The Genetics of the House of Königsfeld

The Königsfeld’s were members of a small aristocratic class in Reichersdorf, Lower Bavaria, Germany. Historical records show that the St. Margaretha’s Church in Germany was a family burial place for male descendants from the House of Königsfeld from 1546 to 1749.

Archaeological findings

The remains of what are believed to be the Earls of Königsfeld were discovered in 1993 during archaeological excavations in the St. Margaretha’s church (known to be a burial site for the House of Königsfeld). These excavations uncovered eight skeletons and one grave destroyed by grave robbers. Inscriptions in the church indicate that eight males from Königsfeld paternal line were buried there. Seven of these eight skeletons were considered to be these males, with the destroyed grave belonging to the eighth male. The last skeleton was identified as a female, which did not correlate with historical records, and was excluded from the reconstructed family tree.

DNA testing to confirm the paternal lineage

To confirm the relationships between the skeletons discovered in the excavations, scientists conducted autosomal and Y-DNA STR marker testing. The analysis of STR markers (short tandem repeats) is a useful technique for ancient and degraded DNA samples as only a small region needs to be amplified and analyzed. Autosomal STR analysis is used for relationship testing of both males and females. Y-DNA is passed exclusively through the male line (father to son), and is analyzed to trace paternal lineages.

The Y-DNA STR marker paternal ancestry tests confirmed most of the paternal lineage of the House of Königsfeld, with the following males from each generation confirmed as belonging to this aristocratic family:

  • Hanns Christoph
  • Hanns Sigismund
  • Wolf Ehrenreich and Hanns Christoph (brothers)
  • (Destroyed grave likely belonging to Franz Nikolaus)
  • Josef Wilheim

However, there were some contradictions to the historical records and archaeological findings:

  • Historical records state that Georg Josef is the son of Josef Wilheim. However, the Y-DNA analysis confirmed that Georg Josef is not from the same paternal lineage as the other members of the House of Königsfeld. It is likely that adultery occurred between Georg Josef’s mother (Josef Wilhelm’s wife) and an identified man.

 

 

  • The youngest skeleton that was identified as a young male during the archaeological excavation was instead identified as a female based on DNA analyses. Autosomal DNA analyses indicate that this female is likely to be a daughter of Georg Josef and a sister of the male (Karl Albrecht) who was supposedly buried there.

 

 

  • Autosomal DNA analysis of the extra female skeleton indicate that this women was Maria Anna – wife of Georg Josef and mother of Karl Albrecht and his sister.

DNA Database Comparisons


The DNA tests conducted in this study have defined the Y-DNA STR marker profile for the paternal lineage for the House of Königsfeld. If you have taken the Y-DNA STR marker (Paternal Ancestry) test, you can compare your Y-DNA STR markers against this aristocratic family to see if you may have descended from the same paternal lineage.

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