* Surnames for nobility from the Middle Ages

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Surnames for nobility from the Middle Ages

Post by HarveyMW » 13 Oct 2018 02:43

I am entering names of individuals into FH (V6.2.7) that date from the Middle Ages, and as is common for that period, many surnames, especially those of French origin, have a name that includes their birth location, such as "Eleanor of Aquitaine". I am unsure whether I should be entering the name as "Eleanor /of Aquitaine/", where the latter part becomes the surname, or should I be entering "Eleanor //" and placing "of Aquitaine" in the Name Suffix field.

A similar issue has arisen over the use of Roman numerals for Kings, e.g. Edward III. In this instance, I have entered the name as "Edward /Plantagenet/", and put the Roman numeral "III" as a Name Suffix. Any guidance that can be provided would be greatly appreciated.

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Re: Surnames for nobility from the Middle Ages

Post by capnkeith » 13 Oct 2018 09:13

I have used Eleanor /of Aquitane/ . It is not necessarily the persons birth place such as in Duke of Edinburgh. For the roman numerals I put those with the first name this also helps when you are sorting names, for example in "Individual Records" when their are several Edwards or Henrys etc. Most are only known by their first name so "Henry VIII" looks better than "Henry Tudor VIII". If you then put his title in as King of England you then get "Henry VIII Tudor King of England".
With Earls and Barons etc I put the number with the title so it becomes for example "Matthew Stewart 4th Earl of Lennox"

Hope this helps.

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Re: Surnames for nobility from the Middle Ages

Post by mjashby » 13 Oct 2018 09:34

I suspect that the debate on what to substitute for a non-existent surname will have you and everyone else 'arguing' round and round in ever decreasing circles until we all disappear up our own trouser legs! And the final answer will have to be "Choose whatever works for you".

i.e. Immediate difficulty with one of the characters you mention: was Eleanor of Aquitaine ever really known by that name - the anglicised version? Or was she Aliénor d'Aquitaine, or Aliénor d'Ramnulfids (House of Poitiers), The fact that she was French and the spoken language of the Royal Courts of England around her time was also largely French may point to the answer. The general genealogical convention being that the name given at birth should be the starting point she would have been Aliénor [daughter of Guillém] d'Ramnulfids (House of Poitiers) and all other names/titles only apply as alternatives only from the date they were used/applied. Similarly monarchs only acquired the descriptive numeric if/when they came to rule and not at birth; and possibly not in their lifetime.

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Re: Surnames for nobility from the Middle Ages

Post by AdrianBruce » 13 Oct 2018 20:54

mjashby wrote:... monarchs only acquired the descriptive numeric if/when they came to rule and not at birth; and possibly not in their lifetime.
Indeed. If I understand it correctly, Queen Elizabeth I of England only became known as that in 1952 - before that, she was simply Queen Elizabeth of England in the books.

As for the original question, I think we can easily disappear into a black hole of genealogical rules, especially with the so-called rule that the name "must" equal the birth name. Imagine, to use an example that I have used before, I think, trying to sell a biography entitled "Archibald Leach". Name it as "Cary Grant" and you'll do a bit better. His birth name isn't that useful.

The question is - what are you going to use the names for? If you enter Eleanor under Aliénor - how many times are you going to go and look for her record under E-for-Eleanor instead of A-for-Aliénor? I would suggest that you need to have a look at the sort of outputs you'll want in reports and / or diagrams. Maybe you can record both French and modern English versions... If you make plenty of use of alternate names, and suffixes, and also titles (which is a completely different item from the name) and customise diagrams and reports to match, with possibly several names on them, you'll begin to find what works and what doesn't. Works for you that is...

Personally I'd be inclined to say that "of Aquitaine" was a suffix, so you need some means of ensuring that the suffix appears with the first name. But I've not tried it out... Other comments from experience welcomed!

Whatever you do, don't ask Medieval Genealogists who can get quite lost in rarefied details. Or to put it another way - I have never seen a more unpleasant set of list / board / forum exchanges than those from Medieval Genealogists discussing something or other...

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Re: Surnames for nobility from the Middle Ages

Post by Peter Collier » 15 Oct 2018 12:52

For what it's worth, I would enter "Aliénor //" with an a.k.a. of "Eleanor // of Aquitaine". The simple fact of the matter is these people just did not have surnames; a house is a useful descriptive for lumping families together, but it is not a name.

In the case of the King, I would probably enter "Henry // VIII of England". But then, what about royalty who have different titles (and even names) in different fiefs?

However, as others have noted, the best approach is whatever works for you. The important thing is to be consistent within your own work.

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