Names from the Middle Ages
A Short Treatise on Anglo-Norman Personal NamesIt is a common misconception that medieval English naming practices centred on a relatively small number of personal names. While this is indeed true for the later medieval period, the Anglo-Norman period (which lasted from the Conquest on down to the beginning of the fourteenth century or so) provided a much larger variety of available and relatively common personal names. While certain of these were more popular than others, they did not dominate naming practices to the extent that names such as John, Thomas, Richard, and William for males and Anne, Elizabeth, Cecily, and Margaret for females did in later centuries. Furthermore, the popular names in the 13th century did not necessarily maintain their popularity in later years. The male names Roger and Simon and the female names Juliana and Matilda are good examples of this; while none of these names dropped completely out of use (though Matilda nearly did), they became far less frequent in later centuries after rivaling the Williams, Richards, Cecilys and Joans for popularity in the Anglo-Norman period.
You will notice the popularity of saints' and Biblical names for both sexes. Names of great leaders or heroes (Constantine, Alexander, etc) seem to have also been used for males, though not as frequently as saints' names. Women's names pose a few problems. When the names were rendered into Latin in charters, often they were changed to make them fit the language. You will note that many of the femine names end in "a", which is merely the most common nominative feminine ending. Whether these names all actually ended in "a" is another matter, but it is clear that in many cases one may substitute "e" for "(i)a" and still have just as valid a name: Felicia => Felice; Amicia => Amice (and later, Amy), etc.
I will not say much about surnames except to note the two most common forms. The first was used mostly by the upper classes and was originally a place-name describing where the family lived: de Quincy = "of Quincy", de Montfort = "of Montfort", etc. As families grew and migrated, many of these lost their place-meanings and simply evolved into family names. The other common type of surname was the occupational name or descriptive name: for instance: le Ferrier = "the smith", "Draper" = "The draper",etc. Anglo-Norman occupational names evolved right alongside English ones; neither was completely dominant. Eventually these, too, lost their original meanings and became merely surnames. A look through a book of documents will give you a host of different possible surnames.
The names given here are taken from four collections of legal documents from around England: _Cartulary of Blyth Priory_, R.T. Timson, ed. (London: HMSO, 1973) DA 670 N9B5; _Feet of Fines for Essex _, R.E.G. Kirk, ed. (Colchester: Wiles and Son, 1899) DA 670 E7A12, _Feet of Fines for Somerset : Richard I-Edward I _, E. Green, ed. (London: Harrison and Sons, 1892) DA 670 S49S5, and _Warwickshire Feet of Fines v. I_ E. Stokes and F.C. Wellstood, eds. (London: Oxford University Press, 1932) DA 670 W3 D9 v.11
Adam Ailwin Alan Alard, Aldred Alexander Alured Amaury/Amalric, Anselm Arnald Asa Aubrey, Baldric Baldwin Bartholomew Bennet, Bertram Blacwin Colin Constantine, David Edwin Elias/Helyas Engeram Ernald Eustace Fabian Fordwin Forwin Fulk Gamel Geoffrey* Gerard Gervase Gilbert Giles Gladwin Godwin Guy Hamo Hamond Harding Henry* Herlewin Hervey Hugh James Jocelin, John Jordan Lawrence Leofwin Luke Martin Masci Matthew, Maurice Michael Nigel Odo Oliva Osbert Norman Nicholas Peter* Philip Ralf/Ralph* Ranulf Richard* Robert* Roger* Saer Samer Savaric Silvester Simon* Stephan Terric Terry/Thierry Theobald, Thomas* Thurstan Umfrey Waleran Walter Warin William* Wimarc Ymbert
Ada Adelina Agnes* Albreda Aldith Aldusa Alice* Alina Amanda Amice/Amicia* Amiria Anabel Annora Ascilia Avelina Avoca Avice Beatrice Basilea Bela Berta Celestria Christian(a)* Cicely/Cecilia* Clarice Constance Dionisia/Denise Edith, Ellen/Eleanor Elizabeth Emma Estrilda Eva Felicia Fina Goda Golda Grecia Gundrea Gundred Gunnora Haunild Hawisa* Helen/Elena Helewise Hilda Ida Idonea Isabel* Isolda Joan(na)* Julian(a)* Katherine Leticia/Lettice Liecia Linota Lora/Laura Lucia Mabel/Amabilia Malota Margaret Margery* Marsilia Mary Matilda/Maud Mazelina Millicent Muriel Nesta Nicola(a) Philippa Parnel/Petronilla Primeveire Richenda Richolda Roesia, Sabina Sabelina Sarah Susanna Sybil(la)* Wymarc*denotes most common names
Early Germanic Names from Primary Sourcesby Nicolaa de Bracton of Leicester
The purpose of this article is to provide a hand-list of suitable names for early Germanic personae. Surprise! Franks and Goths (RbarbariansS to you uninitiated) had multi-syllabic names! To keep the list short, I have used only two sources. Both are primary sources and are acceptable for use in documentation. You will notice I took my own former personal name (Rigunth) from one of them; providing a photocopied page from the book (with the name circled) and a bibliographic citation was deemed sufficient documentation to pass that portion of my name.
You will notice that most Germanic names consist of two elements. It is possible to form new names by combining elements from two names; this is considered acceptable for SCA practices, provided that you can document both elements.
I have not provided page numbers; however, both books have an index of all persons mentioned in the text.
Women's Names from Gregory of Tours' History of the Franks (available in Penguin classics ) (Merovingian period, 5th-7th centuries)
Albofleda Amalasuntha# Audofleda Audovera Austrechild Beretrude Berthefled Berthefried Berthegund Brunhild Chlodosind Chlothsinda Clotild Faileuba Fredegunde Galswinth Goiswinth Ingitrude Ingunde Lanthechilde Leubast Leubovera Magnatrude Marcatrude Marcovefa Radegund Rigunth Ultrogotha Vuldretrada Arnegunde
Men's names from Gregory of Tours: (a selection)
Ageric Agiulf Alaric# Amalaric# Andica Ansovald Authari* Aregisel Arnegisel Athanagild# Athanaric# Audovald Austregisel Badegisel Berthefried Berthar^ Bertram Bisinus^ Chararic Charibert Childebert Childeric Chilperic Chlodomer Chramnesind Clovis Dagobert Dagaric Eberulf Ebregisel Euric Gararic Garivald Godomar Gunderic% Gundobad Gunthar Guntram Herminafrid^ Hermangild# Huneric% Imnachar Ingomer Leudast Leuvigild# Lothar Magnachar Magneric Marachar Merovech Munderic Ragnachar Rathar Reccared* Ricchar Sichar Sigeric Sigibert Sigismund Sunnegisil Theoderic# Theudebald Theuderic Thorismund# Vulfoliac# Willichar #-Gothic names *-Lombard names ^Thuringian names %-Vandal namesWomen's names from Two Lives of Charlemagne (also Penguin classics) (Late Merovingian and Carolingian eras, 7th-9th centuries.)
Adaltrude Adallinda Gersvinda Hildegarde Bertrada Fastrada Gisela Gundrada Hiltrude Liutgarde Madelgarde Rosamund Ruothilde Rothaide Rotrude Theoderada Theodelinda
Adalbert Bernard Bero Burchard Carloman Drogo Engilbert Gerold Grimald Hartmut Hildebald Meginhard Otker Pepin Tassilo Waltgaud Werinbert
Note: All names on these lists were likely in use in Frankish territories from 5th-9th centuries. Names of saints or names derived from Latin were also in use.
These are by no means all possible names for this period.
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