Late Period Italian Women's Names

by Juliana de Luna (Julia Smith)

© 2011-2012 by Julia Smith. All rights reserved.
Version 1.0, updated 29 February 2012


We have a shortage of sources for 16th century Italian women's names. One important place in which the names of women were recorded is lists of nuns and other religious records. Nunneries kept detailed lists of the women who entered into them and led them; secular women who made gifts to religious institutions and visited them were often also recorded. This article explores late period (mostly 16th century, though some date to the latter 15th century) women's names for Venice, Florence, and Rome.

In some nunneries, women took on new names when they were dedicated as nuns; in others, they mostly retained their birth names. But on the whole the names used by nuns in late period Italy are also names used by secular women. Thus, these lists combine religious and secular names, and should be appropriate for any women (except the double given names with Maria and another name; these appear as religious names only).

While most names had been in use for centuries, including saints' names and secular names, new naming patterns can be found in this data. The first is the use of feminine forms of family names as given names, like Pisana Pisani and Foscarina Foscarini. The second is the use of classical names, including both normal human names and the names of mythological figures like Pantasilea and Hippolita (the Amazon queens).

Because of the data sources mined for this article, no comments can be made about the frequency of names. However, it includes data about men's names and family names where they were recorded as well.


HTML editing by Mari ingen Briain meic Donnchada.

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