Genealogy: The study of the lines of descent of certain individuals or groups has played an important role in the upper classes since the Middle Ages. Thus, around 1492 Klosterneuburg Abbey had a family tree of the Babenbergs made on the basis of previous research by L. Sunthaym. For Emperor Maximilian I the question of whether the Habsburg family were descended from the Trojans via the Frankish dynasty or an ancient Roman family (Pierleoni or Colonna) was of considerable importance, since his descent through the Trojan-Frankish line was seen as combining in his person "all the noble blood of the continent". Great efforts were therefore made to trace his line of descent back to Hector.
For the nobility of the early modern age, genealogy was also important for legal reasons, since proof of 16 ancestors was a prerequisite for membership in the Cathedral Chapter or for being granted privileges. Since the 19th century, genealogical studies have also been undertaken by burgher and peasant families. Under National Socialism all German nationals were obligated to produce evidence of their line of descent, a requirement which also stimulated interest in genealogy among the common folk.
Genealogical studies, especially in combination with heraldics, have been pursued in Austria since the 17th century (G. A. Hoheneck, J. W. Wurmbrand). Since the 19th century a number of registers have been kept of the family members and lines of descent of genealogically interesting families and groups. Among these, the best-known are the "Gothaische Genealogie-Taschenbücher", which were published up to 1944. Austria has a Heraldisch-Genealogische Gesellschaft Adler which was founded in 1870, and a number of eminent scholars of genealogy. Austrian genealogical studies focus in particular on the "genealogical method based on landed esate data" ("besitzgeschichtlich-genealog. Methode") developed by K. Lechner as part of research into the life and institutions in the High Middle Ages. Since the middle of the 20th century genealogical studies have been pursued on a large scale across national borders and continents.
Literature: O. Lorenz, Lehrbuch der gesellschafts-wissenschaftlichen Genealogie, 1898; O. Forst de Battaglia, Wissenschaftliche Genealogie, 1948.