Spanish Names from the Late 15th Century

by Juliana de Luna (Julia Smith,
© 1999-2000 by Julia Smith; all rights reserved.

Last modified 10 Mar 2000

Household accounts give a wealth of information about the lives of people in the past. These records of expenditures allow us to deduce a great deal about life: what goods were produced in the household and which were purchased, how many workers a family employed, and even the colors and kinds of fabric used in clothing. The account books of Isabel of Castilla (Isabella in English), the queen whose marriage to Fernando of Aragon united Spain and who sent Columbus on t his voyages of discovery, are also a wonderful source of data about naming practice. The names of 1957 men and 456 women who received money from the queen are mentioned.

From this data, a picture of Spanish naming practice in the last quarter of the 15th century can be drawn. Fifteenth century Spanish names reflect both traditional names that had been used for centuries and new names that were beginning to come into use. Names are fairly simple, with the vast majority of people having a single given name and a single element surname. Moslem and Jewish names appear in small numbers, and are identified separately.

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