Descent from the Kings of Lydia


As discussed in my book Tracing Your Aristocratic Ancestors, genealogists have long sought proven lines of descent from antiquity for Medieval royalty and their millions of non-royal descendants, but have been defeated by lack of reliable records, caused in part by the violent end of the Roman empire. The internet is awash with ancient lines that are based on pure supposition. The following is the longest line of descent that is generally agreed by responsible genealogists to be likely, and afterwards is another, shorter one, also highly likely to be correct. They are based itself on some suppositions and are not without its own controversies (for example, Prince Toumanoff’s identification of the mother of Chosroes I with the daughter of Pharasmenes III has been questioned by Christian Settipani), but there is still a reasonable chance that they are correct.

Lydia is in western Turkey (its capital, Sardis, is an hour’s drive west from Izmir). It was in Turkey and the countries which neighbour it to the east that our grain-based civilisation began, and it is this region which saw the first cities, the first metal working, and the first writing. Countless genes from this region spread west with the spread of these discoveries, and it is in this region that we have the earliest inscriptions and thus the earliest recorded genealogies.  It’s no coincidence or surprise, therefore, that the earliest traceable lines, however uncertain, lead us back into the cradle of civilisation.


Gyges, King of Lydia c. 685 BC, who ‘held sway over all of the Troad [the land of Troy]’ (Strabo XIII, 1.22). The ancient capital of Lydia was Sardis, which we visited in September 2015. The acropolis was on the rocky hill in the background of the photograph above: to my left are the ruins of the later Classical temple of Artemis (Diana). Gyges was father of:

Ardys, King of Lydia c. 657 BC

Sadyattes, King of Lydia, father of wealthy Croesus, King of Lydia who died in 546 BC and also of:

Arcyenis, wife of Astyages, King of Media, whom she married about 615 BC (Astyges was brother of Amytis, who married Nebuchadnezzar: their father was Cyaxares I, King of Media, son of Phraortes in about 660 BC, who was son in turn of Deioces). They had a son Cyaxares II and a daughter:

Mandane, wife of Cambyses I, Great King of Persia (died 560/59 BC). They were parents of:

Cyrus II the Great, 598-529 BC, Great King of Persia and King of Babylon, who married Cassandrane daughter of Pharnaspes and had children Cambyses II (d. 522, Great King of Persia) and:

Atossa. She married first her full brother Cambyses II (Herodotus states clearly that Atossa was a full sister of Cambyses’s) and secondly to her cousin Darius I, Great King of Persia, whose attempt to invade Greece was halted at Marathon,  and they had a son:

Xerxes I, Great King of Persia (521-465 BC), who married Amestris and had:

Artaxerxes I, Great King of Persia d. 424, who had by his Babylonian concubine Kosmartydene a son:

Darius II Ochus, Great King of Persia, d. 404, who married his half-sister Parysatis and had a son:

Artaxerxes II, Great King of Persia d. 359, who married Stateira daughter of Hydarnes and had:

Apama, wife of Pharnabazus II, Satrap of Hellespontine Phrygia and Dascylium d. 374 or 367, who defeated the Spartan navy in 394. They were maternal grandparents (according to Settipani, Nos Ancestres de l’Antiquite, 1991) and Balcer’s A Prosopographical Study of the Ancient Persians Royal and Noble, 1993)  of:

Spitamenes, Satrap of Bactria d. 328, who was father of:

Apama, wife of Seleucus I Nicator, d. 281 BC, one of Alexander the Great’s generals, and they had:

Antiochus I Soter, King of Syria d. 261 BC, who married Stratonice, daughter of Demetrius I Poliorcets, King of Macedonia, and they had a son:

Antiochus II Theos, King of Syria d. 246, who married Laodice, sister of Achaeus, and they had:

Seleucus II Callinicus, King of Syria d. 226, who married Laodice, daughter of Andromachus, and they had:

Antiochus III Megas, King of Syria, d. 187 BC, who married Laodice, a cousin of the king of Pontus, and they had:

Seleucus IV Philopator, King of Syria d. 175 BC, who married Laodice, probably daughter of Philip V of Macedonia, and they had:

Demetrius I Soter, d. 150, King of Syria, who had been raised as a hostage in Rome, who married Apama and had a son:

Demetrius II Nicator, King of Syria, d. 125 BC, who married Cleopatra daughter of Ptolemy VI Philometor (she died when she was forced to drink the poison she had prepared for her son Antiochus). They  had:

Antiochus VIII Philometor Grypus, King of Syria d. 96 BC, who wrote verses about poisonous snakes, who married Cleopatra Tryphaena, daughter of Ptolemy VIII Euergetes II and they had:

Laodice Thea Philadelphos, who married Mithradates I Kallinikos, King of Commagene and they had:

Arsameia low resAntiochus I Theos, King of Commagene d. 36 BC, who tried to make himself the deity of a new religion (and created a temple at Arsameia on the Nymphaios in Commagene, which included a great slab depicting his father Mithradates shaking hands with Hercules, as shown above), and who married Isias Philostorgos, perhaps the daughter of Ariobarzanes, King of Cappadocia, and they had:

A daughter who was the wife of Artavazdes I, King of Media Atropatene and Lesser Armenia, who was almost certainly grandfather (probably via Prince Darius, or perhaps Ariobarzanes II, King of Media) of:

Vonones II, King of Media Atropene, Great King of Parthia d. 51 AD who had, by a Greek concubine:

Vologaeses I, Great King of Parthia, d. 77 AD, father of:

Mithradates or Meherdates, King of Armenia d.c. 76 AD, who married Awde, daughter of Mannos VI, King of Edessa, and they had:

Sanatruces, King of Armenia and Edessa, d. 106 AD, who was father of:

Vologaeses I, King of Armenia, d. c. 137 AD, probably father of:

Vologaeses, a pretender to the Armenian throne in 162 AD, probably father of:

Vologaeses V 001Vologaeses IV/V, an imaginative watercolour which I painted in about 1990 from an old coin showing the old boy. 

Vologaeses IV/V, King of Armenia and Great King of Parthia d. 207/8, who married the daughter of father of Pharasmenes III, King of Iberia (whose own ancestry is given separately, below), father of:

Chosroes I, King of Armenia d. 216 BC, father of:

Tiridates II, King of Armenia d. 252 (not given by Wagner but in Toumanoff’s 1990 Les dynasties de la Caucasie chrétienne, Table 8, p. 85).

Chosroes II the Valiant, King of Western Armenia, slain in 287

Tiran Tiridates IV King of Armenia (converted to Christianity by St Gregory) d. 330

Chosroes III King of Armenia d. 339

Bambishin of Armenia St Narses the great, Hereditary Bishop and primate of Armenia d. 373

St Isaac the Great, hereditary bishop and primate of Armenia d. 438

Sahakanoysh, wife of Hamazasp I, prince of the Mamikonids

Hamazaspian, Mamikonid prince [there intervening seven or eight generations the names of whom are not known, but scholars of the period do not doubt the descent down to Hmayeak. This and the following question marks in the next couple of generations are from the groundbreaking work of Prince Toumanoff and Nicholas Adontz, who were none the less very sure the line of descent was accurate. This line of ancestry was described by the late Anthony Wagner, Garter King of Arms, as a ‘bridge to antiquity… that will bear weight’], ancestor through seven or eight generations of:

Hmayeak, a prince of the Mamikonid dynasty

Artavzd, Strategus of the Anatolians (778), probable father of:

Hmayeak, known to have been of Mamikonid descent, who married a daughter of Emperor Leo V, Emperor of the East, thought to have been father of:

Constantine Basil I Emperor of the East d. 813

Leo VI Emperor of the East d. 866

Constantine VII Porphyrogenitus, Emperor of the East d.905

Romanus II Emperor of the East d. 940

Empress Theophano d. 991, wife of the western Emperor Otto II

Matilda d. 1025, wife of Ezzo, Count Palatine of Lorraine

Richenza d. 1063 wife of Mieczislav II King of Poland

Casimir I King of Poland d. 1016

Vladislav I King of Poland d. 1043

Boleslav III King of Poland d. 1138

Vladislav II King of Poland d. 1159

Richilda wife of Alfonso VII King of Leon and Castile

Sanchia, wife of Alfonso II King of Aragon

Alfonso Count of Provence d. 1209

Raymond Berengar Count of Provence d. 1245

Eleanor of Provence d. 1291, wife of Henry III King of England d. 1272

Edward I King of England d. 1307

Edward II d. 1327

Edward III d. 1377

The lines coming down from Edward III to the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and genealogist Anthony Adolph are shown on a separate page on the Fairfax family.


This is the likely ancestry of Chosroes I King of Armenia d. 216/7 (whose father’s ancestry is given above), through his mother:

Pharnabazus I, King of Iberia (approximating to modern Georgia in the Caucasus) d. 234 BC. His real origins are not known: the early Medieval Georgian Chronicle deduces him back to the mighty “T’orgom, son of T’iras, son of Gamer, son of Japheth”, son of Noah himself.

Sauromaces I, King of Iberia d. 159 BC

Wife of Meribanes I, King of Iberia

Wife of Artaxias I, King of Iberia

Artaces I, King of Iberia d. 63 BC

Pharnabazus II, King of Iberia d. 30 BC

Wife of Kart‘am of Iberia

Pharasmenes I King of Iberia d. 58 AD

Mithradates I, King of Iberia (d. 106 AD)

Amazaspus I, King of Iberia (d. 116 AD)

Pharasmenes II King of Iberia (who married Ghadana, daughter of Vologaeses I, King of Armenia) d. 132 AD

Radamistus, King of Armenia, d. 135

Pharasmenes III, King of Iberia d. 185

Wife of Vologaeses IV Great King of Parthia (whose male line ancestry is given above), parents of:

Chosroes I King of Armenia d. 216/7 (see above)

Chosroes was the ancestor of Edward III and thus of millions of people alive today, as discussed in my book Tracing Your Aristocratic Ancestors.