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
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
There are other theories and they may be viewed at
We know nothing of his wife but
Gerolf was my 34th great
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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:
Dirk V (c. 1052, Vlaardingen – 17 June 1091).
Bertha (c. 1055–1094, Montreuil-sur-Mer), who
married Philip I of France in 1072.
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
Together, Philip and Bertha had three children:
Louis VI of France (1 December 1081–1 August 1137)
Constance, married Hugh I of Champagne before 1097
and then, after her divorce, to Bohemund I of
Antioch in 1106
Henry (b. 1083) (died young)
Philip and Bertha were my 28th great grandparents.
For a continuation of this line of ancestors see