What’s in a Name?

Book being read: A. K. Bennison, The Great Caliphs: The Golden Age of the ‘Abbasid Empire, (2011)

On the 15th of July, at 4.15 in the morning one of the most important things to happen in a person’s life, happened to me. I had to give a newborn baby her name! Fortunately for me, my wife and I had settled on a name many weeks ago; however, I was not prepared for the repercussion of such a decision.

When you name your child, you often do it in the security of your own home and in the safety of a discussion with your partner – away from judging ears. But there comes that point when the birth has occurred, the jubilation has peaked and people need to be told. I was not aware that there is a protocol with these forms of calls! You can’t just ring and say it’s a girl and talk about how excited you are – oh no. You need to state the time of birth, the gender, the name, and then the birth weight followed by any complications that may have occurred . . . in that order preferably.

So the calls were made and people were told, excitement ensued and the days passed with great enthuse. After the ecstasy dies down, questions begin to be asked; why that name? I believe, but perhaps this is unfair, that this question is more accusatory if one of the parents is an historian.

Our baby girl has been named Matilda Dorothy. Dorothy is her middle name very simply because it is the name of both of my wife’s grandmothers. Keeping with convention, allowing the continuity of the family name originating from times before surnames existed – read the Viking Sagas, or the Bible for that matter, and see how many names are SoandSo, son of SoandSo, son of . . .  Your family name was not originally a surname but your father or mother or grandmother or grandfather’s name. Hence, so many Scandinavian surnames end in -son, i.e. son of, or the use of Ben as a name (meaning son of.)

Our little girl was given the first name Matilda because we like the name; it is as simple as that. However, this is not good enough if you are a history lover apparently. She must have been named after Empress Matilda whose claims to the English throne caused ‘The Anarchy’ period, or after William the Conqueror’s wife and queen regent of England. There must be a reason! There must! But there is not, we like the name and that is that.

Although I will obviously be teaching her all about Empress Matilda, as well as William the Conqueror’s Matilda and any other historical Matilda I can find over her childhood – I’m not a monster!

Other News

I have an article coming out in Medieval Warfare Magazine at the end of this month on Owain Glyn Dwr’s crowning victory over the English at Bryn Glas/Pilleth (1402).

Just a short one today, Matilda is asleep on me and is getting annoyed by all my incessant typing.

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