Joris Delange compiled a genealogy book of 1,700 pages. He says you can never be 100 percent sure: "I wasn't there when the babies were made. There is always the theoretical possibility that the real father isn't the father mentioned in official documents, but these chances are small." Experts of KU Leuven once calculated that there is an error margin of 0.7 percent per generation.
But Joris' perseverance and previous work by his aunt, allowed him to go back in time almost 4,000 years. During this journey through time, he bumped into quite some famous people, including the counts of Flanders in the Middle Ages. "They have their roots with royal families from England and France. Then you have the emperors of the Holy Roman Empire and we next meet Charlemagne who is a descendant of Clovis. Then we meet the Gallo-Romans, the Roman Empire and next the Greeks with Alexander The Great, the Persians and the Pharaohs of Egypt."
In fact, Maria is a descendant of one of the pharaohs, claims Joris. "That sounds spectacular, but it isn't. That's because you go back in time so far. Going back 10 generations brings you to the 17th century where you theoretically have 1,024 ancestors. If you go back 20 generations, you have one million, and we are still only in the Middle Ages. At that time, there were not a million people living in our region. So you always have common ancestors. In fact, half of the Belgians has a link with a former pharaoh, but they don't know because they never tried to search long enough."