Tag Archives: French

Mystery Monday: Lancenna

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 feminine name found in France in the first half of the 12th century. We have a number of examples (all in reference to the same woman as far as we can tell) between around 1147 and 1179, all spelled Lancenna or Lanscenna. It is probably of Germanic origin, with the most likely candidate for the prototheme being Old High German lant, Old Saxon land ‘land’, which becomes lanzo, lanc- in hypocoristics.

But the deuterotheme? We have no idea.

Do you have any thoughts? Have you seen this name before? Please share in the comments!

Lancenna

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How medieval is “Your Medieval Name”?

There’s a meme (due to www.abbeytournament.com) that’s been circulating around Facebook sporadically recently, allowing people to generate their “medieval name” according to their day. You’ve probably seen it:
Your Medieval Name
The first time it came up in a group that a couple DMNES staff are members of — a group not devoted to either the Middle Ages or to names — one editorial assistant put out a cry for “HALP”, and another swooped in with documentation. Now every time that meme comes around, we’re reminded of that thread, and finally decided to make a blog post out of it!

So, how medieval is “Your Medieval Name”? Actually, pretty medieval!

The feminine names are almost all good solid choices for late medieval England or France:

  • Milicent – Yes, medieval!
  • Alianor – Yes, medieval!
  • Ellyn – Yes, medieval!
  • Sybbyl – Yes, medieval!
  • Jacquelyn – Yes, medieval!
  • Catherine – Yes, medieval!
  • Elizabeth – Yes, medieval!
  • Thea – Possibly medieval but we’ve not found any evidence for it yet.
  • Lucilla – Sort of medieval: R.G. Collingwood and R.P. Wright, The Roman Inscriptions of Britain I: Inscriptions on Stone — Epigraphic Indexes (Gloucester: Alan Sutton, 1983), RIB 1288 and 1271, note one Iulia Lucilla in a first- to fourth-century British inscription (in this name, Lucilla appears as a cognomen), and another Romano-British inscription mentioning a woman known only as [L]ucilla.
  • Mary – Yes, medieval!
  • Arabella – Yes, medieval: E.G. Withycombe, The Oxford Dictionary of English Christian Names, 3rd ed. (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1988). s.n. Arabel(la) has a 13th C Latin example of the name.
  • Muriel – Yes, medieval: A variety of forms can be found in P.H. Reaney & R.M. Wilson, A Dictionary of English Surnames (London: Routledge, 1991).
  • Isabel – Yes, medieval!
  • Angmar – Um, no.
  • Isolde – Yes, medieval!
  • Eleanor – Yes, medieval!
  • Josselyn – Yes, medieval, but not as a feminine name.
  • Margaret – Yes, medieval!
  • Luanda – Um, no.
  • Ariana – Not medieval: It’s a modern Italian form of the Greek name Ariadne, found in mythology, and in the Greek and Byzantine empires.
  • Clarice – Yes, medieval!
  • Idla – Possibly medieval. It appears that this googlebook has a Polish example of the name, but we have not been able to get more than a snippet view, to be able to confirm the date and context.
  • Claire – Yes, medieval!
  • Rya – Um, no.
  • Joan – Yes, medieval!
  • Clemence – Yes, medieval!
  • Morgaine – Yes, medieval, but only used in literature, and not by real people.
  • Edith – Yes, medieval!
  • Nerida – Definitely not.
  • Ysmay – Yes, medieval: Withycombe (op. cit.) has an example of this spelling.

The masculine names don’t fare quite so well.

  • Ulric – Yes, medieval!
  • Baird – Yes, medieval, but only as a surname, not as a given name. It is derived from Old French baiard or baiard ‘bay-colored’.
  • Henry – Yes, medieval!
  • Oliver – Yes, medieval
  • Fraden – Possibly medieval, but only as a surname, not as a given name.
  • John – Yes, medieval!
  • Geoffrey – Yes, medieval!
  • Francis – Yes, medieval!
  • Simon – Yes, medieval!
  • Fendel – Not medieval to my knowledge, either as a given name or a surname.
  • Frederick – Yes, medieval!
  • Thomas – Yes, medieval!
  • Arthur – Yes, medieval!
  • Cassius – More Roman than medieval.
  • Richard – Yes, medieval!
  • Matthew – Yes, medieval!
  • Charles – Yes, medieval!
  • Reynard – Yes, medieval!
  • Favian – Sort of medieval, if you take it as a variant of Fabian.
  • Philip – Yes, medieval!
  • Zoricus – Not medieval to our knowledge, but it could possibly turn up at some point in future research.
  • Carac – Not medieval
  • Sadon – Not medieval
  • Alistair – Medieval, but not as the nominative form of the name, only as the genitive.
  • Caine – Yes, medieval, but only as a surname, not as a given name.
  • Gawain – Yes, medieval!
  • Godfrey – Yes, medieval!
  • Mericus – More Roman than medieval.
  • Rowley – Yes, medieval, but only as a surname, not as a given name.
  • Brom – Yes, medieval, but only as a surname, not as a given name.
  • Cornell – Yes, medieval, but only as a surname, not as a given name.

All the surnames are fine for 14th-16th C English, except these:

  • Cabrera – This is Spanish, and would only have been used by women; the masculine form is Cabrero.
  • Coastillon – Not quite sure what this is but it looks like a misspelling of some French place name.

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Names of twins in a 16th C French register from Canterbury

One of the most fun things about baptismal registers is getting to see the patterns of names that parents choose for multiple children — both singleton kids over a period of years, and multiples in the sense of twins (I’m not sure I’ve ever come across any baptisms of triplets or higher; unsurprisingly). We’re currently working through a 16th C register from the Walloon Church at Canterbury, containing births, marriages, and burials, and have found two examples of twins in the data, one female and one male. In both cases, the twins are given names which are clearly associated with each other/related to each other. On February 19, 1582/3, Rachel and Lea were baptised, and on September 26, 1594, Isaac and Jacob. Isaac was the father of Jacob in the Old Testament, and Jacob’s two wives were sisters, Rachel and Leah — thus, a clear connection between the two names chosen to give to the twins. (Though it would have been even neater if Jacob’s twin had been named Esau instead of Isaac, to directly mirror the Biblical story!)

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Mystery Monday: Damiata/Dameta

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(s) we are not actually sure are variants of the same name or if they are distinct. On the one hand, in early 12th C France we have a number of examples (referring to the same woman) of the name Dameta. On the other hand, in Spain a few centuries later we have two examples of the name Damiata in distinct geographical contexts (Aragon and Valencia) as well as the possible diminutive form Miata.

Damiata/Dameta

Now, the latter form certainly brings to mind the important Egyptian city known medievally as both Damiata and Damietta. It’s unlikely that the personal name is taken directly from the place name (the pattern of naming children directly after cities or locations is a relatively modern pattern!), but is there possibly a connection between the two? Is Miata a pet form of Damiata or a different name? Is Dameta a variant, or entirely independent? Does the name appear anywhere else? (It’d be really cool to find it in Italy.) If you have any thoughts or further examples, please share them with us in the comments!

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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.

Belerius

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!

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Mystery Monday: Advoye

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 Middle French feminine name from the 16th C. It occurs once (in the data we’ve transcribed so far) in the baptismal registers of the Protestant church at Caen.

Advoye

We have discussed the names found in these registers here on the blog in the past in the context of general discussion of Protestant names, from which we’ve seen a number of interesting trends arising, including the rise of virtue names, and the increasing influence of the Old Testament and the New Testament on the naming pools.

It’s not clear that any of these trends will get us very far with the current name, however. Advoye doesn’t appear to be the name of a virtue (and virtue names seem to be much rarer in the French Protestant data than the English and Dutch); neither is it a Biblical name that we are familiar with. There is, of course, the possibility that it is a traditional French name with no Protestant influence; if this is the case, we would love to see more examples of it! If you are familiar with any, or have any thoughts on the origin of the name, please share in the comments.

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Mystery Monday: Yfaine

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 one where it feels like it should be easy to identify — it has the flavor of something from Arthurian legend — which has nevertheless been persistently recalcitrant. We have two examples of the name, one in Latin, one in Old French, from the very end of the 13th C. Do you have any other examples of the name? Know some obscure French roman where it occurs? Have any other thoughts about it’s origins? Please share with us!

Yfaine

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