Foreign Origins

Our European ancestors often did genealogy as propaganda. Nowadays it’s sometimes hard to convince new genealogists, people who might have only a limited historical education, that there wasn’t some secret, oral, underground stream of tradition that has been suppressed by clumsy academics.

No. It was pure propaganda, and today we can see through it easily.

When I was in college, we translated Virgil’s Aeneid in Latin class; a project that spanned a full year. I loved that story. I still do. Priam murdered at the altar. Aeneas and his family fleeing the burning city. This is the stuff of legend.

But it’s all just a propaganda. The legendary Trojan prince Aeneas, who fled the city, eventually settled in Italy. He was the supposed ancestor of Romulus and Remus, who founded Rome, and more importantly ancestor of the family of Julius Caesar. Virgil wrote his famous poem to help aggrandize Caesar and his family.

The story worked to connect upstart Rome to the ancient and considerably more sophisticated culture of Classical Greece.

And medieval propagandists took a page from Virgil. If Rome had a Trojan ancestor, then as heirs of Rome their national lineages had to be just as good. The Franks invented Francio. The British invented Brutus. The Scandinavians turned Thor into Tror. All Trojan princes. “Heirs to Troy, and by extension to the Roman Empire, they had a right to rule inherited from the heroes of classical antiquity.

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