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I was able to discover 391 of Audra L. Young's direct ancestors. It would be nice to know about what fraction of her (and our) total number of ancestors, for the 18 generations, these 391 people represent.
As with most questions of this kind, we can not hope to find an exact answer. The best we can do is to make an estimate based on the information at hand. Unfortunately, the paucity of information still leaves us with little more than a best guess. What we can do, however, is to gain some insight that may help us understand the nature of the problem of estimating the number of our ancestors and at the same time provide a bit of information about the factors that controlled the pattern of reproduction of these people.
The maximum number of ancestors that we could possibly have can be easily calculated if we assume that there was no cross-linkage between families. That is, no cousins ever married, no matter how distant their relationship may have been. If we make this "no cross-linking" assumption, the calculation can be done as follows. My generation will contribute zero ancestors since it consists of me and my first cousins and we can't count ourselves as our own ancestor. In the next generation back, my parents, there were two people. In the 3rd generation back, my grandparents, there were four people. The 4th generation back, my great grandparents, had 8 people. And, so it goes, doubling with each preceding generation. If we carry this calculation back 18 generations then add all the ancestors from each generation, we find that the maximum number of ancestors that we could have, assuming no cross-linking, is 262,142 people.
But, there was cross-linking between families; lots of cross-linking. Here is why. When our ancestors such as those from around Rumbach, Germany, were alive, they lived within a very limited area. Many were born, lived and died in the same house. Many others did not, but they lived and died within yards or at most, within a few miles of where they were born. There were many reasons for this. Perhaps two of the most important reasons were 1) the strong dependency of people on the family and community life, and 2) the lack of good transportation.
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The result was a series of static communities with very little mixing of populations. Young people growing up in such communities had limited choices of mates. They usually didn't even know other people in villages more than about half a day's walking distance (5 to 10 miles) away. So, when they married, they drew primarily from within their own small communities. In the case of Rumbach the total population including all ages was about 400 to 500 people.
Usually people did not marry within their own families, if they knew it. True, there are a few cases of 1st cousins marrying within the family. There are even more cases of 2nd cousins marrying and still more 3rd cousins, etc. But, what frequently happened was that cousins married cousins without knowing it. For example, a Brubach woman would marry a Kindelberger and change her name to Kindelberger. After a few generations all memory that there had been a Brubach in an earlier Kindelberger family would have been forgotten. Then, 3 or 4 or 5 generations later a Kindelberger would marry a Brubach, never knowing that they were cousins. This kind of cross-linking was quite common.
It is true that the keeper of the records, the church, could have identified such a relationship, but it was of little concern. Such marriages were accepted and were common practice. So, there was little interest by the marriage partners in knowing if they were distantly related. Besides, it was more true than not, that in these small villages, everyone was related to everyone else, anyway.
As an example of this kind of cross-linking among families, during the course of my research for this book, I made contact with a 5th cousin, Andrea Kindelberger, who still lives in Rumbach, Germany. We became well acquainted, by way of e-mail, and eventually exchanged ancestral data. We learned that over the 10 generations of our common ancestors (for the most recent 5 generations the families have been separated by the Atlantic Ocean), that we shared no fewer than 23 distinct relationships. Each of these relationships was the result of a cross-link between cousins.
The cross-linking of family lines has the effect of reducing the number of ancestors in the family tree. In the example above, the children of the second union of Brubach and Kindelberger would discover that they had a common set of great great grandparents, two sets of common 3rd great grandparents, and four sets of common 4th great grandparents, and so on. The result would be the "loss" of an entire ancestral tree subset for these two people. Just imagine the number of ancestors "lost" due to the 23 cross-links that occurred for my 5th cousin and me. I have estimated the number to be over 8,000 ancestors for the 15 generations involved.
This cross-linking of family lines is not terribly important to our genealogy except that it helps us to understand why we do not have nearly so many ancestors as we theoretically could if no cross-linking occurred. By considering both the limitation of available mates due to the lack of mobility between communities and the resulting cross-linking of family lines, it is also possible to better understand how people of a community, after many generations, could develop similar appearances and other physical and mental similarities. It also helps explain how national characteristics develop over the centuries and how languages and dialects of languages come about.
In my genealogy research, I have been able to identify many cross-linkages in our family.
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For our ancestors who immigrated to America, there was still another pattern of interest. The church records in Germany are quite complete. Data had been dutifully recorded for all citizens in each Christian Church parish. Civil records are similarly detailed and complete. The latter includes census and tax records for the various towns and counties. It was instructional to compare the surnames of the population in villages such as Rumbach, Germany with the surnames of the residents of Monroe County in the vicinity of Woodsfield and Lewisville, Ohio for the period around the turn of the century. I found that about half of the surnames of the Rumbach residents of our ancestors' period could also be found in the present day telephone directory of Monroe County, Ohio. Further, by tracking various family lines of our Monroe County, Ohio ancestors they frequently lead back to Rumbach and a few other villages in the same area.
It is clear from these data that the immigration of German families to Monroe County, Ohio was a continual stream of family members moving to join other family members who had already settled in the area. This had the effect of perpetuating these surnames in America. Since, throughout the 19th century, these new immigrants settled in a limited area and like their European ancestors were limited in mobility, the process of cross-linking between families continued to occur. Several occurrences of cross-linking were found among our American ancestors. However, by about the turn of the century with the coming of the automobile and train, the occurrence of cross-linking appears to have diminished.
So, what have we learned about the number of ancestors we might have had over the last 18 generation? An attempt to generate an estimate based on samples using the lines of ancestors that we know, has proven unsuccessful. In almost every case, too many of the spouses, particularly the female spouses, are unknown. Knowledge of the lineage of each member of the couple is needed to identify cross-linkage. We can therefore only assume that many more linkages occurred within a line than we know about. If the frequency of occurrence of linkages that occurred in the families of my 5th cousin and mine is any indication of what is typical for other lines (and it probably is) a large percentage of the theoretical number of ancestors would be missing from our family tree.
I have no way of generating a reliable estimate of the number of ancestors we actually have for, say, the last 18 generations. From working with the data I would guess it was probably on the order of 25,000 direct ancestors. If this estimate is about right it means that cross-linking resulted in a 'loss' of about 90% of our theoretical ancestors. It also means that through our research which has discovered about 391 direct ancestors, we have been able to find only about 1.5 % of this total number of ancestors.
WHAT IS THE DEGREE OF MY RELATIONSHIP TO MY ANCESTORS
There are several reasons why we might want to know the degree of our relationship to our ancestors. For example, if we find royalty, a horse thief, or a racially different bloodline somewhere in our family tree, it might be nice to know just how closely we are related to them. Another reason might be concern about our vulnerability to health issues exhibited by our ancestors. When I first addressed the question of the degree of our relationship to our ancestors, I was trying to decide how far back in our family history it made sense to research.
But, before we can address this issue objectively, we need to decide just what we mean by our "relationship to our
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ancestors." In the chronological sequence of our lineage, clearly, every ancestor is equally as important as the next. Without even one of our ancestors, the course of our own history would be different. In fact, most likely, with the loss of even a single ancestor, we may never have been. While this line of thought calls forth a fascinating area for discussion, I will not pursue it since it involves a whole spectrum of "what ifs" and gets precariously close to issues of religion.
From a medical point of view, the question of degree of relationship to our ancestors is quite different. With the discovery of DNA (which is the acronym for deoxyribo nucleic acid, the material from which our body protein is made) and its 3 million or so "letters," we have a beautiful conceptual tool for addressing the question of the degree of relationships. But, having observed this, let me shift to a simpler model rather than become entangled with the science of DNA. I am not qualified to discuss the subject of DNA, anyway.
Let us begin with an assumption. We will assume that a child inherits half of its attributes from its father and half from its mother. Let us then apply this assumption to our theoretical family tree. This is the family tree in which there is no cross-linking between family lines (no propagation between cousins or other family members). According to our assumption we will inherit 50% of our attributes from one parent and 50% from the other. So, our relationship with each parent can be said to be 50%. Now let us consider our relationship to a grandparent. Again, the distribution factor is assumed to be one half. We therefore will carry 25% of the genes from each of our four grandparents. And so the pattern proceeds with each additional generation back, being only half that of its successor generation. An easy way to calculate the relationship of any generation, then, is to divide 100% by the number of direct ancestors in that generation. For example, for our parents, 100% divided by 2 (2 parents) = 50%; for our grandparents, 100% divided by 4 (4 grandparents) = 25%; for our great grandparents, 100% divided by 8 = 12.5%; etc. Keep in mind, however, that this relationship is only theoretical and is true only if there is NO cross-linkage anywhere in the family. The last column, titled "Theoretical Relationship" in the table that follows shows these relationships for each of 18 generations.
But, we have seen from the previous discussion about the number of ancestors that we have, that the number of actual ancestors is probably only about 10% of the theoretical number of ancestors. This is because of the extensive cross-linking within the family. What if we used a more realistic estimate for the number of ancestors. The table below shows the relationship for three different assumed populations of ancestors over 18 generations: namely; 25,000, 50,000, and 100, 000. The results are enlightening.
By comparing the columns in the table, we can conclude the following: First, our relationship to our ancestors decreases rapidly with increasing
generations. By the time ancestors are separated by 4 generations (that is, the 5th generation back or our great great grandparents) the relationship has diminished to less than 12 %. By the 7th generation it is less than 2% and by the 14th generation, less than 0.1%. Second, we can conclude that the total number of ancestors, has a relatively small effect on our relationship to successive generations. For example, our relationship to our 8th generation ancestors is 0.8% if we had the maximum number of theoretical ancestors and 2.2% if we had
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only 25,000 ancestors. Put another way, the degree of cross-linking has relatively little effect on our relationship to successive generations.
Care should be taken to interpret these percentages of relationships in their proper perspective. We need to keep in mind that our ancestors, at every level in the chain, are important links. We could not have done without any of them. The above 'percentages of relationship' refer to the fraction of "blood relationship" or DNA that we may carry that might be attributable to that level of ancestor. Such fractions or percentages might be useful to answer a question like, "How closely related am I to a family line that had a record of dying very young or living to an old age?" or "What fraction or percentage American Indian am I?" And, since there was at least one American Indian in our family, that latter question is certainly a valid question.
WHO WERE OUR ANCESTORS
The period for which there are detailed church and civil records that allow us to know our ancestors by name begins about 1400 A.D. As we examine such things as the origin of our ancestors, their government, church, homes, food, life style, etc. we will largely confine ourselves to this period of time (1400 - 2000 A.D.). However, to better understand such
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things as the design of their houses which changed slowly from earlier periods, the nature of the feudal system, and things that effected their health, we will begin by considering a period that precedes the 1400 A.D. period.
WHEN OUR ANCESTORS LIVED
We are fortunate to be able to discover ancestors who lived as long ago as about 1400 A.D. Of course, we had ancestor long before that time, but because of the nature of the available records, it is impractical to try to research much earlier than that date. So for the purposes of this book, we will content ourselves with knowing a small fraction of our ancestors beginning around 1400 A.D. and proceeding to the present day.
We have three early ancestral lines that extend back to shortly after 1400 A.D. These are the Wagner (1405), Reiss (1408), and Cuntz (1415) families. We will meet each of these lines in some detail a few pages further on. But for the discussions that follow, we will use these oldest members of the family, "The Old" Wagner (abt 1405 - aft 1465), Andreas Reiss (abt 1408 - abt 1460), and Hans Cuntz (1415 - 1488) as reference points in time.
Of the 25,000 or so direct ancestors that we have over the 18 generations for which we have data, we can identify only about 391 of them. If we include the siblings of these direct ancestors and their descendants, that we know about, we can account for around 850 relatives from this 18 generation period. With a few exceptions, the 850 would not include ancestors and their descendants here in America. That number is larger still. Our American ancestors and their descendants are the subject of another book.
This book covers our earliest known ancestors, beginning about 1400 A.D. and includes all of our direct ancestors ending with Audra Lavada (Young) Harrington (January 24, 1907 - April 8, 1990), the author's mother. This period of 1405 to 1990 is just 15 years short of being a span of 600 years.
Most references to ancestors discussed in this book include their dates of birth and death following their name. These data permit us to distinguish between people with the same names and allows their placement in our family history.
Of the 391 direct ancestors that we have identified, their dates of birth fall in the following centuries:
Number of Direct Ancestors (in this book) by Century
15th century........................ 23
17th century....................... 151
18th century......................... 89
19th century......................... 32
20th century......................... 1
WHERE OUR ANCESTORS CAME FROM
Our primary objective in this book is to become acquainted with as many of our ancestors who lived in Europe as possible. This we will do. But there were many more European ancestors whom we will never know by name who preceded those whom we have identified. These were our pre-1400 A.D. ancestors. It is possible to learn about these pre-1400 A.D. ancestors in general, however.
Our pre-1400 A.D. ancestors are important to us because they molded the world into which our 'known' ancestors
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emerged. For this reason, we will dedicate a few pages to exploring the way these pre-1400 A.D. ancestors lived, their societies, religions, politics and other factors.
500 B.C. - B.C.
When the Roman Empire was at its peak, centuries before the birth of Christ, the central part of the European continent was considered a wilderness. By that, it is meant that it was outside the control of Rome and other so called "civilized" governments. As a result, it was outside the history of the world as we largely know it.
In reality, the central, northern and eastern Europe was a 'wilderness' in the sense that the North American Continent was a wilderness. The peoples of both continents were tribal, independent groups. The indigenous people of Europe were at about the same stage of development as the American Indians although their respective cultures were different. Some tribes were nomadic, while others tended to prefer more permanent quarters. Compared with North America, Central Europe was more densely populated. There were several unique languages and like the American Indian, tribes tended to populate certain areas and in this sense were territorial. However, like the American Indians, they had no sense of land 'ownership' as we do today.
These early tribesmen in Europe were our distant ancestors. In the period 500 B.C. to B.C. these people would have been our 80th to 65th generation ancestors. Since they had not yet achieved a written language, they left no record of their history. Some few people from the 'civilized' world ventured into the European 'wilderness' but their accounts tend to be cryptic and contribute mostly to our concept that the indigenous populations were tribal, non-Christian, and somewhat nomadic. It is left to the archeological record to tell us more about these ancestors.
Even the archeological record is meager, however. As Europe continued to develop over the centuries, most of the archeological sites have been built over or otherwise destroyed. But, some few do remain. One such site is the Biskupin Village discovered in the early 1900s in Northern Poland. It dates back to about 500 years B.C. It was built on an island in a lake that provided a natural mote. In later years, the water of the lake rose inundating the village which forced its evacuation and subsequent preservation.
From the Biskupin Village and similar surrounding sites, we can get a pretty good picture of the way these people lived and probably a perspective about how other tribal groups of their day lived. For example, the site tells us much about the inter-tribal relations of the day. Biskupin was protected by both a natural mote and a large wood and earthen wall that surrounds the village. Clearly, these were constructed at great effort as defenses from attack suggesting that the inhabitants experienced hostile actions that required defense. The houses within the village each had a fireplace located in the center of a single room. There were no individual rooms. Artifacts found on the site included a number of items produced in southern Europe suggesting possible trade or plunder from raids on their southern neighbors
Much research has been done, much is known and has been written about the Biskupin Village site. This is available for the reader's independent investigation. It is not our purpose to replicate the Biskupin literature here but it is useful to observe that while Biskupin is unique in its location and construction, the houses have similarities to other sites and houses
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found in the 'wilderness.' While these Biskupin tribesmen were probably not closely related to our southern German ancestors, they must have shared similar lifestyles and living conditions. Until we learn more or otherwise, we can assume that a good model of the way our ancestors lived around the time of the birth of Christ included the following: They were largely tribal. They hunted and did some farming. There were tribal conflicts that required defenses. There were aggressive hostilities that brought them in contact with other tribes and certainly, at a later date at least, incursions into the then 'civilized' world.
B.C. - 500 A.D.
We have little additional information about our ancestors or even the peoples of the European wilderness in this period. This would have been the period in which our 65th through 50th generation ancestors lived. It was a period that initially saw the Roman Empire at its height, then crumble as it became Christianized and eventually fell under the pressure of its wilderness neighbors to the north. The evidence suggests that during this period our ancestors lived much the same as they had for the previous 5 centuries. Some of the activities of this period are noted on the Time Line later in the book. But, even these events shed little additional light on the lives of our tribal wilderness ancestors.
500 A.D. - 1000 A.D.
From this early period (500 B.C. - 500 A.D.) we will skip forward in time to 500 A.D. for the next glimpse of our ancestors. Our kin who lived between 500 A.D. and 1000 A.D. would have been our 50th to 35th generation ancestors. We will also begin to focus more specifically on their homeland.
The area which includes Alsace and the lands of our German relatives was first conquered by Julius Caesar in the 1st century before the birth of Christ. It remained as part of the Roman province of Prima Germania for the next six centuries.
By around the year 500 A.D. three things had happened that would force major changes in the world of our relatives. First, the Roman Empire had become Christian and obsessed with the idea of spreading Christendom throughout Europe. Second, the Empire had become soft and had lost much of their ability to wage war. But from the perspective of our ancestors, the third and more important change is that the tribes of the European 'wilderness' had increased in strength to the point that they could successfully challenge the 'civilized' world to the south. The result of this later factor accelerated the fall of the Roman Empire.
Although the Roman Empire collapsed around 476 A.D., the Christian Church did not. Christianity had spread slowly across the Roman Empire for over 200 years and in 380 A.D. it had been made the official religion of the Empire by the Emperor, Constantine the Great. Under papal authority, the Christian Church functioned separately from civil authority. The Christian Church solidified its authority by claiming to have direct authority from God and being the only conduit of access to God. The Church supported the social concept of the day that people were born into the social class of their father. But, no matter what class a person found himself, his relationship to God was the same. Therefore, the Church held equal authority over every living human whether peasant or king.
In the 5th century A.D. the region that included our ancestors' homeland was conquered by the Alemanni, a Germanic
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tribe. It was then conquered by Clovis, king of the Franks, in 496. Over the next 300 years the Franks (French) ruled the area and made considerable progress in establishing Christianity among the tribes who lived there.
As the pressure by the 'civilized' countries increased to expand their own territories, the Christian empire began to push north. It was relatively easy for the 'civilized' nations of the Mediterranean to encroach into this wilderness with their superior weapons and numbers. Northern and eastern Europe were eventually conquered and brought under 'civilized' order in much the same way that America was settled. As in America where forts were built on the frontier to protect the settlers from hostile Indian tribes, so the conquerors of the wilderness of central and northern Europe built fortifications as defenses from the tribes of people who lived there. Unlike the settlement of America, however, the indigenous population was converted to Christianity, and allowed to remain. The conversion to Christianity usually followed the pattern of conquering the tribe, if necessary, then forcing the tribal leaders to convert to Christianity or be executed. In general, in matters of religion, as went the tribal leadership, so went the populace.
The Christian churchmen taught that life was about passing a spiritual test. They explained that God has placed mankind at the center of the universe, surrounded by the entire cosmos, for one solitary purpose: to win or lose salvation. Man therefore must correctly choose between two opposing forces: the force of God and the lurking temptations of the devil.
The Church taught that people are not alone in the contest for your soul. The churchmen are there to help. In fact, as a mere individual a person is not qualified to determine their status in this regard. That is the province of the churchmen. They are there to interpret the scriptures and to tell the individual every step of the way whether he is in accordance with God or whether he is being duped by the devil. If the individual chooses to follow the churchmen's instructions, he is assured of a rewarding afterlife.
Still another philosophy which had long been held by man and which was further reinforced by the teaching of the church was that everything that occurred was the result of actions of either God or the devil. Every phenomenon of life from the chance thunderstorm or earthquake to the success of crops or the death of a loved one was defined as either the will of God or as the malice of the devil. There was no concept of weather or geological forces or horticulture or disease. And, according to the Church, only the churchmen were qualified to judge the significance of these things and their meaning with regard to individuals.
No one dared question the authority of the Church. Armed with a mantel of nearly total authority, the Church could and did suppress most forms of science and learning unless it was done under the auspice of the Church. The Christian Church undoubtedly was one of the major factors stunting the technical progress of Europe for the first 1,500 years of the Church's existence.
It was in this role that the Christian Church was a partner in the settlement of the European wilderness. Frequently, the fortifications built on the frontier of the wilderness were those of the Church. In many cases these fortresses were fortified monasteries. In other cases, the fortresses were the combined property of the state and the church.
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It was their common belief in the supremacy of God that allowed for the coexistence of the state and church authorities. The church helped maintain the class distinctions within the society by supporting the concept of a "class" based society as the "will of God." In this class based society, the churchmen, of course, shared the preferred status of the overlords.
Like the state, the church had a large appetite for resources. They required resources to build monasteries and churches and to support an increasingly expensive life style of the churchmen that included travel, fine horses, good cloths (albeit cleric garb), and frequently fine living accommodations. All this required money.
Spreading Christianity was one of the goals of the conquerors of the wilderness. But possessing the region for economic gain was another. The invaders concept of achieving economic gain was another difference between the conquest of the European and American wildernesses. In Europe, the economic gain accrued to the relatively few conquerors who inhabited the fortresses and occupied the new lands. In America, the settlers who cleared the land for farming shared most of the gain.
In the very early days when northern and central Europe (600 - 1000 A.D.) were being converted from a tribal society to a Christian culture, money was not in common use as the basis for trade among the populace. Almost everything was done by barter. Without money as a basis of exchange, taxes had to be paid in the same currency of barter. So, a peasant was taxed a fraction of the animals that he owned and the grain that he grew. Taxes, then, became a matter of collecting these products from the peasants and requiring him to provide labor in the service of the overlords.
Since taxes were paid in wheat, chickens, pigs, oxen, and such, and since a king or prince could use only a limited number of these items, it was necessary to come up with some system by which barter-taxes could be converted into things more useful to a king. Charlemagne who conquered the area around 800 A.D. is sometimes credited with devising the method to solve the problems of tax collection. Since nearly all land was claimed by the royal conquerors, the system became one of subletting the land to progressively lower authority. The line of authority usually ran from the king, to prince, to noble and knights. Below these land owners, but over the peasants, were managers who were responsible for administering the interests of the land owners.
Since the peasant class, which made up the majority of the population, did not own land they needed to be able to make some kind of arrangement with the land owner for access to land for crops and for raising animals. Also, since the land owners and overlords were the source for protection of the peasants by virtue of having the only military and fortifications around, the peasant also needed to make some arrangement with the overlords to share in this protection.
The vehicle by which the peasant could get land to work, a place to live, and protection when it was required, was a contract with the overlord to provide these necessities to him in exchange for a share of what the peasant could produce; that is, his tax. This contract usually took the form of giving the overlord part of his crop, his animals, his labor, and when needed, providing military service. This kind of arrangement became the basis for the "feudal system." Entering into the contract was usually voluntary. The odds, however, were overwhelmingly on the side of the overlords. The overlords
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made and enforced the laws under which the contracts were executed. There were really very few options to the peasant other than to take the deal that the overlord offered.
An example of an agreement between a peasant farmer and the land owner around the end of the first millennia is as follows: The land owner provide the farmer with a defined strip of land on which he could raise crops. He was also allowed to build a small wooden house in a group of similar dwellings in the village nearby. In return, during certain weeks of the year he and the other tenants had to do a fixed amount of ploughing, planting and cultivating on the landlord's lands. In addition the steward or manager of the landlord's estate could call on him during busy weeks for extra labor. He was required to perform other tasks for the landowner, such as felling trees, sawing logs or building or repairing fortifications, roads, etc. In addition he had to pay, in kind, for certain privileges - a load of logs to the overlord in return for gathering firewood in the woods, a cask of wine made by his wife for the right to pasture pigs in the same woods. Every tenant of the king, prince or noble had to pay an army due. His contribution might be two pieces of silver or its equivalent -- perhaps an ox, or two sheep. This was in addition to the direct military service which was also demanded from him. Add to this extra contributions of grain, wine, oil, chickens or eggs which had to be supplied to the monastery. It seems surprising that he ever had time or energy to cultivate his own small farm or tend his own vines.
While today we view the feudal system as being largely unjust and frequently cruel, considering the circumstances of the day, it was a system that worked. Without trying to judge the appropriateness of the conquest of the tribal peoples, or the justice and fairness of the resulting system, the feudal system was relatively efficient way by which the conquerors were able to manage and tax their subjects to achieve their goals.
As the first millennium drew to a close, the indigenous people of our ancestors' homeland were largely farmers. There were small, unorganized villages which served primarily as residences of the farmers. Almost all civil organization and administration was done by and from the castles of the landowners. Specialty trades had begun to arise but most were attached to the castles of the landowners.
1000 A.D. - 1400 A.D.
This period is usually referred to as the Middle Ages. It was the period in which our 35th to 18th generation ancestors lived. It is characterized by a large number of events that are well known from our history books. It included such events as: the Crusades; the founding of the Knights of St. John in Jerusalem; the introduction of arabic numeral system; Genghis Kahn's formation of the Mongol Empire; the signing of the Magna Carta; the Hundred Year War; the schism of the Christian Church that resulted in two Popes; the devastating pandemic of the bubonic plague; and many others. But, except for perhaps the famine in 1315 - 20, the black death epidemic of 1347-1350 and the direct impact of military action, most of the events that we find on our historical Time Line, probably went largely unnoticed by our ancestors.
The events of this period that impacted our ancestors were much more subtle. They included such things as the slow changes in the feudal system, the rise to power of the guilds of the vocational trades, the growth and development of self
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contained governments for towns and villages. There were some improvements in technology and a trend toward specialization along vocational lines. Being subtle changes, most would have gone unnoticed by our individual ancestors. But, they nevertheless resulted in evolutionary progress toward modernization that found our post 1400 A.D. relatives in a significantly different world that was far removed from their tribal ancestors.
1400 A.D. - 2000 A.D.
The beginning of this period marks the beginning of the Renaissance. It was the time of our 18th generation-to-present ancestors. It is at this time that we begin to find real information about our specific kinsmen. Since we have actual names, places and events regarding these relatives, we can abandon the generalized review of where our ancestors came from in favor of specific data about who they were and where they lived. This information begins with the Family Tree Charts later in the book. It is still useful to look at such things as the history of the region in which our known ancestors lived and some of the customs, conditions and factors that colored their lives.
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