Name Your Medieval Character: Medieval Christian Names (12th-13th Centuries)

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This book will prove a treasure trove for historical novelists, fantasy writers, gamers, or anyone who just enjoys names "Spend any time with Joyce at all and you will be astonished at the meticulous, detailed medieval] world she is well familiar with. Jump to.

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Privacy Terms. Vernacular names were also widespread in Germany. As a result, many typical English and French names are of Germanic origin and have cognates in other European languages. In the religious naming tradition, which was developed later than the vernacular tradition, surnames were bestowed in honor of religious figures or church officials. In Europe, the Christian Church was one of the most powerful influences on the formation of given names.

Personal names derived from the names of saints, apostles, biblical figures, and missionaries are widespread in most European countries.

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In the Middle Ages, they became increasingly popular because people believed that the souls of the deceased continued to be involved in this world. They named their children after saints in the hope that the child would be blessed or protected by the saint. In Old English, patronyms were formed by adding a variety of suffixes to personal names, which changed over time and from place to place. For example, after the Norman Conquest , sunu and sune , which meant son , were the most common patronymic suffixes.

In the 12th and 13th centuries, most common patronymic names included the word filius , which meant son. Typically the names was structured.


By the 14th century, the suffix son had replaced these earlier versions. Surnames that were formed with filius or son were more common in the north of England and it was here that the number of individuals without surnames was greatest at this time. Another fairly common patronym was the use of atte. In this case, it was used to denote a location of the person as in:. Local names are also referred to as topographic surnames, which were given to a person who resided near a physical feature such as a hill, stream, church, or type of tree. Habitation names form the other broad category of surnames that were derived from place-names.

They were derived from pre-existing names for towns, villages, parishes, or farmsteads. Other local names are derived from the names of houses, manors, estates, regions, and entire counties. As a general rule, the greater the distance between an individual and their homeland, the larger the territory they were named after.

For example, a person who only moved to another parish would be known by the name of their original village, while people who migrated to a different country were often known by the name of a region or country from which they came.

Name Your Medieval Character: Medieval Christian Names by Joyce DiPastena

English local names were originally preceded by a preposition, such as de, at, atte , by, in. After the Norman Conquest, the usual preposition was de, which was used in both English and French place-names. In French names beginning with a vowel, the de was often merged with the name. Charlemagne and his advisors….

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