This collection of articles on medieval and Renaissance names is intended to help historical re-creators to choose authentic names. These articles were gathered from various places, and some of them appear elsewhere. In all cases, the copyright on each article belongs to its authors.

For frequent users, we offer a compact index; but please read the following introduction at least once.


What's New


Choosing a Medieval Name

Choosing a medieval name is easy: Open any book on any aspect of medieval history, and there will be some names. Choose one. Don't duplicate the entire name of some historical person; that's generally considered inappropriate for our game. But you can pick a given name from one person and a surname from another person, and you're all set. You will have a documented medieval name that you can be proud to use.

To be honest, it isn't that easy. at least not if you truly want an authentic name. Few history books reproduce names in the exact forms that were recorded in period documents. Most of the names are modernized and anglicized, both in spelling and form. Depending on just how authentic you want your name to be, you may or may not decide to worry about these details; this collection of articles assumes that you want your name to be as authentic as possible.

Good and Bad Sources

It's also easy to get led astray by bad sources. There are a lot of books and lists of names that are useless, misleading, or erroneous. We've put together some guidelines to help you identify good sources, with a list of some of the books most commonly used in the Society, and a list of websites not to use for choosing a medieval name. The Laurel Sovereign of Arms has similar lists of books that are good and bad sources; and the Laurel website has a longer list as well.

Many people in the Society have written articles to help you choose an authentic name. Answers to some common general questions can be found in the Academy of Saint Gabriel Client's Guide. If you have other questions, you can ask the Academy or you can post your question to alt.heraldry.sca.

The Problem Names Project

Some names that many people think of as common to the Middle Ages or Renaissance are either purely modern or otherwise problematic. For example, some names which were used in one medieval culture are now mistakenly believed to have been used in others. Other medieval names are mispronounced, or thought to be feminine names when they were only masculine. If there are common misconceptions about the pre-1600 use of a name, it may be a "Problem Name". Pointing out these misconceptions is the purpose of the Problem Names Project of the Academy of S. Gabriel. It currently includes a couple dozen articles on specific names that are commonly misused by re-creationists. We're working on articles on other types of common mistakes, too.

You can help!

If you have any questions or comments, or if you have an article that you would like to contribute to this library, please let me know. We've posted some guidelines on making your article as useful as possible. However, please don't waste your time sending me questions about your family arms or the history of your family, etc: I can't answer them.


Table of Contents

General Information on Medieval Personal Naming

  • WWW Names Pages for Medievalists to Avoid
  • Choosing a Society Name: Hints for Newcomers
  • The Tale of Tangwystyl; or It's Your Name and You Can Change If You Want To
  • A Brief Introduction to Medieval Bynames
  • The Latinization of Names in the Middle Ages
  • Some heraldic and onomastic books found for free online
  • Personal Names in Specific Cultures

  • English, Old English, and Anglo-Norman Names
  • Scandinavian Names
  • German Names
  • Names from the Low Countries
  • Frankish and French Names
  • Occitan and Catalan Names
  • Spanish and Portuguese Names
  • Italian Names
  • Scottish Names
  • Irish and Manx Names
  • Welsh, Cornish, and Breton Names
  • Early Celtic Names
  • Gaulish Names
  • Pictish Names
  • Classical Roman Names
  • Classical and Byzantine Greek Names
  • Coptic and Nubian Names
  • Gothic Names
  • Slavic Names
  • Baltic Names
  • Hungarian Names
  • Romanian Names
  • Romany (Gypsy) Names
  • Jewish Names
  • Arabic, Persian, Turkish, and Islamic Names
  • Central Asian
  • Ancient Iranian Names
  • Mongol Names
  • Indian Names
  • Chinese Names
  • Japanese Names
  • Names from the New World
  • Names of Things (including places, ships, buildings, clans, military units, and orders of chivalry)

    Articles in preparation, currently available only to members of the Academy of S. Gabriel.

    Recently updated articles


    Comments?

    Is this site useful? Do you think it could be improved? Do you like the organization? Please let us know.


    The Medieval Names Archive is published by the Academy of Saint Gabriel and Sara L. Uckelman. It was historically published by Joshua Mittleman.
    © 1997-2013. Copyright on individual articles belongs to their authors.
    http://www.s-gabriel.org/names/index.shtml