Mystery Monday: Hengelestas

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 a mouthful of an early Italian feminine name:

Context makes it clear that it is a feminine name, but beyond that, we’re stumped. There’s nothing quite like plugging something into a search engine and getting exactly zero hits — on top of not finding it in any of the standard resources! (Unfortunately, the “standard” sources on Italian are patchy in their historic coverage, so the latter is at least unsurprising.)

We’re happy to entertain any suggestions! Let us know in the comments if you’ve got any ideas.


Filed under crowd-sourcing, dictionary entries, mystery monday

3 responses to “Mystery Monday: Hengelestas

  1. Brian M. Scott

    I found one more instance, this one from 1252: alii heredes Hengeleste de Captio. (The date is given in the third snippet here.) Here Hengeleste is apparently a genitive, though I’m not prepared to say of what. (I’m also not prepared to interpret the byname de Captio, save to note that it needn’t be locative: the byname de Siulfo at the beginning of the snippet appears to be a patronymic, nominative Siulfus, from PGmc. *segaz ~ *sigiz ‘victory’ and *wulfaz ‘wulf’.)

    In the same source as Hengelestas there is a masculine name Hengelerius. This pretty clearly belongs with Engelher in DMNES, so one might wonder whether Hengelestas is a compound with the same first element; if so, however, the rest of the name is pretty opaque. For that matter, the ending -as in what is apparently a Latinized nominative feminine name is rather odd.

    By the way, the etymology given in DMNES for the prototheme of Engelher and other names in Engel- may well be a bit too definite. While I expect that the prototheme eventually came to be interpreted as being akin to OHG engil ‘angel’, I suspect that it actually derives from the ethnonym of the Angles, which in turn is probably derived from the name of their homeland on the coast of Jutland. There may also be some contribution from the l-extension of the Ing- prototheme from the PGmc. theonym *Ingwaz.

    • Diego

      A complete PDF of the “Hengeleste de Captio” text is available online, but the link in my first comment apparently expired. This one should work:

      (Click on “Risorsa online”.) Some of the people mentioned on p. 113 appear elsewhere. Ugo de Siulfo shows up on p. 101 as “Ugo de Syurpho” (1250), but I’m sure the PGmc connection is correct. Unfortunately the book doesn’t include an index of names and the file isn’t OCR’d.

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