Are you interested in joining lineage societies? Or, maybe you are just interested in studying history. If history is your thing, then the Order of the Crown of Charlemagne in America is a good group to connect with to learn about European history from the Dark Ages to the Middle Ages. If you like joining lineage societies, this group is a pretty prestigious one. It is for people who can prove their lineal descent from Emperor Charlemagne, a famous 8th, and 9th-century ruler, who united France into one kingdom. The Order is so prestigious that membership is by invitation only. You must get a current member to sponsor you to even apply. If you can do that and can prove your descent from this famous Dark Ages king, then you can become a member of one of the most prestigious lineage societies in North America, and one that will look excellent on your heritage credentials.
Also known as King Charles I, Charlemagne had a lot of titles in his time. Born in 742 A.D. to Pepin the Short and Bertrada of Laon, Charlemagne became King of the Franks in 768. He added King of the Lombards to his titles in 774 and became Holy Roman Emperor on Christmas Day in 800. He also had the distinction of being the first person with a recognized title of Emperor since the fall of the western Roman Empire three centuries earlier. Today, he is often referred to as the “Father of Europe,” because he united much of western Europe under one ruler, again, for the first time since the fall of the western Roman Empire.
His exploits were well-known and all contributed to uniting Europe. He expanded the borders of the Frankish kingdom under the name of the Carolingian dynasty. This kingdom later became modern day France. He removed the Lombards from power in Italy, fought the Saxons in Germany (and converted them to Christianity by force, with a penalty of death if they did not do it), made inroads into taking back some of Spain from the Muslims who controlled it at the time and protected the papacy. The Holy Roman Empire considered him its founder throughout its entire history, and the monarchies of France and Germany also considered him their founder as long as they existed. About the only places in western Europe where Charlemagne didn’t go or have influence were the Celtic countries… England, Scotland, Ireland, and Wales.
Charlemagne died in 814 and was succeeded by his only surviving legitimate son, Louis the Pious. He was buried in the capital of his empire, Aachen, which is today located in Germany. He ruled as emperor of a united western Europe for thirteen years, but his legend continues to live on long after him. Charlemagne is a hero in western European history. To be a proven descendant of his is an honor and privilege not everyone can claim. A descendant of Charlemagne is a descendant of royalty, and not just any royalty….it is a descent from the royalty that founded most of the monarchies of western Europe in the Middle Ages, some of which continue to modern times. It is a lineage of prestige. That is why it is such a challenge to be accepted into this illustrious group.
The good news is that some of the work of proving your lineage to Charlemagne has already been done for you. If you go to their website at http://www.charlemagne.org/Gateway.html, you will find a list of “gateway” ancestors. These are historical people whose lineage going back to Charlemagne has already been proven. If you discover one of your ancestors on this list, you only have to prove your lineage back to them to be accepted into the society, as the genealogy going back from that gateway ancestor to Charlemagne has already been proven. Many of the gateway ancestors are 17th-century immigrants to America, and you may have one or more of them on your family tree already if your family has deep roots on the North American continent.
If you believe you may be descended from Charlemagne, or know you are, but your ancestor is not listed on the gateway ancestor page, you will have more genealogical work to do, since you will have to prove each generation until you either come across a historical person known to be descended from Charlemagne, or until you reach Charlemagne himself. This means proving each generation going back 1,300 years, which, while not impossible, is not the easiest thing in the world, either. It is worth it to do the work, though, if you want to be recognized among Charlemagne’s descendants and granted membership in the society. It will also improve your genealogical skills to prove something going so far back in time.
And, what benefits come with membership to the order, besides bragging rights on your illustrious heritage? Well, you get to be part of a group dedicated to furthering historical research about Charlemagne, and genealogical research to uncover new lines of his descendants. The order also has the following stated objectives:
- Maintaining and promoting the traditions of chivalry and knighthood
- Recognizing achievements in the arts, sciences, and letters
- Collecting and preserving books on genealogy, family history, heraldry, and general history
- Collecting and preserving ancient documents, manuscripts, relics, and records relating to Charlemagne and his successors
- Creating a more popular interest in history and genealogy
There is also an annual dinner for members every year, held somewhere prestigious in America, usually with a noted guest speaker. A quarterly newsletter is usually published and distributed to members, where you can read about the activities and projects of other members. These might inspire you to start your own Charlemagne project. Members may also order an impressive array of regalia for the order to wear. Most regalia has the colors of the order on it, and all regalia has a replica of Charlemagne’s emperor’s crown on it.
If you are interested in joining the Order of the Crown of Charlemagne in America and don’t know anyone to ask to sponsor you, you can do so via email through their website or through their Facebook page. There are members there who will sponsor your request to apply and will even help you with your membership paperwork along the way.
Will Moneymaker founded Ancestral Findings back in 1995. He has been involved in genealogy research for over 20 years. The thrill of the hunt, the adventure, and the excitement begin when he started investigating the meaning of his surname. Why I Love Genealogy (And You Should, Too!)