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Thursday, April 15, 2010

Royal Rascals and Rogues

Still pursuing genealogy . . . tonight my son wanted to know if we had any ancestors from Wales at all. I didn’t know of any; we have English, Irish, Scottish, a drop or two of French blood, a quarter cup of German, but the best I could tell him was that our Read ancestry was said to be Welsh, with no proof.

So we logged in and started searching our known Read ancestors, back to the earliest colonials we knew of, in 1640 or thereabouts, in Massachusetts. I thought of the show Who Do You Think You Are and Sarah Jessica Parker’s horror at finding one of her ancestors accused as a witch in Salem. I hoped the Reads weren’t in Salem—there were two major Read lines, one in Salem and one in Boston. Whew! Ours turned out to be Boston.

We got a breakthrough, finding the ancestor in England, and then of all the luck, linking him to a noble line. It’s always great to link to the nobility, because nearly all the work is already done from there. For fun we started clicking back on the tree, just to see how far we could go. We picked random branches when the Reads ran out in 1388 A.D. in Wales (so there was our Welsh connection), and—drum roll here—we hit a Plantagenet line! Royalty, oh boy!

Isabel Plantagenet was the granddaughter of the Empress Maud who fought that medieval war with her cousin King Stephan that gives all the political background to Ellis Peters’s Brother Cadfael medieval mystery series that I loved to read and my son loves to watch the DVDs starring Derek Jacobi.

Maud is the daughter of King Henry I of England, who is the son of William of Normandy, Conqueror of England in 1066. Hey, we studied him. We had to memorize that date. This is getting wild.

We kept clicking back through all these kings and queens of all the little regions around Europe that are now parts of France, Belgium, Germany, Norway, Austria, and Italy. We started feeling more and more royal. More drum rolls! Charlemagne! Wooo hooo! We’re in the Big Leagues now, the Holy Roman Empire!

Keep going, keep going, back to . . . wait for it . . . Tiberias Claudius Caesar, emperor of Rome itself! Wow. He died in 54 A.D. His father was Nero. His grandfather was Augustus, the first Roman Emperor.

Now wait. We’ve studied these people. They aren’t nice. They aren’t people we would want to invite over for dinner. We aren’t sure we want to be related to them.

Still. We’re building a moat and installing a drawbridge here at home. Be sure you bow when we open the front door.

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