assumed on account of a claim to Rheinfelden in Germany. This debatable branch produced the immortal author of Tom Jones. The present Lord Denbigh, who is ninth earl, was a lord-in-waiting to the late Queen, as he also is to King Edward, who, in 1901, stood sponsor for a daughter rejoicing in the beautiful old Spanish name of Dolores.


This question apart, one cannot understand how the Lords Denbigh can lay claim to the double-headed eagle which for many years figured as a badge appended to their pedigree. The double-headed eagle is not, and never has been, the personal badge of the Hapsburgs, any more than it has been or is that of the Hohenzollerns, although King William of Prussia coveted the badge which had been Germany's sign for centuries on being elected Emperor; and the Emperor Francis continued its use as Emperor of Austria when in 1804 he exchanged the title of Germany for that of Austria. . . .13

            When Count Eberhart von Habsburg married Anna von Kyburg in 1271, he became the founder of the new line Habsburg-Kyburg, aka Neu-Kyburg. Unfortunately, the new line began to decline almost immediately as Eberhard and his successors sold off their possessions to fund their lifestyle.  A capsule summary of the history of the Habsburg-Kyburg line is provided below:14


In 1250/51, the childless Count Hartmann IV of Kyburg transferred the western part of his possessions bordering the Reuss River to his nephew Hartmann V.  Hartmann V tried to accomplish this with the support of the Habsburgs from his administrative center at Burgdorf against the interests of the City of Bern and the Savoys.  After the deaths of Hartmann V in 1263 and Hartmann IV in 1264, the only heiress, Anna von Kyburg, was still a minor.  Rudolf I von Habsburg, whose mother Heilwig von Kyburg was a daughter of Ulrich von Kyburg, had assumed her guardianship and with it the control of administrative matters.  By 1273, Rudolf I could also reject the claims of the Savoys, who had a well-substantiated interest through Margarethe von Savoyen, the widow of Hartmann V.


Through the marriage of Anna von Kyburg to Eberhard I of Habsburg-Laufenburg in 1273, out of a part of the possessions of Hartmann IV there arose a new dynasty of Counts von Neu-Kyburg and Burgdorf.  Thus the Habsburg interests in the Aargau were finally supposed to prevail against the Savoys. The Counts von Neu-Kyburg like the Counts von Habsburg-Laufenburg occasionally pursued interests opposing the Habsburgs.  Both lines, among others, were among the actors behind the scenes in the 1308 assassination of King Albrecht I von Habsburg. Administrative centers of the Counts von Kyburg were Burgdorf, Wangen an der Aare, Landshut, and Thun.  Since 1314, they carried, as a fief of the Habsburgs, the title of Landgraf von Burgund.


The Grafen von Neu-Kyburg were in a difficult power-politics contest between the up-start town of Bern, the Swiss Confederation, the Savoys, and the Habsburgs.  Chronic lack of money led to a gradual transfer of legal titles and possessions, especially to Bern and its citizens.  For over five generations, various Counts von Neu-Kyburg sought to preserve their rights by changing alliances, with little success.  In 1313, the brothers Hartmann II and Eberhart II von Neu-Kyburg gave up their lordship rights to the Dukes of Habsburg-Austria and waived all their rights to the old possessions of the Counts von Kyburg in Zürich and the Thurgau. Later Eberhard II murdered his brother in the so-called "fratricide of Thun" to attain his inherited possessions.  To protect himself, he allied himself with Bern; sold the city, castle and outer base of operations to Bern; and took it back again as a fiefdom.  His son Hartmann III as before was more inclined toward the Austrian Habsburgs, and he sold Burgdorf, Thun, and Oltigen as a deposit to the dukes of Austria.  Through inheritance, in 1375 the Neu-Kyburgers received a part of the heavily indebted property of the Counts of Neuchatel-Nidau, but pawned most of it again to Austria in 1379. 


The end of the Neu-Kyburgers came on November 11, 1382, through an abortive attack Count Rudolf II initiated on the city of Solothurn.  The resulting so-called Burgdorfer or Kyburgerkreig of 1383/84 in which Rudolf fought Bern for supremacy of the Aargau, signified the end of the Neu-Kyburgers independent power-politics.  Rudolf died even before the war ended and, although his brother Berchtold could hold his own to some extent against Bern and the Swiss military, in 1384 he had to acquiesce to an unfavorable peace agreement.  For a large sum, Bern acquired the towns of Thun and Burgdorf and with that received the most prominent cities in the Neu-Kyburg region. These towns were forced into a “Burgrecht” with Bern and thereby lost their independence.  In 1406/07, Landshut, Wangen, Herzogenbuchsee, and Bipp went to Bern and Solothurn, and in 1407/08 the Landgrafschaft Burgund and most of its dominions to Bern.  Count Egeno II, heavily in debt, proposed a deal with mercenaries from France.  With the death of Count Berchtold in 1417 in Bern, the House of Neu-Kyburg perished.


            There is no doubt that one of the defining moments of Eberhard von Habsburg’s life was his marriage to Anna von Kyburg in 1271, which initiated a lifestyle that extended to his heirs.  But did he father an illegitimate son who later was enumerated as Habesburc in the censuses of 1290 and 1292?  Certainly Eberhard von Habsburg lived at the correct time and place required to do so.  Moreover, he possessed the three personal attributes required to be the perpetrator of such an act: opportunity, means, and motive.  Each of these requirements is discussed in turn below:


Opportunity: Eberhart apparently did not marry until 1271, when he was approximately 44 years old.  During his relatively long bachelorhood and bearing the Habsburg name, he must have had numerous opportunities for amorous adventures. During his lifetime, noblemen frequently had children out of wedlock, as certainly was the case with his brother Gottfried; first cousin Rudolph, and Emperor Friedrich II. 


Means: Once Eberhart acquired Kyburg lands as Count von Habsburg-Kyburg in 1271, he had the power to establish selected individuals on prime land controlled by the Kyburgs.


Motive:  Eberhart von Habsburg married Anna von Kyburg for her inheritance.  They had at least two children, a son Hartmann and a daughter Margareta.  Assuming that Eberhart had one or more children out of wedlock, it was the custom of the day for noblemen to help secure the future of their illegitimate offspring. 


Currently the evidence identifying Habesburc as an illegitimate son of Eberhard von Habsburg is circumstantial.  However, as the number of individuals in our genetic genealogy continues to grow, it seems likely that additional links to noble Habsburgs will emerge.  The number of individuals from Central Europe and America who have had their Y-DNA tested is relatively small compared to the number than can be expected to do so in the future as the cost of such testing declines.  Our present sample of surnames is only seven, out of the hundred or so that may contain individuals with close DYS matches.  I personally would not be surprised if 100,000 or more males alive today have close matches to our Y- DNA.  It is sobering to note that the 12th century Mongol warrior Ghengis Khan has an estimated 16 million male descendants alive today and the 12th Century Norse/Celtic warrior Somerled of Scotland an estimated 500,000.15   The 12 - 13th Century Habsburgs also were warriors with a similar tendency to sire progeny.


Ironically all of the noble Habsburg lines have died out, sometimes with catastrophic consequences, while thousands of us may share the same genetic line.  (Apparently avoiding notoriety might promote longevity.) A summary of these occurrences follows:



YEAR              DECEASED                            CONSEQUENCES

1408                Johann IV                                 End of Habsburg-Laufenburg Line       

1415 - 17         Berchtold von Habsburg           End of Habsburg-Kyburg Line

1464                Albrecht von Schenkenberg      End of Schenkenberg-Löwenstein Line

1700                Charles II of Spain                    War of the Spanish Succession (1702 – 1714)

1740                Karl of Austria              War of the Austrian Succession (1740 – 1748)

1914                Archduke Franz Ferdinand       World War I (1914 – 1918)

1989                Zita von Habsburg16                  Death of last Habsburg Empress


            Before I conclude this essay, a few words about the historical origins of the royal Habsburg line appear appropriate.  In his History of Austria, Richard Jaklitsch states:17


During the reign of Emperor Maximilian I from 1486 to 1519, the Habsburg empire became a great power, with its territory expanding significantly because of several advantageous marriages.  Maximilian's own marriage to Mary of Bourgogne brought a large part of that territory into the empire.  He also arranged the marriage of his son Philip (later Philip I of Castile) to Joanna, daughter of Ferdinand V and Isabella I - thus establishing the Habsburg claim to Spain and its possessions in Italy and the Americas.  Philip's son Ferdinand I married into the ruling house of Bohemia and Hungary and became king of Bohemia in 1524.  Ferdinand's brother Charles had become Holy Roman emperor as Charles V after the death of Maximilian in 1519.  It was under Charles' rule that the Habsburg inheritances were effectually combined - i.e., the Habsburg hereditary lands in Austria, the Low Countries, and Spain and its possessions.  The extent of the Habsburg empire, however, proved impossible for one monarch to rule.  In 1521 and again in 1522, Charles gave Ferdinand lands in Austria and part of Germany.  Division of the Habsburg dynasty into Spanish and Austrian branches was completed when Charles abdicated in 1556 as king of Spain, in favor of his son Philip II and, in 1558, as Holy Roman emperor in favor of his brother Ferdinand. . . .


This empire, perhaps the greatest and most influential in European history, has its historical origins in a small region in present-day Switzerland called the Aargau, centered on the confluence of the Aare and Reuss rivers, where the family's castle, Habichtsburg (hawks castle), was constructed in the year 1020.  The Habsburgs could not link their origins to the existing German dynasties of the era - i.e., the Saliens or the Staufens.  So, from as early as the 14th century, Habsburg genealogists have attempted to trace their origins back to the Romans, through a Roman patrician family called Colonna, who claimed their descent via the counts of Tuscany to Julius Caesar.  In the 15th century, another legend attempted to trace their origins to the Pierleoni and the counts of Aventine, who counted among their members Pope Gregory the Great and Saint Benedict, the founder of the Benedictine order.  Also during this century, another legend surfaced tracing the "Frankish" origins of the Habsburgs back to the Carolingians, the Merovingians before them, and back further to the Trojans.  Each of these mythological origins had a political purpose at the time of their dissemination - whether it be a connection to the imperial Roman past, the sacred descent from popes and saints, or the descent from the Frankish empires. . . .

In 1649, a theory developed by the French scholar Jerome Vignier proposed that the Habsburgs were descended from the dukes of Alsace - specifically, from Eticho in the 7th century and on through his ancestors who ruled over Alsace and Swabia.  This theory was particularly embraced when Maria Theresa married the duke of Lorraine, Francis Stephen, presenting the new Lorraine dynasty as a restoration of the House of Alsace founded by Eticho. . . .


Biographer Johann Franzl provides the following comments on the origins of the Habsburg family:18

The origins of the family that called themselves the Habsburgs lie in the darkness of pre-history.  Once there was the idea that the family came from gods and heroes. Scholars and pseudo-scholars of all kinds, humanists, and historiographers strove to invest the Habsburg forbearers with the proper sheen.  No wonder that in this manner very diverse personages entered the genealogy of the Habsburgs: Jupiter, the father of the Roman gods; Osiris, the Egyptian god of the dead; Aeneas, the legendary hero of the Homeric epics; and such outstanding mortals as Julius Caesar and Charlemagne. Additionally, the biblical patriarch Noah was supposed to have been an ancestor of the Habsburgs, which thesis, of you consider it closely, does not lack certain logic.  But this had the distinct disadvantage that even the poorest servant of the House of Habsburg could claim this illustrious ancestor.

The bodily forbearers, as far as their names are known, were not Jupiter or Julius Caesar, but Guntram, Radbot, and Lanzelin.  In the Aargau cloister Muri industrious monks have the genealogy of the early Habsburgs.  According to these Acta Murensia, a Count Guntram the Rich, who lived in the first millennium of our recorded time, was the founder of a mighty dynasty.  Count Guntram could not have known that he was a Habsburg, nor his son Lanzelin, who called himself Count von Altenburg.  The small castle of Altenburg is still standing today in the Habsburg net between the Aare and Reuss, which was erected on the ruins of a Roman fortification and shows its extreme age by its appearance.

            Careful German biographers, such as Johann Franzl, are reluctant to attempt to extend the Habsburg line to individuals earlier than Guntram of Muri, although some are willing to refer to Guntram as a “count.”  Actually, it is far from certain that Guntram, the rich, of Muri was a noble of this rank, and it is even more dubious that he was of Alsatian ancestry.  As Richard Jaklitsch, who was quoted above, points out, it was not until 1749 that the French scholar Jerome Vignier proposed that the Habsburgs were descended from the dukes of Alsace - specifically, from Eticho in the 7th century.17 But John Horace Round, who debunked the claim that the Fielding/Feilding family of England descended from Gottfried von Habsburg-Laufenburg by demonstrating that the source documents in the possession family members were rather crude forgeries, also believes that Jerome Vignier’s research is fraudulent.  In his authoritative book, Studies in Peerage and Family History,19 Round notes that the claim of Jerome Vignier, an Oratorian priest, that the Hapsburgs were of Alsatian origin is based upon Vignier’s  alleged discovery of a manuscript fragment in Lorraine. This discovery he published in his “La veritable origine des tres-illustres maisons a’Alsace, de Lorraine, d’Austriche (1649)” Round then quotes the criticism of another French authority to support his belief that Vignier’s publication had little, if any, merit:



. . . . (Later) a brilliant French scholar, whose untimely death was much deplored, I mean M. Julien Havet, pointed out that Jerome Vignier had successfully imposed upon the world. It was, he observed, “a remarkable circumstance” that his manuscript fragment “was full of genealogical details, that is to say, exactly what he wanted in order to prove his theory.” This, we have seen, was also a feature of those convenient Feilding deeds. M. Havet tersely inferred that “Il est clair que nous avons simplement un faux de plus à enregistrer, et que celui qui 1à commis est le même auquel on doit imputer le faux testament de Perpétue, la fausse donation de Micy et les autres falsifications dont il a été question.”


            In summary, the author of this essay believes that:


         Our genetic genealogy family belongs to Haplogroup R1b1b2a1b4c and has the following characteristic DYS values:  390 = 25; 392 = 12; 389-2 = 38; YCAb = 19; and 456 = 17.


         Of the individuals identified to date as being members, the oldest lines appear to bear the surnames Waldberger and May/von May; those of intermediate age Schlotterer/Slaughter and Happes/Hoppes; and those of youngest age Messamer/Messmore, Sacher, and Kreis/Glass.


         Our genetic genealogy family is of Celtic origin, and its members probably resided near the eastern end of the Bodensee/Lake Constanz prior to the coronation of Charlemagne as Emperor in 800 AD before moving westward into the Black Forest and Switzerland, where they resided in the cantons of  Appenzell,  Solothurn, Thurgau, Zürich, Aargau, and Basel.


         The earliest connection between members of our genetic genealogy family and historical personages appears to be the landholder Habesburc enumerated in the Habsburgische Urbar of 1290 and 1292 with the counts von Habsburg, in general, and Eberhart von Habsburg (*~1227, +1284), founder of the Habsburg-Kyburg line in 1271, in particular.


         Through the application of genetic genealogy data to attempt to expand his knowledge of his own family line, the author has gained the added insight that, contrary to earlier belief, the royal Habsburg line appears to have evolved from Celtic warriors with the relatively common Haplogroup R1b1b2a1b who entered Switzerland from the east after the last Ice Age and began their rise to riches and notoriety in the late 900s.


            These revelations lay the groundwork for continued research into the origins of our genetic genealogy family. As additional genetic data become available, it appears highly likely that our knowledge of our family origins will continue to grow rapidly.  Areas of research that appear especially fruitful include: (1) learning of related genealogical lines even earlier than Waldburger and May, (2) the application of genetic genealogy models of the kind Thomas Sacher is applying to investigate probable relationships between our individual family members, (3) the identification of possible sources of Y- DNA from burial and other sites of Habsburg nobles before their lines died out, as all apparently have prior to 1841, and (4) continued family research available in ancient documents housed in a number of archives in Switzerland with special priority on the cloister throve at Saint Gallen.



1. Das Habsburgische Urbar, edited by Dr. Rudolf Maag, Verlag von Adolf Geering, Basel, 1894, Volume 1, pp 77, 316, and Volume 2, p 139.


2. The Black Death by Philip Ziegler, Penguin Books, 1969.


3. Quoted in The Black Death by Philip Ziegler, p 58.


4. Flla 252, Steuerroedel 1442, Vogtei Kyburg, Richoltzwil, Staatsarchiv Zuerich.


5. Dr. Hans Klaeui acknowledges that Hans Haps from Ricketwil prob­ably was a member of the Haps family that later appeared in Toess in his book Geschichte von Oberwinterthur in Mittelalter, 299 Neu-jahrsblatt der Stadtbibliothek Winterthur, 1968/69, p 230.


6. Faux, David K., Y-Chromosone Marker S28/U152, Haplogroup R-U152 Resource Page, available at, April 1, 2009.


7. Faux, David K., A Genetic Signal of Central European Celtic Ancestry: Preliminary Research Concerning Y-Chromosone Marker U152, November 17, 2008 version, which was published at


8.  According to, which states: Waldburg is a town in the district of Ravensburg in Baden-Württemberg in Germany. Most notably is the medieval castle that sits atop the large hill in the town. Waldburg castle dates from the twelfth century, when Waldburg was a County of the Holy Roman Empire.  Additionally from  Waldburg Castle is situated almost in the middle between Ravensburg and Wangen, within the marvellous region of Oberschwaben. On a steep, conical hill, the highest point of Oberschwaben (772 m above sea-level) the Waldburg rises. It was the ancestral castle of the lineage of the imperial duke of the same name. From 1221 through 1240 the imperial regalia were kept here. In case of favorable weather, you can experience an unforgettable and sensational panorama of, for example the foothills of the Alps in Oberschwaben, the Alps of the Allgäu or the Bernese Oberland.




 . . . .After the lineage of Waldburg, who were highly respected in the times of Friedrich II, emperor of the Staufer, received at about 1100 an feoff, they built at that place the Waldburg in the middle of the 12th century, which became the naming ancestral seat of this lineage. As there was only limited space on the hill top, the castle complex consisting of circular wall, great hall, working quarters und chapel tower was built into the height. Formerly, the entrance gate at the eastern side probably was protected by a drawbridge. The chapel tower and the great hall are dated from the first half of the 13th century. Nevertheless, to this time the chapel tower was only half as high as today and served as a gate tower.


9.  See the website for other pictures of Schloss Rued.


10. McCrackan, William Denison, The Rise of the Swiss Republic: A History, published in 1892 by the Arena Publishing Company.


11. For fascinating reading concerning the so-called English Hapsburgs, see John Horace Round’s Our English Hapsburgs: a Great Delusion by entering the preceding title and author into an Internet search engine.


12.  Gilbart-Smith, J. W., M. A., Christ Church, Oxford, The Cradle of the Habsburgs, Chatto & Windus, London. England, 1907, pages 106 - 112.



13.  The coat of arms of the Habsburg-Kyburg family is shown below.  It is identical to that of the earlier Kyburg family except that the field is red, while that of the old Kyburgers was black.


  Datei:Wappen Vogtei Thurgau.svg


14.  My translation of the German text of a Wikipedia article available at the following Internet address:


15.  See Bryan Sykes’ Adam’s Curse: A Future Without Men, W. W. Norton & Company, castle House 75/76 Wells Street, London W1T 3QT, First American edition 2004.


16.  On March 14, 1989, Zita von Habsburg, wife of Emperor Karl I von Habsburg-Lotringen, died in Villars, Switzerland. The following day, the Washington Post published her obituary, which I clipped at that time:


                        Zita, 96, the Last Empress of Hapsburg Dynasty, Dies


ZIZERS,Switzerland – Zita, 96, the empress of the vast Hapsburg empire of Austria-Hungary whose role in a plan to end World War I led to exile from her Austrian palace, died March 14 at her apartment in the former Franciscan convent here.  Her cause of death was not reported.


For the past three decades, the woman who once held court at the Versailles-sized castle of Schoenbrunn in Vienna lived in two plainly furnished rooms.


The former empress was born a princess of Bourbon-Parma on May 9, 1892, at Pianore, near Pisa, Italy, into the large family of Duke Robert of Parma.  In October 1911, at the age of 19, she married Archduke Karl, who was to become the last crowned head of the Hapsburg dynasty, that had ruled Austria for 640 years.


Her husband ruled over a multilingual empire of 50 million people stretching from what is now Poland to the Mediterranean.  After the Allied victory in World War I, he agreed to “temporarily relinquish” his imperial rights.  He never officially abdicated.


Empress Zita, a mother of eight and a Roman Catholic, wore mourning black from the time Karl died in exile on the island of Madeira in 1922.


Tragedy surrounded the ascent of her husband.  He was crowned emperor of Austria and King of Hungary after the 1916 death of his uncle, Franz Josef, who had reigned for 68 years.


Franz Josef’s wife, Elisabeth, was fatally stabbed by an Italian anarchist in Geneva in 1897.  Their son, Crown Prince Rudolf, killed himself in a suicide pact with his mistress in 1889.  Their nephew, Franz Ferdinand, the heir presumptive, was shot by a Serbian assassin in 1914, triggering World War I.


Karl I initiated moves in 1916 to negotiate a peace he hoped would save the /Austrian monarchy.  His empress helped arrange secret contacts with the Allies.  The go-between was her brother, Prince Sixtus of Bourbon-Palma, then serving in the Belgium army, who was in touch with French President Raymond Poincare.  In turn, Poincare notified King George V of Britain.


The Austrian efforts were revealed in 1918, causing an uproar and rocking the Austrian-German alliance.  Empress Zita became known as the “spy of the Bourbons.”  The 1918 exodus from Schoenbrunn Castle was the beginning of a long odyssey.


Karl took exile in the Lake Geneva chateau at Prangins, Switzerland.  But after launching from there an abortive comeback attempt, he was banished to Madeira, where he died a year later at 34.


A widow at 29, Empress Zita turned down invitations from the royal relatives and instead chose to bring up her children in modest environments, first in a Spanish fishing village and then in the Belgium countryside, where she raised chicken and sheep.


Hitler’s Blitzkreig sent the family fleeing to Canada and the United States, where they lived in Tuxedo Park, N.Y.  After the war, she toured U.S. cities to promote humanitarian aid for Europe.


In the early 1950s, she returned to Europe and settled in Zizers, a few hours’ drive from the postwar home of her oldest son, Otto von Hapsburg.  She curtsied before him when Otto, at age 18, became the new titular head of the Hapsburg dynasty.


Although the Austrian border is only 18 miles from Zizers, she did not visit the country for 63 years.  An Austrian law, enacted after the revolution of 1919, allowed entry only to those members of the Hapsburg family who pledged allegiance to the Austrian republic.


All but Empress Zita signed the pledge.  “My mother felt that abdication would have amounted to a betrayal of my father,” explained their son, Otto von Habsburg.


The Austrian republic relaxed the ban after a personal request by Spain’s King Juan Carlos, a relative of Empress Zita.  In May 1982 the Viennese authorities allowed her, then age 90, to visit the grave of her eldest daughter, Adelhaid, in the Tyrolean village of Tulfes, near Innsbruck.  Thousands cheered when she appeared at St. Stephen’s Cathedral. 


The body of the former empress will lie in state in St. Stephens Cathedral in Vienna from March 30 to April 1.  After the funeral expected to be attended by representatives of Europe’s surviving royalty, she will be buried alongside other empresses and emperors in the Capuchin Crypt.


Vice Chancellor and Foreign Minister Alois Moch and an Austrian army unit will take part in the ceremonies as a sign of respect by the Austrian republic.


Survivors include her son, 76, the current head of the House of Habsburg.  He abandoned claims tot eh monarchy in 1961 and took West German citizenship.  He is a member of the European Parliament in Strasbourg. 

Although Empress Zita von Habsburg-Lothringen was buried in the Capuchin Crypt in Vienna, where I visited her casket on a vacation trip to Europe with my wife and youngest son Daniel in 1991, her heart, as well as that of her husband Emperor Karl I of Austria, reside in the Loreto chapel of Muri monastery.

17.  Jaklitsch, Richard, History of Austria, chapter entitled The Early Habsburgs (1273 – 1440) available at:

18. Franzl, Johann, Rudolf I. Der erste Habsburge auf dem deutschen Thron, published in German by Verlag Styria in Graz, Austria in 1986, page 10.  Translation by the author.

19. Round, John Horace, Studies in Peerage and Family History, Westminster, Archibald Constance and Company, 1901, pages 244 – 245.