The World of Grandpa Don

The Royal Line
Royalty of Holland

This page looks at our royal ancestors extending from Gerolf of Holland who born about 850 AD to Bertha Countess of  Holland (1055-1108) who married Philip I of France.

This line of ancestors was confirmed in May of 2011. It consists of ancestors of my 9th Great Grandfather Gen James Cudworth

The relationships of the ancestors and the description of their lives were verified and taken from Wikipedia.

This is their story, as I know it.

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For a detailed chart see:
Pedigree Chart - Bertha Countess of Holland



A proto-Frisian culture slowly began to emerge around 400-200 BC. The Roman occupation of Frisia began in 12 BC with the campaign of Nero Claudius Drusus in Germania. The early eighth-century AD is known for the Frisian king Redbad and the missionary Saint Boniface.

At the start of the Middle Ages, Frisia stretched from what is now the Belgian border to the River Weser in Germany. After incorporation into the Frankish empire, Friesland was divided into three parts. The westernmost part developed at the start of the second millennium into the County of Holland.

It is in this area that our story begins. As usual there were earlier ancestors but their stories are more legend than fact. This line of our ancestors did not include kings or queens but they were all counts in the service of the kings of the Franks or of Germany although they are credited with being the founders of the nation of Holland.

Our Ancestors


Gerolf of Holland

Gerolf or Gerulf (c. 850 – 895/896) was the second count of this name who is attested in the area of Friesland (which also included Holland at the time). Gerolf's main area of power seems to have been in Kennemerland. Count Gerolf is often regarded as the founder of the County of Holland, although the actual name "Holland" is from a later time. His ancestry is unclear, but he may have been a son or, more likely, a grandson of the earlier Gerolf, who was a count in the area of Frisia at the time of the reign of Emperor Louis I the Pious (fl. 833) and who later joined a monastery. The earlier Gerolf died in 855. There is some limited and vague evidence that this earlier Gerolf was a son of a certain Theodoric, who in turn supposedly descended from the Frisian king Redbad (d. 719). Count Gerolf is identified as the father of Count Dirk I and seen as the founder of the first house of the Counts of Holland, which ruled the county until it was inherited by John II of Hainaut in 1299.

There are other theories and they may be viewed at

We know nothing of his wife but Gerolf was my 34th great grandfather.



Dirk I, Count of Holland

Dirk I (Theoderic) (C 870-944) was Count of Holland, thought to have been in office from ca. 896 to ca. 928 or 939. The actual title of count Dirk I was 'count in Friesland'.

Dirk is thought to be a son of Gerulf II, 'count in Frisia', who is named by some sources as one of the counts who assassinated their Viking overlord Godfryth 'the Sea King' at a place named Herespich (modern Spijk in 885.

Regarding Dirk I, almost nothing is known of his life. In 922 Dirk was present at a place called Bladella (present day Bladel, in the extreme south of the Dutch province of Noord Brabant), at which he received certain lands ('at a place called Egmond') from the West Frankish king Charles the Simple. Dirk subsequently erected a nunnery at the said lands, at which nuns prayed continuously for the well-being of the comital dynasty. This was the origin of the later Egmond Abbey.

 Count Dirk and many of his descendants were buried in the abbey church.

His queen consort is said to be Geva and onley one son is known, Dirk II. Dirk I and Geva were my 33rd great grandparents.



Dirk II, Count of Holland

Dirk II (920/930 – 6 May 988) was Count of Frisia and Holland. He was the son of Count Dirk I and Geva (or Gerberge).

In 983 Emperor Otto III confirmed his rights to properties and territories in the counties of Maasland, Kinhem (Kennemerland) and Texla (Texel), thus stretching along the entire Hollandic coast (as well as inland). Count Dirk II built a fortress near Vlaardingen, which later was the site of a battle between his grandson Dirk III and an Imperial army under Godfrey II, Duke of Lower Lorraine.

He rebuilt Egmond Abbey and its wooden church in stone to house the relics of Saint Adalbert, the project starting in 950. Adalbert was not well known at that time, but he was said to have preached Christianity in the immediate surroundings two centuries earlier. The abbey was given to a community of Benedictine monks from Ghent, who replaced the nuns originally at Egmond, probably in the 970s. His daughter Erlint or Erlinde, who was abbess at the time, was made abbess of the newly founded Bennebroek Abbey instead.

Dirk married Hildegarde (thought to be a daughter of Count Arnulf of Flanders, based on the names of her children), and had three known children. His son Arnulf became Count of Holland and Frisia after Dirk's death. The younger son Egbert became Archbishop of Trier in 977. His daughter Erlinde was abbess of Egmont, until that institution was changed by her father from a nunnery into a monastery, after which she became abbess of Bennebroek.

Dirk died in 988 and was buried in the stone church at Egmond, which he had built there. Hildegard died two years later and was also buried there.

Dirk II and Hildegarde  were my 32nd great grandparents.



Arnulf of Holland

Arnulf, also known as Aernout or Arnold succeeded his father in 988 as Count in Frisia. He was born in 951 in Ghent and because of this he is also known as Arnulf of Ghent. Arnulf was the son of Dirk II, Count of Holland and Hildegard, thought to be a daughter of Arnulf of Flanders.

Arnulf is first mentioned (together with his parents) in 970. Like his father, his name appears in numerous Flemish documents at the time. In 983 Arnulf accompanied Emperor Otto II and future Emperor Otto III on their journey to Verona and Rome. As count he managed to expand his territories southwards. Arnulf donated several properties to Egmond Abbey, amongst others Hillegersberg (which was previously called Bergan, but renamed after Arnulf's mother) and Overschie, which may have been rewards for the land-clearing activities of the monks of Egmond.

Arnulf was the first count to come into conflict with the West-Frisians and in 993 he invaded their territory, but on 18 September of that year he was defeated and killed in a battle near Winkel in West-Friesland. His son Dirk was still a boy at this time, but Arnulf's widow Luitgard managed to retain the county for her son with support from first Emperor Otto III and later her brother-in-law, Emperor Henry II.

In May 980 Arnulf married Lutgard of Luxemburg, a daughter of Siegfried, Count of Luxemburg. The couple had (at least) two sons; the future Count Dirk III and Siegfried (also known as Sicco). Arnulf, his wife and his sons were all buried at Egmond. He also had a daughter, Adelina of Holland, who was married to Baldwin II, Count of Boulogne and Enguerrand I, Count of Ponthieu.

On 20 September 993 Liutgard donated her properties at Rugge to Saint Peter's abbey of Ghent for the soul of her husband. In June 1005 she made peace with the West-Frisians through mediation by Emperor Henry.

Arnulf and Lutgard of Luxemburg were my 31st great grandparents. 



Dirk III, Count of Holland

Dirk III (also called Diederik or Theodoric) was Count of Holland from 993 to May 27, 1039, until 1005 under regency of his mother. It is thought that Dirk III went on pilgrimage to the Holy Land around 1030, hence his nickname of Hierosolymita ('the Jerusalemite' in Latin).

The area over which Dirk ruled was called Holland for the first time only in 1101 and was usually known as West Friesland at this time. The actual title of Count Dirk III was 'Count in Friesland'. Western Frisia was very different from the area (North and South Holland) of today. Most of the territory was boggy and subject to constant flooding and hence very sparsely populated. The main areas of habitation were in the dunes at the coast and on heightened areas near the rivers.

Count Dirk was a member of the house of Holland, an important family within Germany at that time. His mother, Luitgard of Luxemburg, was regent in the county while Dirk was still a minor, from 993-1005. She was the sister-in-law of Emperor Henry II, and with his help, she managed to maintain the county for her son. After Dirk assumed the government of the county, she still used her family connections to acquire imperial assistance, in one instance an imperial army helped Dirk suppress a Frisian revolt.

Prior to 1018, Count Dirk III was a vassal of Henry II, but the bishops of Trier, Utrecht and Cologne all contested the ownership of Dirk's fiefdom, which was in a strategically important location. Utrecht, situated in the Rhine delta, was the largest trading town of the German kings in the area and traders had to sail through the territories of Dirk III, by way of the Rhine and Vecht rivers, in order to reach the North Sea. Also, the German kings and emperors were frequently resident in Utrecht and the nearby estate of Nijmegen. Another trade route that ran through Dirk's territory was from the city of Tiel to England.

It was along this second route that Count Dirk built a stronghold at Vlaardingen, in a newly habitable area where many Frisians had recently settled by his invitation. He was not permitted to levy tolls or hinder trade in any way, but eventually he defied imperial rule. Working together with the Frisians now living in the area, he stopped passing ships, demanding payment of tolls. Merchants from the town of Tiel sent alarmed messages to the king and Bishop Adelbold of Utrecht about acts of violence against them by Dirk's men. Emperor Henry then decided to end Dirk III's reign and awarded his lands to Bishop Adelbold.

A large imperial army, made up of troops supplied by the various bishops of region, under the command of Godfrey II, Duke of Lower Lorraine, then headed for the stronghold at Vlaardingen. The ensuing Battle of Vlaardingen was a disaster for the imperial army and a tremendous victory for Count Dirk; many of the imperial commanders perished and Duke Godfrey was captured. Following this victory, Dirk III was permitted to keep his lands and he continued levying tolls. Later on, Dirk also managed to acquire more lands east of his previous domains at the expense of the Bishop of Utrecht. After the death of Emperor Henry II in 1024, Dirk supported Conrad II for the succession to the kingship.

After Count Dirk III's death in 1039, imperial armies were sent on a few more occasions seeking to reclaim the lands held by the Frisian counts. The powerful Robert I, Count of Flanders (called Robert the Frisian) helped Dirk V, grandson of Dirk III and his own stepson, to restore Frisia to the counts.

Dirk III married Othelindis, who was from a prominent Saxon family, although her exact origin is unknown. They had (at least) two children:

  • Dirk, who succeeded his father as Dirk IV

  • Floris, who succeeded his brother as Floris I

After Dirk's death on 27 May 1039, his widow went back to Saxony, where she died on 31 March 1044. Dirk was buried at Egmond.

Dirk III and Othelindis were my 30th great grandparents.



Floris I, Count of Holland

Floris I of Holland (born in Vlaardingen – killed June 28, 1061 in Gelderland, Netherlands) was Count of Holland, then called Frisia west of the Vlie, from 1049 to 1061. He was a son of Dirk III and Othelindis.

He succeeded his brother Dirk IV, Count of Holland, who was murdered in 1049. He was involved in a war of a few Lotharingian vassals against the imperial authority. On a retreat from Zaltbommel he was ambushed and killed in battle at Nederhemert (called Hamerth at the time), on 28 June 1061.

He married ca. 1050 Princess Gertrude of Saxony, daughter of Bernard II, Duke of Saxony and Eilika of Schweinfurt, and had at least three children by her:

  1. Dirk V (c. 1052, Vlaardingen – 17 June 1091).

  2. Bertha (c. 1055–1094, Montreuil-sur-Mer), who married Philip I of France in 1072.

  3. Floris (b. c. 1055), a canon at Liége.

Gertrude married secondly in 1063 Robert the Frisian, Count of Flanders, who also acted as guardian for the children of her previous marriage and as regent for his stepson until 1071.

Floris and Gertrude were my 29th great grandparents. 



Bertha of Holland

Bertha of Holland (c. 1055 – 1093), also known as Berthe or Bertha of Frisia and erroneously as Matilda or Bertrada, was queen consort of the Franks from 1072 until 1092, as the first wife of King Philip I. Bertha's marriage to the king in 1072 was a result of peace negotiations between him and her stepfather, Count Robert the Frisian of Flanders. After nine years of childlessness, the royal couple had three children, including Philip's successor, Louis the Fat. Philip, however, grew tired of his wife by 1090, and repudiated her in 1092 in order to marry the already married Bertrada of Montfort. That marriage was a scandal since both Philip and Bertrada were already married to other people, at least until Queen Bertha died the next year.

Bertha was the daughter of Count Floris I of Holland and his wife, Gertrude of Saxony. Bertha had six siblings and both of her parents came from large families. Her father ruled a territory vaguely described as "Friesland west of the Vlie", which is where Bertha spent her childhood. Count Floris I was assassinated in 1061, and two years later her mother remarried to Robert of Flanders. Robert, now known as Robert the Frisian, became guardian of Bertha and her six siblings. In 1070, Robert the Frisian became involved in a war with King Philip I of France over succession to the County of Flanders. Within two years, Robert and Philip concluded a peace treaty which was to be sealed by a marriage; Robert's own daughters were too young, but their half-sister Bertha was just the right age. Robert thus agreed to the marriage of his stepdaughter to King Philip. Bertha married Philip, thus becoming queen of the Franks, probably in 1072.

Bertha was, at the time, the lowest ranking woman to marry a French king; no suitable princess could be found, since they were all too closely related to Philip for the marriage to any of them to be seen as perfectly valid by the Church. Bertha had no kings among her traceable ancestors and lacked even tenuous links with the Carolings that her predecessors could claim. Consequently, contemporary chroniclers did not even try to present her lineage as more exalted than that of a count's daughter. Nevertheless, the shortage of royal candidates made Bertha a suitable choice. The regal title she gained by this marriage was prestigious, but had little meaning, as she was confined to her husband's small royal domain that covered little more than areas around Paris and Orléans.

Little is known about Bertha's queenship. She co-signed only three donation charters. However, she plays a prominent role in the hagiography titled Vita Arnulfi. The hagiography describes how she used her regal power to expel Abbot Gerard of Saint-Médard and reinstate the former abbot, Pontius, who had been removed due to his mismanagement of the abbey. Saint Arnulf of Soissons warned her that doing so would incur the wrath of God and lead to her being driven out of the kingdom into exile, where she would die despised and miserable. The queen furiously refused to listen to him.

For nine years, King Philip and Queen Bertha were troubled by their childlessness and especially by the lack of male children, which was not unusual among the early male members of the House of Capet. Things suddenly took a different course, however, when the Queen had three children in quick succession, starting with a son named Louis in 1081. The birth of the long-awaited heir apparent had such a great impact that a story of a miracle developed around it. Reportedly, the couple's fertility was only restored thanks to the prayers of a hermit, Saint Arnulf of Soissons. Arnulf informed Queen Bertha that she was expecting a son and that it would be appropriate to give him the Carolingian name of Louis. A daughter named Constance soon followed. Bertha gave birth to one more son, named Henry, but he appears to have died in infancy or childhood.

After the birth of three children, the marriage began breaking apart. The King became tired of his wife but the reasons are unclear. Contemporary chroniclers give different explanations. According to the English historian William of Malmesbury, Philip complained that Bertha was "too fat", though he was himself becoming too obese to ride a horse. In 1092, Philip announced his decision to divorce "the noble and virtuous daughter of Florent count of Holland and stepdaughter of Robert the Frisian" and marry the already married Bertrada of Montfort, the wife of Count Fulk IV of Anjou. The repudiated queen withdrew to the fortress of Montreuil-sur-Mer, which was part of her dower land. By doing so, Philip infuriated his stepfather-in-law. Bertha died soon thereafter, simplifying matters for Philip who was now free to remarry – though not the Countess of Anjou, whose husband Fulk was still living.

In 1108, Philip died. The son of the queen who had been repudiated ostensibly for her obesity ascended the French throne as Louis VI. Both he and her fraternal nephew, Count Floris II of Holland, were nicknamed "the Fat".

Together, Philip and Bertha had three children:

  1. Louis VI of France (1 December 1081–1 August 1137)

  2. Constance, married Hugh I of Champagne before 1097 and then, after her divorce, to Bohemund I of Antioch in 1106

  3. Henry (b. 1083) (died young)

Philip and Bertha were my 28th great grandparents.


For a continuation of this line of ancestors see French Royalty.   


© Grandpa Don Plefka
aka Harry Ronald Cecora
 Oct 17, 2013


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