Collected Name Resources from LoARs (2010-present): - Patronymic Bynames -
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Collected Name Resources from LoARs (2010-present)

Articles from Juliana de Luna and Lillia de Vaux

- Patronymic Bynames -

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May 2012 - Juliana de Luna Link to LoAR Cover Letter

In March, we began a discussion of marital bynames: how husbands and wives share (or fail to share) bynames. While it's typical in the modern world for a married couple to share a surname, this was not true in many areas of Europe in the Middle Ages.

One common type of medieval byname is a patronymic byname, which names a person as their father's child (less frequently, there are matronymic bynames, which indicate a person's mother, or other bynames of relationship). In period, many of these bynames are quite literal (as opposed to inherited family names). These literal bynames are not shared by spouses; having the same patronymic byname would suggest that they have the same father.

There are a few late period cultures and languages in which women sometimes take on their husband's family name (there are no languages or cultures in which this always happens). This is true for English and for French. In German, there is an interesting variant: married women often use a femininized version of their husband's surname (see Aryanhwy merch Catmael's "Women's Surnames in 15th- and 16th-Century Germany" http://www.ellipsis.cx/~liana/names/german/womenssurnames.html for more details about constructing these names).

In those languages that are recorded by English scribes, we also see women's names recorded with their husband's bynames. We are not sure whether this is an accurate recording of how those women would have written or said their names. However, in late period Anglicized Irish and Welsh names recorded by English scribes, we see women using their husband's bynames.

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