Anyone can research their ancestors going back a generation or two. Just ask grandma!
But how about going back, say, six or seven centuries. A new genealogical database will let you do just that, particularly if your family has roots in England, and even more particularly, if one of your ancestors was a medieval soldier.
A recently-released database, The Soldier in Later Medieval England, let’s you search 14th and 15th century English family history for the period 1369-1453. The system has almost 250,000 records in three separate databases: historic muster rolls, the garrison database, and something known as the protection database. The whole thing is made possible by the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) in the UK, who digitized records from the UK National Archives.
You’ll find here odd titles, excursions, duties and military campaigns, such as the King’s Remembrancer Expedition to Brittany in 1375, or the Standing Force of the King’s Bodyguard, in 1398.
The search interface is refreshingly fast and simple. Search on a first or last name, or on assorted details like date, military rank, commanding officer, and so on. Just bear in mind that medieval spelling isn’t anything much like what we learn these days, so you need to be creative in your search strategies. Nevertheless, if your family history includes a knight or two in the woodwork, a free lance, foot soldier, or just a hapless squire, this is the research tool for you.
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