does anyone know . . . .

In eighteenth-century Germany, would everybody there have been your standard blonde-haired blue-eyed Teutons? Or was there more variation in color?

I imagine it might vary by region, but my knowledge of such things is next to nonexistent.

0 Responses to “does anyone know . . . .”

  1. dsgood

    My nowhere-near-expert guess: No. I don’t think there’s any place in Europe (except maybe isolated villages) where everyone is blond and/or blue-eyed. I believe the areas with the highest percentage of blonds also have the highest percentage of redheads, for one thing.

    You might want to ask on the Project Wombat mailing list. It’s basically for librarians faced with difficult research questions; but non-librarians are welcome, and non-members can ask questions. For more info, see http://project-wombat.org.

  2. greybar

    Fairly unsubstantiated rambling late night thought here – since blond and blue-eyed are recessives, it wouldn’t take much genetic diversity to keep a goodly number of darker hair and eyes around, would it?

    Hey wait – Martin Luther (d1546) has dark hair (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Martin_Luther) as a good counter-example. If the genetics were diverse in 1546, they didn’t likely get more homogeneous over the next two hundred years.

    Maybe googling for contemporaries (rulers) will give you painting of them and give you a feel for the mixture – at least amongst those wealthy or important enough to rate having a portrait made.

  3. ksumnersmith

    Based only on knowledge of my family history, my guess is that there’d be more variation. While blue-eyed blonds are definitely well represented, a significant portion of my Opa’s line of the family are black haired with an olive complexion. (All southern Germans, it should be noted.)

  4. benbenberi

    There have always been a lot of people in Germany with dark hair, dark eyes, even (relatively) dark skin. Populations of diverse origins have passed through and settled in Germany since prehistoric times, and their descendants didn’t stay put either. Plus, blonde hair & blue eyes are both recessive traits. Brown would always have been more common in most places. Regional variation in physical types would probably have been more pronounced than it is today, but very few places would have been either truly isolated or genetically homogeneous.

    • Marie Brennan

      I know about the recessives, but I guess it depends on where I’m talking about; an isolated mountain town would have less genetic mixing, so if it was settled by predominantly blonde/blue folks, those genes would still be in the majority. A city, by contrast, would have a lot more variation.

  5. erdedrache

    It wouldn’t make much genetic sense, given that (if I’m recalling my high school biology correctly) both of those features are recessive traits.

    • Marie Brennan

      Yeah, but if you get a bunch of people with recessive traits breeding together . . . .

      Really, though, what I’m looking for here is an excuse to make a character not blonde-haired and blue-eyed, and I think I’ve got that. All it really takes is a little bit of genetic input from the dominant genes, and you’d get some people with darker coloring.

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