Monday, January 2, 2012

A Miscellany of Red-Haired Historical Figures

The other week I came across a website that listed historical figures along with contemporary descriptions of their physical appearance. A few of the descriptions mentioned red hair. I’ll catalogue them here.

Alexander II, King of Scots (1198-1249)
“[King John] taunted King Alexander, and because he was red-headed, sent word to him, saying, 'so shall we hunt the red fox-cub from his lairs.'“
From the Chronica Majora of Matthew Paris

Henry II, King of England (1133-1189)
“The lord king has been red-haired so far, except that the coming of old age and gray hair has altered that colour somewhat.”
From the Epistolae of Peter of Blois (1070-1117)

Richard I, King of England (1157-1199)
“He was tall, of elegant build; the colour of his hair was between red and gold; his limbs were supple and straight. He had long arms suited to wielding a sword. His long legs matched the rest of his body.”
From the Itinerarium peregrinorum et gesta regis Ricardi by Richard de Templo

Fernando I, King of Aragon (1380-1416)
“He was tall, a little more than average, and thin and ruddy, and his cheeks had a few freckles…”
From Cronica de Juan II by Alvar Garcia de Santa Maria

Frederick I Barbarossa, Holy Roman Emperor (1122-1190)
“He was indeed an illustrious man, of stature moderately tall, of red hair and beard; his head was partly turning grey, his eyelids were prominent, and his eyes sparking; his cheeks short and wide, his breast and shoulders broad…”
From the Chronica of Geoffrey de Vinsauf

Frederick II, Holy Roman Emperor and king of Sicily (1194-1250)
"The Emperor was covered with red hair, was bald and myopic. Had he been a slave, he would not have fetched 200 dirhams at market."
From the Muntazam by Sibt Ibn al-Jawzi

Baldwin IV, King of Jerusalem (1161-1185)
“[A] blue-eyed, freckled, leprous evil-doer.”
From the correspondence of al-Qadi al-Fadil.

Ismail I, Shah of Persia (1487-1524)
“His hair is reddish; he wears only moustachios, and uses his left hand instead of his right. He is as brave as a gamecock, and stronger than any of his lords…”
From Giovanni Angiolello

Albrecht Durer was a Redhead

I’ve just found out that the painter Albrecht Durer was a redhead. His gingery red hair can be seen in his earliest self-portrait, painted at the age of 22. Durer is generally seen as the premier artist of the Northern Renaissance. He was born 1471 and died 1528, aged 56.

Red Hair of the Dragon Line

I recently came across this webpage.

The page is titled ‘Dragon Dynasties Family Tree’ and contains some strange and esoteric opinions regarding red hair. It's a good example of what I would call the modern mythologizing of red hair. I’ll quote the salient bits.
“The House of Vere is the first royal house of Anjou and said to be of pure Elvin Royal Dragon Blood.....who came into conflict with early Christian church officials (dont even get me started on all this stuff: it is tied up in a lot of mythology : I am only reporting what I find: those of you who wish to read more can do so in:
The Dragon Legacy: The Secret of an Ancient Bloodline by Nicholas de Vere..........whereby the De Veres are considered the Grail bloodline.........supposedly a super human red haired and green eyed race of men (gosh my family has a ton of green eyes: lol)”
Then further down the page;
“Now here is the kicker: according to E.A. Wallis Budge, “Animals with red or reddish brown hair or skins were, and even red haired men were supposed to be especially under the influence of Set.” As is well known to anyone reading this publication, the Merovingians were notorious for their red hair and it was believed that this is where they received all of their “powers.””
And lastly;
“According to ancient tradition red hair and pale white skin is the royal holy colouring. Lilith, the goddess-mother of the Elves was red haired. Radamanthus, the brother of Enlil (Zeus Dispater) was red haired. The vampires of Serbia were red haired. The Scythians and Tocharians were red haired and witches the world over were recognised by their red hair and green eyes.
Consequently red hair, white skin and green eyes are the racial colouring of the Elven God Kings. This colouring, determined by the possession of the MC1R genes, is not human in the accepted sense; it is Neanderthal and, just as biblical and Sumerian histories tell us of the hybridisation of Man and the Gods, so Man and Neanderthal interbred.”