- August 1: Justinian I became sole ruler of the Byzantine Empire in 527.
- August 2: Pope Severinus died in 640.
- August 3: Saint’s day of Olaf II of Norway.
- August 4: Berengar II of Italy died in 699.
- August 5: Alexander I Jagiellon was born in 1461.
- August 6: Saint Dominic, founder of the Dominican Order, died in 1221.
- August 7: Otto I of Germany was crowned in 936.
- August 8: Conrad Lycosthenes, humanist and ecyclopedist, was born in 1518.
- August 9: Arnold Fitz Thedmar, London chronicler, was born in 1201.
- August 10: Eleanor, the maid of Brittany, died in 1241.
- August 11: Mary of York was born in 1467.
- August 12: Christian III of Denmark was born in 1503.
- August 13: Alfonso XI of Castille was born in 1311.
- August 14: Duncan I of Scotland was murdered in 1040.
- August 15: Carolingian military leader Roland died in 778.
- August 16: Philippa of Clarence, Countess of Ulster, was born in 1355.
- August 17: Cesare Borgia became the first person to resign a cardinalcy in 1498.
- August 18: Saint Clare of Montefalco died in 1308.
- August 19: Catherine of Bohemia was born in 1342.
- August 20: Stephen I of Hungary was canonized in 1083.
- August 21: Philip II of France was born in 1165.
- August 22: Saint Columba sees the Loch Ness monster in 565.
- August 23: William Wallace was executed for treason in 1305.
- August 24: Italian painter Lavinia Fontana was born in 1552.
- August 25: Anna of Saxony married William of Orange in 1561.
- August 26: Thomas Bradwardine, logician, mathematician, and archbishop died in 1349.
- August 27: Arthur II, Duke of Brittany, died in 1321.
- August 28: Saint Augustine of Hippo died in 430.
- August 29: Hungarian poet Janus Pannonius was born in 1434.
- August 30: Amalasuntha became queen regent of the Ostrogoths in 524.
Tag Archives: Otto
Last week we investigated the ‘most popular’ medieval names for women, including a long discursus on why the scare quotes. All the same caveats hold when we turn to look at the men’s names: Without access to systematic data that counts individuals only once and provides the same level of coverage in every place and time, there is no way to say definitively what the most popular medieval given names were.
Unsurprisingly, the list of men’s names that I review on a daily basis because I can pretty much guarantee some editorial assistant has added new citations of is longer than the list of women’s name. And many of the names on it will strike few as surprising (though I personally find it interesting how they cluster into pairs or triples in terms of the letter they start with, and how weighted towards the end of the alphabet they are):
These names have remained enduringly popular, with all of them showing up in, e.g., the top 100 of the Top Names Over the Last 100 Years in the US (John: 2; Robert, 3; William, 5; Richard: 7; Charles, 9; Thomas, 10; Paul: 17; Jacob: 34; Henry: 52; Peter: 55; Walter, 57; Roger, 66; Philip, ; 94note that since this counts individual variant spellings, rather than combining all variants together, this list separates Jacob from James, which comes in at no. 1).
But others on the list may be more surprising — names that have fallen out of common use, or which while still familiar nowadays may not strike one as especially typical of the Middle Ages. These names are:
Of these, the two that I found the most surprising — the ones I hadn’t really realized were as popular as they are until we started compiling such a huge corpus — are Louis and Theodoric. Louis, from its early Latinized form Hludowicus to its modern forms such as Louis, Lewis, Lodovico, Ludwig, and Luis, was an amazingly productive name, showing up in all cultures touched by the Carolingian empire, and, later, France (there being more medieval French kings named Louis than any other name). The popularity of Theodoric can be traced back to Theoderic the Great, ruler of the Ostrogoths at the fall of the western Roman empire. His deeds entered legend, and his name spread across Europe, spawing many variants and diminutives: In fact, more distinct spellings of this name are recorded than any other name we have catalogued so far (and that includes John!). In French, it became T(h)ierry; in Dutch, Derek and Dirk; in High German, Dietrich; in Low German, Diderik. The range of diminutive forms includes examples that a non-expert would scoff at as related: Who would think that Thidemann, Dytlin, Dietz, Tile, Tous, Tijdeke, and Thierrion are all nicknames of the same name?
All of these entries are already quite diverse in the citations they include, but will only become more so in the future. Mark your calendars, we are one week away from the publication of the next edition (our final one of 2015)!
It sounds like the start of a bad drinking song: “99 Carolingian charters to transcribe, 99 charters to ‘scribe, write names down, share them around, 98 Carolingian charters to ‘scribe!”
But what it really is is what I completed today. In the midst of taking down enough citations for Karolus, Ott(h)o, Lotharius, and Fridericus that even I began to find them boring, there were also more fun aspects — the random and unexpected feminine name (one in a matronymic byname!); a pair of testators Gerardus albus and Gerardus niger; a man called Dodo (where’s the byname avis to go with it?); a fascinating example of a tri-thematic Germanic name (Gerbtratwine); and the question of what fonts will we be able to use on the Dictionary website in order to properly display the Gothic alphabet. In the course of working through the etymologies of the names in these charters, I’ve learned just how much I have to learn about the difference between Old High German and Old Saxon, and I’ve marveled and, really, just how few themes you need to have to create a complex and elaborate system of dithematic names. 20+ years doing onomastics, and there’s still so much to learn.