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«Before America Page 1 Before America Prior to Lord John Garrett immigrating to America, his ancestors had lived in England for six centuries. But, ...»

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The Garretts – Before America Page 1

Before America

Prior to Lord John Garrett immigrating to America, his ancestors had lived in England for six

centuries. But, the name was not always Garrett. Before they called themselves Garrett, they

used the names Garrad, Garrard, and Gerard. Before that it was Gerald, and before that it was

Geraldini (sometimes spelled Gherardini). In between the Geraldinis and the Gerald’s, sons

where named after their father first name rather than the last name.. So, if a Walter had a son that he called John, John was known a John FitzWalter, Fitz meaning “the son of”. Using this naming convention, my ancestors were the progenitors of the FitzGeralds.

The Geraldini Ancestors The first ancestor to immigrate to England was Otho Geraldini. Otho was from Tuscany (now Italy) and he was a Duke. His move was made in two steps -- first to Normandy in the first quarter of the 11th Century and then to England in 1041 AD. So from Otho (Geraldini) we have a progression of names such as: Walter FitzOtho, Gerald FitzWalter, William FitzGerald, and William FitzWilliam. Two prominent branches were the FitzGeralds and the Geralds. The FitzGeralds branch of the family went to Ireland. The Geralds became Garrard, Garrett, etc.

Otho was from Italy, born around 1006 AD. He was a Florentine and a member of the Geraldini family. Sometime between 1016 and 1035 Otho went from Tuscany to Normandy (France) in the caravan of the Anglo-Saxon King Canut (Cnut or Canute) who had passed through Florence on his way home from a pilgrimage to Rome. Later, Otho came to England with Edward the Confessor when Edward was called back from exile to be King of England in 1041.

Otho Geraldini, Duke of Tuscany, came from a family whose beginnings, so say the legends, go back to the days of Troy. Definite records take us back well over a thousand years, and say that the family was indigenous to Italy, being either Etruscan or Roman. Its members had estates in various parts of the Florentine territory.

In Florence, their principal

–  –  –

Mona Lisa is said to be a descendant of the Gherardini family.

The family flourished in Tuscany until the year 1125. Then, during a political upheaval, the patrician families were driven into exile. In order to remain in Florence, the Gherardini renounced their patrician rank and became mere citizens. Later they were restored to their ancient honors, became very wealthy, and served the Republic of Florence both in the senate and on the battlefield. Three were Consuls of the Republic; others died as leaders of the Republican armies in the many civil wars. Confiscations and losses during the civil wars impoverished the Gherardini, and they also suffered much by the destruction of their property in the great fire of Florence in 1303. From the 14th century onwards they seem to have played a smaller part in the history of Florence. At different times, between 1000 and 1400, individuals of the family emigrated, passing into France, England, Wales, Ireland, Cracow and the Canary Islands. Those who stayed in Florence became extinct, as did those in France and Cracow. It is recorded that the Gherardini of Florence and the Irish "Geraldines" did not lose touch with each other. There are records of visits back and forth until the late 1500's.

The Duke of Tuscany’s father was Baron Ottorus Gherardo GHERADINI. His father was Lord Otterus (Othoer) Gherardini. His father was Mathias Gherardini. His father was Cosimo (Cosmus) Gherardini who was born around 870 and was the 1st Great Duke of Tuscany.

Otho Geraldini Moves to Normandy In 1027, when Otho Geraldini was 21 years old, King Canut of England passed through Florence on a return trip from an audience with the Pope in Rome. In those days, merchants and pilgrims traveled in groups (for protection) stopping along the way to visit with the local powers.

They were required to pay fees and tolls to those whose domain they crossed. Thus, it was natural for King Canut’s group to stay in Florence for a while with the Geraldini family. We don’t know why for certain, but Otho decided to join King Cnut’s caravan. His leaving, however, was not the end of the Geraldini family in Tuscany. We know that the family flourished in Tuscany for several centuries after Otho left. So perhaps, although he was a Duke, he was not the eldest in the family and knew that he would not inherit.

As King Cnut’s caravan continued its journey back to England, they undoubtedly stayed for a while with Robert, Duke of Normandy who lived in area around Rouen and Caen. In 1027, Richard, Duke of Normandy had just died to be succeeded by Robert. There, Otho Geraldini met the 17 year-old Duke Robert and the 24 year-old Edward who eventually was to become King Edward the Confessor of England. Otho Geraldini decided to stay with Robert, Duke of Normandy.

Anyway, Otho Geraldini was in Normandy in the 1030’s living with the future King Edward of England, who since the age of 10 had been in exile, first under the protection of his grand father, Duke Richard of Normandy and later with his uncle, Duke Robert of Normandy. Edward is 3 years older than Otho and Otho is 4 years older than Robert. In 1035, Within, a year of Otho’s arrival in Normandy, Duke Robert’s mistress, Herleve of Falaise. gives birth to a son named William who would become William the Conqueror. A few years later, Otho Geraldini has a son that he names, Walter FitzOtho. Walter’s mother’s name is not recorded.





The Garretts – Before America Page 3 William was 8 or 9 years older than Walter FitzOtho but apparently they “grew-up” together.

Some genealogist maintain that Otho’s son, Walter FitzOtho was the half brother of William (the Conqueror) but I do not believe it. To make this so, Otho Geraldini would have to had married Duke Robert’s mistress, Herleve of Falaise. While there is no name available for Otho’s wife, I can not find any data that supports Herleve having a son by Otho Geraldini.

To better understand the possible relationships between the various parties in Normandy, I have developed the following timeline.

1003 The future King Edward the Confessor is born in England 1006 Otho Geraldini is born in Tuscany 1016 Edward goes into exile at his grandfather’s place in Normandy

–  –  –

1027 Otho Geraldini goes from Tuscany to Normandy 1028 William, the bastard son of Robert, Duke of Normandy is born.

1037 Otho Geraldini’s son, Walter FitzOtho is born.

–  –  –

1066 Thirty-eight year-old, William the Conqueror invades England. Thirty year-old, Walter FitzOtho goes with him or meets him in England.

King Edward and the Geraldinis King Edward was in exile because when King Cnut of Demark seized the kingdom of England in 1016, he murdered the existing Anglo-Saxon King and every member of King Aethelred's royal family he could get his hands on. Only Edward (eventually, King Edward) and his brothers, the younger sons of Aethelred, survived. They fled to Normandy, where they took refuge with their grandfather, Duke Richard, the father of their mother, Emma.

King Cnut died in 1035 but it was not until 1042 that the English invited King Edward to return from Exile. When he did return, he found that England was really being controlled by the Godwine family. This family had prospered greatly while Edward was in exile and had amassed so much land that they were second only to the power and wealth of the King. Edward had spent his entire adult life waiting for the chance to be King of England, and having achieved it had The Garretts – Before America Page 4 found his power circumscribed by the over-powerful subjects of his predecessors, so much so that he was forced to marry Edith, daughter of Godwine, in a marriage of dynastic expediency. The chroniclers say that he despised his wife so much that he never consummated the marriage.

To counter the power of the Godwines, Edward promoted a notorious group called the “Normans” or the “Frenchmen” who were made up of the Norman and French nobles with whom Edward had shared his young adulthood in Normandy. One of these “Frenchmen” was Otho Geraldini, my ancestor. Another was Eustace of Boulogne, who was possibly an ancestor of Frances – the Eastes branch. Eustace is another spelling of the name, Estes.

In 1051, Edward’s friend, Eustace, was by the King’s order, given the town of Dover, which order was resisted by the Godwines. When King Edward called the Godwines to account they chose to flee which permitted Edward to dump his hated wife, Edith.

Soon after the Eustace-Godwine flap, William of Normandy came to visit England where it is claimed (but much disputed) that King Edward offered William the crown of England upon his death and in the event he (Edward) did not have an heir.

King Edward was kind to his Norman friend and buddy, Otho Geraldini as noted by an old English lyric which says, “the Earldom which to Otho brave, the Saxon sainted Edward gave”.

Otho (Geraldini) was so powerful that his favor with King Edward was greatly resented by the

native Norman nobles. He possessed:

–  –  –

In 1052 the Godwines returned even stronger than before requiring that the “Frenchmen” (such as Otho Geraldini) flee or lie low. This mostly likely gave reason for Otho Geraldini and others to welcome William when he arrived in England in 1066. We don’t know if Otho returned at this time to Normandy or just kept a low profile until William the Conqueror returned. Otho Geraldini’s son, Walter FitzOtho, who at this time was a young man, probably went to (or stayed in) Normandy to train under William of Normandy.

In 1053, Harold Godwine became head of the Godwine family. In 1064, it was obvious to all that Edward was going to die without an heir and Harold saw himself as being in the catbird seat.

William the Conqueror and the Geraldinis On January 5, 1066 King Edward died without an heir. Harold Godwine crowned himself King and was busy leading his army far to the north against his brother and the Viking King Hadrada who were invading from the north. William of Normandy began planning to invade England to claim the throne that he was promised. He even obtained the blessing of the Pope. So, eight months after Edward’s death, William of Normandy, his followers and his army landed on the The Garretts – Before America Page 5 southeast coast of England. Otho's son, Walter FitzOtho (Geraldini), was 29 years old and was with William during the invasion in the Battle of Hastings where he must have done very well as we will see later.

I have included as Appendix 5 a description of the Battle of Hastings that resulted in William, the Bastard becoming William, the Conqueror.

William was crowned King of England on Christmas Day 1066 in Westminster Abbey and became known as William the Conqueror or King William I. Thus began a three century Norman occupation of England, Wales and Scotland, and later Ireland. It would also resulted in my ancestors being rewarded with land, castles and titles. Whereas, Otho Geraldini was favored by King Edward, his son, Walter FitzOtho (Geraldini) was favored by King William I.

William consolidated his conquest by starting a castle-building campaign in strategic areas.

Originally these castles were wooden towers on earthen 'motes' (mounds) with a bailey (defensive area) surrounded by earth ramparts, but many were later rebuilt in stone. By the end of William's reign over 80 castles had been built throughout his kingdom, as a permanent reminder of the new Norman feudal order.

–  –  –

Beginning of the Middle Ages The period in which the Normans lived is often called the Middle Ages, because in history it lies between ancient times and modern times. Historians use it as referring to the period between the 12th and 15th century.

Most kingdoms in Medieval Europe had a system of government called feudalism. The king granted land to nobles, including higher churchmen such as bishops and abbots. These people then became the king’s vassals, rather like tenants renting land from the owner. The actual ‘granting’ of the land was called feudum, from which we get the word feudalism, while the piece of land held by the vassal was called the fief (hence fiefdom).

In return for the land, the vassal swore an oath of homage. This basically meant that he became the king’s man. He promised money to his overlord, the king, and he promised to provide knights to fight for the king; the number of knights depended upon the value of the land-grant received. This duty was known as “knight service”. A vassal also had to give food and lodgings to the king and his major followers whenever they visited a vassal’s castle. A feudal king also acted as a judge in disputes between his vassals should a vassal be killed, the king took in his children as wards until they were old enough to takeover their family fief, or, in the case of girls, be married. Most importantly, with the help of all the money and knight-service due to him, it was the duty of the king to protect the country (and so his vassals) in times of war.

The most important noblemen were earls; their fiefs were usually so large that they kept only some of the land for themselves (the demesne). The rest was rented out to lesser nobles such as barons or knights under similar terms to those between the earl and his king. The earl was then the overlord to his own vassals, and it was usually with some of their knights and payments that he paid his own dues to the king.

The Geraldinis are Rewarded

Walter FitzOtho (Geraldini) was a knight in King William's private retinue, and, when in 1070 William began the building of Windsor Castle, Walter was put in charge of its defense, and later became the first Constable of Windsor. Under the Norman kings, as with the kings of France, the Constable was the principal officer of a royal establishment, and was responsible for the defense of the establishment, by the knights stationed there. It was this position that conferred the name 'Windsor' upon Walter’s sons.



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