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those historical gingers

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stumpy
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Post by stumpy » Fri October 15th, 2010, 8:49 pm

I believe redhair to be double recessive so if you are marrying in a small gene pool like the English Royal family it will probably increase the likelihood of it being expressed. I have often wondered if the reason Richard 111 had only one son who died was because he had married his cousin.

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LoobyG
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Post by LoobyG » Fri October 15th, 2010, 9:28 pm

I'm also a redhead Leo, hurrah for gingers! I'd heard it was 3% of the world's population that were ginger Keny, but I could be wrong, it was a while ago :) There are quite a few people in history who were red-headed, but I've not noticed a significant number of people in historical fiction who are. Wasn't Winston Churchill a redhead?

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LoobyG
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Post by LoobyG » Fri October 15th, 2010, 9:31 pm

And Red Head Day sounds amazing!

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Kveto from Prague
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Post by Kveto from Prague » Fri October 15th, 2010, 9:41 pm

[quote=""LoobyG""]I'm also a redhead Leo, hurrah for gingers! I'd heard it was 3% of the world's population that were ginger Keny, but I could be wrong, it was a while ago :) There are quite a few people in history who were red-headed, but I've not noticed a significant number of people in historical fiction who are. Wasn't Winston Churchill a redhead?[/quote]

this washington post article says less than one percent of the worlds pop is ginger currently (2-6 percent in europe and the US). Scotland has the highest current percentage at 11. interestingly, at earlier times, portions of western Europe may have been as much as 46 per cent ginger!

http://www.washingtonpost.com/ac2/wp-dy ... Found=true

the article mentions churchhill as well as a number of others. it might vary depending on your definition of a redhead. one persons ginger may be another persons auburn.
Last edited by Kveto from Prague on Fri October 15th, 2010, 10:11 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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MLE (Emily Cotton)
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Post by MLE (Emily Cotton) » Fri October 15th, 2010, 9:50 pm

I'm not surprised the percentage is so low, because of the three races, two have almost 100% black hair genes. I've seen 'black' Americans with red hair, but no Africans with that hair color, and no Asians, ever.

In llamas, the red gene is the most recessive allele of four options. I suspect this is the case in dogs as well, since red breeds such as the Kuvasz and the Irish Setter breed consistent color-- one sure hallmark of a recessive gene.

the 3% number was probably a total for the Caucasian gene pool.

Edited to say I meant Vizsla, not Kuvasz. Confusing my Hungarian breeds there.
Last edited by MLE (Emily Cotton) on Sat October 16th, 2010, 2:01 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Margaret
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Post by Margaret » Fri October 15th, 2010, 11:01 pm

Just some wild speculation - there was a prejudice against red hair in the old days, which might have added some "I'll show them" fuel to an intelligent lad or lass's ambitions. And since red hair is genetic, the redheaded descendants of these redheads would have had ancestral achievements to live up to.

While writing an article about Boudica, I wanted to get to the bottom of the question about her hair color, which is variously translated in England as "a great mass of the tawniest hair fell to her hips" (Earnest Cary), "a mass of very fair hair which she grew down to her hips" (S. Ireland) and "a great mass of bright red hair ... to her knees" (not sure about the translator, but the quote is from Lindsay Allason-Jones's Women in Roman Britain). The Greek word Dio Cassius uses is "xanthos." Dr. Cristina Calhoon of the University of California, Irvine, Department of Classics, and Shannon Rogers Flynt, a Ph.D. student (undoubtedly degreed by now) and instructor in the Department of Classics at Samford University, kindly helped me to sort out meaning of this, as my Greek lexicon was no help at all - offering all these possibilities and no guidance as to which would be meant in reference to a person's hair. It seems that when used to describe hair, the word usually meant blond, possibly with a reddish tinge. Dio used the superlative ending, i.e. the most "xanthos" colored hair, so probably meant that Boudica had really light blonde hair, perhaps strawberry-blonde, since you wouldn't refer to someone as having the very medium-reddish-brownest color of hair. There is another word in Greek, "pyrrhos" that can refer to reddish-blond hair that emphasizes its redness, so since Dio chose "xanthos" over "pyrrhos," it's likely he meant to emphasize blondness over redness. Of course, Dio himself never laid eyes on Boudica, and his "history" is laced with fiction, so none of this tells us for sure what color Boudica's hair really was. Given the stereotype about red-haired people being hot-tempered (probably from having to listen to one too many jibes about their hair color), Boudica certainly ought to have been a redhead!

I think novelists like giving their main characters red hair when they can get away with it, precisely because it's a little different and because it has so many overtones of personality. A lazy author can use the red hair as a short-cut to characterization, because readers' minds will jump to the stereotypes, whereas a more skilled author can have fun playing against the stereotype.
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Michy
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Post by Michy » Sat October 16th, 2010, 1:18 am

[quote=""Kveto from Prague""]just off the top of my head, figures who have been described as redheads: Richard the lion heart, Alexander the great, Elizabeth I (before going bald), Napoleon, Thomas Jefferson, Judas Iscariot, Oliver cromwell, Mark twain, King David, Vladimir Lenin, Boudicca, Antonin Vivaldi, Leif Erikson, Caligula, Mehmed the conqueror, Fredreick Barbarossa, Vlad Tepes Dracula, Vincent van Gogh and Achilles just to name a few. im sure there are many im forgetting.

[/quote] Some of these people probably were actually redheads (not just depicted as such), according to paintings and/or contemporary sources. i.e. Thomas Jefferson, Queen Elizabeth I and Vincent Van Gogh. You forgot to mention George Washington! ;) Going by paintings of him in his younger years and/or without unpowdered hair, he appears to have been redheaded, too.

As for King David, of course we don't know what his hair color was. However, the Bible describes him as being "ruddy", so that is often interpreted as being ruddy complexioned and/or red headed.

As for the human height issue -- we got into a discussion of this under the For the King thread. It's either under Book Buddies or Book Reviews, I can't remember which.......

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Post by annis » Sat October 16th, 2010, 3:40 am

I was surprised to discover that the average height of an ancient Roman of Italian extraction was about 5 feet. Julius Caesar at 6 feet was consdiered exceptionally tall.

Caesar remarks in his Conquest of Gaul that "our shortness of stature, in comparison to the great size of their bodies, is generally a subject of much contempt to the men of Gaul". However, as the Romans trounced the Gauls, i guess they had the last laugh.

I'm guessing that when Howard Fast gave Queen Berenice red hair in his novel Agrippa's Daughter, he was going with the theory that red hair ran in the royal line of King David - Berenice was a descendant and in fact the last queen of that line.

Then there are the stories about the Jewish Khazars, described by Arabic sources as being red-haired.
Last edited by annis on Sat October 16th, 2010, 3:54 am, edited 3 times in total.

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MLE (Emily Cotton)
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Interest in HF: started in childhood with the classics, which, IMHO are HF even if they were contemporary when written.
Favourite HF book: Prince of Foxes, by Samuel Shellabarger
Preferred HF: Currently prefer 1600 and earlier, but I'll read anything that keeps me turning the page.
Location: California Bay Area

Post by MLE (Emily Cotton) » Sat October 16th, 2010, 4:30 am

Annis, the Khazars were not Jewish genetically, but by choice. The story is that when they decided that worshiping one god instead of many was the way to go, they had representatives of Judaism, Christianity (Byzantine) and Islam (Shia) come present their various faiths. Judaism made the most sense, so they became Jewish.

this is why many Jews of Russian extraction look markedly different from semitic Jews -- several genes are found in the Ashkenazi (Northern European/Slavic Jews) population that are not found in the Sephardic (Iberian / North African) or Middle Eastern Jewish populations, and it is theorized that these genetic strains were injected by the slavic Khazar infusion.

But red hair is pretty common among Jews-- at least it is in my sister's synagogue.

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Post by annis » Sat October 16th, 2010, 6:24 am

Posted by MLE
The story is that when they (the Khazars) decided that worshiping one god instead of many was the way to go, they had representatives of Judaism, Christianity (Byzantine) and Islam (Shia) come present their various faiths. Judaism made the most sense, so they became Jewish.
What a remarkably sensible and logical approach to religion! Pity other nations didn't follow their example.

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