Genealogy is one of the oldest historical disciplines, since the interest in its origin was originally inherent in man.
In the era of the tribal system, knowledge about the ethnogenesis of peoples, about their ancestors and their heroic exploits was transmitted in oral traditions. Representations of consanguinity in that era were an integral part of social consciousness and culture of the society; they helped to avoid marriages between relatives. The earliest information about the origin of peoples, tribes, and individual clans has been preserved in ethnogenetic traditions and myths.
The development of genealogy is associated with the emergence of a class society, with the advent of which there was a need for knowledge of the kinship of leaders, kings and other rulers. In addition, in societies of past eras, pedigree knowledge was necessary to determine the degree of kinship and the principles of inheritance of titles and property.
Among the oldest written sources on genealogy include the registers of the Egyptians, the stories of Herodotus, the family news of the Romans.
In the era of the early Middle Ages, genealogy compilation again acquired an oral form, and was a special genre of poetic creativity. Professional singers and storytellers weaved the genealogies of leaders and kings into their epic songs. The epos of those times has partially survived to the present day, and contains interesting information for specialists, although the value of epic songs as a source in genealogy has significantly decreased due to the presence of numerous fantastic stories. The best preserved Icelandic clan sagas are distinguished by historical authenticity, as family tradition did not allow arbitrary interpretation of genealogies, and prevented the introduction of mythological elements into sagas. But usually epic works set forth generation after generation the history of the leader or king dynasty, leading it to some local pagan deity. And when Christianity began to spread in Western Europe, the genealogies of the ruling dynasties began to be raised to Noah and Adam, not excluding from them ancient gods and heroes and local pagan spirits.
The heyday of applied genealogy began in Western Europe during the developed Middle Ages, when, with the development of the nobility, legal norms took shape that gave it numerous rights and advantages. Freedom, participation in political power, administration and military affairs have become hereditary privileges. Issues of origin and kinship acquired special significance, and the feudal lords zealously guarded their privileges. Throughout his life, the nobleman had to repeatedly provide evidence of the purity of blood: when knighted, when the coat of arms was conferred, upon marriage. The pedigree was reinforced by the right to participate in a knightly tournament.
In connection with new circumstances, the genealogy of the beginning is becoming on a scientific basis. Its development went along with heraldry, and it was heralds who became the first professional experts in genealogy. Initially, their duty was to glorify the participants of knightly tournaments and to give information about them. To this end, heralds collected information on the origin and genealogy of various representatives of the nobility. Later, on the basis of this information, the oldest genealogy books in Western Europe were compiled, containing genealogies in the appendix to the knights’ coats of arms given there. Over time, the genealogy, compiled and recorded heralds, acquired the character of a legal document.
In the XV century. the general rise of science characteristic of the Renaissance began. In genealogy, this was reflected in the emergence of valuable guides on the history of the ruling dynasties, the first genealogical collections designed for use by specialists began to form, the fixing of family ties began to be made in a convenient graphic form of the genealogical table. When compiling pedigrees, in addition to oral legends, documents began to be used – copies from capitulations, letters, extracts from chronicles.
The “Golden Age” of genealogy falls on the 16th-17th centuries. At this time, new wealthy families, immigrants from the bourgeois strata, sought to acquire pedigrees befitting a new position. A lot of fake genealogies arose. And in genealogy they began to apply a critical study of the sources on which the pedigrees were based. The most striking example of a new approach to genealogy is the so-called “Visits” conducted by the English heralds during the period from the reign of Henry VIII to the end of the XVII century. The heralds traveled around all the counties of the country, checking the pedigrees of the local nobility, while checking with all possible sources. Pedigrees that passed the test were recorded in the Book of Visitation, registered in the heraldry, and received legal force. And those who illegally appropriated genealogies, were stripped of their titles. Similar control over the validity of pedigrees was carried out throughout Europe. In France, the misappropriation of title entailed a large fine, and the falsification of documents certifying the nobility – a link to the galleys.
Checking the genealogy, the heralds collected enormous factual material, on the basis of which in the XVI-XVII centuries. many genealogy guides for royal and aristocratic genera have been created.
The heyday of genealogy was observed in the XV-XVI centuries. and in Russia. Until the XV century. basic information about kinship in Russia was contained in chronicles, acts, and correspondence. Already in the oldest Russian annals there are enumerations of grand and specific princes, and in the Novgorod annals even lists of posadniks and other officials are provided, accompanied by genealogical information. Since K. XV-XVI centuries. in substantiating the rights to the throne, legends about the origin of the dynasties were used, and, in particular, the versions about the ascension of the grand ducal clans to the Roman emperor Augustus, widespread in Russia and the Grand Duchy of Lithuania.
A major role in the development of Russian genealogy was played by localism. The Boyar Duma and the Sovereign Court were formed, the connection with which was determined by their origin. Representatives of the Sovereign’s Court and the Boyar Duma constantly started arguing about the nobility and nobility of their ancestors, trying to take a more prominent place at the court. Measures aimed at resolving these disputes were expressed in the fact that since the end of the XV century. genealogy began to come across in acts, and in the first half of the XVI century. the first private genealogists are compiled — books containing lists of persons of the same surname or several descending generations related in order. Since then, Russia has adopted the principle of compiling generational paintings of descending kinship, since property was inherited from father to son, and paternal ancestral service was taken into account when appointing a post. In the XVI century. in Russia, special posts and institutions appeared that were engaged in the collection and processing of genealogical information and the official approval of documents proving the origin of a person. The functions of Russian officials are similar to the functions of Western European heralds. Since the 40s of the XVI century. genealogy books began to be created in Russia, and in 1555 the “Sovereign Genealogist” was compiled containing genealogical paintings of persons entering the Sovereign’s yard.
In the process of approving the leading role of the nobility, it became necessary to collect and submit genealogical data to state institutions to confirm the rights to official places and land ownership. The discharge order was engaged in their collection and verification. In 1682, after the abolition of parochialism, the “Genealogy of the House” was established in this order, which lasted until 1700. A Velvet Book was compiled there – a set of noble genealogy, which included the most notable surnames, a most valuable source in Russian genealogy.
In the XVI-XVIII centuries. in Western Europe, scientific interest in theoretical genealogy arose. In 1721, the first department of theoretical genealogy appeared at the University of Vienna, where textbooks and lecture courses were developed, methods for compiling pedigree tables and murals, and the numbering system of kinship were improved.
The era of bourgeois revolutions of the XVII-XIX centuries. caused a drop in interest in applied genealogy, traditionally exclusively engaged in aristocratic families. But theoretical genealogy continued to develop: in France, England, Germany, a number of major works were published devoted to the history of both large aristocratic families and the provincial nobility. German scientists – leaders of theoretical genealogy – for the first time began to develop genealogy as an auxiliary historical discipline, which is on a par with heraldry, chronology, diplomacy.
In Russia at the end of the XVII-XVIII centuries. applied genealogy fell into decay, because with the abolition of parochialism, the nobility opened up the possibility of length of service, not limited to genealogical privileges, but the “Table of Ranks” and in general made it possible for employees of any estate to advance through the ranks. Nevertheless, in 1721, the Heraldry Office (later the Department of Heraldry, Heraldry) was established as part of the Senate, which was responsible for questions of membership in the nobility, embezzlement, and compiling lists of the nobility. After the publication of the “Granted Diploma to the Nobility” in 1775, the provincial noble assembly began to engage in practical genealogy, sending the materials to Heraldia. In parallel, in Russia, as well as in Europe in general, the process of the formation of genealogy as a scientific discipline was going on. Her data were widely used in the works of V.N. Tatishcheva, G.F. Miller and other historians. Since the end of the XVIII century. many publications of pedigree documents, scientific studies on the history of individual families, and summary genealogical guides have been published in Russia.
In the XVIII-XIX century. Europe has seen a new wave of interest in genealogy. It has been actively developed in Hungary, Holland, Belgium, Poland, and the Scandinavian countries. The origin of the ancestors – immigrants from Europe – began to attract the attention of Americans. In the second half of the XIX century. fashionable hobby was participation in various local historical, antique and genealogical societies. Many periodicals have appeared that publish genealogy materials. In the XIX – early XX centuries. in addition to traditional studies on the nobility, the first works appeared on the genealogy of representatives of non-nobility classes, especially the bourgeois. A similar picture was observed in Russia, here the Russian Genealogical and Historical-Pedigree Societies arose, which conducted genealogy research and published Works, which published theoretical articles and materials of noble family archives. In Petersburg and Moscow archaeological institutes lectures on genealogy were given.
At the beginning of the twentieth century. O. Forst de Battaglia, a professor at the University of Vienna, appeared, in which much attention is paid to new areas of genealogy, criticism of sources and methods of working with them. Specialists from different countries are still engaged in the further development of these issues. A characteristic feature of the genealogy of the twentieth century. – the desire to actualize research, the search in them for new aspects, the convergence of genealogy with other disciplines. An important trend in contemporary works is the appeal to the origin of non-noble families — peasantry, burgherism, merchants, and officials. For these studies, non-traditional sources are involved – private acts, contracts, documentation of city magistrates, court records, tax lists, documents on mass amnesties, etc. This allows you to restore the history of families of almost any social status, even employees and apprentices.
It is also important that modern genealogy pays great attention to kinship along the female line, which was not practical in the Middle Ages, but is very important for identifying genealogical patterns, for social demography. The study of direct kinship along the female line opens up new prospects in the development of problems of political history. So, when taking into account relations not only in the male, but also in the female line, the ideas about the international character of dynastic ties, about the stable dependence of political interests and considerations of consanguinity are substantially clarified.
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