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Thursday, 30 January 2014

Why Matilda [or Maud] is sometimes known as Maud [or Matilda]

 This refers to the confusion often felt by British children learning about the First British Civil War, also known as ‘The Anarchy’ between Stephan and Matilda in the 12th Century.  Matilda is also known as Maud, which was the subject of much hilarity in the tongue-in-cheek history book ‘1066 and all that.’

To understand WHY Matilda is sometimes called Maud necessitates a look into the development from the original name that gave rise to both.  This was Mechtild or Machtild, [Machtildis in the Latinised form]  in use several centuries before The Anarchy, being a Germanic name brought by the Franks when they annexed Gaul and gave it their name – France. 

Machtilde is plainly the forerunner of Matilda, it is not hard to see the small changes, the loss of the gargle in the middle to bring it into a recognisable state.  But why Maud? That requires the acceptance that the French don’t speak like we do, and the mass of the Gaulish people somewhat usurped the Frankish names in the same way that the English usurped the Norman French names and over time changed them.
The Norman French, being Viking in origin, also had a different way of pronouncing things and quite cheerfully imported Mactilde along with all its variants.  One of which had been treated to the French way of speaking from the front of the mouth, losing not only the gargle but the hard ‘t’ in the middle of the word,  and going via Mahild to Maheld, and not liking much to pronounce ‘ld’ either [cf Baldwin which is Bauduin in Old French] came up with the most common form of the name in most of France in the middle ages, Maheut.  Remember the French may put an ‘h’ in, but they do not bother to use it.  And remember too that the English had the habit of stuffing a ‘d’ on the end of words whether it seemed necessary or not. 
So, the version of this the Normans brought was Mahaut , pronounced more or less like a cat mew, Maauw.  Stick the excrescent ‘d’ on and you have Maud, pronounced, as it was then in the continental way of pronouncing au, or as close as I can get, Mowd. In early Norman documents the form 'Mald' also appears,
as the English also have a habit of introducing excrescent ‘l’, or in this case, I suppose, re-introducing it, the gentle reader should not be surprised that one of the pet names for Maud was Mould. 

Norman versions of the name Matilda: Mathilde, Maltilde, Mactilde, Matill, Mautild, Mahalt, Mahaud, Mahild, Mald

By 1499, the English had managed to do this to it: Mat(h)ilde, Maud,Maddy, Tilly,  Mathild, Mactildis, Mechtilda, Mazelina, Mahalt, Mahald, Mahaud, Mald, Molde(en), Mauld, Moude, Motte, Till(ot)

This is going to form part of an appendix on Norman names in the big name book, which is growing all the time.  I WILL get there... tracking down source books is what's holding me back right now.

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