|Occitan Townspeople in the 14th Century|
Articles > Names
Occitan Townspeople in the 14th Century
by Juliana de Luna (Julia Smith)
In 1370, a court case involving the ownership of a chest of gold recorded the names of scores of witnesses in the normally sleepy town of Rodez in the Occitan-speaking region of what is today France. Six hundred years later, the story was told in the book A Fool and His Money. Over two hundred people were mentioned by name in the story.
The documents on which this book was based were recorded in Latin. To make the names more accessible, the author translated the names into Occitan vernacular forms and standardized them. Thus, small spelling variations have disappeared, but she did not change diminutives and kept at least one highly unusual spelling (Brenguier, which is probably a scribal error for Berenguier).
One hundred and ninety-seven men are mentioned in the book as local residents. Only seven have no byname recorded; the rest have a single given name and a single byname. The most common man's given name is Peyre, which 30 individuals (15%) use, followed quickly by Johan (27 individuals, 14%) and Guilhem (23 individuals, 12%). The top five names account for 112 individuals (57% of men) and the top ten names account for 154 individuals (78% of men). There are nineteen unique names, though most are found in other sources as well.
Thirty-four women are mentioned in the book. Names are more variable, with only a single name (Guilhema) accounting for as many as three people. Five names were shared by two people each, and twenty-one names were unique. Only ten (29%) of women have bynames given in the text.
Several different kinds of bynames are found, including patronymic, occupational, descriptive, and locative. No particular type of byname is particularly common, and no single byname was shared by more than three people. Therefore, bynames are only listed alphabetically.
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