Medieval Naming Guides: Pages to Avoid

WWW Names Pages for Medievalists to Avoid

by the Academy of Saint Gabriel

Last updated 9 Mar 2005
People have lots of different reasons for compiling lists of names, and most of them don't result in good sources for medieval names. Baby-name lists are almost always compiled without reference to historical usage. Genealogical databases usually list names in standardized and modernized spellings and forms. Character-name lists for gamers or novelists may bear some relation to historical naming, but they are aimed at modern audiences with modern expectations. Even scholarly translations of medieval documents commonly render names in modern English spellings. Any of these lists might include historical names in authentic forms, but it's almost always impossible to sort out the modern names from the historical ones.

When you are faced with a name list, here are some signs that it is probably unreliable as a source of medieval names:

Here is a list of some websites that offer name lists that you should avoid if you are looking for medieval names. They are not useful, or are misleading, or are erroneous. Note that some of these sites are fine pieces of work for their intended purposes, but those purposes were unrelated to historical documentation, and the work is therefore not useful for the re-creationist.

We haven't listed name-your-baby sites like this one. There are dozens of them, and we haven't seen any that contain any reliable historical information. Instead, we've focused on the sites that you might mistakenly believe to be good, historical references.

The Medieval Names Archive is published by Joshua Mittleman.
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