The Old Booksmith


Bibliography for Research in British & Continental
Royal & Noble Lineages & Heraldry:

Lineage Compilations & Prosopography








General Overviews


Ållstrom, Carl Magnus. Dictionary of Royal Lineages of Europe and Other Countries, from the Earliest Period to the Present Date. 2v. Chicago: S. Th. Almberg Press, 1902–4. [available in microform ed.]

The most charitable thing one can say of this work is that it must be used with the greatest care, and then only to pick up intermarriages among assorted European dynasties. A single individual may be referred to as "Willem II" or "Guillaume III," depending on which country you look under. If you have access to a better source for Continental lineages, such as Schwennicke, Isenburg, or Brandenburg, then Ållstrom probably should be avoided altogether.


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Anderson, James. Royal Genealogies: or, The Genealogical Tables of Emperors, Kings and Princes, from Adam to These Times. London: James Bettenham, 1732. 9,812p.

Folio-size, beautifully bound, heavy wove paper — put this on the reading stand in the library of your family castle. Though still an excellent and (for its time) accurate compilation of lineages, this is really not so much to use any longer, as to sit and look at and admire. (I own this on fiche, but it just isn’t the same. . . .)


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Call, Michel L. (comp.). Royal Ancestors of Some American Families. New ed. Salt Lake City: The Author, 1989. [unpaged]

An uninspired but neatly assembled collection of standard LDS-style pedigree charts, based on Moriarty, Cokayne, Isenburg, Turton, Redlich, Weis, and some unpublished sources. Thoroughly footnoted and reliable within the limitations of its sources, but it needs an index! Also pretty expensive for what you get. (And a companion volume of family group sheets would be nice.)


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Call, Michel L. (comp.). Royal Ancestors of Some LDS Families. Orem, UT: The Author, 1975 edition. [unpaged]

Some suspect lines, and skimpy on citations. Redundant of the larger volumes listed above for its companion volume, and probably not worth the high price.


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Coutant de Saisseville, Guy. Les Maisons Imperiales et Royales d’Europe. Paris: Editions de Palais Royal, 1966. 587p.

A useful source — if you read French and if you’re only interested in the nineteenth century or later. All the royal houses of Europe are covered in some detail, but only since the Congress of Vienna in 1815. Burke’s Royal Families of the World is a much better source for American use.


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Morby, John E. Dynasties of the World; a Chronological and Genealogical Handbook. NY: Oxford University Press, 1989. xv, 254p.

A reasonably useful ready-reference tool, but quite expensive for its size. Rulers and Governments of the World is a much better deal, and much larger. There are selective short bibliographies rather than notes. Not that bad, but not that terrific, either — just redundant.


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Rulers and Governments of the World. 3v. NY: Bowker Publishing Co., 1978.

An excellent quick-reference source, but this fat set provides only the names of the rulers themselves and usually their relationships to their predecessors. Covers lots of little nations you won’t find elsewhere.


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Stuart, Roderick W. Royalty for Commoners: The Complete Known Lineage of John of Gaunt, Son of Edward III, King of England, and Queen Philippa. 3d ed. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Co., 1998. x, 332p.

The publishing history of this book has almost a soap opera flavor. The 1st Edition was excoriated by specialist reviewers and ordinary readers alike, which brought mea culpas from the author. Among other things, my own judgment in an earlier version of this bibliography was: "Information provided on relationships seems semi-trustworthy — until you come across a linkage you know is wrong, and then you begin to wonder about the others. Stuart’s sloppiest point is dates, about which he seems to have a casual disregard. Use this with great caution, and only as a starting point."

The 2d Edition was a complete do-over, and was rather more successful, but the specialists, having been burned once, were reluctant to approve Stuart’s revised methods. In its Preface, Stuart commented that he corresponded with about fifty "generally supportive" readers and that "their concerns have been noted and incorporated into the fabric of the Second Edition. . . ." Moreover, "rather than try to revise the imperfect First Edition," he went back to his original manuscript and started over, spending three summers in Salt Lake City studying the IGI and analyzing discrepancies. Readers familiar with Weis will recognize the format, but Stuart follows the possibly unsettling practice of numbering generations back into the past (the opposite of Weis). Weis also includes about 300 ancestors of John of Gaunt, compared to about 5,000 entries in Stuart. And where Moriarty’s Plantagenet Ancestry compiles the forebears of Edward III, Stuart begins one crucial generation later, allowing the inclusion of many more minor French, German, and Balkan lines.

This edition, again, is described as "a nearly complete re-write." Did he get it right this time? He makes no bones about this being a synthesis from secondary sources, the additional sixty-odd pages being the result of perusing the new literature since the last edition. And certain older sources of poor reputation have been dropped, too. Stuart doesn’t provide a list of these, but a comparison of the bibliography — now comprising about 860 "Sources" rather than 650 "Authorities" — between this and the previous edition will tell you what they are. However, I’m aware of the extreme rarity of some of the titles he lists — I’ve been looking for them for years myself — so I have to wonder if he has actually read all of them. Especially those in 18th century French, Germany, and Italian. In addition to the general index of persons, there is now also an index of titles (usually geographic), which is an excellent idea. Some lines have been dropped altogether since the previous edition, but there still are some iffy lineages: Charlemagne is given a descent from Clovis the Riparian, which is highly questionable, having been invented long ago for political reasons. (One can’t legitimately go back farther than Charles’s great-great-grandfather, St. Arnulf, before running out of good sources.) But the purported lineages that will (and should) raise eyebrows are those taken from the Bible, especially Genesis and Chronicles. For example, William III Taillefer, Count of Toulouse, is given a direct, sixty-generation descent from Abraham, which is ludicrous. Another claimed ancestor of Edward III is Darius the Great, King of Persia in the early 5th century B.C. Another is Emperor Tiberius II in the 6th century, which depends on Settipani’s Ancestors from Antiquity — itself a body of work guaranteed to start loud arguments. At least Stuart doesn’t include Adam and Eve.

The best thing I can say is that, if one sticks to those lines for which the research on which they are based is known to be reliable — and you can tell which lines those are by reading the annotations in this bibliography — then this might be a useful adjunct to Weis and similar compilations. Just ignore those lineages which seem too good to be true, because they almost certainly are.


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Weis, Frederick Lewis. Ancestral Roots of Certain American Colonists Who Came to America before 1700: Lineages from Alfred the Great, Charlemagne, Malcolm of Scotland, Robert the Strong, and other Historical Individuals. With additions and corrections by William R. Beall & Kaleen E. Beall. 8th ed. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Co., 2004. xxi, 359p. [Formerly Ancestral Roots of Sixty Colonists Who Came to New England Between 1623 and 1650.]

First published in 1950, Weis improves with each new edition. There’s hardly a noble family in Europe west of the Dnieper River that does not appear in this book. The plan is straightforward: Line 1 (of nearly 400) begins with Cerdic, King of the West Saxons, and follows his descendants, step by step, down to Capt. Edward Pelham of Newport, Rhode Island, who died in 1730. Most of the intermediate generations refer the reader to another line, and another descent (or several); in this first one, No. 30 is John of Gaunt, Duke of Lancaster, who becomes the root of another, different lineage. No. 14 is Æthelwulf, King of Wessex, who is the root of the next lineage (revised for this edition), and so on. The whole book becomes a cascade of the lineages of a relatively small number of colonial American "gateway" ancestors, most of whom interconnect among themselves by marriage -- usually several times. Each brief listing (this is not a narrative history) includes page-level citations to well-regarded sources, including published histories, journal articles, parish registers, the Complete Peerage, and others. Which means that if one can work one’s way back to one of the colonial gentlemen or ladies who anchor the lines in this work, one instantly steps onto the express highway to medieval Europe.

Dr. Weis died in 1966 and Sheppard, himself a renowned genealogist, undertook (successfully) to maintain his high standards, until his own death in 2000; the 4th through 7th editions were the result of his own editorial labors, after which the Bealls (who had been assisting Sheppard) took up the mission. Re-checking and verifying all the previously published lines against both the original sources and newer ones, they were able to extensively revise and extend more than ninety of them, add sixty entirely new descents (mostly Continental), and delete a dozen or so that had failed of sufficient proof. This edition is 100 pages longer than even the one just previous. This is a very inexpensive work indeed, especially compared to many of the other titles on this list, and it should be on every genealogist’s bookshelf.


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Wells, Ronald. Ancient Ancestors with Modern Descendants: A Companion for Studies in European History and Genealogy of Europe and Near East. 3d ed. Mawson, Australian Capital Territory: Riverlea Publishing, 1999. vi, 613p.

This "companion" is meant to be a quick-reference compilation of royal and noble lineages from other secondary sources, but it’s the sort of thing a junior high school student with a new interest in royal genealogy might put together by copying from an encyclopedia. Family groups included range from major royal houses like the Plantagenets to minor Continental aristocrats like the Genoese seigneurs of Giblet. Arrangement is strictly alphabetical, but that might mean by family surname or by territorial designation (the Staffords of Cherlton are distributed under both), so it’s not easy to browse. And, personally, I wouldn’t have looked for the seigneurs de Joinville under Genevill. The depth of information provided is also erratic and you can go for twenty or more successively indented lines without running into a date. The index, while lengthy, is amateurish, with headings like "Paris – Merovingian kings" and all saints (the only individuals indexed) filed under "St." Finally, the sources Wells mines for his data are heavy on 18th and 19th century popular histories, medieval writers like Ordericus Vitalis, and such highly suspect recent compilations as the first edition of Stuart’s Royalty for Commoners. He seems to think Cokayne’s Complete Peerage is too difficult for easy use and he appears never to have heard of Europaische Stammtafeln.


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Compilations: Britain, Scotland, & Ireland


Addington, Arthur C. The Royal House of Stuart: The Descendants of King James VI of Scotland (James I of England). 3v. London: Charles Skilton, 1969–76.

The legitimate male Stuart line ended with the death of Henry Benedict Stuart, Cardinal of York, in 1807, but by no means did the royal line become extinct. The first two volumes of this weighty work list more than 15,000 legitimate blood descendants and more than 10,000 other persons over a period of fifteen generations. By intermarriage, every European royal house is represented — and, of course, descent from James I implies descent from William the Conqueror, King Harold the Saxon, St. Louis IX of France, the Byzantine Emperor Alexius I Comnenos, Rudolf von Habsburg, Frederick Barbarossa, Arpad of Hungary, Vsevolod of Kiev, and Charlemagne. A very well-organized work whose information density is increased by heavy reliance upon symbols and abbreviations. Much more complete than Ruvigny’s Blood Royal of Britain, and listings are complete to 1966. The index, which comprises most of Volume 3, also is extremely thorough.


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Browning, Charles D. The Magna Charta Barons and Their American Descendants. Philadelphia: The Author, 1898 (Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Co., 1969). 463p.

There are so many ordinary errors, examples of bad reasoning, and sheer leaps of faith in this volume, it astonishes me that GPC reprinted it. The Magna Charta barons all can be picked up from Cokayne and Weis; if you start with Browning, you’ll just have to do it over. To be avoided!


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Cokayne, George E. (ed.). Complete Baronetage. 5v. + index. Exeter: William Pollard & Co., 1900–9 (reprinted 1983).

This quasi-titled order of non-peers was instituted in 1611 purely for monetary gain, to persuade English social climbers with money to aid in the Protestant colonization of Ireland, and later of Nova Scotia. Since it is more broadly based in society than the peerage, the baronetage is of interest in its own right, but numerous baronets later were advanced in rank or married up the ladder. Each original volume was chronological by date of creation, and each had its own index, and so they appear in the reprint volume. The six volumes in the original edition were reprinted in 1983 at a page-size reduction of 80%, to produce a single oversized but manageable volume.


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The Complete Peerage of England, Scotland, Ireland, Great Britain, and the United Kingdom, Extant, Extinct, or Dormant. 13v. London: The St. Catherine Press, 1910–1959; np?: Palgrave, 1984 (13 v. in 6v.); np?: Sutton Publishing, 1987 (microprint edition, 4pp. to 1 page). [also available in microform ed.]

Begun by George E. Cokayne, the Clarenceaux King-of-Arms, this set is to the British peerage what the Oxford English Dictionary is to the English language — absolutely the best thing of its kind. Citations to primary sources frequently fill seventy percent of the page and anecdotal text notes put some meat on the bones. Far superior to the 19th century Burke’s Peerage publications. Don’t attempt serious British research without it! The numerous appendices at the ends of the volumes also are highly recommended as instructive essays.


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Crispin, M. Jackson. Falaise Roll, Recording Prominent Companions of William, Duke of Normandy, at the Conquest of England. London: Butler & Tanner, 1938 (Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Co., 1964). xii, 250p.

In 1927, the 900th anniversary of the birth of William I, a plaque was unveiled at Falaise which listed the names of 406 men supposed to have been companions of the Conqueror. Several more books and numerous articles have been published for and against any such list (see especially Anthony Camp’s excellent work in this list), but — infighting aside — this is still a good source for brief sketches of a large number of Norman and Breton nobles and adventurers. Ignore Crispin’s arguments and conclusions, if you like, and use the heavily-footnoted sketches as a biographical dictionary of the long-term Norman conquest.


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The Descendants of the Illegitimate Sons and Daughters of the Kings of Britain. Lineage Book. Havertown, PA: The Society, 1979. [unpaged]

Quite simply, a list of the bastards of English and Scottish monarchs, with notes as to doubtful lines, "no known descendants," etc. This is the "official list" of the Society of the Descendants of the Illegitimate, etc., known generally as The Royal Bastards, and who established the group to develop and encourage higher standards of proof in lineages. The great part of this book, therefore, consists of 158 outlined lineages of uniformly high quality. Even the present Queen’s descent from Henry VI (through her mother) involves three separate illegitimacies. Interesting reading!


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Eilers, Marlene A. Queen Victoria’s Descendants. 2d enlarged & updated ed. Falköping, Sweden: Rosvall Royall Books, 1997. 184 p.

If all you want is names and dates, then Burke’s Guide to the Royal Family is a better, more detailed source. But if you want more juice, the slightly gossipy chapters of this book (one chapter per family group) are informative and well-illustrated, and filled with odd tidbits . . . such as the fact that Queen Margarethe of Denmark is an artist who has designed her country’s Christmas seals and also illustrated an edition of The Lord of the Rings.


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Hallam, Elizabeth M. Domesday Book through Nine Centuries. NY: Thames & Hudson, 1986. 224p.

For whatever reason, I’ve been a Domesday Book junkie for several decades; I read everything about it that I can lay hands on, and I have a shelf of Domesday-related publications in my library at home. The content of Domesday, much of which relates to the great tenants of the king in 1086, plays to my interest in peerage genealogy, but I’m also an archivist by training, with a parallel interest in the books themselves — what they look like, how they were written and bound, and so on. Dr. Hallam, Assistant Keeper at the Public Record Office for nearly thirty years, is probably the leading authority on Domesday in this generation and, as author or editor of a number of works of popular history, she has a demonstrated talent for describing and interpreting what she knows. The present volume was published as part of Domesday Book’s 900th birthday celebration and concerns itself not with the details of its contents (available in several excellent and recent editions) but with the history of its use as a resource down through the centuries — because Domesday still is a living document, not merely an historical artifact in a museum. While its status as a practical source of legal information has dwindled during the 20th century, it still qualifies as legal evidence in an English courtroom, especially in matters of dispute over "ancient rights."

The opening chapter, "The Making of Domesday Book," is altogether one of the best brief discussions I’ve seen of why the survey was undertaken (lots of motives there, probably including William’s simple curiosity about the country he had conquered twenty years before), how the project was undertaken (the marvel of it’s being completed in only a year or so depended on the previous, simpler tax rolls the Saxon kings had ordered compiled for the proper levying of the Danegeld), and how Great Domesday differs from Little Domesday, and why (the latter being a "final draft" for three shires, abandoned at the king’s death in 1087).

Throughout the medieval period, Domesday was carted about the country by its peripatetic kings, part of the treasury archive required to settle disputes among titled landholders. Many copies of the text were made of specific sections, for use by monasteries and other tenants, and it also spun off other, entirely new lists as a result of lawsuits and new taxes. As the royal demesne gradually declined in importance with the shrinkage in royal authority, fewer extracts were made of the data in Domesday, and the book began to take on the flavor of a revered relic, but a series of antiquarians in the 17th and 18th centuries — part of the new flowering of medieval scholarship that followed the Restoration — sparked a new interest in Domesday; this attitude is partly reflected in the ornate bindings and keeping-chests constructed for the two volumes during this period. Numerous tracings and transcriptions also were produced, which allowed researchers without ready access to the original to pursue independent studies.

In 1859, Domesday was removed to the newly-constructed Record Office in London from its damp storage place in Westminster Chapter House, and proper archival care began to be taken, together with a new photographic reproduction. Victorian scholarship had its own character and Domesday Book was even caught up in the vituperative conflict between the Tory views of Horace Round and the Liberal Edward Freeman. Hallam takes us through this long history with full footnotes and references, but also in a most enjoyable writing style, and she supplies a great many illustrations to accompany the discussion. Any student of William the Conqueror, or of British administrative history, or of medieval England, simply must read this book.


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Leeson, Francis L. (comp.). A Directory of British Peerages, from the Earliest Times to the Present Day. London: Society of Genealogists, 1984 (Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Co, 1996). xi, 174p.

A compact ready-reference source which connects surnames with British titles (barons and above), and vice versa, up to the present. The Howard family, for instance, has been connected with more than thirty titles, while seven different families have held the earldom of Sussex. A natural for your ready-reference shelf.


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Lodge, John. The Peerage of Ireland; or, A Genealogical History of the Nobility of That Kingdom. New ed. 7v. Dublin: James Moore, 1754 (np: AMS Press, 1989).

Similar in organization and narrative style to Paul’s Scots Peerage, including both extant and extinct titles. Lodge provides not bare lineages but full narrative histories of the distinguished families of Ireland, both Celtic and Anglo-Norman. Marginal notations and symbols allow rapid searching for genealogical data, but slow down and smell the shamrocks — there’s a lot of substance here. Noted for its accuracy (for the time) and footnoted to original documents and traditional accounts.


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Loyd, Lewis C. The Origins of Some Anglo-Norman Families. (Harleian Society Publications, vol. 103) London: The Society, 1951 (Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Co., 1980). xvi, 140p.

Geographical origins of most of the Conqueror’s buddies who survived to have descendants. Many of these place-names have become surnames.


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McNaughton, Arnold (comp.). The Book of Kings: A Royal Genealogy. 3v. London: Garnstone Press, 1973 (NY: Quadrangle Press, 1973).

An extremely comprehensive, oversized set, beautifully manufactured, and a delight to handle. Accurate, thorough, and exhaustive . . . but it covers only the descendants of George I of Great Britain. Volume 3 is all plates and index.


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Paget, Gerald. The Lineage and Ancestry of H.R.H. Prince Charles, Prince of Wales. 2v. Edinburgh: Charles Skilton, 1977.

With an enormous number of names but no real text, this one probably sits on Mom's coffee table at Windsor. Because half the DNA is courtesy of Charles's Dad, it's most useful in bringing a lot of English, German, Danish, and miscellaneous lines into one place.


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Paul, James Balfour (ed.). The Scots Peerage Founded on . . . Sir Robert Douglas’s Peerage of Scotland. . . . 9v. Edinburgh: David Douglas, 1904–14. [available in microform ed.]

Edited and compiled by the Lyon King-of-Arms, this set interweaves generally dependable lineages with narrative family history in the old style. Go to the Complete Peerage for the facts, but stop off here for Paul’s view of the reasons why.


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Regesta Regum Anglo Normannorum, 1066–1154. (Edited by Henry William Davis & Robert J. Shotwell) 4v. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1913; np?: AMS Press, 1987. [also available in microform ed.]

The best published source available for documentary citation — grants, charters, etc — for those early Anglo-Norman families which were the roots of most of the influential English and Scots families later on.


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Roberts, Gary Boyd & William Addams Reitwiesner. American Ancestors and Cousins of the Princess of Wales. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Co., 1984. 194p.

It should come as no surprise that the late Princess Diana had strong American connections through her Spencer heritage and Roberts skillfully outlines the most important and useful links among her estimated 20 million living American relatives. Di had ancestors in six of the thirteen colonies, so non-New Englanders need not despair. The principal author is well known for his work at the New England Historic Genealogical Society and this not-large volume is crammed with useful gateway ancestors in abbreviated and modified Register format.


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Ruvigny & Raineval, Marquis de (Melville Henry Massue) (comp.). The Jacobite Peerage, Baronetage, Knightage & Grants of Honour. Edinburgh: T.C. & E.C. Jack, 1904. xvii, 266p.

The work of an articulate spokesman for the Stewart Legitimist cause, this is a well-constructed compilation of peerage creations under the Stewart monarchs (none of them recognized officially today, of course), followed by chapters listing knights, diplomatic and household appointments, declarations of noblesse, etc. The introductory chapter on nineteenth century Legitimist activities is also quite interesting . . . and a little strange.


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Shaw, William A. The Knights of England: A Complete Record from the Earliest Time. . . . 2v. London: Central Chancery, 1906 (Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Co., 1970).

Considering the original publisher of this work, it must be regarded as the "official" complete list (up to 1906). Volume 1 contains the preeminent orders — Garter, Bath, Victorian Order, etc. — each list being chronological and providing full names and dates of all persons invested, so far as information was available. (It seems astonishing that the registers of the Order of the Thistle, which began in 1687, were lost c.1830 and not rediscovered until the turn of this century!) Volume 2 is a chronological list of knights bachelors — "ordinary" knights — from the introduction of the Angevin dubbing ceremony c.1250. Shaw’s articulate essays on each order, and on the system of knights bachelors (and why most fief-holders didn’t want to join), provide an antidote to American confusion on this subject.


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Turton, W. H. The Plantagenet Ancestry. London: Phillimore & Co., 1928 (Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Co., 1968). xvii, 274p.

While long regarded as a classic guide in English, the lack of citations makes the contents of this volume difficult to double-check. It’s all in chart form, both wheel-type and tabular. Numerous errors (some merely disagreements in interpretation) have been uncovered by later researchers, but this still is not a bad starting point. Dates are included only intermittently, however, and the prefatory text is of very limited use.


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Walsh, Paul. Irish Chiefs and Leaders. (Colm O’Lochlainn, ed.) Dublin: At the Sign of the Three Candles, 1960. 334p.

The division of Ireland into counties is of English origin, but their names are another matter, from the Norse Waterford to the ancient Gaelic Meath, the "middle land." And as the High Kings of Ireland reigned at Tara, so the island’s "peerage" was its local kings and chiefs. Father Walsh, a reliable and influential historian on the ancient noble families of Ireland, here investigates a sampling, including the Neills, Reillys, Molloys, O’Rourkes, Kavanaghs, and the great house of O’Connor. Of the three Celtic lands conquered by the Anglo-Normans, the Welsh were subjugated and the Scots infiltrated their antagonists — but the old Irish ruling families kept themselves apart (and paid the price). A book to steep yourself in.


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Weir, Alison. Britain’s Royal Families: The Complete Genealogy. London: The Bodley Head, 1989. 386p.

This volume does not pretend to represent original research in primary resources, but is a convenient compilation incorporating information from many alternative sources. Most published lineages on the British monarchy are interested primarily in the line of succession, which usually has been male. Descendants of female royals generally get short shrift, but Weir provides at least basic information on all children and grandchildren of each sovereign, together with their spouses. This makes connections to other highly placed English and Continental families and to the royalty of other countries much easier to follow. Coverage is from Egbert in the late eighth century to the present day — including Scotland — and the index is very well done (and necessary). An eleven-page bibliography leads the reader to a large number of other secondary works. The only thing missing here is footnotes citing sources — but the reader should rely on the Complete Peerage for that and use Weir as a ready reference tool only. A very useful addition to one’s bookshelf.


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Compilations: The Continent


[Affonso, Domingos de Araujo.] Le Sang de Louis XIV. 2v. Braga: Cruz, 1961–62.

{The Blood of Louis XIV}.A vast work, mostly presented in schematic form, dealing with the legitimate and illegitimate descendants of the Sun King (the latter group ironically including both M. & Mme. Giscard d’Estaing). An excellent reference of high reliability — if you can locate a set.


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L’Allemagne Dynastique. 5v. Le Perreux: Giraud, 1976–81.

{Dynastic Germany}. You may have to brush up your French for the copious text notes in this highly-regarded work, but the lineage charts themselves stick to standard Continental symbols and abbreviations. Only the twelve principal German dynastic houses are covered — Hesse, Hohenzollern, Brunswick, Wittelsbach, etc — but the level of detail is such that several dozen lesser families are drawn in through marriage. (Question for extra credit: Why was this set published in French instead of German?)


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Almanach de Gotha Annuaire Genealogique, Diplomatique et Statistique. 181v. Paris: J. Perthes, 1763–1944.

Absolutely essential for German titled genealogy of the past 200 years. A family’s being added to the Gotha meant a long jump up the social ladder, and there are stories of families who were dropped collectively turning to drink. It takes a little getting used to, and the Fraktur typeface of the early volumes isn’t easy to read, but it’s worth the effort. The original edition was published in French and included the royal houses and European dukes and princes (though not the Spanish, for some reason), and also a great deal of diplomatic and statistical information. Separate volumes were added later (in German) for German and Austro-Hungarian counts and barons, and for the German untitled nobility. There is an index covering the entire series: Thomas Freiherr von Fristch, Die Gothaiseen Taschenbucher, Hofkalendar und Almanach. (Limburg: C.A. Starke, 1968). See also Diesbach, below.


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Diesbach, Ghislain de. Secrets of the Gotha. NY: Meredith Press, 1964. 392p.

An excellent overview of the German overclass in the 19th century. Explains how the Gotha works (and what it doesn’t do), summarizes many lines, and includes twenty-two fold-out tables and many illustrations. The author thoroughly humanizes the subject and the scattered anecdotes are often wildly funny. My favorite opening line of almost any book: " ‘For me, mankind begins with barons,’ Prince Metternich used to remark benevolently."


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Atienza, Julio de. Nobiliario Español: Diccionario Heraldico de Apellidos Espanoles y de Titulos Nobiliarios. Madrid: Aguilar, 1948. xiv, 1,778p.

{Spanish Nobility: Heraldic Dictionary of Spanish Surnames and Titled Nobility}. This is not a "peerage," though a large proportion of the families included are titled. Each entry is a compact description of how and where the family began to be important, and often what individual was responsible for the upgrade; the more recent the rise of the family, the more detail. A blazon follows each entry (most are also in the Rietstap series, below).


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Brandenburg, Erich. Die Nachkommen Karls des Grossen (I–XIV Generation). Leipzig: Zentralstelle für Deutsche Personen- und Familiengeschichte, 1935. xii, 122p.

{The Descendants of Charles the Great}. A standard, highly-regarded source for Carolingian descents, with comparatively easy to use charts . . . if you can read the Fraktur typeface. The layout is clean and well designed, with all the text notes gathered in one section at the back. An essential reference tool.


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Brinton, Selwyn. The Gonzaga Lords of Mantua. London: Methuen, 1927. xv, 273p.

The author was a barrister by trade and an author of popular works in art and history by avocation. His interest in Mantua apparently was rooted in its architecture, but he produced here a pretty reliable account of the city and republic from the early 13th century to the early 18th. In the time of Emperor Frederick II, the Gonzagas were only one of several wealthy, influential families engaged in political and economic rivalry, but the result of the shifting alliances among them was that in 1328, Luigi Gonzaga had himself elected Captain of the People and Captain-General of the City. A century later, having consolidated their power, they became marquises of Mantua, and in 1530 were titled dukes. The first Duke’s son married the heiress of Nevers and Rethel and other Italian and French duchies were added to the small but growing Gonzaga sphere. Some of the dukes were notable military commanders, others were significant patrons of the arts and sciences, and one — Eleanore, daughter of Duke Vincenzo I — rose to even higher rank through marriage to Emperor Ferdinand II. Brinton’s research appears to be careful and critical and, though there is no bibliography, he provides frequent citations in footnotes.


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Chaumé, Maurice. Les Origines du Duché de Bourgogne. 2v. in 4 parts. Dijon: Jobard, 1925 (Darmstadt, npub, 1977).

{The Origins of the Duchy of Burgundy}. One of the very best sources available on the Capetian and Burgundian lines and their extensive offshoots, this set includes many fold-out maps, charts, and chronologies in each volume, plus more than thirty pages of very detailed lineages and genealogical notes in Volume 1. Because medieval Burgundy grew out of the division of Charlemagne’s empire, its development affected the evolution of virtually all of western Europe. Heavily cited by other compilers and writers. If only someone would translate this marvelous work into English!


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Dioudonnat, Pierre-Marie. Encyclopedie de la Fauss Noblesse et de la Noblesse d’Apparence. New ed. Paris: Sedopols, 1994. 671p.

{Encyclopedia of False Nobility and Apparent Nobility}. The French are picky about a lot of things, including who gets to be called an aristocrat. (Remember that the majority of patents to titles were destroyed during the Revolution, in order to "level" classes in the Republic.) The families listed herein apparently have pretensions above their station, and the author doesn’t hesitate to label many of them "famille bourgeoisie." Entries are very brief but sources are included for most, as well as the province or department where the family is or was located.


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Enache, Nicolas. Le descendance de Pierre le Grand, tsar de Russie. Paris: Sedopols, 1983. 431p.

{The Descendants of Peter the Great, Tsar of Russia}. The most detailed, all-in-one source available for the post-1682 Russian monarchy. Included also are numerous charts and a very detailed index, and some interesting and gossipy appendices regarding the infighting for precedence among the present-day Romanovs.


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Figueroa y Melgar, Alfonso de. Estudio Historico Sobre Algunas Familias Españolas. 6v. in 12 parts. Madrid: Editions Dawson & Fry, 1965.

{Some Historical Studies of Spanish Families}. Any Spanish family who is anybody may be found in this set . . . somewhere. Locating the data you want will be your biggest problem; even the index in the last volume has too many blind references for comfort, and its use requires familiarity with the Spanish system of multiple surnames. Nevertheless, there are a great many lineage charts (including large foldouts), coats of arms, color plates of family castles, etc. Besides, this is practically the only such source available for Spain.


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Genealogisches Handbuch des Adels. . . . Limburg: C. A. Starke, 1951- . 106v. as of 1994.

{Genealogical Handbook of the Nobility}. This seemingly endless run of short, fat volumes (known unofficially as the neo-Gotha) is being issued in five series; the first covers all the reigning houses of Europe, while the others include German noble families only. Lineages begin with the earliest known ancestor, but seldom is there a generation-by-generation linkage. Probably the best use for this monster — which does require some knowledge of German — is the pursuit of smaller, more obscure baronial and other locally influential families. Each volume has its own index, as does each series (cumulatively), but considerable patience will still be required.


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Guelfi Camajani, Luigi (Conte). Albo d’Oro delle Famiglie Nobili e Notabili Italiane. Florence: Archivo Storico Araldico Nobiliare, 1973. xi, 830p.

{Golden Book of Great Families and Nobility of Italy}. More than 800 titled Italian families are included, but the amount of information provided for each varies considerably; the great house of Ferrara gets only four lines (mostly a blazon of the arms, at that), while Ferrandu gets an entire page of detailed lineage. Part of this odd problem is relieved by frequent references to information in earlier editions, which seem to be cumulative rather than revised . . . if you can find them. Some command of Italian is also necessary. All in all, the most useful part of this hefty book is the 70+ pages of lineage charts at the back.


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Hête, Thierry le. Les Capetiens: Le Livre du Millenaire. Paris: Editions Christian, 1987. 217p.

{The Capetians: The Book of the Millennium}. Hugh Capet, a multiple-line descendant of Charlemagne, was a key founder of virtually all the royal and noble dynasties of France: Valois, Anjou, Brittany, Dreux, Burgundy, Courtenay, and the Bourbons in all their permutations, among many others. Relying heavily on Pére Anselme, the author has compiled a very detailed but highly readable collection of interrelated descent charts. About one-fourth of this volume is a family-by-family historical overview written in a style for which high school French should suffice. Clean design and tight organization make it a delight for quick reference.


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Joannis, J. D. de; R. de Saint-Jouan; & P. d’Herbecourt. Les Seize Quartiers Genealogiques des Capetiens. 3v. Lyon: Sauvegarde Historique, 1958-63.

"Seize Quartiers" refers to one’s sixteen great-great-grandparents, as represented by the sixteen sets of arms "quartered" on one’s coat of arms, . . . if one is armigerous on all lines for four generations back. This large work contains in 600 cross-referenced charts all the adult descendants of Hugh Capet from his accession to the throne of France in 987 down to the book’s date of publication. But each child and his or her spouse is the root of another 5-generation chart so that, even with all the overlap, several thousand individuals are represented. The information given is almost too concise: dates are listed only as years, for instance, and there are no source citations, though brief notes are plentiful. There is no general index, but the reader should be able to follow lineages up and down by using the outlined descents at the beginning of each volume. There is nothing original here, nor should Joannis be cited as a source itself, but the organization is very convenient for the researcher interested in the intertwinings of the houses of Capet, Valois, Bourbon, Orleans, Brunswick-Hanover, Portugal, Artois, Hungary, Brittany, Burgundy, and many others.


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La Chesnaye-Desbois et Badier, François de (comp). Dictionnaire de la Noblesse de la France. 3d ed. 18v. Paris: Bachelin-Deflorenne, 1868-73 (Liechtenstein: Kraus-Thomson Organization, 1969).

Essentially, this large set does for France, including Anglo-Normandy and Anglo-Brittany, what Cokayne does for Great Britain, and does it in a peculiarly French way. The style is heavily narrative, but college French should be adequate. A basic reference tool for French nobility.


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Onslow, Richard [Earl of Onslow]. The Dukes of Normandy and Their Origin. London: Hutchinson & Co., 1945. 176p.

A semi-scholarly but very readable combination of Norman history and genealogy, to the eve of the Conquest. Its nonthreatening briefness — one chapter per duke and a total of only 175 pages — doesn’t impair its usefulness as contextual genealogy.


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Orkneyinga Saga: The History of the Earls of Orkney. Trans., Herman Pálsson & Paul Edwards. London: Hogarth Press, 1978. 223p.

Among the half-dozen surviving Scandinavian sagas (most of which are available in Pálsson’s series of English translations), the Orkneyinga is particularly important for the student of early English royal genealogy. The saga traces the lives of the Norse rulers of the Orkney, Faroe, and Shetland islands from the 9th century to the 13th. Written down about 1200 A.D. by an unknown Icelander (probably a monk), it predates the Heimskringla by a generation and was one of Snorri’s principal sources. So why the Orkneys? Because Turf-Einar, created first earl ("jarl," actually) by Harald Fairhair, was a brother of Hrolf the Ganger, first "duke" of Normandy, both being sons of Rognvald, jarl of More. Various of the Orkney earls also were related by blood or marriage to the rulers of Norway and Denmark and to the Scottish earls of Moray. Because the saga was originally an oral history, it deals in varicolored language and vivid detail and powerful oration — most of which the translators have managed to preserve in their prose rendition. If you have any interest at all in the northern lands and in the heroic deeds and blood feuds of an earlier, less gentle time, this volume will hold your attention.


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Redlich, Marcellus D.; Aileen Lewers Langston; J. Orton Buck, Jr.; & Timothy Field Beard (comps). Pedigrees of Some of the Emperor Charlemagne’s Descendants. 3v. Order of the Crown of Charlemagne, 1941–78.

Buck and Beard are two of the best, but this set still must be used with care. There is much semi-duplication and it should not be used as an only source, but it does include an enormous number of variant lines of descent.


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Schwennicke, Detlev. Europaische Stammtafeln. 27 vols. in 30 parts [several of which have been revised]. Frankfurt-am-Main: Vittorio Klostermann, 1978–2007. [Early volumes were originally published by Stargard of Marburg.]

{European Family Trees}. An updated and greatly expanded version of Stammtafeln zur Geschichte der Europaischen Staaten, by Wilhelm Karl Prinz von Isenburg (2v., 1936–37 + 2 additional vols. published by 1975), which was a highly regarded resource to begin with. This set requires little or no German because of its heavy reliance on standard abbreviations and symbols. The volumes are oversized, the tables are methodical and logically organized. It concerns itself mostly with German families, of course, but laps over into all corners of the Continent. A recent volume even includes the family of Jacques Coeur, a commoner and self-made tycoon who became investments counselor and finally chief minister to Louis XI of France. A basic reference tool.


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Snorri Sturluson. Heimskringla: History of the Kings of Norway. [Many editions, but I recommend the following: Published for the American-Scandinavian Foundation by the University of Texas Press, 1964. xxvi, 854p. Translated with Introduction & Notes by Lee M. Hollander.]

Snorri (b. 1178/9), an often unscrupulous (and very successful) politician who lived in the real world, was also a very learned man. He was arguably the greatest historian of medieval Europe, and in his methods he has often been compared to Thucydides. "Heimskringla" means "the world is round" — appropriate for a people who considered the entire world their arena — and is the overall title given to his collection of earlier sagas, rationalized and pruned of recognizable nonsense, which is still the basis of history in the North. Snorri’s style is simplicity itself and because "history" until very recently concerned itself with the actions of great men, he spends considerable time detailing the interrelationships among the many leaders of Scandinavia — and especially of Harald "Fairhair," who conquered and united the many domains of those leaders. (Why "Fairhair"? Read the saga.) The roots of William the Conqueror are here, as well as those of Canute and St. Olaf. The simply-illustrated edition noted above runs to nearly 900 pages and is generally regarded as the best, but any will do. This is history, literature, genealogy, and mythology, and should be read by anyone with the interest to be perusing this bibliography in the first place.


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Sousa, D. Antonio Caetano de. Historia Genealogica da Casa Real Portuguesa. 12v. [with supplementary vols. and index vols., actually 26v.] Coimbra: Atlantida-Livraria Eds., 1946. [originally published 1735–49].

{Genealogical History of the Royal House of Portugal}. This set is just what it purports to be, in almost overwhelming detail (up to the original date of publication). The lengthy essays should be reasonably intelligible if you can read even Spanish, but the descent charts and lineages are easily accessible. Footnotes are plentiful and citations to manuscripts and documents are strewn throughout the text; Sousa is regarded as a generally very reliable source.


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Van Kerrebrouck, Patrick. La Maison de Bourbon, 1256–1987. ___v. Villeneuve d'Ascq, France: The Author, 1987–2000. [only Vol. 2 & Vol. 4 have been published to date]

This very detailed, heavily indexed volume (which I wish I could find my own copy of) is by far the most thorough source for lineages of the Bourbon dynasties in all their national branches, including Spain, Luxembourg, and Parma; "enfants naturels" are also noted. Moreover, these are only the first volumes in a promised series on French royal houses: five volumes will cover the Merovingians, Carolingians, Capetians, and Valois, and the associated monarchs of Portugal and Brazil. Volume 6 will cover the Ordre du Saint-Esprit from 1789 to the present, and Volume 7 will be a round-up of documents and texts. An estimated forty percent of this backbreaker is given over to source citations and discursive notes, so the serious student may cite Van Kerrebrouck with some confidence . . . and should watch for future volumes.


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Willis, Daniel A. (comp.). The Descendants of Louis XIII. Baltimore: Clearfield, 1999. 807p.

Why Louis XIII? Because he’s the common male ancestor of all the surviving royal lines of the House of Bourbon, and the author’s intent is to trace every descent, legitimate and illegitimate, from Louis, which works out to about 100,000 names. That includes the once-reigning families of Parma, Romania, Tuscany, Bavaria, Modena, Waldberg, Brazil, and Bohemia, among many others. I’m not sufficiently knowledgeable about the details of, say, the living representatives of the cadet branches of the ex-ruling family of the Two Sicilies, to know how accurate the information provided is, but this fat volume certainly gives the appearance of completeness. On the other hand, there are no source citations and no bibliography worth mentioning. From the size of the acknowledgements list, it appears Willis actually wrote question-filled letters to every living descendant he could find — which also means he and the reader are at the mercy of the respondents’ memories and agendas. It’s all presented in outline form, no accompanying text at all beyond the brief introduction, and with cross-references for descendants who intermarried (of whom there were many). There’s also a section of rather poorly reproduced black-and-white photos of some of the living royals and aristocrats listed herein.


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Prosopography


Keats-Rohan, Katherine S. B. Domesday People: A Prosopography of persons Occurring in English Documents, 1066–1166. 2v. Woodbridge, Suffolk: Boydell Press, 1999; Rochester, NY: Boydell & Brewer, 1999–2002.

Prosopography is the study of pedigree, biography, and genealogy, including the study of family names, and focusing especially on the person, his environment and his social status — that is, the individual within the context of family and other social groups, the place or places in which he was active, and the function he performed within his society. Some thirty years ago, prosopography began to be used as a regular tool in the study of history, especially medieval European and Byzantine history. Concentration, naturally, has centered on the wealthy and powerful because that’s who created the surviving records. Keats-Rohan is director of the Unit for Prosopographical Research at Linacre College, Oxford, and this project is an heroic attempt to synthesize the genealogy of families in the first century following the Conquest and the histories of the manors which they either owned or labored on. For "only by determining the identities of persons concealed in a repetitious mass of names in the text of Domesday Book can we hope to understand what happened next, or who was who in subsequent records such as the Pipe Rolls." Domesday Book contains some 45,000 personal names, many of them duplications since tenants-in-chief held land in several counties. If you also leave out the churches (as tenants) and the surviving English tenants, fewer than 20,000 names remain, and about 8,000 of those are identified by forename alone. The author has analyzed 19,500 records of continental names into about 2,500 individual persons, including some 200 tenants-in-chief and about 600 Englishmen. Their entries, which make up the bulk of this large pair of volumes, range from a single sentence (Harduin was a "Domesday tenant of William fitz Nigel under earl Hugh in Chester") to several pages for those at the top. Citations to appearances in Domesday Book itself, as well as in later charters and other sources, are very complete. The descendants of the great men whom the new king made tenants-in-chief became the great barons of the English feudal system, and nearly all of them appear here. For instance, Eudo Dapifer, son of Hubert de Ryes, married Rohais, daughter of Richard de Clare. One of Eudo’s tenants in 1086 was Osbert, husband of his sister Muriel. Eudo also acquired the land previously held by his brother, Adam, who was a tenant of Bishop Odo. Farther down the social ladder were men like Herbrand de Sackville, tenant of Walter de Giffard, who had sons named Jordan, William, and Robert, and a daughter named Avice, who married Walter d’Auffay. The author also has included seventy-five pages of background history and prosopographical methodology, which make this work very accessible to the non-specialist. This was the first published installment (there are also now several online databases) of an extraordinary and fascinating enterprise which should open new avenues of research for those interested in medieval English genealogy.


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Keats-Rohan, K. S. B. (ed.). Family Trees and the Roots of Politics: The Prosopography of Britain and France from the Tenth to the Twelfth Century. Rochester, NY: Boydell Press, 1997. 384p.

The seventeen papers in this collection (five of them in French) were read at a conference at Oxford in 1995, and one of the most important is "L’apport de la prosopographie à l’histoire sociale des élites" by Karl Ferdinand Werner, one of the principal founders of the field. Others of special note include David E. Thornton’s "Kings, Chronicles and Genealogies: Reconstructing Mediaeval Celtic Dynasties," Christian Settipani’s "Les comtes d’Anjou et leurs alliances aux Xe et XIe siècles," and "The Formation of the County of Perche: the Rise and Fall of the House of Gouet," by Kathleen Thompson. Boydell Press, incidentally, has made a niche for itself in publishing works on the subject of prosopography.