middle ages

Names from the Middle Ages

A Short Treatise on Anglo-Norman Personal Names

It 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


  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 Sources

by 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 names
Women'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

Men's names:

Adalbert	Bernard		Bero		Burchard
Carloman	Drogo		Engilbert	Gerold
Grimald		Hartmut		Hildebald	Meginhard
Otker		Pepin		Tassilo		Waltgaud

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.



Related Links:

The Middle Ages

The Black Plague

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