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Sunday, 16 February 2014

More unusual Medieval French names.

A few posts back I looked at Matilda [or Maud] HERE; and a long time ago I did some work on the name Toussaine HERE and now I've been seriously researching names, here are a few more Medieval names that did not survive to modern French which cropped up during my researches. 

Other –eut names for women besides Maheut

Medieval French produced other names ending –eut which where similar corruptions of the –ild[is], battle maiden, suffix.  Note, the –is ending is a Latinisation like a –a ending. This sometimes survived into later versions of the name..
The other –eut names  include:

Bauteut, probably from Baldechild.  Its English counterpart is Bathild or Bothilde, diminutive Badelot[a]

 Richeut, the French feminine of Richard or Richart.  This derives from Richild[is], which changed very little in the English version, being Richild[a], Rikildr or Richolda, and was joined by Richmaya, which appears to be an entirely English invention.

Gonteut.  I have been unable to find any positive identification of a Gontildis; however I would postulate a common ancestor to the name Gunnild[a]. 


Not a very feminine name, is it?  In fact the ending -bourc was used for several names and I tracked it down to a mangling of the Germanic/Frankish suffix –berga, a fortress, a common ending for women in Germanic languages, including the Saxon. English Saxon female names like Edburg, Kynbourg, Mildburg, Stanburgh and Whyburgh remained unchanged, though did not survive past the end of the 13th Century.  [I found one Kynbourg in the 16th Century].  In France the –burg softened to –bourc.  Erembourc derives from Eremburg[is].  There is some relation here, no doubt too, to the Old Norse Bjorg [more familiar to modern ears as Bj√∂rk]; it is not unreasonable to suppose a Norman influence here.
Other –bourc names include  Aubourc, Guibourc, and  Libourc.  These appear to derive from:

Alberg [remembering the French tendency to replace ‘l’ with ‘u’], which in Old Norse is Aldbjorg. 

Guiborc may derive from   Gerberga or a postulated Giberga; Old Norse provides Gudbjorg. 

Libourc has no immediately apparent derivation though it is possible to postulate Liutberga.  I have been unable to find any English counterparts to any of the French berg/bourc names. Different choices were made.  I postulate that Bourjot/Bourjoise was a name constructed initially as a pet name from one of the other –bourc names and attained its own identity fairly early. 


This is a direct softening of Ermengardis, or Ermengarde in English,  where it was never especially popular.  The only other –jart name I have encountered was Lijart, whose short-lived English counterpart was Ligarda, and probably derives from Lietgard[is].  Lidiard[is] is also a possible candidate, but having already lost the hard internal ‘g’ I would suggest this is much less likely. 

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