John McCain , the Republican hopeful for the presidency , eager to glean votes whereever they can be found insisted the senator's family was descended from the Scottish king, Robert the Bruce .
"John McCain's family is of Scottish-Irish descent and related to the Scottish king, Robert the Bruce, on his mother's side".
And also "in direct descent" from Emperor Charlemagne.
Asked by the Guardian to investigate McCain's family history, genealogists and medieval historians described the link to Robert the Bruce as "wonderful fiction" and "baloney".
"What wonderful fiction," Dr Katie Stevenson, a lecturer in medieval studies at the University of St Andrews said. "Mary Louise Earle's claims to descent from Robert the Bruce are likely to be fantasy. Earle is not a Scottish name. I think it is incredibly unlikely that name would be related to Robert the Bruce. Charlemagne and Robert the Bruce were not connected - that's ludicrous."
Robert I was believed to have had up to a dozen children - several illegitimately. Basic calculations suggested there could be as many as 200 million people distantly related to him.
"In that sense McCain probably is descended from Bruce. So am I. So are you. So is everyone." Dr Bruce Durie, academic manager, genealogical studies at the University of Strathclyde said .
But you never know .
Dr Durie added that despite his romantic reputation, Robert the Bruce was "an absolute scoundrel".
"... he was a self-serving, vainglorious opportunist ..." he said.
A bit like McCain himself .
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