1. WhiteKnight75

    WhiteKnight75 Member

    Nov 26, 2017
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    Medieval last names

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by WhiteKnight75, Apr 28, 2018.

    So I have this fantasy world based on late medieval europe and I'm having trouble coming up with last names, specifically for the most prominent characters, most of whom are in the military and pretty well of so I can't really name them like I would all the poor people (Fletcher, Baker (name)son etc.).
    If you guys can just help me brainstorm that would be great!
    Some examples: Blackwood, Barett and Dahlman
  2. EstherMayRose

    EstherMayRose Gay Souffle Contributor

    Mar 2, 2017
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    Actually Decent Uni Halls
    Surnames.behindthename.com has examples of Medieval English, French, and I think some others too.
  3. Necronox

    Necronox Contributor Contributor

    Sep 1, 2015
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    Canton de Neuchatel, Switzerland
    Medieval last/family names worked somewhat different then it does today. Primarily speaking, they revolved around a prefession, a family member, or a location.

    Perhaps the best for you would be either the "family" name or the "location" name. For instance a location name would be: Jean de la Tour, Henri D'Auvergne, Louis de Bourbon, Richard of York, Jack of Gloucester, etc... These were very common and depending on the society they indicated either you where from nobility (like a noble house) or otherwise somehow kept landed titles from that location. Additionally, they sometimes referred to the person a person was born or grew up. Or, if neither applied, they could be given as a 'nickname' to them from where they were found. For instance, if a king found one of his future companions on a stone wall. They may simply name him "Bob of Stonewall".

    The family name is mostly in references to the family that person comes from. Primarily, those families where names in the aforementioned method (location: like the House of York, House of Lancaster, House of Bourbon, House of Habsburg, etc....). Secondly, there is a 'clan' names. This mostly applies to tribal societies (of remnants of), where a particular person could be identified by the tribe/clan he hails from. Thirdly, these last names could be derived from a nickname, the name of the founder, or otherwise. For instance, you could have the house of "Blackwell", so called because of a well they once painted black.

    Additionnally, it was rather common for lesser sons to claim names of their forefathers to a grandiose themselves. For instance. John Lackland could be present himself as John Lackland of York, or John Lackland Stuart (linking him to the house of stuart).

    Then you always have the 'father' names of sons as present in scandinavian cultures. "Fredericksson" or "Helvidottir" (Son of Frederick, Daughter of Helvi). You also have the norman bastardy names of Fitz (like Fitzpatrick or Fitzgerald). These then often passed onto their sons and so on.

    Similarly, a lot of merchant families that rose themselves into the higher status kept their names or their place of origins. (Like Medici). So that can give you an excuse to use more 'commoner' last names.
    WhiteKnight75 likes this.
  4. raine_d

    raine_d Active Member

    May 30, 2011
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