I’ve been thinking a lot about the family trees of nobles, aristocrats, and old-money types lately; reading up on the TVTropes pages about Royal Inbreeding in particular has been fun.
Under the wildly alternate-historical and implausible scenario I outline in my “Rules of Succession What-Ifs” blog post, one where absolute ultimogeniture is practiced with a mandatory retirement age of 55, James, Viscount Severn is now King of Britain. He’d be a much better choice than Charles, but my choice would be the girl who’s #2 in this scenario: Lady Louise Windsor.
Going full Ptolemy? Or just a half-Ptolemy?
I’m fond of a wild scenario, where the British monarchy operates under norms more like in the old days of Europe or even Ptolemaic Egypt, in which Louise is made Queen Regnant, and takes Prince George as her consort (her first cousin once removed; a more distant relation than Victoria had to Albert…). They’d make such a gorgeous couple. Louise is wholesome, pretty, youthful, has the best vibe in the whole family, seems to have a good brain, and perhaps most important looks a lot like Queen Victoria, not to mention Queen Elizabeth II. Maybe that’s why she strikes me as the person who ought to be the monarch. George, meanwhile, is the spitting image of Elizabeth II. If they were deliberately raised mostly apart their close resemblance may well trigger the fireworks of genetic sexual attraction once they become red-blooded grown-ups.
But anyway, enough of this modern-day Game of Thrones knock-off. What does any of this have to do with the Reinhardts after Rapunzel Reinhardt’s story? Not to mention the Hunt for Menteith Reinhardt, Count Gleichen’s treasure? And Teith’s Ten Weeks at Onigaminsing as a youth?
The Reinhardt Family History
Well, the heirs to Otto Reinhardt’s computer-chip fortune have quite a history, with the “eastern” branch of the family marrying into and inheriting the Countship of Gleichen, which is where Menteith comes into the picture. He has no children, but his brother Camillo continues the legacy, his heirs becoming the new counts of Gleichen. The “western” branch, meanwhile, all marry into the Rommel family (yes, Rommel as in Erwin Rommel), in this timeline having a US aerospace company as their family business. The two grandchildren of Otto’s who marry the two grandchildren of Erwin Rommel have seven children between them.
One of these seven children is Gandalf, son of Wolfram Reinhardt and Christina Rommel, raised in the White House in the 1990s when his father was two-time President of the United States. He shows by far the most aptitude in the family tech business, so he becomes Aunt Emma’s protégé, taking over Reinhardt Industries in the fullness of time. Together with a wife I’ve yet to name or characterize, Gandalf has one child, Edelweiss “Rapunzel” Reinhardt, spiritualist visionary turned assassin-school headmistress turned politician, following in her grandfather’s footsteps and becoming President in 2040.
She in turn marries a tech mogul, who completes a challenge she set up in 2022 to prove suitors’ worthiness to marry her, which became much more challenging than either imagined when it was hijacked by a space pirate to kidnap her, only for her man to, with the help of a mercenary force led by Aunt Emma and her tech-industry sisterhood, overcome that challenge too, falling in love with him and taking him as her husband. This experience inspires her to create a whole secret sisterhood of assassins in space to smite the enemies of liberty off-world (and, rumor has it, on-world as well…).
With this husband Rapunzel has one child, a daughter, Amaranth, who takes over the assassin academy when her mother becomes President. She only serves one term in the White House, so by the mid 2040s Amaranth may well be free as a bird, and now aged around 20 might be of a mind to spread her wings some more in search of a husband (her mother married at 16, so if anything she might perceive herself behind in life!).
Which is where some of the ideas that have been swimming around in my head today come to the fore: why not her cousins, the scions of the Gleichen family, who conveniently happen to be roughly the same age (2020s birth cohort)? Menteith disappeared in space never to be heard from again in the 2020s, but before his demise (maybe; I hold out the possibility be might yet show up again later…), he may have arranged his family’s affairs very carefully. He was close to Rapunzel, deeding her his “shadow party” political apparatus while keeping the other parts of his network in the hands of his brother’s descendants; he may well have been close to the other Rommel-Reinhardt scions.
Why not a maneuver like alternate-QEII might have pulled: raising the sides of the family mostly apart only to steer them together in red-blooded adulthood? Teith would have to do this from beyond the grave, but if Rapunzel and Amaranth are loyal to his wishes, which they undoubtedly would be, it might be arranged beautifully.
Matchmaker, Matchmaker, find me a Match!
Amaranth may meet and fall in love with the heir of the Countship of Gleichen, and after seeing how good and hot the rest of her beloved’s family is will play matchmaker, hatching a little romantic scheme to get every western Reinhardt cousin hitched to every Gleichen cousin, effecting a complete merger of the family’s bloodlines. They have so much in common and are so compatible that under Amaranth’s invisible hand they all fall for each other like a ton of bricks, at the end of the story all having weddings around the same time.
For this to work there would have to be a matching number of boys and girls in the same generation post-Otto-Reinhardt roughly the same age, which per my worldbuilding should be easy to arrange. In the 2020s cohort, they’d all be in their teens and twenties in the 2040s, prime age for some hot action. It helps considerably that due to the western Reinhardts’ habit of marrying the prettiest young women they could find all the girls look gorgeous, and all the boys are handsome for similar reasons, the family’s by this point long history as elites starting to inculcate a commanding gentlemanly presence they find attractive.
Not exactly full Ptolemy, is It? But it’s still super Cool!
I mention cousins, but this is ever so slightly misleading. By this time enough generations have passed to make all these Reinhardts fourth cousins: their last common ancestor was Otto Reinhardt, their great-great-great-grandfather. That’s so distant offspring suffer no adverse effects from inbreeding whatsoever, and are actually helped by greater genetic compatibility between their parents (biologically third or fourth cousin is the optimal degree of relatedness!).
One big upshot of this plan is that all future descendants of Otto Reinhardt would from the 2040s cohort on be able to carry the rather awesome surname of “Rommel Reinhardt von Gleichen”. It would, as with all such close marriages, keep the fortune in the family, and, perhaps more critically, consolidate control of Menteith’s entire network of organizations into one close family group.
I’ve sort of mentally penciled in a distant-cousin marriage or two down the road from when I first started building out their family tree, but this souped-up version seems right to me, like this is the best next chapter in the history of the family for the mid 21st century. The fact the two branches of the family could be reunited in cute romantic splendor is just too much for me to resist; it would make an adorable story!
Another big bonus is that a big group of both boys and girls are involved, which I really enjoyed writing in, for example, “Wings of Fire”. They could play off against each other too; some might be virginal, others (this group will include Amaranth) not so virginal, there might be a full assortment of blondes, brunettes, and redheads, more and less girly girls, people with different hobbies and interests, and the like.
Yet another bonus is that the whole Rapunzel Reinhardt story could be told second-hand or even first-hand, in much more natural fashion than in my current story “Ready for Rapunzel”, which I’ve never been entirely satisfied with. The setup for telling that story would be similar to “The Night of the Calendars”, which I enjoyed writing immensely.
Nobles in Space
It would also be a natural way to introduce the rise of the spacesteads and their diplomatic recognition (spearheaded by none other than Wolfram Reinhardt starting in the 1990s), as well as the social turn toward a progressive effort to pre-emptively stymie gerontocracy. Yes, Count Gleichen in this universe is a man after my own heart, changing the default succession rule for future heirs to his title in his will to ultimogeniture (inheritance by the youngest child) with a mandatory retirement age of 55. The title originates from the Duchy of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha (which as of the mid 21st century is still a state in this universe), so one would imagine only the Duke would have the authority to alter succession. But space colonies and installations are recognized as independent sovereign states, and no one owns more of them than Menteith von Gleichen. So the Countship of Gleichen is now a sovereign entity, able to promulgate its own succession rules and titles.
If the whole idea of a Count in space who’s a completely independent entity and about the most powerful noble in the universe gives off some Count Dooku vibes…well, that’s deliberate. So help me, I just think the whole idea is cool.
For reasons of heritage and pride in their family’s lineage the Counts of Gleichen remain counts, rather than promoting themselves to princes or some such. If they wish to grant people additional titles aside from having just one Count of Gleichen, the obvious choice for the next-subordinate rank would be Viscount (literally vice-count), and Baron ranks under that.
Even Rapunzel’s assassin corps slots in nicely as the equivalent of an actual honest-to-goodness knightly order, knights representing the lowest noble rank, though their tactics are far closer to ninja than chivalry, but eh, whatever. Quite interesting I think. Even in a relatively progressive “hard” space-opera setting there might be a lot more room for Star-Wars-esque nobles in space than one might think…