french names medieval

Elegant & Historic: Medieval French Names

When it comes to naming a child or choosing a moniker for a new business venture, it’s important to find a name that not only fits the bill but also reflects character and personality. This is where medieval French names come in – steeped in tradition, they offer a sense of elegance and historical charm that is hard to come by.

In this section, we will explore the beauty and significance of medieval French names. Discover the allure of Old French names and learn about medieval naming conventions that continue to influence modern-day naming practices.

Key Takeaways:

  • Medieval French names exude elegance and historical charm.
  • Old French names continue to influence modern-day naming practices.
  • Medieval naming conventions played a significant role in shaping naming traditions of the time.

The Influence of Medieval French Culture

The medieval period in France was a time of great cultural significance, marked by the rise of chivalry, troubadours, and courtly love. This era, which spanned from the 5th century to the 15th century, greatly influenced the naming conventions of the time. French society at the time was highly stratified, with strict social classes and a hierarchical structure. This social structure had a significant impact on the names given to children, with certain names being reserved for the upper echelons of society, such as nobles and royalty.

Moreover, French culture was strongly influenced by the Catholic Church, which played a central role in medieval life. This religious influence is evident in the prevalence of saints’ names, which were often given to children to honor a particular saint or to ask for their protection. The use of religious names was a reflection of the deep faith that characterized medieval French culture.

Overall, the influence of medieval French culture on naming conventions is still apparent today. Names with an Old World charm, such as Isabelle, Guillaume, and Colette, continue to be popular among parents seeking a name with historical significance. The unique cultural and social context of the time has left an indelible mark on the French language and naming practices, making it a fascinating subject of study for historians, linguists, and anyone interested in the rich cultural heritage of France.

Characteristics of Medieval French Names

Medieval French names have a distinct charm that sets them apart from other naming traditions. These names were typically derived from Old French, which was widely spoken in the Middle Ages throughout France. The linguistic features of Old French, such as the frequent use of nasal vowels and the loss of unstressed vowels, give these names a unique and memorable sound.

Another characteristic of medieval French names is their use of diminutives and suffixes. Many names were formed by adding suffixes like -in, -on, or -ot to the end of a root name. This practice allowed for a wide range of variations on the same name, which created a sense of individuality while still maintaining a traditional feel.

Medieval French names were also heavily influenced by the names of saints and other religious figures. Many of these names, such as Martin, Augustine, and Theresa, remain popular to this day and have been used throughout history by people of all backgrounds.

Finally, medieval French names often had meanings that reflected the values and beliefs of the time. For example, the name Guillaume, which means “protector,” was a popular choice for boys, while the name Adeline, which means “noble,” was commonly given to girls from affluent families.

Examples of Medieval French Names

Boys Girls
Thierry Isabelle
Emmanuel Beatrice
Geoffrey Elodie
Philippe Mathilde

These names exemplify the stylistic elements and linguistic features that make medieval French names unique. They offer a glimpse into the rich history and culture of France during the Middle Ages and continue to be popular choices for parents seeking a name that reflects tradition and elegance.

“Medieval French names are steeped in tradition and charm, offering a wealth of inspiration for parents and individuals alike. Whether you are drawn to the regal allure of noble names or the spirituality of saints’ names, these timeless names are sure to captivate your imagination.

Noble and Royal Names

During medieval times, noble and royal families of France held great power and influence. It’s no surprise that their names were highly regarded and often used as a sign of prestige and honor.

When it came to naming their children, these families often relied on medieval naming conventions that included using Old French names combined with symbolic elements.

For example, the name “Guillaume” was a popular choice among the nobility, and it meant “resolute protector.” Other noble names included “Henry” which meant “ruler of the household,” and “Louis” which signified “renowned warrior.”

Noble Names Meaning
Philippe Lover of horses
Catherine Pure
Charles Free man

Royal names were even more significant, as they represented dynasties and ruling families. The name “Charlemagne,” meaning “Charles the Great,” was used by rulers who sought to emulate the famous king who unified much of Europe during the Middle Ages.

The name “Louis” was also commonly used among French royalty, as it was the name of many kings throughout history. “Philippe,” meaning “lover of horses,” was another popular choice, used by several French monarchs.

Notable Noble and Royal Names

Some of the most notable noble and royal names from medieval France include:

  • Eleanor of Aquitaine
  • Henry II of England
  • Richard the Lionheart
  • Joan of Arc

These names continue to captivate our imagination and inspire us with their regal allure.

“My ancestors didn’t come over on the Mayflower, but they were there to meet the boat.” – Will Rogers

Overall, noble and royal names from medieval France are an excellent choice for those seeking a name with a rich history and a sense of grandeur. These names continue to be used in modern times, maintaining a connection to the past and the enduring legacy of the noble and royal families of old.

Saints and Religious Names

The influence of Christianity on medieval French culture was significant, and this is reflected in the prominence of saints and religious figures in naming practices.

Saints’ names were particularly popular, with many children being given names associated with saints who had gained popularity in France during the Middle Ages. These names often had strong religious connotations, and it was believed that naming a child after a specific saint would bring them luck and divine protection.

In addition to saints’ names, religious names were also common. These names often had biblical origins and were associated with religious themes and virtues. Examples include Gabriel, Michael, and Raphael for boys and Catherine, Elizabeth, and Mary for girls.

The Significance of Saints’ Names

In medieval France, saints were revered for their piety, devotion, and miracles, and they were often seen as protectors of specific professions or groups of people. Naming a child after a saint was a way to honor and imitate their virtuous qualities while also gaining their spiritual protection.

For example, Saint Christopher was the patron saint of travelers, so it was common to name a child after him if they were born into a family of travelers or if their parents hoped they would travel often. Similarly, Saint Catherine was the patron saint of scholars, making her a popular choice for parents who wished for their child to become learned and knowledgeable.

Ultimately, religious names were a way for parents to instill a sense of faith and piety in their children while also seeking divine protection and guidance.

Modern Usage of Saints’ and Religious Names

Today, many parents still choose to give their children saints’ or religious names, although their popularity has decreased somewhat over time. Some parents choose these names for their spiritual significance, while others simply appreciate their timeless elegance and historical appeal.

Additionally, many religious figures and saints continue to be revered and celebrated in French culture, making these names a way to connect with tradition and heritage. Whether you are seeking a name with deep religious connotations or simply appreciate the charm of medieval French naming traditions, saints’ and religious names offer a wealth of inspiration and meaning.

Occupational and Surnames

During medieval times, occupational and surnames were commonly used in French society. These names were often based on the occupation or profession of the person or their family. For instance, names like “Le Ferron” (the blacksmith) or “Le Tisserand” (the weaver) were often used to identify individuals associated with specific trades.

In addition to occupational names, surnames were also used to denote family lineage. This was particularly common among noble families who wanted to differentiate themselves from the common people. As a result, many surnames were based on geographical locations, such as “De Normandie” (from Normandy) or “De Bourgogne” (from Burgundy).

The use of occupational and surnames was influenced by medieval French culture, which placed a strong emphasis on family, social status, and one’s place in society. These naming practices allowed individuals to identify themselves and their families, conveying their place in the social hierarchy.

Today, many surnames continue to be used as a link to a family’s history and heritage. Additionally, some occupational names have become surnames over time, such as “Lemaire” (the mayor) or “Boulanger” (the baker). These names serve as a reminder of the importance of one’s profession and family history in shaping their identity.

Romantic and Literary Names

Medieval French names are often inspired by romantic stories and literary legends. Drawing from the rich cultural heritage of medieval French culture, these names capture the imagination and evoke a sense of timeless elegance.

Literary Figures

Many medieval French names are associated with famous literary figures, such as Guinevere, Lancelot, and Tristan. These names hark back to the epic tales of chivalry and romance that were popular during the Middle Ages.

Legends and Myths

From Arthurian legends to tales of the troubadours, medieval French culture is steeped in myths and folklore. Names such as Ysabel and Aenor draw from these stories and imbue a sense of enchantment and wonder.

Poetic Inspiration

The troubadours of medieval France were renowned for their poetry and music, often singing of love and devotion. Names such as Raimbaut and Bernart pay homage to these romantic traditions and capture the beauty of the French language.

Classic French Literature

French literature has a rich history, with many classic works dating back to the medieval period. Names such as Esmeralda and Cosette are inspired by famous characters from works such as “The Hunchback of Notre-Dame” and “Les Misérables”.


From legendary figures to classic literature, medieval French names offer a wealth of romantic and literary inspiration. These names are a testament to the enduring legacy of French culture and the power of storytelling.

Unique and Uncommon Names

When it comes to medieval French names, there are many that are relatively unknown or overlooked. These unique and uncommon names offer a sense of exclusivity and individuality that can be appealing for parents seeking something different. Here are some examples of the lesser-known medieval French names that stand out:

Name Meaning
Aiglantine Derived from the Old French for “sweetbrier” or “wild rose”
Isabeau The Old French form of the name Isabel or Isabella
Thibault A name of Germanic origin, meaning “people’s prince”
Oriane Derived from the Latin word for “sunrise”
Renaud A name of Germanic origin, meaning “wise ruler”

These names may be less familiar than some of the more popular medieval French names, but they offer a sense of history and a connection to the past that can be meaningful to those who value tradition. They also have a distinctiveness that can make them stand out in a sea of more common names.

If you’re looking for a name that is truly unique, you may want to consider some of the uncommon medieval French names that are rarely used today. Names like Alix, Aalis, and Jehan can offer a sense of exclusivity and individuality that is hard to replicate with more popular names.

Modern Adaptations and Popular Usage

Although medieval French names have a rich history, they have also evolved over time to suit modern preferences. Many names that were popular in the past are still commonly used today, often with slight variations to keep up with changing trends.

For example, the name “Guillaume” has become “William” in modern times, while “Philippe” has become “Philip.” These adaptations have allowed medieval French names to remain relevant and beloved by parents seeking classic yet unique name options for their children.

Some medieval French names have also gained popularity through their use in popular culture. The name “Genevieve,” for instance, has been featured in various films and TV shows, contributing to its rise in popularity as a baby name.

Other names, such as “Aveline” and “Emeline,” remain less common but have a distinct and charming appeal, making them a top choice for parents looking for something more unusual.

Overall, medieval French names continue to captivate and inspire, offering a connection to the past with a touch of modern flair.


Medieval French names offer a glimpse into the past and evoke a sense of Old World charm that still resonates in modern times. From noble and royal names to occupational and religious names, each name reflects a unique aspect of medieval French culture.

Despite the passing of time, these names continue to inspire parents and individuals seeking a name with historical significance. Whether you are drawn to the elegance and sophistication of a medieval French name or simply appreciate the beauty of the past, these names offer a sense of exclusivity and individuality.

As we continue to embrace the legacy of the past, let us not forget the timeless appeal of medieval French names. So, go ahead and explore this rich naming tradition and discover a name that embodies the beauty and history of this bygone era.


What are medieval French names?

Medieval French names are names that were commonly used during the medieval period in France. They reflect the historical and cultural influences of that time and often have an elegant and timeless charm.

What are some characteristics of medieval French names?

Medieval French names often have a distinct style and linguistic features. They can be influenced by Old French language and have elements such as suffixes, prefixes, and unique spellings that give them a unique flair.

Are medieval French names still used today?

Yes, many medieval French names are still used today. Some have remained popular and have been adapted to modern times, while others are more unique and uncommon. They continue to be a source of inspiration for people looking for traditional or distinctive names.

Are there any famous medieval French names?

Yes, there are several famous medieval French names. Names of prominent figures and royal dynasties from medieval France, such as Eleanor, Joan, Louis, and Philippe, are still well-known and have a sense of regal allure.

What influenced medieval French naming conventions?

Medieval French naming conventions were influenced by various factors, including cultural, religious, and societal influences. The influence of Christianity, occupations, family lineages, literature, and legends all played a role in shaping the names of that time.