Tag Archives: Aginbert

Secret names: What’s in a name? (Part 2)

Editor’s Introduction: The DMNES staff are super delighted to host a three-part guest blog by Dr. Anna Dorofeeva. Dr. Dorofeeva is a historian specialising in Western Latin book history and culture, and her current work focuses on ciphers and cryptography in medieval manuscripts; you can follow her on Twitter at @LitteraCarolina. In this series of posts, she talks about how personal names were rendered in code form in the Middle Ages.

Part 1 is here; Part 2 is below; Part 3 is here.

Secret names: What’s in a name? (Part 2)

Dr. Anna Dorofeeva, ZKS Barker Junior Research Fellow, Durham University

Not all monks were quiet or modest! In this manuscript from France, containing some works by St Jerome and dated to 806 CE, the scribe Agambertus covered an entire page in ciphers.

The first is a monogram, a series of letters joined together and spelling out the name of the woman who commissioned the manuscript: Hlottildis or Theodildis (since the final S is missing, this interpretation is uncertain). The monogram also contains the abbreviation ‘abbat.’ for ‘abbatissa’, meaning ‘abbess’, indicating that Agambertus’ commissioner was fairly powerful.

The second code is Agambertus’s name and an invocation, all written in Greek letters mixed in with a made-up alphabet (known as the alphabet of Aethicus Ister) and ‘Marcomannic’ runes.

After that, there is a plaintext referring to the sixth year of Charlemagne’s imperial reign, followed by a request to the reader to pray for the scribe, written by replacing each vowel with the following consonant.

The lower part of the page is filled with palindromes: three squares playing around with the words SATOR, AMOR, and AMEN; and two anagrams of the scribe’s name, one of which is arranged in the form of a cross. [1]

Agambertus evidently enjoyed experimenting with ciphers, which enabled him to show off his skill as a scribe. This page of puzzles would have intrigued its readers in the ninth century, as it does today, but it was also a more serious sign of a belief in the written word as the Word of God. This was reflected in human language and in the stories of the Bible, but it needed decoding and interpreting before it could be truly understood.

Agambertus wasn’t the only one who enjoyed visual puzzles. Monograms and monogrammatic writing, in which letters nestle within or on top of each other, were especially popular in the early Middle Ages. In this book, made in ninth-century France, the scribe Audgarius first wrote the title of the legal text he was copying. At the bottom, he added his own name and the Latin word ‘nomen’, ‘name’, as if they were also part of the title – but in a much more complicated arrangement on top of each other.

References

[1] I. Garipzanov, Graphic Signs of Authority in Late Antiquity and the Early Middle Ages, 300–900 (Oxford, 2018), pp. 260–62.

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Publication of Edition 2016 no. 4

We’re pleased to announce that Edition 2016, No. 4, went live last night. We didn’t quite hit our (admittedly ambitious) goal of reaching 50,000 citations, but with 48,862 in this edition, we’ll surely pass it in the next!

We also crossed the 2100 threshold for number of entries, coming in to a total of 2108. There are 86 new masculine names:

Adalsad
Adegar
Aderich
Adrewic
Aginbert
Agenteus
Agino
Albulf
Alcteus
Alfgar
Alker
Allegro
Ambrich
Arcwin
Autlaic
Baldbert
Baldwar
Baltad
Benegar
Berengaud
Berlwin
Bernhaus
Bertgaud
Bertier
Bertingaud
Bertleis
Blither
Blithewine
Bonadeus
Brightnod
Candid
Carlfrid
Dodeus
Dructbald
Dructbert
Drudmund
Drudo
Dulcedram
Edwy
Einarr
Electulf
Ephraim
Erchamar
Erchamold
Erchamrad
Erlulf
Ermengod
Ermenulf
Everbald
Everbert
Expert
Farolf
Felician
Felicio
Fergal
Framwin
Gammo
Gerich
Gisfrid
Hadward
Haelnou
Haeloc
Hakon
Haldor
Hartmar
Hartrich
Harwich
Heidenrich
Helmold
Hemard
Herwin
Herulf
Hildulf
Hugier
Hugran
Hywel
Jaromir
John-Alphonse
John-Dominic
John-Francis
John-Jacob
John-Paul
Nivard
Tanculf
Walateus
Winulf

And 58 new feminine names:

Adalginde
Adalgisdis
Adaly
Agina
Albilde
Alctrude
Ansois
April
Arnberta
Arngilde
Autlinde
Balda
Balsinde
Bertegilde
Bertiere
Bertisma
Blathilde
Blitgilde
Brunissende
Doctrama
Douglass
Elisaria
Erchamilde
Esther
Eugenia
Eusebia
Fionnghuala
Frambalda
Frotberga
Gislilde
Gontarde
Haburg
Hadena
Harda
Hartgilde
Hartois
Heidentrude
Henarda
Herilde
Herois
Hildesinde
Hildois
Honorata
Honoria
Jocosa
Jonilde
Liutisma
Liutlinde
Liutrada
Luceria
Luthera
Madalberta
Nadalinde
Natalisma
Primavera
Reina
Stabilia
Vera

Enjoy!

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