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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]. 

Erembourc

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. 

Ermenjart

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. 

Friday, 7 February 2014

A Suffolk dragon...

There are a number of dragons in the folklore of Suffolk and Essex, all attested around the early years of the 15th century.  The Suffolk black dragon from Bures, which is said to have fought a red-mottled black dragon from Essex, and fled the scene.  Another dragon which appeared near the River Stour in Wormingford made a nuisance of itself devouring wayfarers until killed either by Sir Bertram de la Haye or Sir George Marney [there are two legends] both of whom bear names currently reflected in in local villages [Layer de la Haye and Layer Marney].  Previous to this, a dragon in Bures was shot at unsuccessfully by militia from Colchester, and may have been the dragon killed subsequently by Sir Bertram [or Sir George].

Where, you may ask, are you going with this, Sarah?
Where I'm going is to explain to you that I've agreed to write an anthology of modern fairy tales with author Giselle Marks [who has guest blogged for me regarding her regencies] and I'm writing one story into which this information falls.  Find the facebook page for the anthology here

So, I have the opening of my story, which I want to share with you all, because I want to check if the archaic speech I've given her is clearly understandable [I wrote it in Middle English and ruthlessly culled most of it] to give the flavour of 1435ish without being too OTT.  And also I want to advertise the anthology when it comes, which should be at the back end of summer...

Oh, and I have named her Tanduistla, a Latinised version of, so far as I can put it together, Brythonic Celtic for Lady Dark Flame. This will come out later in the story.  -istl is a name ending in Medieval Welsh and Cornish female names. 



Lady Darkflame

She woke up and stretched, stifling a scream as the wound in her armpit pulled. 
It was festering, and the poison struck into her, burning, aching, sickening her to her very stomach. However, she could not afford to give in to the pain; soon her baby would be waking, hungry, and in need. She must go and feed herself, and then she could feed the infant who had consumed all her energies to care for,  ignoring the pain to return to her offspring.
She cautiously stretched her limbs one at a time, and dragged herself off her couch, to make her painful way out into the light.
The light hurt her too after so long; and as she attempted to set off to search for food, she knew that she was doomed to failure.  Dizziness filled her head, and she collapsed on the ground with a little cry. 

 Davy heard the cry and climbed over the stile to see if someone was hurt.  What he saw took his breath away.  A cynical eight-year-old  is not readily impressed, but Davy had to pause for a moment to collect himself before he turned and called.
“Dad!  Dad, come quickly, and bring your vet kit!” he called.  “You got a patient!”
He gave a high pitched giggle that was half nervous; he could not prevent it from escaping.
Richard Marney looked suspiciously at his son.
“What kind of practical joke are you trying to pull, young Davy?” he said.  “Your giggle did rather give it away,” he added apologetically.  It was a shame to quench the lad’s high spirits since his mother had left them for a richer man.
“It’s not a joke, Dad, there is a patient for you, but… but it’s a patient who’s rather outside your normal patients,” said Davy.  The note of urgency in his tone convinced Richard to pick up the case he always kept in the car, and hurry over towards the style.   Davy had already moved forward and was saying,
“It’s ok, my Dad is a vet, and he treats me, and there’s nothing he can’t do!”
Richard wished that this was true, and wondered if he would be treating some female hiker who had hurt herself.  He had trained long enough that he was quite capable of treating humans as well as animals, but some women might throw a hissy fit if confronted with a doctor who was a vet, not a human doctor.
He climbed the stile and gasped.
Davy was approaching the huge, black, reptilian creature with absolute confidence.  It was not a crocodile.  It had wings.  It…
There were no such things as dragons.  It must be a puppet, a hoax.
The stench from the infected wound came to Richard on the light breeze. 
That did not smell like a hoax.
“Here comes Dad,” said Davy.  “You need to let him see the wound, Mr Dragon.”
The dragon opened its eyes.
“Mistress,” she said, in a hissing sort of voice.
“Ooh, you can speak?” Davy was enchanted.
“I wis your sspeech is strange; dis iss the passage of time, I trow,” said the dragon.
“I know some Latin,” said Davy. “Nihil titillandum draco dormiens.”
“Thaet is wise rede, youngling,” the dragon panted, puffs of small flame coming from her nostrils. She hated to trust; but the boy showed no fear or hatred, and nor did the man.  Perplexity was the main scent from him.  She had to trust.  What a ‘vet’ might be, she could not guess, but the boy had, if she had understood him correctly, told her to show the man her wound.  She rolled onto her left side and raised her right arm.
“That’s very nasty, Mistress Dragon,” said Richard, deciding that politeness was always a good policy to any intelligent beast with six inch teeth who could breathe fire.  However unlikely this situation seemed.  “How came you by this wound?”
The dragon hissed, agitated, and smoke billowed.
“I was sore attacked by thaet murrain, Sir George Marney,” she said.  “His despite hath laid sore curse  upon thaet wound.”
“I know that story,” said Davy.  “Some people say the dragon – you – were killed by Sir Bertram de Haye!”
“Thaet was my mate,” said the dragon. “Yt was some turns of thaem seasons before.   Thus had I need to mate wid thaem Essex dragon.”
“I know a story about the Suffolk Black dragon fighting the Essex Red,” said Davy.
“Yt was a rough wooing,” said the dragon.
“You have a young one then?” asked Richard, who was busy cleaning the wound. Keeping her talking would keep her mind from the pain.
“My babe iss still in ye  schelle” said the dragon.  “Dis wound I, thou wilt not heal wid all the erbes in thy care, yt be cursed.”
“But that same George Marney is my ancestor, so I may remove the curse he laid,” said Richard, thinking it easier than holding forth about the wonders of antibiotics.  “I will fetch food for you and for your baby when it hatches.”
“Thaet one of Marney’s blode should be so good heartens me,” said the dragon.  “And I will learn thy language presently , as I learned that of the last time of waking.”