The death of Queen Elizabeth II is bound to stimulate interest in genealogy starting with the English royal family which boasts some of the deepest roots in the world. Genealogy can be connected to any number of interests and disciplines. History is the most obvious and here the English royal family is the best example possible.
The genealogy of the royal family obviously can bear on English, American, and European history, but it also invites study of contemporary issues like government, international affairs, popular culture, fashion, “social justice,” privacy, psychology and sociology. The queen, by some measures, was the wealthiest person on earth so subjects like banking and international finance come into play. Charles, the new king, is a notorious supporter of “alternative medicine.” That will have widespread implications. And for some reason, the royal family particularly titillates the fantasies of one group of New Age conspiracists who believe the royal family consists of humans hybridized with extraterrestrial reptiles. No, I’m not making that up.
Back to genealogy. I suspect quite a few Chautauqua County residents connect at some point to the royal family through both legitimate and illegitimate lines, myself included. I’m somewhere around 12th cousin to the new king; me and several million others.
For me, the nice thing about a royal connection is that it is a way to get some view of the actual lives and even the appearance of ancestors at very remote periods. For all of us, it is the only hope for extending our lines deep into the Middle Ages.
I fully realize that the actual quantity of genes and centimorgans I share with any remote ancestor or contemporary royal cousins is, at best, miniscule, and usually zero. Any sort of legal or bragging implication also, be it for land, wealth, title, honors (or punishment) is imaginary or less. Although in the increasingly grotesque near future shaping up, this may not always be so on the punishment side.
The most fascinating thing about seeing yourself as a part of a royal family is the opportunity to view possible ancestors and relatives of a given lineage in a wide spectrum of life situations and conditions. The present royal family is essentially employed by the British government to serve symbolic roles and preserve English heritage. They are paid very, very well and most return abysmal service to the British public. The queen was a notable exception.
I subscribe to the now unfashionable idea that history is often shaped by exceptional men and women, often in positions of leadership. Elizabeth performed exceedingly well working in an historical period that pitted great odds against her. Victoria (1819-1901), with almost as few actual powers as Elizabeth, to a large degree shaped the world for a century. Alfred (849-899), at the far end of genealogical reliability, against seemingly impossible odds, saved everything English, including even the language, from impending extinction. The effects of that on all our lives is beyond imagination. His ancestors, as far back as we can see, were mostly brawling barbarians.
But even those barbarian chieftains, the kings of Wessex (519-871, three and a half times the size of Chautauqua County, smaller than the Holland Purchase, one tenth the size of New York State), were heroes, at least to their immediate families and entourages in their own times. Unfortunately, they didn’t have genealogists. They had poets, bards, and scribes paid to legitimize their rule by finding or creating ancestors that showed they were on the throne by the will of God, or earlier by actual descent from gods. The earliest sources trace their ancestry to the pagan Teutonic god Woden and their Christian successors took them even farther back to Old Testament Noah, sometimes by way of ancient Greek gods and heroes.
My own tree, on line, through material affixed by others, reaches as far as the fourth century through European nobility and royalty. I take it with a large grain of salt. I have accessioned books with lineages back to Adam and Eve, via the English royal family and its Saxon predecessors, but none (yet) documenting descent from extraterrestrial reptiles.