Late Period Feminine Names from the South of France

Late Period Feminine Names from the South of France

by Talan Gwynek (Brian M. Scott)

© 1999 by Brian M. Scott; all rights reserved.


The following names appear in Appendix B, Lists of Prostitutes, of Leah L. Otis, Prostitution in Medieval Society. Citations dated 1357 are from Uzès (near Nîmes); all others are from Toulouse. The 1514 and 1521 citations were preceded by the definite article la irrespective of their form: la Johanna dela Crotz (forename + byname), la Granda Maria (byname + forename), la Ramonda (forename alone), la Vinhala `vine-keeper' (byname alone).

Diminutive forms are grouped with the root name. Multiple examples of the same name are indicated by a number in parentheses after the date.


Angelline 1528
Anne 1528
Anthonye 1514
    Tonyna 1514 This identification as a pet form of Anthonia is uncertain.
Astrugue 1528
Bernarda 1425
Bertrande 1528
Blanca 1514
Catharina 1514
  Catharine 1528
  Quataryna 1521
  Quatalina 1521
Clareta 1514, 1521
Domenge 1528
Francesa 1514, 1521(3)
Guirauda 1521
Jacquelyna 1514
  Jaquelyna 1521
Jammeta 1521
Janseranda 1357
Johanna 1514(4)
  Johana 1514, 1521
      Johanetta 1357(2)
    Johaneta 1425(2)
  Joana 1521
  Jehanne 1528(6)
Laurensa 1521
Lisette 1528(3)
Loise 1528
Magdalaine 1528
Margarette 1528
  Marguaritte 1528
  Margarida 1521
    Margot 1514
Maria 1514(2)
  Marette 1528
  Marieta 1425, 1514, 1521
Marta 1521
Mondette 1528
Nonela 1521
Olyna 1521 Perhaps a misreading of Olyva?
Pieret 1357
  Peyrinne 1528
  Peyrrine 1528
Ramonda 1514
Tomasa 1521
Tuffayna 1514 Otis hesitantly suggests that this may be a byname `hairy', but Tiphaine was not an uncommon name.
Valentina 1357
Ysabel 1514, 1528(2)


Bynames (individually-descriptive surnames) are divided into several categories: toponymic bynames (based on a place name), topographic bynames (based on a description of a place), ethnic bynames (an adjective based on a place name), occupational bynames, nicknames, patronymics (based on the name of the woman's father), and some bynames of uncertain origin.

Toponymic Locatives

Where Otis has given the modern form, I've put it in parentheses after the date. Note that in some cases there are several places with the same name, so a definite identification is impossible. Question marks are taken from Otis.

dAlby 1528 (Albi)
de Beumont 1521 (Beaumont)
de Bourdeaulx 1514 (Bordeaux)
de Camsas 1528 (Campsas)
Cassaigne 1528 (Cassaigne)
de Castilhon 1528 (Castilhon)
de Castras 1514 (Castres)
de Corneri 1425 Otis suggests a variety of modern place-names.
dela Couste 1528 (La Coste?)
dela Crotz 1514 (prob. Lacroix-Falgarde)
de Feurillet 1528 (?)
de France 1514 (Ile-de-France)
de Guera 1521 Otis suggests no identification.
de Livrono 1357 (Livron)
de Lymos 1514 (Limoux)
de Montalba 1528(2) (Montauban)
de Montat 1528 (La Montat)
Morlhone 1528 (Morlhon-le-Haut)
de Moyssac 1528 (Moissac)
de Navarra 1425 (Navarre)
de Nogarolis 1521 (Nogaro)
Peche 1528 (Pech)
de Privite 1357 (Privas)
du Puy 1528 (Le Puy)
de Rebelh 1521 (Revel)
de Romano 1357 (Romans)
de Sancto Petro 1425 (Saint Pierre)
Sarlade 1528 (Sarlat-la-Canéda?)
de Sartaigne 1528 (Sardinia)
de Saulmuves 1528 (?)
de Tors 1514 (Tours)
de Valencia 1357 (Valens)
de Valenssa 1528 (Valence)
Vendomes 1528 (Vendomes?)

Topographical Locatives

del Mas 1521 'at the isolated rural house'

Ethnic Bynames

la Bordelasa 1514 'la Bordelaise' (Bordeaux)
la Bordalesa 1521
la Compaignere 1528 (Compains?)
Compaignere 1528
la Gasconna 1514 'la Gasconne' (Gascony)
la (Granda, Petita)
1514 'la Lombarde' (Lombardy)
Lansquanette 1528 (Lansac?)
la Lyonnesa 1514 'la Lyonnaise' (Lyon)
Maleta 1425 Otis suggests that this may refer to Malause, but it could be some other kind of byname altogether.
la Maurilhaca 1514 (Mauriac)
la Pymontoise 1528 'la Piémontaise' (Piémont)
Serere 1528 (Sere?)
la Tholosane 1528 'la Toulousaine' (Toulouse)

Occupational Bynames

la Vinhala 1514 'vine-keeper'


Bastarde 1528 'bastard'
la Bastoyna 1521 'pack animal'?
la Bedossa 1514 'stutterer'
la Berena 1521 bera is 'old ewe', so perh. a dimin. of this
la Borgueta 1514 'little town'
la Bornieta 1521 'one-eyed'
la Esclopiera 1521 'gimpy'
la Garacha 1514 'plowing field' (or from garcha 'ewe')
la Granda Lombarda 1514 'the big Lombard'
la Granda (Maria) 1514 'Big Maria'
la Mandeta 1521 'vixen' (or perh. mandreta 'prostitute')
la Morelesa 1521 'negress, Moor'
la Petit Delh 1521 'the little Delh'; is Delh a forename or a common noun?
la Petit Hoeyl 1514 oelha is 'ewe', so perh. 'the little ewe'
la Petita (Fransesa) 1521 'Little Fransesa'
la Petita Lombarda 1514 'the little Lombard'
la Porreta 1514 'little leek' or 'little mulberry bush'
la Puta (Nonela) 1521 'the whore Nonela'
la Repentye 1528 'the penitent'
la Rossa 1521 'redhead'
la Soillarda 1514 'dirty woman'?
la Torta 1521 'gimpy'


All are Germanic in origin: BERN-HARD, WALD-BERHT, SIGI-WIN. The usual French forms are Bernard, Gaubert, and Seguin.

Bernade 1528
Gaulbert 1528
Seguine 1528

Ambiguous or Uncertain

Otis offers no interpretation of the byname Blanque; it could be either a nickname or a metronymic. She offers the nickname interpretations of la Serena. Withycombe mentions a 13th c. English instance of Serena, and Morlet (II:105a) has it as late as 1090, but in this case a nickname seems more likely.

Blancque 1528 'fair, white', or the forename Blanca?
la Serena 1514 'gentle' or 'siren', or perh. the forename Serena.
de la Terrada 1514 perh. topon., Terre-Basse, or perh. topog., 'sown field'

I can offer no certain explanation for these bynames.

la M[a] de Guera 1521 The 'a' in square brackets is a superscript. This appears to be some sort of locative, but Otis makes no comment about it at all.
la Petit Delh 1521 What is Delh?
la Feloy 1521 What is Feloy?
la Pastra 1521 What is Pastra?


Otis, Leah L., Prostitution in Medieval Society (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1987).

Withycombe, E.G., The Oxford Dictionary of English Christian Names, 3rd ed. (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1988).

Morlet, Marie-Therese, Les Noms de Personne sur le Territoire de l'Ancienne Gaule du VIe au XIIe Siecle, three volumes (Paris: Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, 1972), II:105a.

Editting, layout, & publishing by Arval Benicoeur