The Dictionary of Medieval Names

The Dictionary of Medieval Names from European Sources is a very cool project that aims to catalog “all the all given (fore, Christian) names recorded in European sources written between 600 and 1600, minus the names of historical/non-contemporary people, and names occurring only in fictional literature or poetry.”

The project is still relatively new, but as of the end of last month it had almost 1500 entries and 30,000 citations and the project contributors have already been able to draw some interesting preliminary observations, such as that “Medieval” names like Gwendolyn, Rowena, and Rhiannon never seem not to have been used by actual people in the Middle Ages.

I’ve been rewatching the fourth season of Games of Thrones recently, so I looked up a few of the series’ notable characters. Now I know that Sir Gregor Clegane’s given name is derived from the Greek for “watchful, alert” (if, that is, Westeros had a “Greek” language), and that the closest spelling the DMNES has to King Joffrey’s given name is the Swiss Latin Joffredus from Switzerland in 1345.

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