My initial objective in creating this database of the European nobility was to fully explore the capabilities of the genealogy package(s) I have been using. The European nobility is fascinating for a number of reasons: long periods of records available with information going back more than 1000 years, a high level of inter-marriage, making the resulting family tress very complex and inter-woven, and extremely interesting families with every possible event occurring (murders, battles, coronations, overthrows, attainders, multiple titles, etc).
In particular, I am fascinated with the tight intermarriage which has existed within the royal families of Europe, with the result an individual may have the same person shown up in their family tree many different times. As an example, each person should have a total of 1,024,000 different direct ancestors within the previous 20 generations. So far, my database lists 222 million ancestors for Charles Windsor, Prince of Wales (over the previous 60 generations), but out of this total only 3910 are unique individuals (i.e. he has a 99.99% overlap of ancestors). Ultimately, I would like to be able to illustrate using my database the blood relationship between every married couple in the European royalty.
I first started building a royalty database in 1988, using PAF v1.0. I quickly switched to Roots II, upgrading to Roots III in 1990 then Roots IV in 1993. This transformed into Ultimate Family Tree in 1996, and with the demise of support for UFT, I switched to The Master Genealogist v4 (TMG) in 2000. Five years later, and I am now running the latest version of TMG, v6.0. Through all of these migrations, various elements of the database had to be completely re-edited to take advantage of the latest features of each package (the migrations from TMG v4 to v5 and then v6 have definitely been the most painless).
In addition, I have also switched from Ged2Web to the recently released John Cardinal’s Second Site to convert the TMG database into webpages – this conversion is largely automatic, using the defaults built into Second Site. I have been slowly adding to my web skills, and have used Perl to customise the HTML pages output by Second Site (such as customising the surname indices, into separate pages for each letter of the alphabet, instead of one big page, and by adding custom indices to the various peerages).
One other piece of software I have recently adopted is FSpeed Pro for calculating the degree of inter-relationship between individuals (the coefficient of inbreeding). I had originally written my own code (in Pascal) to compute this coefficient, but my attempt had a few limitations, including only being to look back about ten generations to find common ancestors for an individual, and taking about 2 days on a 3GHz PIV to run! FSpeed Pro is actually designed for use by animal breeders, but works just as well for humans.
Links for the providers of this software:
The Master Genealogist, v6: http://www.whollygenes.com
John Cardinal’s Second Site: http://www.johncardinal.com/ss/index.htm
Fspeed Pro: http://www.tenset.co.uk/fspeed/fspeedpro.html
My website is currently hosted by www.jaguarpc.com for only US$10 per month. Unfortunately, being based in New Zealand, all ISPs in this country charge users per MB of data transferred, so uploading a zipped 35MB database to the website currently costs me about US$4 each time. With one upload per week or so, my operating budget is about US$25 per month (not counting new books and software purchases!). It was previously costing me about US$100 per month, before I switched to a host which supports uploading zipped files.
My first book on European nobility with some useful genealogical information was a very tattered copy of Debrett’s Peerage, 1949. In 1992 I downloaded a copy of Donald Reid’s Royal92.ged database, and integrated this into my own efforts. I then acquired and (slowly) input the relevant contents of a number of the standard royalty books (some good, and some not so good), including Eilers’s Queen Victoria’s Descendants, Weir’s Britain’s Royal Families, McNaughton’s Book of Kings and Louda’s Lines of Succession.
With this basic high-level background to European royalty and some descendants captured in my database, I have then focused on inputting as much information as possible about the British Peerage, entering information one family and title at a time. This process currently relies mainly on Cokayne’s The Complete Peerage and Burke’s Burke’s Peerage and Baronetage, with the assistance of various single family books. For example, compiling the Spencer family genealogy consisted of entering the detailed entries in Cokayne for the Earls of Spencer, and Barons Spencer of Wormleighton, expanding this from Burkes to include all the descendants of these peers, and then using Pearson’s Spencer Family and Spencer’s Blood Royal to round out the descriptions of the families.
About half way through this exercise, I acquired a copy of S&N’s Royalty database, and merged this with my own database. Given I already had around 20,000 quite detailed records at this point, and the S&N was around 106,6000 separate records (with little detail given and absolutely no sources), this merging process took me a considerable period of time. Any people in the database with no source information and cryptic notes are still a residue of this merge process.
For a complete list of the bibliography for my database, see http://www.thepeerage.com/s1.htm.
I have purchased most of these books through either Amazon (for the more recent new books), or through Abebooks (older used books), and highly recommend both of these websites for the dedicated book buyer.
In compiling this database, a number of issues need to be addressed as a result of the complexity of the underlying data, and the limitations of the genealogy software used. The main issues which arise are listed below, along with a discussion and rationale for my current chosen approach to addressing the issue. Any contrasting opinions on my treatment are welcomed (along with ideas on how to implement your suggestion in TMG!)
The languages of Europe are many and varied (and actually have changed over time). Some books consulted translate names, places and titles into English, and others leave things in the original language. I haven’t consulted any books in languages other than English (except for the outstanding volumes of Europäische Stammtafeln), but assume that the same tendency to translate names into the author’s language occurs to a greater or lesser extent.
Indeed, even different alphabets are used by different languages. I have decided to show all names, places, etc. in the Western alphabet (translating Cyrllic or Hebrew characters into the equivalent Western characters where possible). However, I have tried to retain all the unusual symbols of each European language where supported by the Microsoft Basic Latin character set (e.g. à, á, â, ã, ä, å, but unfortunately not ā or ă). TMG still does not support Unicode, which would allow a complete set of all Western and Eastern European characters to be used, but presumably this will be addressed in the software eventually. In the meantime, I may trying to edit the HTML pages for the website to include all of the required characters.
1.2 First names
In some cases the first names of an individual are quite commonly expressed and more familiar in the English version (Tsar Nicholas of Russia, instead of Nikolai), in other cases the native language first name is quite familiar to English-speaking people (e.g. Kaiser Wilhelm II of Germany, rather than William II). I have decided to show all first names in the native language of the individual, wherever possible, translating back from English to the relevant language. The standard translations of first names from English into other languages I have used are shown in http://www.thepeerage.com/foreignnames.htm).
Where an individual was based in several different countries, and more than one language could logically be applied to him, I have used English if this is one of the languages, and otherwise have attempted to use the language I believe to dominate his life (e.g. Elector Georg I of Hanover is also King George of England, and so I have used English).
I have tried to show titles in their native language version (e.g. Herzog for a German Duke, Marchese for an Italian Marquis). However, there are a few languages where I am not very confident of the native language system of titles, and so just use the English versions as shown in my sources (e.g. Danish titles, Polish titles).
I have decided to show all place names in the language of the appropriate country (e.g. Köln rather than Cologne), except, perversely, I have decided to retain the country name in English (so Germany rather than Deutschland, and therefore Cologne becomes Köln, Hannover, Germany ).
2. Changing Place Names and Countries
Of course, over the last 1000 years place names keep changing, country names keep changing, and the country which each place is in also changes. So somebody born in Strasbourg, France in 1865 may have died in Strasburg, Germany in 1942.
I have elected to translate all place names into the latest version which one would find by looking up a contemporary atlas, unless the original source showed a particularly unusual or difficult to translate into modern usage place. For example, numerous knights are indicated as having died in ‘the Holy Land’ – not clear if this in Israel, Syria, Lebanon or Turkey, so best to just stick with ‘the Holy Land’.
However, once I can figure out the best approach to do this in TMG, I would like to show the history of names for a given place and over what dates they applied (e.g. to show that Strasburg was Strasbourg, France before 1871, Strasburg, Germany for 1871-1918, Strasbourg, France for 1918-1940, Strasburg, Germany for 1940-1945, and has been Strasbourg, France since 1945)
3. Place Name Format
The standard place name template available in TMG v5 is Detail, City, Latitude/Longitude, Temple, Province/County/Region, State, Country. For European countries, I have not used the Latitude/Longitude, Temple or State fields (although I have used State for U.S., Canada and Australia locations). I have now begun to use the Temple field and a custom place style to show the common English name for cities with a different native language name (so for Rome I have City: Roma, Country: Italy, Temple: Rome, and a style which displays this as 'Roma, Italy (or Rome in English)'.
At the Province/County/Region level, I have used the following, depending on the country:
Ireland: County (and not abbreviated to Co., so County Limerick)
Some cities in Europe are so large that they are best treated as their own province, which the major areas within that city treated as separate cities. Cities which I have treated as such are London and Berlin only (so 18 Park Lane is 18 Park Lane, Mayfair, London, England), with all other cities shown as being within a province/county/region (so 12 rue Longchamps is 12 rue Longchamps, Paris, Ile de France, France and the BMW Museum is BMW Museum, München, Bayern, Germany).
4. Lack of Surnames
Most individuals before the middle ages had no formal surnames, often being referred to by their place of birth (e.g. John of Gaunt), or some unusual physical attribute (e.g. Edward I ‘Longshanks’). In addition, the nobility and peerage have not usually used surnames, up until quite recent times.
This lack of surnames presents quite a problem to users of the database, as searching for an individual simply known as ‘Margaret’ is quite tedious, whereas searching for ‘Margaret de Normandie’ is a lot easier.
Therefore I have attempted to add an appropriate surname wherever possible. These surnames are based on any title the individual may have (i.e. Robert, Count of Lorraine becomes Robert de Lorraine, Comte de Lorraine), a father’s surname (if legitimate offspring), a noble house that the individual may be a member of (e.g. Josef Habsburg), (or failing these, any other attribution commonly given to that person (e.g. John of Gaunt).
In addition, I have created a separate name for each title that an individual may have had, so in many cases, the easiest way to search for an individual is by one of his titles (e.g. to find William ‘the Conqueror’, search under either England for King of England, or de Normandie for Duc de Normandie)
5. Name Format
Many nobles are part of a royal house, while having a different name or title than this house. I have attempted to retain both the individual’s name, while showing which royal house they are commonly referred to be a member of. For example Kaiser Wilhelm II is a member of the house of Hohenzollern, although in German he his referred to as Wilhelm II Kaiser von Deutschland, so I have given him the primary name of Wilhelm II Kaiser von Deutschland (of the House of Hohenzollern), with Deutschland as his surname. In addition, I have given him the titles of König von Preußen, and Kaiser von Deutschland, so he can be found under either title. I also intend adding a separate name tag under the surname of Hohenzollern, so he is also searchable under the name of Hohenzollern.
So at the moment, the complete name format I am working with is:
[Rank] [Honorifcs] [Given Names] [PreSurname] [Surname], [Suffix] [Title]
military rank (Captain, General, etc.)
religious rank (Reverend, Most Rev., etc.)
Lord, Lady, Hon. - where no peerage is also held i.e. Hon. for an Earl’s son, or Lady for the daughter of a Duke
Sir – for a Knight (of the Order of the Bath, Garter, etc.) or for a Baronet
Rt. Hon. – where the individual was a Privy Counsellor, but held no peerage.
In order as baptised. If a name other than the first name is typically used to refer to the individual, this is noted separately as a nick-name e.g. Edward Albert Christian George Andrew Patrick David Windsor (King Edward VIII) was referred to by his family as David, and so this is noted separately.
of, von, van, de, d', le, la, and l' – occasionally a surname is shown with a capitalised prefix (Le Clerq rather than le Clerq), and in these case I have kept the prefix as part of the surname, rather than putting it in the PreSurnme field.
The last surname held by the individual. If the individual changed his surname, then the last such name is shown, and his original name is shown as a Baptism Name e.g. the Duke of Wellington is shown as Arthur Wellesley, 1st Duke of Wellington, and a separate name given for his baptismal name of Arthur Wesley.
Jr., II, III and other such typically U.S. abbreviations
V.C. (Victoria Cross) – I considered this award to be significant enough to show as a suffix to the holders name, but have not followed this treatment for other awards (D.S.O., M.C., etc.). Also I have not shown J.P., D.L., C.B., K.C.B. and similar abbreviations after individual’s name, even though this is quite a common practice – should I?
number and name of peerage if held in own right e.g. 1st Duke of Wellington. If the individual held multiple peerages, only the highest ranking one is shown, and if the same rank, the oldest title.
number of Baronetcy e.g. 2nd Bt.
If a female holds a British peerage in her own right (suo jure), I have shown this after her name without a number (e.g. Mary An Menzie, Baroness Aboukir, not Mary Ann Menzies, 1st Baroness Aboukir), but then in the separate title tag I had shown the number if possible.
6. Conflicting information
Where two sources disagree as to dates or places, I have shown both items as different events. I have made an educated guess as to which source is more likely correct, and shown this version as the primary event, and tagged the other event as an alternate version of the event. The guess is based on the overall quality of information in each source, the degree of completeness of coverage of the individual in that source, and the likelihood of each event being correct given normal lifespans, ages at marriage, etc.
7. Unknown Parents
In many cases the parents of a person are not shown in a source. However, the person may occupy a point in time and a position where the parents are likely to already be in the database (e.g. if a marriage to a Princess Elisabeth of Bavaria is shown, but not her parents, given the complete coverage of the kings and princes of Bavaria in the database, her parents are almost certainly in the database), but no linkage can be made. In these cases I have refrained from making even an educated guess as to the parentage, electing to wait for a new source to identify the parentage.
As a result, there are likely to be many broken lineages in the database (especially on the female side) where all of the people involved are actually already in the database.
While it would be very tempting to use lots of abbreviations when entering information, I have tried to avoid it as much as possible. While abbreviations would make my data entry job a lot easier, excessive use of abbreviations mean that the user keeps having to look up obscure acronyms, until they have all been memorised.
I did make use of only those abbreviations which are easily recognised by most English speaking people (or where an abbreviation was used in a source, and I couldn’t figure out what it meant, even after referring to my numerous dictionaries and reference works). For a list of those abbreviations used in the site, see http://www.thepeerage.com/abbreviations.htm.
Consanguinity Index (Cumulative Inbreeding Coefficient)
Throughout the database, I show a Consanguinity Index (more correctly referred to as Wright’s Equation or a Cumulative Inbreeding Coefficient) for individuals where this is greater than zero. This is a measure of how much the parents of the individual are related to each other, and therefore how inbreed that individual is. In theory this index ranges from zero (completely unrelated) to close to one (parents are the same person). In practice this measure is maxed out at around 0.28 where an individual’s parents were uncle and niece (evidently a common practice among the medieval Spanish royalty).
For a more complete discussion of consanguinity, and its associated calculations, see:
Calculation and related exercises:
Wright’s coefficient and alternative:
Genetics and Inbreeding Information:
So Why Build This Database?
For the sheer love of history! Seriously, there are now quite a number of websites around the world showing a large database of individuals linked to European nobility (see links below). Of course, when I first started building my version, none of these sites existed, but now that they do, why should I persist? I believe my database has a few advantages over each of these other alternatives thus making me feel like I am not completely wasting my time continuing with my own version.
Approx. size (as of 2001)
Donald Reid’s GED file
The grand-daddy of royalty info on the internet!
Brian Thompsett’s site
Software used: homegrown
John E. Hoyt’s GED file
72,000 individuals (in the free database)
Software used: The Next Generation
Software used: geneweb
Software used: The Master Genealogist, v6
Of course, for the most comprehensive list of royalty and nobility resources, see Cyndi’s List: http://www.cyndislist.com/royalty.htm
You might ask what my qualifications are to take on this task – the answer is absolutely none other than an interest in the subject. So clearly the information shown in this database is only as good as the sources I have used, and my ability to duplicate these sources without distorting them. Therefore treat any and all entries in this database without any sources with great caution. And for entries with sources shown, a good practice would mean looking up those sources yourself, to make sure I haven’t missed any info, typed it in wrong, or otherwise mislead the reader.
I have included an entry for myself in the same format as the other entries, in case you are curious (http://www.thepeerage.com/p1011.htm - i101053). As yet, I have not identified any linkage between my own family and any of the individuals in this database but maybe one day I will (and maybe not!).
Next Steps For My Database
At present, I am (slowly) updating the database using the detailed entries in Cokayne, and the less detailed, but more comprehensive, listing in Burkes. Progressing alphabetically, I presenting only up to the Baronets of Beresford, although I couldn’t resist doing a few nobles of person of particular interest out of alphabetical order (including the Earls of Spencer, and Dukes of Marlborough and Wellington). For a complete list of peers I have entered full details for, see www.thepeerage.com/surname_index.htm (and click on Duke, Earl, etc). At my current rate of progress, I estimate my completion date to enter the approximately 500,000 people in Cokayne and Burke’s to be: 1 June 2022 !
Chart of progress to date: http://www.thepeerage.com/webchart.htm
Change log for the website: http://www.thepeerage.com/forum/index.php
Once this task is largely done, I would like to then work through several other volumes available to me, including Cokayne’s The Complete Baronetage and Schwennicke’s Europäische Stammtafeln.
Then (assuming I’m still alive after all of this!), I would like to add pictures of the individuals, coats of arms and pictures of the various family houses/castles.
Document last updated: 19 January 2005