So, I went back even further down the line that produced my Spanish ancestors. That one is allowing me to go back the farthest so far. I’ve run into dead ends on a lot of the others — Ancestry.com wants me to pay for an upgrade on many of them (I have the basic package). Anyway, my Spanish ancestors originated as Germanic tribes before the time Christ was born, but I’m not sure which tribe. These people appear to have migrated to Spain around 400 or 500. The records go back even earlier, but no dates are given BC and women are no longer listed. I decided to stop there.
Out of curiosity, I decided to look up the history of German migrations. It turns out my findings in my family tree about a migration to Spain taking place among certain Germanic tribes during the 4th and 5th centuries fits historical data, as you can see from this map.
By Modification · Bearbeitung · Prilaboro: D. Bachmann – File:Romia Imperio.png, originally by Jani Niemenmaa., CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=1485399
I’m amazed at the accuracy and consistency of the recordkeeping. On this particular line of ancestry, every single direct male ancestor leading to me for over 2000 years has been listed! My earliest known ancestor on this line was a man who died in the year 20 named Gaut Balthes Koning der Gothen (59th GG).
So, this is the pattern of migrations over time for this particular line of ancestry (through my maternal grandfather):
Ancient Germanic peoples —> migrations to Spain in the 400s and 500s —> Spanish royalty during the 900s – 1100s —> migrations to France in the 1200s and 1300s —> minor French royalty—> migrations to Cornwall, Wales, and Southern England in the 1400s and 1500s —> English and Welsh ancestors —> arrival in America during the 1600s and 1700s (including those who came over on the Mayflower).
The generations moved faster in ancient times and the early middle ages because people had children so early and died in their 40s and 50s, if not earlier. But I was surprised how many people in the late middle ages lived into their 70s and 80s! One of my ancestors from around that time lived to be 103! Another interesting thing was that exact birthdates (month and day) and place of birth were not recorded for births until the 1400s or 1500s (the beginning of modernity), but exact dates for deaths (and place of death) often were. My theory about this is that birth information was considered less important because babies were very likely to die during their first year. I remember reading in some book about the middle ages that parents didn’t grieve the death of an infant because it was so commonplace. To prevent getting too attached to newborns, parents didn’t usually name a baby until it was a few years old and there was more likelihood the child would survive.