View Full Version : Names in the Low Lands before 1150

Friday, August 5th, 2005, 09:11 AM
This website presents an overview of person's names in the Low Lands in the early Middle Ages. It is primarily aiming at people interested in living history and re-enactment, who want to create a persona in this period. I have noticed that this site is also appreciated by genealogists, LRP-enthusiasts, writers of historic novels, and even expectant mothers.

The variation in given names is one of the most striking features of his survey. The early Middle Ages are also known as the Dark Ages, as if everything in this period was sinister and grey. As far as persons' names are concerned, this picture is absolutely incorrect. The pool of names was virtually limitless, the names sounded harmonious and they expressed beauty and strength. In this respect, the early Middle Ages were a bright and colourful era.

The compilation is derived from primary sources: scriptures, usually in Latin, written during the early Middle Ages. I have tried to include all available charter books for The Netherlands and Flanders (see regions). Furthermore, I have included some narrative sources. The compilation yielded names from over 4500 individuals.

If you are looking for a given name for your Dark Age or early-medieval persona, you can pick one from the lists of female names or male names. There is a choice of 1450 unique names. The vast majority consists of Germanic names, composed of two elements. In the table of roots you will find the meaning of each Germanic element.
You can look at the other pages as well, to find out the correct spelling for your period, and to make sure that you didn't choose a very unusual name (or maybe that's just what you wanted). You can even compose an original name: one that's not in the lists, but that could have occurred in the Low Lands before the year 1150. Before you do so, do have a look at the composition rules.

Most people in the early Middles Ages had just one single name, without a byname. Over the centuries, naming habits changed: biblical names became more popular and the variation in Germanic names decreased. Bynames, necessary to identify individuals, became more and more common. The present compilation covers the beginning of this new era in person's names. The analysis pages illustrate some of the changes over the years, and some of the differences and similarities between the various social classes.

For the real die-hards, there is an Excel-sheet with my raw data. This spreadsheet presents each individual that I found in the sources. So if you want to know exactly where and when a particular name occurred, consult this list. It also allows you to do your own analyses or to re-order the data by region, or by social class, etc.
link (http://www.keesn.nl/names/)