You hear this saying quite a lot these days from little kids playing dress up to brides choosing a dress. But would you really have wanted to be a princess?
Well I would think no unless it’s in modern times. Let’s face it the life in castle would have stunk. The whole place would have smelt of wood smoke in the winter, which isn’t bad but factor in the food smells, the smelly of musty fabrics and furnishing it would be a bit bad. No add into the smell of the people and it would be gross. No deodorant, body wash and shampoo! If you stunk you had to change your clothes and send them off to be washed. Except in reality only your under linen shift would be washed. The top dress would probably never be cleaned. Now add in the smell of chamber pots and toilets if you’re lucky. Versailles in France the people of court used to got to the toilet in the corner of the room and just leave their doings on the floor. I don’t want to be a princess.
But it isn’t just the smells that would stop you from wanting to be a princess. Your life would be completely controlled. What you could learn, who your friends were and even what your interests were. So learning to sew, run a household and be a proper lady was high on the list of your day. Some princesses had more freedom than this, but not many.
If you’re Dad’s King (or brother etc), no choosing your own hubby, Daddy would do it for you and you would probably wouldn’t be too impressed. Lets consider the Tudor princess Mary Tudor the daughter of King Henry VII and Elizabeth of York. Her big brother chose her first husband for her. He chose King Louis XII of France a 52 year old double widower for her. Mary was 18 years old. It was even worse for Isabella of Valois the daughter of King Charles VI of France. He married her off to the 29 year old widower King Richard II when she was 6 years old! So her you are packed off to another country (probably) to live with someone you’ve never met. Luckily you probably get to take your ladies with you, but they may also have been chosen for you. Mary Tudor had Anne Boleyn as a lady in waiting in France and she really didn’t like her.
Then there’s the little matter of woman’s duties. As wife of a monarch, heir to a throne or wife of a high ranking noble you had one job. Have children, in particular sons to carry on the line. Also you would probably have to put up with your spouse carrying on with his mistresses. Once you popped out your child if it was a boy – great celebration and if it was a girl your downfall may be plotted, think Anne Boleyn. If you were kept on as a wife then you would be expected to get pregnant again very quickly. Then was the fact you may well not survive childbirth. Also you may have been a child yourself when you gave birth. Queen Mary II was only 16 when she married her husband and possibly still 16 when she suffered a miscarriage. Now I know it was a different time but at 16 I was very much still a kid.
During your life as a princess you would be controlled by your father or other family member until you married and then controlled by your husband. Everything was controlled. Who you spent time with, what you wore (must look fashionable for your husband), what you did and even what happened to you. Think about Infanta Catalina of Aragon, later Queen Catherine of Aragon. She was sent away to marry, put aside by her husband and removed from court to a cold damp castle with no ladies and very little money and not allowed to see her daughter.
So still want to be a Princess? Maybe the expression should be changed to I want to be a Disney Princess.
So in August 1990 Tim Berners-Lee started to develop the world wide web. What’s that got to do with genealogy or history I hear you say but it does.
Pre tinternet (Yorkshire for Internet) can you imagine how much more difficult genealogy was. No quick look ups. It’s a road trip to a records office.
So I want to consider how the internet has helped my genealogy journey.
Now I’ve always known my family came from around the country but just consider how difficult my research would have been pre 1990. As a by thought just doing my degree in the late 1990’s/early 2000 I didn’t really use the internet, jeez I feel old. So off track there. So my research would have started at the records office in Sheffield, but that would have only got me so far. On my maternal side I would have found no records.
On my paternal side I would have got back quite a way. Then I would have had to travel further afield to both Rotherham and Barnsley as well as Chesterfield. Next stop would have been up to West Yorkshire and then North Yorkshire. So it works out at about one record office per generations and probably 2 as couples are not necessary from the same place. If you consider my twice great grandparents James was from Leeds and Mary was from Barnsley. So this couple would be a trip to Barnsley which is a 40 minute journey and Leeds is an hour.
Now comes the secret side of my paternal line. OK, I have ancestors from Lancashire (help Yorkshire lass). Well they started off in Cheshire before they came to Sheffield so next stop would have been the registry office in Chester which is a good couple of hours away, and then it would be up to Preston in Lancashire.
So onto my maternal side. First stops would be Peterborough and Norwich. From here we would be off to Ipswich, Lincoln London and Nottingham. I’d also need to travel north to both Durham and Newcastle upon Tyne. Also calling in at Glasgow, Carlisle and who knows where the records for the Isles of Scotland are. I sound like a train announcer.
Now consider what all this really means. It’s not just the travelling to the locations. You have to factor in that you would have to spend probably days in the records office. You would have to go through each parish register one by one. Just because your ancestors lived in one place doesn’t mean they were baptised or married there. Also if you think about it if the census says your ancestor was from Leeds, how many parish records would you have to troll through. Then their sibling’s records may not be in the same place so that’s more searching and there may be siblings you don’t know about. So you’re going to need to stay probably a few more days than you thought.
Then there are visits to where our ancestors lived. You may want to visit the church your ancestors were married or where they were buried.
So I decided to add you all the miles between home and the archives I would have to travel to for my research and it comes to approximately 1500 miles.
The cost soon adds up as does the amount of time. So the internet takes all this away. You sit at home and clickety click away and up pop your ancestors for you (not really easy but you know what I mean).
So you could say the internet along with the magnificent people who scan in the records and upload them, that Time Berners-Lee and the others have radically improved the process of tracing our families back through time. It also means I can watch youtube while I’m doing it, Count Duckula today I think!
Hello and thank you for taking the time to read my Family History Ramblings on genealogy and history in general. I hope you find it informative and hopefully funny!