When you think of the “Dark Ages” or Medieval times, courageous knights, fair ladies, humble peasants, and royalty come to mind. Now, what were all those folks named? You might think some very strange-sounding names would be popular from the years 500 to 1600, but you’d be surprised. For every Dructbert and Ermentrude, which are some pretty out-there names, there were ten more Johns and Williams.
Yes, the most popular names pre-Renaissance are names that you’ll still hear on the streets today. This means for those looking for baby name inspiration, it’s a rich time to explore. Our friends over at Baby Name Wizard point out that a team of historians has been compiling an online database of the most common names from the Medieval Ages. We picked through the literal dictionary of names, so that you don’t have to and found some of the most attractive names for boys from the times. Grab a sword, because we’re going to get a little wild with old baby names that we think still work in the modern world.
Alan comes from an Old Breton word that means “deer.” The name was introduced into England, and thence to Scotland, from Brittany via the Normans. Alan was the name of a 9th-century king of Brittany and a 15th-century French saint.
The name of several early legendary kings of Sweden in the 9th and 10th centuries, Bjorn somehow sounds very modern while being extremely old. The name predates the German language as we know it and was found across the Nordic. There’s no one, clear meaning but most scholars settle on “bear.”
Crispin comes from the old Latin family name, Crispus which means “curly.” The name belonged to a 3rd-century Roman martyr and an early Italian saint. If Crispin is a little to crispy-sounding for you, consider other C-names for boys used at the time like Calvin, Christian, or Conrad. Just steer clear of some of the more colorful examples like Cunigunde.
Today, we consider Drew a popular unisex name for babies and a shortened form of Andrew. However, Drew in Medieval times actually came from the Frankish drogo or the Old Saxon (gi)drog which means “phantom” or “ghost.” The first known bearer of the name was a son of Charlemagne.
The name Emil made the rounds on the continent in the form of Amel for the Dutch, Amil in Spain, and Emilius in Italy, before making its way to England. It began circulating there in the 16th century. The name means “envious.”
Finnian is an extremely old name with Irish roots. The name means “white” and belonged to a few high-profile Irish saints from the 5-7 centuries. The name finally became widespread in England spelled both with one and two N’s in the 16th century.
One of the most quintessential Medieval names, Gregory belonged to 14 medieval popes, 6 patriarchs of Constantinople and Alexandria, a number of early church fathers, and a number of saints in both the Western and Eastern churches. The name has Greek origins and means “watchful.”
The name Hawk has origins scattered around Europe. The name for boys can be found in various forms in Old Icelandic, Old English, Old Saxon, and Old High German. Before that, it derived from the Proto-Germanic word for “hawk,” habukaz.
The name of a 4th-5th century saint who was responsible for translating the Bible into Latin, and an 8th-century Italian saint, Jerome has Greek origins and means “holy name.” The first recorded use of the name in England didn’t happen until the 16th century.
Justus was the nickname for a Biblical character and belonged to a number of saints from across Europe. The name comes from a Latin word that means “fair.”
The name of an important Roman poet, as well as traditionally one of the names of the Knights of the Round Table in Arthurian legend. Lucan means “inhabitant of Lūca.” In Italy, you would commonly find the name spelled, Lucani.
Maurin was a common derivative of the Latin name Maurus which means “moor.” The name belonged to a 6th-century martyr. We love the name Maurin because it sounds like a cool, trendy name while still having a storied history.
The people of the “Dark ages” were really just trying to do their best, but the similarity of Milo and Miles and has caused a lot of confusion for scholars. They were often erroneously used interchangeably! Milo comes from Proto-Germanic and means “generous.” Miles comes from Latin and means “soldier.” They’re very, very different, you see.
Would you believe the name Novel was a popular one? The name comes from Latin and means “young” or “tender.” The name got a lot of play from Italians who enjoyed the name, Novello.
When you think of the name Osmund, does Iceland come to mind? That’s where this name comes from and it means “god protector” in Old Icelandic. We probably think of England when we hear this name because it’s associated with an 8th-century king of Sussex and an 11th-century English saint.
Pascal is a much older name than we thought its roots can be traced to Latin and means “Easter.” There have been several popes with the name especially between the 7th and 12th centuries. The name transformed over the years with the Cornish coming up with probably our favorite (and unusual) form: Pascow.
Cameron Diaz turned heads by naming her daughter Raddix. But, the unique name and its forms have been around for some time despite how modern it sounds. The name for boys, Radax comes from Early Modern English, first recorded in 1590. Its meaning is unknown but we still think it’s rad.
Name to about a dozen Medieval English Kings, Richard was a beloved name of the time. The name has German origins and means “hard ruler.” English names Dicon, Dik, Dikon, Dycon, Dyk, Dykun, and Hick all derive from this name. Most of which are unfortunate.
Not just a comic book character, Rogue was a boy’s name found in Old Icelandic, Old Saxon, High German, and Middle French. The name means “crow.”
The name Salvador comes from the Latin word salvator which means “savior” and, more often than not, referred to Biblical Jesus. While the name was widely used across the continent especially in The Netherlands, Span, and Portugal. The name was not recorded as used in England until after the 16th century.
Yes, the English went and used this name for boys. The Anglo-Norman name means “wild.” The French got in on this wild name and even added at “U” to make it theirs. Sauvage became the most common spelling of by the 14th century.
Teague is a beautiful name with Old Irish origins. It means “poet.” The name belonged to a 10th-11th century king of Uí Maine and a number of 11th-century kings of Connacht and Munster.
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While most of us associate the name Titian with the famed Renaissance painter, the name was thriving in Europe throughout the Middle Ages. The name started as a form of the Latin Titianus before transforming to Tyciano in Italy. The name belonged to two Medieval saints.
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Wolf, alone was a popular name but it was also used as a nickname for a ton of medieval names beginning with Wolf. Wolfald, Wolfbern, Wolfbert, Wolfer, Wolfgang, Wolfgrim, Wolfgunda, Wolfhart, Wolfheah, Wolfhelm, and Wolfram were all around. Do not even get us started on the Wulf-names. Wolf comes from Old English by way of High-German and Old Icelandic. While Wolf was popular across Europe, it was most popular in Germany and central Europe.
We’re going to leave you with a weird one! Zemislav is one of the few examples of Slavic names used in Medieval Europe. Zemislav means “family glory.” The name was most commonly found in the Czech Republic. Would you name your little boy Zemislav?
There you go! Can you believe that so many of the names in use today (Zemislav excluded) were being used as baby names in Medieval times? We hope you enjoyed these 25 Medieval names and are inspired to choose one for your little prince.
Andrew is a Chicago-based writer who enjoys finding the best of the internet, obsessively making lists, and cooking for friends. After studying Film and Art History, he developed a deep love for both topics. Celebrity news, pop culture, and stories that bring people together are his passions.
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Baby Name Generator
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