This is the 31st article in the genealogy project “52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks: 2015 edition.” This week’s theme is “Easy” and is about how even being a member of royalty was not easy hundreds of years ago.
There are genealogists in Fort Worth and around the country who are descended from European royalty. Royal descent experts state that Americans who have ancestry from New England Yankee, Mid-Atlantic Quaker, or Southern planter are likely descended from medieval kings of England, Scotland, and France. There are many Hispanic Texans who are descended from Spanish royalty who colonized Mexico, Texas, and the Southwestern United States.
Local genealogists can join lineage societies that celebrate royal heritage, such as the Sovereign Colonial Society Americans of Royal Descent. While it may be fun to prove lineage to royalty, today’s genealogists can be thankful not to have lived as royals in the Old World. While life was filled with privilege, royals often died young and from the same diseases that struck commoners.
King Henry VIII of England likely died of untreated Type II diabetes. A jousting accident in his early years never healed and caused him to become inactive and gain weight as he got older. Experts believe he may have also suffered from gout. He died at age 55. King Henry II of England lived many years with a bleeding ulcer which proved fatal. He died at age 56.
King Edward I contracted dysentery shortly after a battle in 1307. Dysentery is caused by viral infections, bacterial infections, or parasitic infestations. In the Middle Ages, dysentery was usually associated with contaminated food or drink as a result of poor hygiene. King John of England and King Henry V of England also died of dysentery.
King Alfred the Great died of unknown causes at age 50, but experts say he suffered with a painful illness his entire life. Today, it is believe Alfred had Crohn’s disease or haemorrhoidal disease.
King Charlemagne lived to be 71, much longer than many other kings, but he died of pleurisy, which is an inflammation of the lining surrounding the lungs. This can be treated today.
The diseases that killed many royals are treated or preventable today, but hundreds of years ago, these diseases did not discriminate and killed royals and commoners alike. Today’s genealogists should be happy to live in the here and now.
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