A BBC article from last year, “1066 and all those baby names,” describes how the Norman conquest drastically changed naming practices in England — how Anglo-Saxon names like Aethelred, Eadric, and Leofric were quickly replaced by names like William, Robert, Henry.
Here’s a quote from University of St. Andrews historian Robert Bartlett:
The ruling elite set the fashion and soon William was the most common male name in England, even among peasants. A lot of people changed their names because they wanted to pass in polite society – they didn’t want to be mistaken for a peasant, marked out with an Anglo-Saxon name.
This makes me curious about the naming practices of other conquered civilizations…did they change? If so, was it by force (i.e., native names made illegal) or was it a natural progression (as with Norman names in England)?
3 thoughts on “English baby names after the Norman Invasion”
From Ed West’s Britain’s divided nation is revealed in our baby names:
From David Hey’s The Oxford Companion to Family and Local History (2 ed.):
William the Conqueror’s flagship had a rather nice name: Mora.