Collected Name Resources from LoARs (2010-present): - French Placenames -
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Collected Name Resources from LoARs (2010-present)

Articles from Juliana de Luna, Lillia de Vaux, and Alys Mackyntoich

- French Placenames -

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September 2010 - Juliana de Luna Link to LoAR Cover Letter

This series discusses the enormous (and growing) number of resources online that can be useful to heralds and to submitters. Each month, I'm going to post information about some that I think might be useful. If I miss some interesting ones, let me know, because I don't know everything.

There are some great sources for French placenames in Google Books. The standard source that we've most frequently used in the College of Arms is Albert Dauzat and Charles Rostaing's Dictionnaire Etymologique des Noms de Lieux de la France. However, there are other books with listings of period placenames, which include many additional citations. They're especially useful because Dauzat and Rostaing has a bias toward earliest citations, which are often not typical of later medieval citations.

The book I use most is Ernest Nègre's Toponymie Générale de la France. It's a two-volume work, both of which are searchable on Google Books in a preview format. Additionally, there is a series of volumes produced in the 19th century titled Dictionnaire Topographique du Département de X (where X is the name of a department in France). These have substantial numbers of dated citations. I follow different strategies for searching in these two types of sources. For the first, I bring up the Nègre volumes by searching on the title and name. Then I search within the volumes for the name I'm looking for. For the second, I search on "Dictionnaire Topographique" and the spelling I'm looking for. That's to allow me to search within the large number of volumes at once.

If that doesn't work, another approach is to search on multiple spellings of a placename. Start with one that you know is dated to before 1600 (identified from the sources I've already mentioned) and add the one that you're trying to date. If you try this, make sure that the source(s) you find give a clear date for the form.

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