Did all those King Henrys have a surname?
And how about this: William T. Conqueror?
All I wanted to do was find out who Mary Ann Russell's parents were. Somehow I found her at Geneall.net,
a website I'd never heard of before. Have you checked it out? It's a membership website, and you'll want to read the explanation about this global project on their Access page.
I found navigating a little tricky. From the start page, you click on your language of choice. You'll be taken to a page with a short menu in the left sidebar. You'll need to return to this page to access the menu again, as it's not available on the other pages. Using the back-button on your browser can end up being pretty laborious when you start clicking through the links you'll find; I found it easier to keep the menu page open, and wheel-click or right click to open my menu selection in a new tab or window. You'll also see a log-in box in the left sidebar. You needn't be a member, though, to use the search box on the right and click through the lineages.
I entered Mary Ann Russell's name in the search box and found her page. As I clicked and clicked up her branch of the family tree, I began to wonder what the colorful dots meant. Hovering revealed the secret:
A red ball identifies the descendants of William the Conqueror, king of England;
A yellow ball the descendants of Charlemagne, Holy Roman emperor and king of Italy;
A dark-blue ball the descendants of Hugh Capet, king of France;
A green ball the descendants of Ferdinand the Great, king of Castile and Leon;
A pale-blue ball the descendants of D. Alfonso Henriquez, the first king of Portugal.
Click around in Mary Ann Russell's tree long enough and you'll find dots in all five colors. The whole experience was a little overwhelming. Again, the navigation is confusing. Using this link to her branch of the family tree, you arrive on a page that shows Mary Ann with a yellow dot next to her name, dots of all five colors under her name, and a yellow dot beside her father's name. Clicking on her father's name will take you to his page, where he will be at the top with his yellow dot, and below you'll see it's his mother who has the yellow dot beside her name; i.e., it is through her lineage that he is descended from Charlemagne. You can click through the Charlemagne line that way.
But suppose you are on Mary Ann's page and you are wondering about the other colored dots under her name. Do they mean anything? Yes, they do. They mean she is a descendant of all those lineages. How do you follow her lineage back to William the Conqueror, or one of the others? You do so by clicking on one of the tiny flag icons at the lower right corner of the info box. You'll see the dot next to Mary Ann's name change color, along with the dot next to the name of her parent who is descended from that line. Now when you click through the parents' lineage, you'll be following a different line back.
I found that sources are listed (peerages and such) for some lines but not all. More information is available to members, but at this point I'm not ready for a membership. I'd like to know more about Geneall.net, though, and would appreciate comments from any of my readers who have used the site, either as members or as guests.
Now, about those ancestors of mythological proportions. I really don't know what to do with this! There are plenty of generations between me and my grandpa, the Holy Roman emperor, for which I have not yet found sufficient documentary evidence to support my connection, and in truth, I probably never will... although the odds get better as FamilySearch continues to add free online access to more and more of the world's documents.
Nth great-grandpa Charlie and me
(strong family resemblance, no?)
But what about now? I was blindsided. I can't even imagine how to think about this. So I'm making a list of questions that have come to mind, and I invite my readers to share their thoughts on any aspect of this topic in the Comments section, or on your own blog if you prefer, and let me know you've done so via the Comments section here.
- Have you found royal ancestors in your own family tree? If so, how did you find them? What were your thoughts at the time? If not, what do you imagine your thoughts would be if you did?
- How would you react to such news? Would you search for documentation? Accept the lines as they appear in peerages or other books which, presumably, have been well-researched by historians? Something other way entirely?
- How meaningful is (or would be) this kind of connection to world history for you?
- Would you believe it? Question it? Doubt it? Disbelieve it? Disregard it entirely?
- Would you be inclined to add the lineage to your working database? If so, why? If not, why not?
- If you were adding the lineage to your database, how would you go about entering the names when, instead of surnames, you have stuff like "of Aquitaine" or "The Conqueror" or "III, King of England"? Is there a standard way of entering such descriptions? If you just put William in the Given Name field, with no surname in the Surname field, and the descriptors in the Title fields, The Conqueror is going to show up in your index as plain old William, right next to that guy Bill your third cousin Marlene married awhile back whose last name you don't know.
Dealin' with a touch of Sarah Jessica Parker Syndrome...