Writing a Connected Family

     In The Trastámara Series, there’s a significant amount of overlap with regards to family trees.  I mean:

  • Pedro el Cruel is the legitimate son of Alfonso XI, Enrique II is his eldest (surviving) illegitimate son, and Pedro’s granddaughter, Katerine, married Enrique II’s grandson (by Juan I) Enrique III.
  • Enrique III’s brother, Fernando I, became King of Aragón, marrying his granduncle Sancho’s legitimate daughter, Leonor.
  • Fernando’s first son, Alfonso, married Enrique III’s daughter, Maria, starting the Aragonese branch of the Trastámara.
  • Enrique III’s daughter Catalina married Fernando I’s third son, Enrique.
  • Enrique III’s son, Juan II de Castilla, married Fernando’s daughter Maria for his first wife.
  • Fernando I’s son, Alfonso, had an illegitimate son who took the crown of Naples; he married Fernando’s second son Juan II de Aragón’s legitimate daughter, Juana.
  • Fernando I’s second son Juan II de Aragón married his grandfather Enrique II’s legitimate daughter’s daughter, Blanca de Navarra.  It was his first marriage, her second.
  • Juan II de Aragón’s son, Fernando, married Juan II of Castilla’s daughter Isabel, forming the united Spain under the Catholic monarchs.

     In a nutshell, things get pretty twisted, and that’s not even going into the bastards (let’s just say Enrique’s descendants married ALL THE FAMILIES).

     I swore I wouldn’t need to plot things out, but I very much lied.  Using a family tree makes it so easy to keep things straight, especially putting dates of birth/death (or just death, as needed) with the names.  It may not be a “released to the public” thing, but it’s a great way to stay on track and not accidentally invent a new person or five.

     I also plotted Castilla, Aragón, and Navarra on separate pieces of paper, treating them like unrelated families, but I do label a character if they happen to marry into the cadet branch.  Seriously, even if you don’t plot things out (and trust me, I’m a pantser through-and-through), when you’re facing with a royal family who has an entire set of siblings marrying another set of siblings (who are also their cousins), it helps.  Just write a family tree for the main branch, and separate family trees for the cadet branches.

     Also, don’t worry if you mess up – I messed up about a dozen times just on the family tree of Castilla because things just didn’t line up well enough to have Katerine and Enrique together.  I’d recommend plotting out the “top” couple, and then an “axis” couple near the center of the page (preferably the couple who brings the descendants of the “top” couple together), and filling in the rest. Also, leave yourself plenty of room.

     Happy planning!  😀

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