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Tuesday, 21 July 2015

The use of literary names after the advent of Printing



This is some of the lost work I've been re-creating.  Originally it was a page or so inserted after English medieval names in the main body of the text, but I've done it out nicely and it's now ready to be one of the essays in the appendices of the great name book.  

The use of literary names after the advent of Printing, [and lists of names to be found in Medieval literature]

The publishing of ‘Le Morte d’Arthur’ by Malory in 1485 has to have had some influence upon the choices of names within the literate community.  It was the first work of prose to be printed in the English language, despite its French title.
It is impossible to discuss the use of literary names without some discussion on literacy in late medieval Britain.
The literate community in Britain was large, compared to that in many places, largely owing to the influences of Lollardy, which had moved from being an upper class conceit as a counter to the power of the church in the mid fourteenth century, to being a religion more of the incipient middle classes in the fifteenth century.  Literacy, with the intent of being able to read English language Bibles, was a strong tenet of Lollardy.  It should be noted that printing presses sprang up in such places as Bungay, which was also a hotbed of Lollardy, including such figures as William of Bungay who was burned in Norwich in 1512.
Literacy too was popular with the mercantile classes even if they were not inclined to Lollardy, since being able to read their own contracts meant that they could both avoid being stiffed, and save money on a clerk. It was a period of increasing numbers of Grammar Schools, including those with places for clever poor boys, like the Ipswich School founded by Felawe, which was attended by Thomas Wolsey.

The names from the tales of Arthur were known before printing, of course, by many, and the incidence of the Cornish name Guinevere or Jenefer in the fourteenth century cannot be entirely explained by Cornish girls bearing the name.  However, it is in the fifteenth century that we see male names like Ninian, Gawain and Percival appearing in sufficient numbers to be noted.  The more common version of Ninian, Vivian, had been around for a great deal longer, but it is certainly worthy of speculation that the literary form may have been an influence.   With the spread of printing, too, other sources became available, in addition to various Arthurian legends, which I will address in detail.  Other literary sources include the ‘Song of Roland’ and its related early sixteenth century works, ‘Orlando Furioso’ and ‘Amadis the Gaul’; as well as other works like ‘Roman de la Rose’, ‘Valentin et Orson’, Chaucer’s various tales, a selection of fairy tales, and of course the various gestes, or tales, of Robin Hood. 
Robin Hood probably remained one of the most popular sets of tales, crossing all social and class boundaries.  However, it is impossible to say how much influence it may have had on naming traditions, as the names within it are ordinary English names, which may be seen to be popular throughout the period, and were probably popular in any case.  Names for men such as Robert, Richard, John and William were always in the top ten,  equally Marion as a variant of Mary for women, and certainly Bettrys [Beatrice] was frequently used, if less common, even as George was less frequently used [George the Pinner of Wakefield and his bride, Bettrys].  Robin Hood was, like Chaucer’s tales, written in English and hence more accessible than the majority of French language romances, which carried the snob value of Norman French, out of the reach of many readers, though even as early versions of fairy tales appear to have been common currency, so were the Arthurian tales, at least in basic versions.

I will undertake first to list names from Malory, and then from other Arthurian legend bases.   One of these, ‘Sir Gawaine and the Green Knight’, is said by some sources to contain allegorical reference to John of Gaunt, an early champion of Lollardy.

Arthurian cycles

Morte d’Arthur
These are the most prominent characters appearing in the 8 books
Male
Female
Agravaine
Ector
Mark
Elaine
Arthur
Gaheris
Mellyagaunce
Gwynevere
Balan
Gareth
Merlin
Iseult [Isolde]
Balyn
Gawaine
Mordred
Lynette
Bedivere
Galahad
Ninian
Lyonesse
Blamore
Gorlois
Palamedes
Morgan
Bleoberys
Launcelot
Peregrine
Margawse
Bors
Leodegrance
Tristrams
Ygraine
Cei [Kay]
Lot
Urry

Dinadan
Lucan
Uther


Brothers: Balan & Balyn; Gawaine, Gareth & Gaheris. 


Chretien de Troyes [5 narrative tales c 1160-1190]

Male
Female
Alexander
Dodinel
Grain
Morhut
Blanchfleur
Alis
Erec
Gru
Nut
Enide
Amauguin
Escalados
Kay
Perceval
Fenice
Aras
Eslit
Labigodes
Sagremor
Guinevere
Arthur
Evroic
Lac
Taulas
Laudine
Bademagu
Gaheriet
Lancelot/Lanceloz
Tenebroc
Lunete
Bedoiir [Bedivere]
Galegantin
Loholt
Tor
Orcades [Morgawse]
Bertrand
Gales
Lot
Tristan
Soredamors
Bliobleheris
Garravain
Meleagant
Uriien
Ygraine
Bran
Gawain
Meliadoc
Yder

Calogrenant
Girflet
Meliant
Yvain

Carabes
Gornemant
Meliz


Cligès
Gornevain
Mordred





Other Arthurian cycles, often involving marriage to a fey [fairy]
There are many tales in which a knight of the Round Table meets a fairy woman and marries here but is under geas not to speak about his wife, which of course he breaks, bringing sorrow.  She usually repents and rescues him.  Another theme is that of the ‘loathly lady’ stories, a version of which Chaucer includes in the ‘Tale of the Wife of Bath,’ where a knight is challenged to find what women want, and is constrained to marry an ugly hag to do so.  On their wedding night she becomes a beautiful woman and tells him she may be lovely by day when others see her, or by night when he takes her to bed.  The proper knight leaves the choice to her, freeing her from haghood at any time.  Other themes involve resisting seduction by a hostess and the obligatory beheading games. 
Authors include Thomas Chestre, Marie de France, John Gower’s ‘Confessio Amantis’ [included for the loathly lady story of Sir Florent] and anonymous writers of works like ‘The Awntyres [adventures] off Arthure’, Geoffrey of Monmouth’s ‘Historia Regum Britannia’, and ‘Sir Gawaine and the Green Knight’. I do not include the main protagonists save where they have name variations or a leading role like Gawain[e].  I have not included the Mabinogian, although it influenced some writers as the names are distinctly Welsh and unlikely to be borrowed in England when Anglicised names were more familiar.
Male
Female
Bertilac
Launfal /Landeval/ Lanval
Anna/Morgawse aka Orcades, Seife
Branchus
Loholt
Clarissant
Florent
Mardoc
Gaynour/ Guinevere
Galeron
Melwas
Olwen
Gawaine
Olyroun
Ragnelle
Gingalain
Percival
Soredamor
Gorlois
Thopas
Tryamour
Gromer
Valentine
Thametis/Thameta/Thenilis
Hoel

Winlogee/Guinevere
Thametis is said to be the sister of Gawaine and the daughter of King Lot, and is probably synonymous with legendary Scottish saint Teneu.  In some texts Loholt is the illegitimate son of Arthur, but in ‘Perlesvaus’ he is the legitimate son of Arthur and  Guinevere.  ‘Perlesvaus’ is a 13th century continuation of Chretien de Troyes’ ‘Percival’. There were a number of continuations, so presumably the world’s first fanfiction…

Perceforest
An anonymous six volume romance in French, loosely related to the Arthurian cycle, a fanciful history of England and one of the earliest tellings of the Sleeping Beauty legend, Troylus et Zellandine. Written between 1330 and 1344, printed 1528.  I have left out such historical figures as Alexander the Great who were included, and the usual suspects from the Arthurian cycles.

Male
Female
Bethides
Gaddifer
Circe
Themis
Betis
Perceforest
Lucina
Venus
Darmant
Troylus
Sebille
Zellandine
Darnadon




The Melusine cycle
It is still a French proverb that one may weep like Melusine.  This is a two generation cycle of husbands disobeying conditions laid on them by their wives  about not seeing them at certain times.   This also has connections to the Arthurian cycle as knights descended from those of the Round Table appear as heroes. The best known literary version is by Jean d’Arras composed 1382-1394

Male
Female
Elynas
Nathas
Melior
Palatyne
Geoffrey
Raymond
Melusine
Pressyne


Song of Roland

The Song of Roland purported to be a history of the first Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire, Charlemagne, or Charles the Great.  Tales of derring-do and the theme of friendship between Oliver and Roland.  Dodgy for Merovingian names but certainly a source for late medieval ones.  Some characters appear to be shared with the Arthurian cycles, probably reflecting a similar folk source.

Male
Male
Female
Alard
Guy
Angelina
Allery
Hoel
Berenice
Amadis
Lambert
Bertha
Astolfo
Malagigi
Blanchefleur
Aymon
Nayme/Nami
Bradamant
Baldwin
Ogier
Dianora
Basin
Oliver
Dorigen
Berengar
Otuël
Elizana
Doon
Peridan
Oriana
Ferumbias/Fierabras
Renaud/Rinaldo

Florismart
Richand

Ganelan
Richard

Geoffrey
Riol

Guerin
Roland/Orlando

Guichard
Samson

Guillaume
Thiery



Chaucer
Chaucer’s characters are a mix of names that were extant in his time, and those from tales he borrows wholesale from the classics.  Other tales he tells are often borrowed wholesale from Boccaccio and Gower like Patient Griselda or Grishilde. I have not included the names of Greek gods, nor have I included names from Bible stories like Judith and Holofernes which are too well known to require listing

Names in common currency
Male
Female
Absolon[Absolom]
Oliver
Alice
Jill
Alan
Oswald
Alisoun
Mabely
Gervase
Peter/Piers/Perkin
Blanche
Malkin
Guy
Ralf
Cecily
Maudelayne
Harry
Robin/Robert
Constance
Molly
Hubert
Roger/Hodge
Crysede
Prudence
Hugh
Simon/Simkin
Eglantyne
Rosemund
Jack/John/Jankyn
Solomon
Emelye[Emily]
Sophia
Maurice
Thomas
Grishilde
Theodora
Nicholas
Walter
Helen


Classical/pseudo-classical & Persian names in Chaucer
Male
Female
Achilles
Hector
Alcestis
Livia
Achelous
Hercules
Alcyone
Lucilla
Aella
Jason
Anelida
Lucrece
Aeneas
Julius
Ariadne
Medea
Apollonius
Leander
Briseis
Myrrha
Appius
Lucan
Canace
Pasiphaë
Arcite
Lycurgus
Clytemnestra
Penelope
Arrius
Odenatus
Creusa
Philomela
Cambyses
Palamon
Crysede
Phyllis
Capaneus
Pandarus
Deianira
Progne
Ceryx
Pirathous
Dido
Thisbe
Claudius
Pyramus
Eriphyle
Virginia
Creon
Theseus
Helen
Zenobia
Cyrus
Tiburce
Hero

Deiphobus
Troylus
Hermione

Demophon
Valerian
Hypermnestra

Diomed[es]
Virginius
Hyppolyta

Emetreus

Hipspyle


Other mythic names in Chaucer [including those from Arthurian cycles]
Male
Female
Algarsyf
Elephaunt
Percival
Canacee
Aurelius
Ganelan
Pleyndamour
Donegild
Averagus
Guy
Thopas
Dorigen
Bevis
Hermanno
Thymaldo
Elpheta
Cambal
Libeaus
Ugolino
Hermengild
Cambuscan
Melibee
Ypotis
Theodora

Interestingly, some scholars postulate that the tale of the Wife of Bath shows that she has an interest in Lollardy, if not actually being a Lollard, since remarriage of widows was a tenet of the beliefs, and her extremely free thinking suggests Lollard influences.  Where Chaucer stood on this is, of course, a moot point.  He did write a disclaimer to the effect that opinions of his characters did not necessarily reflect his own.  However, as an author myself, I cannot think that he was not pleased that Lollard literacy meant more sales of his books.  Religion is religion but business is business!

Here’s one more table of literary names available by the 16th century, mostly from French romances and ballads:

Male
Female
Abelard
Argentine
Electra
Amylion
Beatrix
Erembors
Amys
Belisant
Heloise
Aucassin
Bessee
Idoine
Flore
Blanche
Margeurite
Orson
Blancheflore
Nicolette
Pippin
Calafia
Yolande
Valentin
Douette



references: Chaucer, selected works; Sir Gawaine and the Green Knight; A lytel Geste of Robin Hood; Wiki on Malory, Chretien de Troyes etc [because I need to go to the library to look at the damn books but Wiki is a shortcut and I can check properly later, and there's only so much Middle English I can take before I get a headache]; the Oxford Treasury of French Literature.