Tag Archives: genealogy

Illuminated pedigree compiled by Thomas Gardiner, Monk of Westminster, showing the descent of Henry VIII from Cadwallader, Hugh Capet, Alfred and William the Conqueror, 1542/1564: MS. Eng. hist. e. 193

Notice the choice of a lion underneath Henry VIII, a symbol in heraldry symbolising courage, nobility, royalty, and strength. The Royal Arms of England contains 3 lions and was chosen by the Plantagenet kings who ruled England from 1154 until the House of Tudor.[1]

“Kynge Henry the VIJth in wysedome And ryches Equall to
Kynge Solomon he was sonne and Eyre to noble Edmunde
Erle of Rychemonde the ryght And trew Eyre to Holy
Kynge Cadwallyder / He maryed Quene Elizabethe the
Daughter and Eyre to Kynge Edwarde the IIIJth / After he
had openly in the ffelde obtayned Hys Ryghte he raigned
XXIIJth yere VIIJ monthes & XXIJ Dayes And he lyethe
Buryed in Westmynster where as he orderyd perpetuallye
to Endure the moste nobleste foundacyon that ever was
Harde of / He had by quene Elizabethe / Artur prince of
Wales / Edmunde Duke of Somersett / Elizabethe / & Kateryn /
All iiij Dyed wythe oute issu / Quene Margette of Scotlande
Quene mary of ffrance /”


Henry VIII (1491-1547) is without a doubt one of the best known English kings, mostly due to his penchant for wives, his break with Rome and the Catholic Church, and his role in the English reformation. The king reigned for 38 years, got through 6 wives, and “favoured then dispensed” of 3 chief ministers, all named Thomas.[2] But even this king, infamous now for his fickle attitude to marriage and his gluttony, had to prove his royal legitimacy in the 16th century. Henry VIII was, after all, only the second Tudor king. His father, Henry VII, had fought against the house of York for the crown, plotting their downfall from exile in Brittany for 14 years before his coronation in 1485.[3]

What is it?

This item, an illuminated pedigree, is a family tree/genealogy which served to provide evidence of Henry VIII’s legitimacy as king of England. It expresses the line of succession to Henry all the way back to the Welsh king Cadwallyder (633-682), also known as Cadwaladr ap Cadwallon. Cadwallyder ruled as king of Gwynedd from around 655 to 682 AD, when he is said to have died of a plague. There is not much information recorded on the Welsh king, aside from the fact he was the “laste kynge of that blode,” before the pedigree begins connecting him to Henry VI, Henry VIII and Elizabeth I. There is no doubt left as to who the pedigree was attempting to legitimise.

The pedigree traces Henry’s lineage through such other rulers as Hugh Capet (d. 996), King of the Franks between 987 and 996, as well as William the Conqueror, Duke of Normandy. William ruled England between 1066 and 1087 after he had “slayne kynge harolde in the felde” and was succeeded by his son, William Rufus. The roll does not add much illuminating detail about each ruler, though tends to mention how they came to power, how they died, and any notable religious houses they founded.

The pedigree is dated internally as 1542, though on the outside is written “Pedigree of the Kings by Thomas Gardiner, Monke: 1564”. Alongside stitching and evidence of extra parchment being glued together, this may suggest that elements were added at different times, possibly by different people. The main author and artist of this piece does, however, seem to be Thomas Gardiner (or Gardyner), who was possibly the same monk of Westminster who wrote a chronicle of English history from Brutus to Henry VIII, called The Flowers of England.

Matthew Payne and Julia Boffey explored the life of Gardiner in their 2017 paper “The Gardyner’s Passetaunce, the Flowers of England, and Thomas Gardyner, Monk of Westminster.”[4] According to this research, Gardiner was born around 1479 in London. His father was a skinner and his mother may have been “the illegitimate daughter of Jasper Tudor, Duke of Bedford and the brother of Edmund Tudor, whose marriage to Margaret Beaufort produced the future Henry VII; Gardyner was thus, after 1485, the date of Henry’s accession, the king’s step-cousin once removed.”[5] This, if the same person, brings an interestingly personal element to this pedigree.

In around 1493, Gardyner was admitted a novice at Westminster Abbey. He studied at Oxford between 1497 and 1499 and even added a year at Cambridge. Displaying such intellectual prowess was probably part of the reason why he was chosen to create the pedigree. When he returned to Westminster in 1501, he was ordained a priest. Payne and Boffey point out that although the exact purposes of his book and the pedigree are unknown “their function as part of a programme of pious royal promotion seems unquestionable”. They were undoubtedly there to extol Henry VII and Henry VIII’s virtues as great kings, “proclaiming the justice of their claims to the crown.”[6]

Why did he need this?

Henry VIII undoubtedly led in a very different fashion to his father, Henry VII, who was known to be reserved and did not involve himself in foreign affairs. Much more ostentatious, Henry VIII was known for his lavish banquets and greed, and his inability to reconcile his own opinions and actions with the Catholic Church. By breaking from tradition and waging war in France and Scotland, Henry VIII would have needed documents like this to ensure the people knew he was rightly in power, and there was nothing they could do about it.[7]

You can view and request this item through the new Bodleian Archives and Manuscripts webpage.

[1] Garai, J., The Book of Symbols (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1973); Jamieson, A. S., Coats of Arms (Pitkin Publishing, 1998)

[2] Cheshire, P., Kings, Queens, Chiefs and Rulers (London: Star Fire, 2003),  p. 132

[3] Ibid,  p. 129

[4] Payne, M., and J. Boffey, “The Gardyner’s Passetaunce, the Flowers of England, and Thomas Gardyner, Monk of Westminster,” The Library 18.2 (2017): 175-190

[5] Ibid, p. 177

[6] Ibid, pp. 178-182

[7] Brewer, J. S., and J. Gairdner. The Reign of Henry VIII from His Accession to the Death of Wolsey: Reviewed and Illustrated from Original Documents (London: John Murray, 1884)

The Friedmann-Brauns: Chocolate cake, and the story of a family

Berlin,  August 1927. Gerhard Braun, the eldest son of Felix and Gertrud Friedmann-Braun, marries Anneliese Finster. Amongst the wedding presents was a little red book: a recipe book Gertrud (a good mother-in-law, or just making sure her son gets fed properly?) had written for her new daughter-in-law.

'Kochbuch' - Gertrud and the recipe book

‘Kochbuch’ – Gertrud Friedmann-Braun and the recipe book

The recipes partly reflect the Friedmann-Brauns’ status as part of the upper middle class in Berlin, with finer cuisine like roast hare or crayfish soup, but also home-cooking favourites and old family recipes like dumplings and pancakes.

There are no entries in the ‘Salads’ and ‘Vegetables’ section, but there are, luckily, an eclectic variety of cakes, pastries, flans and puddings – the family clearly had a sweet tooth.

…And so have the archivists at the Bodleian Library. The plan of cooking and tasting one of Gertrud’s sweet recipes, all in the name of archival science, suggested itself. We went for Schokoladentorte – chocolate cake:

'Schokoladentorte', 1927

Recipe for Gertrud’s ‘Schokoladentorte’, 1927

The recipe (once deciphered! Oh, the old German handwriting…) translates:

“Mix 1/2 pound of butter with 1/4 pound of sugar, then add 4 egg yolks one at a time, then 100 grams of flour, 3/4 pounds of grated chocolate, some vanilla or vanilla sugar, and finally 3 beaten egg whites (keep back one of the egg whites). Take a small, but tall cake pan and bake the cake approx. 3/4 hours. It is not big. If one needs a bigger one, one takes a double portion. At the end the cake gets covered in chocolate or couverture.”

NB: 1 pound = 500 grams

I used 250g of dark chocolate and 125g of milk chocolate, and baked at 180 Celsius. The cake took slightly longer to bake than expected,  I left it in the oven for one hour (use a wooden skewer to test if it is baked). It is very dense and moist, almost like a brownie.

This is what a 1927 chocolate cake looks in 2015:

The archival cake

The ‘Archival Cake’

The recipe was written down in 1927, but it is probably much older.

Gertrud Friedmann-Braun was born in 1870 in Berlin as the daughter of the judge and national-liberal politician Leonhard Lehfeldt (1834-1878) and his wife Therese, née Lehmann. In 1891 Gertrud married Felix Friedmann (1861-1934), a lawyer and senior judge (Landgerichtsdirektor ) at the provincial court in Berlin. They had four children, Hildegard, Gerhard, Konrad and Johannes. In 1911, Felix Friedmann adopted his mother’s maiden name Braun, changing his and his wife’s surname to Friedmann-Braun, and their children’s surname to Braun.
Hildegard Braun (1892-?1944) became a professional singer and music teacher. Gerhard Braun (1893-1946) studied medicine and became a gynaecologist. Konrad Braun (1896-1969) was a lawyer and judge at the Berlin Court of Appeal (Kammergericht ). Johannes Braun (1900-1942) was an actor with engagements at theatres nationwide.

The Friedmann-Brauns: Family life in Berlin

The Friedmann-Brauns were part of the well-educated and well-established Prussian-German middle class. The family enjoyed a rich cultural and social life. From their correspondence and other documents we know they frequently had relatives and friends around in their large flat in Nürnbergerstrasse 66 in the centre of Berlin near Kurfürstendamm, for entertaining, meals and family get-togethers.

Quite likely music was involved – after all, Hildegard was a professional singer, and all siblings played musical instruments. Gerhard was an accomplished pianist; Konrad had a string quartet with friends from school. Even more likely, humorous verse written by family members were recited – composing witty poems and all sorts of pen-and-paper games were very much part of the family culture. The Friedmann-Brauns were well-read, had a substantial library, and admired the literary classics, most of all Goethe.

At a family reunion, after Kaffee und Kuchen – afternoon coffee and cake – did someone quote the ‘Lehmann-Lehfeldt Familienchronik’ – a family chronicle written by Gertrud’s aunts Franziska and Agathe and privately published by her uncle Felix Lehmann in 1906 – (in)famous in the family, for all the little stories and the gossip about the extensive Lehmann-Lehfeldt clan?


The Friedmann-Brauns, c. 1931: Gertrud and Felix Friedmann-Braun with granddaughter Ruth, at the back Konrad, Hildegard, Johannes, Anneliese and Gerhard Braun

Throughout the 19th and early 20th centuries, the Lehmanns, Lehfeldts, Brauns and Friedmanns, living mainly in Berlin,  were successful in business, the professions, government service and regional politics, and extensively involved in literary and artistic circles, such as Die Zwanglosen society.
Joseph Lehmann (1801-1873), Gertruds maternal grandfather and friends with Heinrich Heine, was editor of the literary magazine Magazin für die Literatur des Auslandes, and his son-in-law Leonhard Lehfeldt followed him in this post. Joseph Lehfeldt (1804-1858), Leonhard’s father, was a publisher and co-owner of the Veit & Co. publishing company. The painter and art professor Paul Meyerheim (1842-1915) was part of the family, and so was Ilse Rosenthal-Schneider (1891-1990), Felix-Friedmann-Braun’s niece, who studied physics and philosophy in Berlin in the 1910s and was in touch with Max Planck and Albert Einstein.

1933 and the consequences: Persecution, emigration and the Holocaust

However… the Friedmann-Braun family had Jewish ancestors, which made them face discrimination and persecution under the Nazi regime.

Gerhard Braun, after losing his posts in the public health system and seeing his practice limited to private patients and later to Jews only, was arrested in the course of the Reichspogromnacht  (Crystal Night) in November 1938 and taken to Sachsenhausen concentration camp, where he was detained for five and a half weeks. He was released in December 1938 on condition that he emigrated, and was able to come to England with his wife Anneliese and adopted daughter Ruth.

Konrad was, after the Nuremberg race laws, forced to retire from his position as Kammergerichtsrat  by the end of 1935. When the police came to arrest him in November 1938, he was in England, studying at the Quaker Study Centre at Woodbrooke in Birmingham. From there, he was able to organise the emigration of his wife Hildburg, and his 3-year-old son Thomas, who left Germany via Switzerland and arrived in the UK in February 1939.


Konrad Braun’s passport, 1937, marked ‘J’ for ‘Jew’ and with the compulsory name ‘Israel’ added by the German Embassy in London, 1939.

Johannes was arrested by the Gestapo in spring 1942 and brought to a concentration camp (probably Trawniki) near Lublin where he was reported to have died of Tuberculosis in July 1942. At about the same time his mother Gertrud suffered an attack, possibly a stroke, after which her health deteriorated steadily and she was dependant on her daughter Hildegard’s care.
From 1941 Hildegard was deployed as a forced labourer to the pharmaceutical company Riedel-de Haën in Britz on the outskirts of Berlin.

Konrad’s and Gerhard’s desperate attempts to find a way for their mother and sister to emigrate from Germany ultimately failed. Gertrud and Hildegard were fetched from their flat in Kurfürstenstrasse on 12 December 1942 and brought to a ‘collection point’ (Sammellager ), probably in Gerlachstrasse, where Gertrud died. Hildegard’s fate is unknown. She is on the list of names on a transport from Berlin to Auschwitz and there is uncorroborated evidence that she worked as a nurse in Theresienstadt and died there, or after being transported on to Auschwitz in 1944; but she was not officially recorded at either camp.

From Berlin to the Bodleian Library:
The Braun Family Archive

The little red recipe book came to England with Gerhard and Anneliese in 1938/1939.
It is now part of the Braun Family Archive, which was donated to the Bodleian Library by Christopher Braun, Konrad and Hildburg Braun’s younger son, in 2010-2014, together with a grant towards preservation and cataloguing of the collection.

The archive consists of over 200 boxes of correspondence, personal and legal papers, diaries, memoirs, eulogies, articles, memorabilia, occasional verses etc., dating from before 1800 to the 2000s, and includes family trees, secondary literature and other material accumulated by family members over the years.  In spite of  grievous losses inflicted by Nazi depredations and allied bombs, this remains a substantial archive of a family which can be traced in Berlin and in the Northeast of Germany in the 18th, 19th and early 20th centuries, and to Jewish roots reaching back to 16th-century Prague and Vienna.


Gerhard Braun’s memoirs describing his detention at Sachsenhausen concentration camp, 1938.

The archive also includes the personal papers and writings of the classicist Thomas Braun (1935-2008), who spent an academic career of over 50 years in Oxford – as a student at Balliol College, 1955-1959, and Merton College, 1959-1962, as Fellow and tutor in ancient history at Merton College from 1963, as Dean of Merton College from 1974, as Senior Research Fellow from 1999, and as Emeritus Fellow after his retirement in 2002.

The subjects touched on include the history of Berlin and northeast Germany in the 19th and early 20th century, the role of the Jews and the process of assimilation, publishing, literary artistic and musical movements in 19th-century Germany, especially Berlin, the 1914-18 war on the German side, the Nazi oppression and the holocaust, emigration from Germany, the life of German refugees in Britain, the internment of enemy aliens in Britain during the 1939-45 war, the Quakers in Germany and Britain, and academic life in Oxford in the 1950s-2000s.

A substantial autograph collection, bringing together 19th and 20th century letters and other documents from artists, writers, musicians, politicians and other ‘celebrities’ family members were in touch with over the decades, complements the archive.

Thus, the collection not only tells the eventful story of a family throughout more than two centuries, but also touches on a broad range of subjects in 19th and 20th century German and British history – which makes it a rich source for biography, social and cultural history with a great potential for use in research.

The main part of the Braun Family Archive is now available to readers, with the catalogue online at the Bodleian Library Special Collections Archives and Manuscripts Online Catalogues website.

-Svenja Kunze