March 22-25, 2006
Albuquerque, New Mexico

Demonstrations: Description

Dynasties - Rule by Marriage. Virtual family tree of the nine most important European royal houses

Daniel Steinbach, German Historical Museum, Berlin, Germany

In a museum, multimedia stations are an ideal way of enabling visitors to explore particular subjects in greater depth: they are thus predestined to fulfil an additive purpose. Furthermore, the digital medium is distinguished by its capability of presenting complex subject matter as simulations.

In the web-based application "Dynasties — Rule by Marriage", the interrelationships of the nine most important European noble houses are visualised in a kind of virtual family tree. Over six hundred biographies with individual portraits are covered by the applications content management system. The difficulty of dealing with the complexity and variety of subjects lay not so much in managing a large quantity of content (i.e. systematising data and facts), but in putting this factual information into an interesting context.

A virtual family tree has been developed as an interface for the main chapter. In this three-dimensional family tree, the succession from one generation to the next moves further into or out of the depth of the picture. Each dynasty has been allocated a different colour. Their ruling members are highlighted graphically. The function buttons "successor" and "predecessor" activate the direct line of succession of the ruling princes, which can be followed into the past or future. Shown beside the ruler are the spouse or spouses to which he or she was married. Mistresses are also shown, in cases where their children acquired the right of succession to the throne. The next level down shows the children of the couple concerned. Within the family tree, any member of a dynasty can be activated by clicking on them. This person and his or her spouse then become the starting point of an ancestral line of their own. Marriage with a member of another dynasty creates links to the family tree of the new relations.

Since those who will use the website on a visit to the museum may not all be practiced in using multimedia products, the complexity of the interactive functions increases slowly, level by level.

The "predecessors" mode allows the ancestral line of every person present in a family tree to be shown.

The "relatives" mode makes it possible to find out the blood relationships of all of the people contained in the data bank.

Thanks to numerous cross-references, it has been possible to create a widely varied, dense network that includes the biographies of the dynasts, their relationships, and issues relating to their rights of political and territorial inheritance.

Demonstration: Demonstrations [Close-Up]

Keywords: 600 biographies, threedimensional family tree, interrelationships, predecessors mode, relatives mode, cross-references, dense network