Mystery Monday: Belerius

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 found in two instances in Clairvaux in the late 12th century (both records refer to the same man). The name is not obviously of Germanic origin, unless we interpret the prototheme as Latin bellus ‘beautiful, handsome’ and the deuterotheme as a Latinisation of Old High German heri ‘host, army’. There are other Romance/Germanic compounds in France, albeit they tend to develop at an earlier period and not remain in use very long.


It’s also tempting to see this as a variant of Latin Valerius, but that would involve providing an explanation of the vowel shift in the first syllable (as well as the consonant shift, but that is less tricky).

Do you have any examples of the name? Other thoughts concerning its origin? Please share in the comments!



Filed under crowd-sourcing, dictionary entries, mystery monday

2 responses to “Mystery Monday: Belerius

  1. onomastodon

    Probably a silly question, but could it be a scribal or transcription error for Belenus, or connected to Belerion (Cornwall)?

  2. Diego Segui

    (Sorry if this comes through twice.)
    Belerius (so written) appears in at least two other text from that period: see L.-M. Duru, “Bibliotheque Historique de L’Yonne” vol. II, 1863 p. 566 (Belerium acc., 1103), and Ch. Lalore, “Collection des principaux cartulaires du diocèse de Troyes” vol. I, 1875 p. 93 (Belerius nom., 1179). I think that may rule out the possibility of a transcription error. The name reappears in later texts (14th century and on).
    There is also one Bellerius, Bellirius or Berlerius mentioned as a disciple of St. Ghislain (7th century). The earliest source texts as far as I can see are from the 11th century, so it might be worth checking. See AB VI (1887) pp. 209ss, and BHL s.v.
    From a Google search I see that the name has been discussed by M. Buchmüller-Pfaff, “Siedlungsnamen zwischen Spätantike und frühem Mittelalter”, 1990 p. 89, and F.R. Hamlin, “Le suffix -acum dans la toponymie de l’Herault: contribution à l’étude des noms de lieux du Languedoc”, 1959 p. 45, but I don’t have access to those.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s