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 an especially interesting one because of the complicated context in which it is found. We have recently been working through a collection of notarial documents relating to enslaved pepole in Florence from the early 1360s on. The documents are fascinating for the wealth of data that they provide, not only on Florentine slave-owner names and the names of the people that they enslaved, but also the cultural and geographical origins of the enslaved people, their ages, and their physical characteristics. Reading through the records is sobering business: It is hard not to feel the weight of the unhappy story behind each entry. Most of the enslaved people are women; many of them are still children.
Most of the people were renamed after they were enslaved, with the documents often saying that someone was so named “in lingua latina”; a handful include the name the person was previously known by, “in lingua sua” or “in lingua tartare” (most frequently). Both data sets provide interesting material: On the side of the new names, certain classic Italian names are vastly over represented — probably 1/3 to 1/2 of the enslaved women were renamed some variant of Caterina or Margarita — both popular names in Italy in the 14th century, but not that popular. And on the side of the people’s original names, we get intriguing glimpses as to how names in Greek, Slavic, and Turkic languages were rendered into Latin. (For instance, the two Greek women who were named Cali or Chali in their original language may have in fact been named from καλή, the Greek word for ‘beautiful’).
What’s also interesting is that the pool of “Latin” names that were given to the enslaved people is not merely a subset of the names born by Florentines. Today’s mystery name is one that was the “new” name of two enslaved women (one of Tartar origin, the other not specified), and which we have not otherwise seen in Italy: Uliana.
Is it a form of Juliana/Iuliana? Is it a variant of Eliana (which itself may be a form of Juliana, or possibly a form of Ellen)? Is it distinct from either of these? We don’t know. We hope you might have some thoughts. Please share in the comments!
And if you are interested in knowing more about the enslaved people in 14th-century Florence, we are tweeting the names from the records on the anniversaries, at @FlorentineSlave.
Filed under crowd-sourcing, dictionary entries, monthly topic
Tagged as Ellen, Greek, Italian, Juliana, Katherine, Latin, Margaret, Russian, Slavic, Turkic, Uliana
We’re currently working records from manorial court cases in England between 1250 and 1550 (namely, this source), and are now in the 1320s and 1330s.
One of the things that I love about court cases is how ordinary the names are; these are ordinary people, living ordinary lives. They are not royalty, they are not clerics, they are nothing that would mark their names out as unusual. So what were the typical women’s names in England at this time? Here are the ones we’ve come across so far (all in their Latin nominative forms; the actual vernacular form may have been quite different):
Margareta and Margeria, Johanna, Cecilia, Amicia, Alicia, Malota, Milisanta, Agnes, Juliana, Matilldis and Matilda, Dyonisia and Dionisia, Isabella, Emma, Athelina, Beatrice, and Katerina.
Aren’t they lovely?
Filed under dictionary entries
Tagged as Adeline, Agnes, Alice, Amice, Beatrice, Cecilia, Denise, Emma, English, Isabel, Joan, Juliana, Katherine, Margaret, Mary, Mathilda, Milicent
- June 1: Anne Boleyn was crowned queen of England in 1533.
- June 2: Richilda of Provence died in 910.
- June 3: Peter Abelard was condemned as a heretic in 1141.
- June 4: Adela of Champagne died in 1206.
- June 5: Saint Boniface was murdered in Frisia in 754.
- June 6: Gustav I of Sweden was elected king in 1523.
- June 7: Robert the Bruce died in 1329.
- June 8: Italian poet Gabriello Chiabrera was born in 1552.
- June 9: Irish saint and missionary Columba died in 597.
- June 10: Frederick Barbarossa drowned crossing a river in 1190.
- June 11: Blessed Yolanda of Poland died in 1298.
- June 12: Cosimo dei Medici was born in 1519.
- June 13: Wat Tyler led the Peasant’s Revolt into London in 1381.
- June 14: Orlande de Lassus, Flemish painter, died in 1594.
- June 15: Lisa del Giocondo was born in 1479.
- June 16: Saint Lutgardis died in 1246.
- June 17: Bolesław I the Brave died in 1025.
- June 18: Painter Rogier van der Weyden died in 1464.
- June 19: Saint Juliana Falconieri died in 1341.
- June 20: Blessed Margareta Ebner died in 1351.
- June 21: Leonhard Rauwolf was born in 1535 and Leonardo Loredan died in 1521.
- June 22: Saint Alban was martyred, in an uncertain year between around 209 and 304.
- June 23: Saint Æþelðryþe died in 679.
- June 24: Philippa Hainault was born in 1314.
- June 25: Eleanor of Provence died in 1291.
- June 26: Roman emperor Julian died in 363.
- June 27: The martyrdom of Crescens is celebrated.
- June 28: Charlotte queen of Cyprus was born in 1444.
- June 29: Abel, king of Denmark, died in 1252.
- June 30: Saint Theobald of Provins died in 1066.
Filed under dictionary entries
Tagged as Abel, Adela, Alban, Anne, Audrey, Boleslav, Boniface, Carla, Columb, Cosmo, Crescent, Eleanor, Elizabeth, Frederick, Gabriel, Gustav, Julian, Juliana, Leonard, Liutgarde, Margaret, Peter, Philipa, Richild, Robert, Roger, Roland, Theobald, Walter, Yolanda
We received a request on the blog for information on the name Jolyon. This is a curious name, because two of the main authorities on English onomastics, E.G. Withycombe and P.H. Reaney & R.M. Wilson disagree as its etymology!
Withycombe, s.n. Julian makes it a derivative of Julian, the name of 10 medieval saints and used in England from the 13th C on. (It was never as popular there as its feminine counterpart, Juliana.) Reaney & Wilson, on the other hand, identify it (s.n. Jolyon) as a byname, ‘jolly Jan’. They have examples of similar constructions s.n. Jollyboy, including Jolifion 1377 ‘jolly Ion (John)’ and Jolyrobin 1332 ‘jolly Robin’.
The answer is probably a compromise: Both origins are plausible, and the only way to tell for sure would be to find a record referring to the same person as both Julian and Jolyon. We haven’t found any yet, but if we do, we’ll update this post!
- May 1: Mathilda of Scotland died in 1118.
- May 2: Anne Boleyn was arrested for treason in 1536.
- May 3: Cecily Neville, Duchess of York, was born in 1415.
- May 4: John Wyclif and Jan Hus are condemned as heretics at the Council of Constance in 1415.
- May 5: Gerberga of Saxony died in 968/9 or 984.
- May 6: Dieric Bouts, Dutch painter, died in 1475.
- May 7: Remigius de Fécamp died in 1059.
- May 8: Pope Saint Benedict II died in 685.
- May 9: Hernando de Alarcón set sail for the Gulf of California in 1540.
- May 10: Emperor Claudius Gothicus was born in 210.
- May 11: Anne of Bohemia, queen consort of England, was born in 1366.
- May 12: Berengaria of Navarre was crowned queen of England in 1191.
- May 13: Julian of Norwich experienced her mystical visions in 1373.
- May 14: Simon de Montfort became de facto ruler of England in 1264.
- May 15: Mary Queen of Scots married her third husband, James, Earl of Bothwell, in 1567.
- May 16: Baldwin I was crowned Latin emperor of Constantinople in 1204.
- May 17: Anne of Denmark was crowned queen of Scotland in 1590.
- May 18: Eleanor of Aquitaine married Henry II of England in 1152.
- May 19: Saint Alcuin of York died in 804.
- May 20: Abraham Ortelius issued the first modern atlas in 1570.
- May 21: Albrecht Dürer was born in 1471.
- May 22: Saint Rita of Cascia died in 1457.
- May 23: Girolamo Savonarola was burned to death in 1498.
- May 24: Magnus Ladulås was crowned king of Sweden in 1276.
- May 25: Pope Boniface IV died in 615.
- May 26: Saint Augustine of Canterbury died in 604.
- May 27: Ludovico Sforza died in 1508.
- May 28: Caterina Sforza died in 1509.
- May 29: Philip VI was crowned king of France in 1328.
- May 30: Jerome of Prague was burned for heresy in 1416.
- May 31: Manuel I of Portugal was born in 1469.
Filed under dictionary entries
Tagged as Abraham, Albert, Alcwin, Anne, Austin, Baldwin, Benedict, Berengaria, Boniface, Cecilia, Claude, Eleanor, Emmanuel, Ferdinand, Gerberg, Jerome, John, Juliana, Katherine, Louis, Magnus, Margaret, Mary, Mathilda, Philip, Remy, Simon, Theodoric
Here’s the full monthly calendar of our #OnThisDay posts on twitter:
- November 1: Empress Mathilda was deposed as Lady of the English in 1141.
- November 2: Emma of France died in 934.
- November 3: Benvenuto Celllini, Italian artist, was born in 1500.
- November 4: Sophia of Bavaria, queen consort of the Romans and Bohemia, died in 1428.
- November 5: The feast day of St. Felix of Valois.
- November 6: Juana la Loca was born in 1479.
- November 7: Constans II was born in 630.
- November 8: Julian of Norwich was born in 1342.
- November 9: Sancha of Castille died in 1208.
- November 10: Bridget of York was born in 1480.
- November 11: Mathilda of Scotland was crowned queen of England in 1100.
- November 12: Cnut the Dane died in 1035.
- November 13: St. Augustine of Hippo was born in 354.
- November 14: Maurice, prince of Orange, was born in 1567.
- November 15: Justin II becomes emperor of Byzantium in 565.
- November 16: Edward I becomes king of England in 1272.
- November 17: Elizabeth I becomes queen of England in 1558.
- November 18: Antipope Sylvester IV was enthroned in 11015.
- November 19: Pope Anastasius II died in 498.
- November 20: Edmund the Martyr dies in 869 (or 870).
- November 21: García, king of Navarre, died in 1150.
- November 22: Erik V of Denmark died in 1286
- November 23: Ferdinand III conquered Seville in 1248
- November 24: Joan of Arc beseiged La Charite in 1429.
- November 25: Malcolm II of Scotland died in 1034.
- November 26: Infanta Catarina of Portugal was born in 1436.
- November 27: Byzantine Emperor Maurice died in 602.
- November 28: Pope Gregory III died in 741.
- November 29: Joachim Viadan, Swiss Humanist, was born in 1484.
- November 30: Saint Gregory of Tours was born c538.
Filed under dictionary entries
Tagged as Anastasius, Austin, Benvenuto, Bridget, Constant, Edmund, Edward, Elizabeth, Emma, Erik, Felix, Ferdinand, Garcia, Gregory, Joachim, Joan, Juliana, Justin, Katherine, Knut, Malcolm, Mathilda, Maurice, Sancta, Sophia, Sylvester