Bibliographic Guides for French Nobility Genealogical Research
John P. DuLong
As a result of working on the Baillon and Le Neuf research projects and closely following the work of Roland-Yves Gagné on the Longueval project, I have come to appreciate several valuable tools for tracing French and other European noble and royal families. Here you will find my biogeographical guide to many of the resources my colleagues and I used to research the Baillon and Le Neuf pedigrees. In addition, one of the most important tools for tracing French nobles is Schwennicke's Europäische Stammtafeln (1980-1995). This is a collection of family trees for European noble and royal families. The work is in German, but there are many French families included. I hope you find these bibliographic guides of value. Please consider these web pages as my ongoing notes and not as a final well crafted work.
Eventually, as time permits, I want to prepare and present my notes on the following works: Arnaud's Répertoire des généalogies françaises imprimées (1978-1982); Saffroy's Bibliographie généalogique, héraldique et nobiliaire de la France (1968-1988); Jougla de Morenas and de Warren's Grand Armorial de France (1975); Père Anselme's Maison royale de France (1967); and La Chenaye-Desbois's Dictionnaire de la noblesse (1980).
A word of warning for French-Canadians and Acadians trying to trace noble ancestors. Although there were nobles who settled in New France, you will find that most of them are well documented and that their ancestry does not extend back many generations in France. They were minor nobles, often of recently ennobled families with bourgeois roots, or were noble pretenders. The major nobles who came to New France and held administrative and military positions usually returned to France after their term of service. In order to trace a lineage back to a royal gateway you are going to have to look for promising connections between an upwardly mobile minor noble and a downwardly mobile major noble, it is at the intersection of these patterns of social mobility where you are most likely to find an interesting lineage to trace. Unless you are independently wealthy or can otherwise arrange frequent trips to France for research, you are going to have to rely on locating documents with bibliographic tools, ordering copies, and thoroughly searching through published and scanned books and articles. Hopefully, someone in France has published the clue you will need to break the case you are working on wide open. Lastly, remember to pay particular attention to maternal ancestors. Catherine de Baillon, Jeanne Le Marchand, and Anne Couvent all led back to royal gateways.
This page, and all contents, are Copyright © 1998 by John P. DuLong, Berkley, MI. Created 31 January 1999. Last modified 19 August 2006.