Italian Names from 1364 and 1441

by Mari ingen Briain meic Donnchada (Kathleen M. O'Brien)

© 2000-2011 by Kathleen M. O'Brien. All rights reserved.
Version 1.1, updated 04 September 2011


Names analyzed in this article are found in:

Banker, James R. Death in the Community. (Athens, Georgia: University of Georgia Press, 1988).

In his work, Banker has transcribed the statutes of two confraternities, those of the Confraternity of Santa Croce, which date to 1364, and those of the Confraternity of Santa Maria della Notte, which date to 1441.

Names of various people, mostly members of these confraternities, are listed throughout these statutes. In total, there are 64 men and 1 woman mentioned.

Onomastic Trends Noted by Banker

Unlike many books of this type, Banker addresses onomastic trends he has noticed in various documents that he analyzed, only two of which were the statutes of Santa Croce and of Santa Maria della Notte. Banker's observations are so very useful in understanding onomastic changes going on during this time that I have transcribed critical points below.

Banker notes a marked shift around the end of the 13th C to the beginning of the 14th C, during which the popularity of given names of Germanic origin dropped off and was replaced by given names drawn from religious sources. An interesting point, which fits in with Banker's observations, is that none of the Germanic origin names listed by Banker in the first paragraph below show up in the statutes of Santa Croce or of Santa Maria della Notte in any form with the single exception of Ugolinus. The name Uguccio appears once in the Statutes of Santa Croce (1364). Uguccio is a diminutive of Ugo and is, therefore, etymologically related to Ugolinus.

pp. 179-180:

The rise of the Fraternity of San Bartolomeo and the laity's assumption of the administration and memorialization of the dead occurred contemporaneously with an onomastic revolution. From the second half of the thirteenth century to the second half of the fourteenth century, the practice of naming newborns changed radically in San Sepolcro. The fundament of names that parents drew from in naming their babies at baptism enlarged significantly, and a portion of the available names, those of Germanic origin, fell into disuse. Names drawn from Scripture, the Church Fathers, and the saints were by the second half seen as appropriate or expressing the capacities inherent within the newborn. A comparison of the names of the male entrants to the Fraternity of San Bartolomeo in the 1280s with the males in the Confraternity of Sant'Antonio in 1393 demonstrates this revolution in the naming of children. The names of the male entrants in 1285 to 1289 were drawn almost exclusively from Germanic sources. Examples would include Hondeus, Mutius, Rosellus, Brunatius, Torengellus, Ramaldus, Ugolinus, and Ghigus. These and similar Germanic names made up 85 percent of the 185 male entrants to the fraternity in the sample years. Infrequently does one find a Jacobus, Matheus, Johannes, or Martinus. 7

The revolution in naming children implies a change in the character parents wanted to impart to their offspring. By the end of the fourteenth century the majority of the males in San Sepolcro carried the names of the heroes of Christian history. Taken as a whole, this transformation denotes a radical change in the way a society conceives of itself. Of the 198 men of the Confraternity of Sant'Antonio in 1393, 123 or 62 percent, went by Christian names. This represents a 400 percent increase over the sample taken from the Fraternity of San Bartolomeo a century earlier. The number of Christian names in the in the 1280s, 28, was equaled in 1393 by men who possessed the name of the confraternal patron saint, Antonio. 8 The possession of Christian names integrated these men into participation in the divine economy. In later centuries, when Christian names were customarily employed, their use lost a great deal of its significance. But in these generations of transition from one system of naming to another, the men with Christian names were at birth veritable Christian reincarnations, carrying their parents' hopes that the children would be replications of their namesakes. The importance of this imitation of historical forebears cannot easily be measured for the individual, but the quantitative change and the timing with the confraternal assumption of sacred tasks suggests an appropriation of a sacred character for the laymen. 9

pp. 258-259, note 25:

25. The problem of identifying family names in San Sepolcro is complicated by the practice there of employing the Latin ablative de to denote descent in the vernacular, whereas in many other parts of Tuscany the de in the Italian indicated an accepted family name. For the judgement that substantial social status can be assumed from a family name, see, among others, Herlihy and Klapisch-Zuber, Tuscans and Their Families, pp. 347-52, and Samuel K. Cohn, The Laboring Classes in Renaissance Florence (New York: Academic Press, 1980), p. 23.

Names Found in the Statutes of Santa Croce and of Santa Maria della Notte

Several different name constructions are found among the names listed in these statutes. In the 3 cases of the single given name construction, these are all references to individuals who were mentioned earlier in the same document.

The links below each lead to specific areas on the name elements page.


Name Constructions found in Women's Names:

 Frequency:   Name Pattern:
1[Feminine Given Name] [Patronymic Byname]

Name Constructions found in Men's Names:

Frequency:   Name Pattern:
19[Masculine Given Name] [Patronymic Byname] [Non-Patronymic Byname]
18[Masculine Given Name] [Patronymic Byname] [Patronymic Byname]
19[Masculine Given Name] [Non-Patronymic Byname]
11[Masculine Given Name] [Patronymic Byname]
3[Masculine Given Name]
2[Masculine Given Name] [Patronymic Byname] [Patronymic Byname] [Non-Patronymic Byname]

I have also compiled a list of the full names of the people mentioned in these statutes and grouped them by individuals.

Medieval Scotland | Medieval Names Archive | Italian Names from 1364 and 1441

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