A while back I discovered that on my wife's side of the family, she descends from Audrey Barlow, the wife of William Almy of Rhode Island. Audrey sailed from England to New England in 1635 on the ship Abigail. So that's pretty interesting. Her and her husband were the immigrant ancestors for that line. Then I discovered that Audrey Barlow descends from Henry II, King of England! So I was like - sweet!
Once you tap into a royal line like that, you can go way back cause it's been researched very well. So I was poking around on one site, The Order of the Crown of Charlemagne, which has some great charts that show the line from Audrey Barlow back to Henry II (born 1132), William the Conquerer (born 1027) and then back to Charlemagne (who was born in 742). And once you get back to Charlemagne then you can pretty much follow that line back to Merovech, founder of the Merovingian Dynasty and king of the Salian Franks, who died in 457! Which probably means he was born around the year 400. We're talking Roman Empire here. Rome moved it's capital to Constantinople in 330 and the western empire fell in 476, that's according to a quick search on Wikipedia (I don't have all those dates memorized anymore).
So that's really cool right! I think so. I just jumped from 1635 to 457 without hardly lifting a finger. Then I started to try and enter in all those names in my database, and document with some kind of references, the line back. I quickly became bored. It's not research anymore. It's data entry. I'm not actively trying to put the pieces of my family together by scouring all over to find the next generation of ancestors.
Don't get me wrong, I think the history is cool, but I don't feel like Charlemagne is a part of my family. There is nothing left to research or piece together. It has already been done. Now, I know that while doing family research you are always running into stuff that other people have researched or documented, and then taking those pieces and adding it to your own tree. But this is different. And yes to a certain extent, the regular research I do on my family is part data entry, but this noble stuff is different. It's this massive amount of data that goes back for a millennia, and I didn't have to do anything to get the information. It's out there in history. And since it's a part of history and well known, how well do I need to source my info? I'm not making any new discoveries here.
I think that's probably the key - I'm not making any new discoveries. Not that the discoveries I was making in my tree hadn't been discovered before, but I was the one connecting the dots, putting the pieces together and growing my family tree. In the heraldry stuff the dots have pretty much already been connected, and I'm just typing it in to my database...and it's pretty boring.