Mystery Monday: Fugazza

Every Monday we will post an entry that hasn’t yet been published with a view towards harnessing the collective onomastic power of the internet. If you have any thoughts about the name’s origin, other variants it might be related to, other examples of its use, etc., please share them in the comments! If you wish to browse other Mystery Monday names, there is an index.

Today’s name is even more mysterious than some in that we don’t even know the gender. The grammatical context makes it clear that it is a Latin genitive form, and it follows feminine declension patterns. However, it is an Italian name, and it is not uncommon for masculine names to end in -a in Italian, so this could be either feminine or masculine. We don’t know. We don’t recognize it. Do you? Let us know!Fugazza


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Monthly topic: Some more 9th C families

We’ve gotten a bit sidetracked from our original plan of looking at multi-generational data to see what sorts of clues we could obtain about how people chose names for children by doing cross-products of Germanic name elements instead; but over the weekend we picked up a new source roughly contemporary to the Irminon polyptyque which has similar sorts of data. This source is a listing of tenant farmers in lands held by the Abbey of St. Victor, in Marseille, compiled in 814, and contains not only the names of parents and children, but often, also (fascinatingly!) their ages!

We have only just started transcribing the data from this source (which is not nearly as extensive as the other one, sadly), and already the data we have transcribed shows some interesting differences from the Paris data. The most significant difference is the significantly higher percentage of names of Romance or Christian (i.e., names of saints) origin, compared to the predominantly Germanic-origin names found in the Irminon polytyqe.

One consequence of this is that the patterns we see in Paris, with the dithematic Germanic names of the parents being recombined in the names of the children, are much less in evidence in the Marseille data. In fact, 6 pages in (albeit this is not very much data yet!), we haven’t found any evidence of such a trend.

We have, however, found a number of listings of complete families whose names are so lovely and fascinating, we’re simply going to share them even if we don’t have any nice scholarly conclusions to draw!

The parents are listed first, and then their children with their ages. Some of the children are noted as “baccalarius” or “baccalaria”. This is the root of English “bachelor”, and to be honest, we’re not entirely sure what sort of status it signalled in the 9th C. Judging from the ages of children that are given explicitly, in comparison with the children who are noted as being “bachelors”, a baccalarius/baccalaria seems, in this context, to be an older son or daughter who is too old to count as a child but not yet living independently in their own homestead.

Stephanus + Dara, and their children:
Dominicus (bachelor)
Martina (bachelor)
Vera, 15
Ermesindis, 7
Aprilis, 4
Stephania, 4

Martinus + Dominica, and their children:
Bertemarus (bachelor)
Desideria (bachelor)
Savarildis (bachelor)
Olisirga, 10
Rica, 9

Valerianus + Desiderada, and their children:
Anastasia, 5
Stephanus, 4
Martinus, 3

Fulcomares + Vuteria, and their children:
Radebodus (bachelor)
Dominicus (bachelor)
Dominildis (bachelor)
Fulcorad, 7
Beto, 5
Ingomares, 3
Romildis, 2

Dominicus + Stephana, and their children:
Ulmisis (“ad scholia”)
Peregrinus, 10
Teoderada, 7
Dadilane, 5

Elpericus + (wife not mentioned), and his child:
Stabilia + (husband not named; he’s “extraneus”, i.e., a stranger), and her children:
Abulinus, 12
Sarifredus, 8,
unnamed infant, 6

Betolenus + Desideria, and their children:
Momola, 5
Magnildis, 4
Teobertus, 3

Pelagis + Rooberta, and their children:
Roolindis (bachelor)
Arnulfus (bachelor)
Dominicus, 7
Betolenus, 4
unnamed infant, 3

Dignoaldus + Pascasia, and their children:
Ailaldus (bachelor)
Excisefredus, 10
Exuperius (bachelor)
Giso (bachelor)
Gairefredus (bachelor)

Gairefredus + Vuoldefreda, and their children:
Adalbertus, 6
Gairberga, 5

Dominica, a widow, and her children:
Maria (bachelor)
Orsalla (bachelor)
Scildis (bachelor)
Stantildis (bachelor)

Bertefredus + Florentina, and their children:
Inga, 10
Emnildis, 5
Dominica, 3
Joanna, 3

Incaladius + Aridia, and their children:
Christiduna, 15
Dignoaldus, 8
Scæfredus, 5
Joanna, 4

Paulus + Castellana, and their children:
Dominicus, 10
Ragnulfus, 8
Prodagia, 5
Victor, 4
Teotildis, 3

Joannes + Marta, and their children:
Petrus, 8
Martina, 5
Dominica, 3

Dominicus + Licinia, and their children:
Fredemares (bachelor)
Juliana, 9
Martina, 7
Marcella, 3

Aridius + Paulesinda, and their children:
Joannes, 5
Stephania, 2

We could probably keep typing these up all night, but we’ll end here! Hope you enjoyed these.

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Mystery Monday: Emthyus

Every Monday we will post an entry that hasn’t yet been published with a view towards harnessing the collective onomastic power of the internet. If you have any thoughts about the name’s origin, other variants it might be related to, other examples of its use, etc., please share them in the comments! If you wish to browse other Mystery Monday names, there is an index.

Some of the names we consider in this series may ultimately end up having no suitable explanation. Some of them may be scribal errors, or editorial errors. Some may simply be so far corrupted from their origin as to be untraceable. It’s hard to know when to give up on a name and list it as “Of uncertain origin”. However, we sort of suspect that might end up being the case with today’s mystery name, found in 12th C Italy:
Not only have we not found any other example of the name, we aren’t familiar with any similar name. Do you have any thoughts about its origins? Let us know!

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Combinations of Germanic elements in 9th C France

A few posts ago we highlighted the fact that in the Polyptyque d’Irminon, from early 9th C France, some evidence for parents’ choice of names for their children can be “read off” from the fact that elements from the parents’ names are often used in new combinations for the children. Looking at a number of such examples made us think of an interesting broader question, namely: How many of the possible combinations of two Germanic elements are witnessed in this document? We are still in the process of transcribing the names, so we won’t be able to give a complete answer until that is finished, but in the meantime we’ve started collecting and sorting the data we have, by investigating what points in the Cartesian product of name space we currently have witnesses for:
cross product
This is only a portion of the full chart we’ve produced so far, and it should be noted that this doesn’t give the complete state space: Every row and column has at least one entry in it. This means that the prototheme (row) and deuterotheme (column) axes are not the same: There are some elements that were only used as protothemes and some only used as deuterothemes, and thus these show up only in the rows or in the columns and not both.

One version exciting consequence of collating the data collected so far in this way is that it allows us to make predictions. On the basis of the data we have collected so far, we can predict that with high probability, by the time we’ve transcribed the rest, we will find examples of the following names (so far unwitnessed in what we’ve covered of this text so far):

  • Adalbodus
  • Adalbrandus
  • Adalmundus
  • Adalwaldus/Adaloaldus/Aloaldus
  • Adalwardus/Adaloardus
  • Amalboldus
  • Amalgarius/Amalgaria
  • Amalgis
  • Amalgundus
  • Amalindis
  • Amaloinus
  • Amalradus
  • Amalsindis
  • Anshilde/Ansoildis
  • Bernefridus
  • Ebrefridus
  • Eckfridus
  • Ermenbodus
  • Ermelindis
  • Ermenoinus
  • Ermenradus
  • Framenildis
  • Gisalfridus
  • Godildis/Godalildis
  • Grimbertus
  • Lantboldus
  • Leutbrandus
  • Leutgildis
  • Madalgrimus
  • Madalgundus
  • Magenboldus
  • Nadalboldus
  • Raganbodus
  • Ragangarius
  • Ragangrimus
  • Ricboldus
  • Segoulfus
  • Siclegardis
  • Siclegaudus
  • Siclindis
  • Sigericus
  • Sigmarus
  • Sigmundus
  • Teutbrandus
  • Teutgildis
  • Teuthelmus
  • Teutmundus
  • Teutsindis
  • Teutoulfus
  • Winetrudis
  • Winegundus
  • Winehardus
  • Winehelmus
  • Winildis/Winoildis
  • Winelindis

For a few others, our confidence level is lower, but we still hypothesize that these are more likely than not to turn up in the remainder of the data:

  • Adalbardus
  • Adalwara/Adaloara/Aloara
  • Aginfridus
  • Arnfridus

We’ll keep you posted on how well our predictions turn out to be!


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Family trees deep and broad

Most of the entries of the Polyptyque mentioned in an earlier post have, as noted, the names of parents and children, and that is it. However, a few of the entries give us more information, allowing us to reconstruct family trees of three generations, or spreading out to siblings of the parents. Sadly, these are not ones that give us much information in terms of patterns of names, but simply because they are cool, we have reconstructed three of them here:

Family tree 1

    (not named)
   |          |
Hermenalda  Odila   
   |            |         |             |
Hildeardis  Willermus  Hermenalda  Hildeburgis

Hermenalda (sen.), Odila, Hildeardis, and Gunterius all live together in one household, while Willermus lives with his other two sisters, and a further crop of daughters (unnamed, and it is not clear which sibling(s) are the parents). It’s also ambiguous whether Odila is Hermenalda (sen.)’s sister or Hildeardis’s.

Family tree 2

                (not named)
          |                     |
       Waldrea             Laurentius
  ________|___________          |
  |          |        |    (unnamed sons)
Guntardus  Hugo  Richildis

This family tree is unambiguous from the information, but what is interesting here (and is also true of the previous one) is that it is the woman who is the first-named person of the household. When in the later Middle Ages it often feels like very woman is “uxor ejus” some man, it’s always nice to see a few men who are important because of their mothers, sisters, or wives!

Family tree 3

   |       |
Alburgis  Eva

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Mystery Monday: Dedike

Every Monday we will post an entry that hasn’t yet been published with a view towards harnessing the collective onomastic power of the internet. If you have any thoughts about the name’s origin, other variants it might be related to, other examples of its use, etc., please share them in the comments! If you wish to browse other Mystery Monday names, there is an index.

Let’s head to Latvia! In the 13th and 14th C, names were predominantly of Low German origin, and this is clear even when the names occur in Latin documents, as our two examples of today’s mystery name do:
It is clear that this is a diminutive of something — the -ke ending is a giveaway. When the name is used by men, it is a diminutive of Theodoric, via the Low German form Dederik. However, the two examples that we have here are definitely feminine. For example, here is the entry for one of them:
Dedike in Latvia
There is no way “Lady Dedike, wife of Hinrich Westfal” could be anything but a woman. The question is: What name is this a diminutive of? Do you have any thoughts?


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Monthly topic: Why did medieval people choose the names they did?

Things have been rather quiet over at DMNES central over the summer as our staff members have been busy going to conferences, enjoying their holidays, and working on research papers. Now the summer sun is gone and the fall days are coming, and we’re hoping to get more active here on the blog again.

There are many interesting aspects of historical naming practices that one can study, and one of the most difficult ones is the question of motivation — why did medieval parents (or parish priests in some cases!) choose the names they did for their children? Very rarely in the records that we have to hand are explicit reasons given; sometimes, strong implicit evidence can be deduced from context, such as a child baptized by the same name as an elder, already deceased, sibling. General trends can also be identified, such as rises and falls in the popularity of saint’s names (I have long since wondered if the reason why Thomas is the most popular male name in the 16th C parish registers of Ormskirk, Lancashire, while in every other contemporary data set, the most popular name is John, is because of some connection with Saint Thomas in the town; however, I’ve been unable to find any such connection), or the rise of virtue names, which we’ve discussed before.

But information at the specific level is generally incredibly rare. This is what makes the Polyptyque d’Irminon such an amazing resource. The document was compiled around 823 by Irminon, abbot of Saint-Germain-des-Prés, and was a catalogue of the lands owned by the abbey between the rivers Seine and Eure. As part of the catalogue, the names of the tenants are recorded — and not only the tenants, but also the names of their wives, and their children. This makes the polyptyque a treasure trove of 9th C names which is almost unparalleled — among other things, it is one of our best witnesses for Frankish/Old French feminine names.

Entries are formulaic, and tend to repeat the same information. Here is a representative example:

Giroldus servus et uxor ejus colona, nomine Dominica, homines sancti Germani, habent secum infantes II, his nominibus, Gisloldus, Gerardus. Tenet mansum ingenuilem I, habentem de terra arabili bunuaria IIII, de vinea aripennum I, de prato dimidium aripennum. Cetera similiter.

Girold slave and his tenant wife, by name Dominica, people of Saint Germain, have by themselves two children, by name Gislold, Gerard. He holds 1 free farm having 4 bunuaria of arable land, 2 arpents of vineyards, and half an arpent of pasture land. The rest is similar.

(From this you can see that the source is an amazing trove of information about medieval farm culture, if that’s your thing.) This example was picked at random, but also for a purpose: Take a look at the men’s names, and you’ll see that the names of the sons both reflect the names of their father! Gislold shares the deuterotheme with Girold, while Gerard shares the prototheme — Gir is a common French variant while Ger is a more typically German form.

Examples of similar patterns — including women’s names, and combinations of both parents names, especially when the number of children grows — can be found on pretty much every page, and we’ll spend some time this month looking at some of the examples. They show a fascinating glimpse into the reasons and motivations behind the names!


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