G E N E A L O G Y
One of the important parts of the emotional side is relating to other people. A dedicated Idealist can and will take on a cause though no one else agrees, but that won't prevent him or her from being any less lonely.
One of the primary sources from which we learn our emotional habits is the family. While the "different drummer" sometimes causes Idealists to reject their families (who "just don't understand"), those families are, nonetheless, important. Families are one of the wellsprings of identity; one's roots matter.
One way to understand those roots is genealogy.
Knowing one's relationship with those who came before provides a foundation for what may come after. This is especially true for those who are Idealists first and foremost; one's ancestors and ethnic background are the basis for "identity politics" in which special privileges are expected to pertain based on one's descent.
I don't hold to that notion, myself; I think individuals are responsible for their own actions. Nevertheless, I too feel an attachment to my ancestors. The basic elements of who I am were set in place by them; it seems only natural to me to wonder how much of them is reflected in me.
One thing I've learned in researching my forebears is that virtually anyone of European ancestry who digs long enough and deep enough will unearth royal progenitors. It's just not that uncommon. Which means that those who think they're somehow superior to others because a couple of their ancestors wore a crown are just putting on airs.
Still, these royal names are among the best-known. They provide a point of commonality (so to speak) for independent researchers... and it's sort of fun to be able to call someone a "cousin" because we share an ancestor who died a couple of centuries ago. So here are some of my own ancestral lines which I consider to be "interesting."
Ancestors of the British Royal FamilyBritish Progenitors
A compilation of many of the different branches of European royalty that came together over the centuries to become the current British royal family. A leisurely perusal of this file will turn up a number of familiar names: Charlemagne, William the Conqueror, Lady Godiva, Henry VIII, and the late Princess Diana all make appearances, for example. But there are also a few surprises, such as several links to Russian nobility and even a link all the way back to a Roman consul.
Ancestors of One Branch of the Robertson FamilyRobertson Progenitors
A personal family history. One interesting note: these two genealogies share some names. The primary link person is Sir James Stewart, known as "The Black Knight of Lorn." For one thing, his granddaughter, Isabelle, married the first person to use the name Robertson (Alexander, the 5th Baron of Struan). For another thing, Sir James married into an ancient lineage by marrying Joan Beaufort, the widow of the murdered King James I of Scotland and grand-daughter of John of Gaunt Plantagenet (himself the great-grandson of King Edward I of England).
Finally, Sir James' ancestry can be traced back on one side to the early Dalriadic kings of what became Scotland, and on the other to the Norse ancestors of the first persons to bear the name "Stewart" who settled in Normandy and Brittany.
Note: If you're a researcher interested in the Robertson database as a GEDCOM file, email me at Bart_Stewart@prodigy.net and let's discuss options.
Chambers, William Pitt -- Blood and Sacrifice: The Civil War Journal of a Confederate Soldier, Richard A. Baumgartner, ed., Blue Acorn Press, 1994. A riveting account of the war-time experiences of a man closely related to the Mississippi Robertsons of the 1800s. Probably the most appalling aspect is how matter-of-factly the writer describes the many deaths of his friends--not in the shock of battle, but from sickness and injury.
Davies, John -- A History of Wales, Penguin, 1990. Not only is this a very good study of Welsh history, it contains two genealogical tables (along with some interesting supplementary tables) for making sense of the intricate connections of the various royal bloodlines.
Fraser, Antonia, ed. -- The Lives of the Kings and Queens of England, University of California Press, 1975. Along with discussion from several historians on the various English monarchs, each dynasty (e.g., Plantagenet, Stuart, Windsor) has an associated genealogical table. While not complete, the tables are good for understanding the relationships among the families through time.
Whyte, Donald -- Scottish Surnames and Families, Barnes and Noble, 1996. A handy reference to many of the best-known Scottish surnames, with details on family titles and lands.
Mormon FamilySearch is the Web site from the Mormon Church that has (to the delight of researchers everywhere) finally gone on-line. It's a good place to start trying to find your ancestors and relatives, but be aware that there are a lot of people trying to use it, so it can be very slow at times. Be patient.
Dictionary of Royal Genealogy Data is the first place you want to go if you're interested in the genealogy of European royal lines. (And believe me, once you match one of these folks, you've got 'em all--you won't believe how many linkages there are among these families.)
Denis R. Reid's ROYALS is a very good HTML-version genealogy of the progenitors of the British royal family.
GenForum is an on-line message forum that focuses mainly on U.S. ancestors.
Yahoo Genealogy Links is a large collection of links to genealogical sites on the Web.
Genealogical Research describes how to do genealogical research in England, Scotland and Wales.