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Q: Personal names: medieval, Jewish, French ( Answered 5 out of 5 stars,   1 Comment )
Subject: Personal names: medieval, Jewish, French
Category: Relationships and Society > Cultures
Asked by: archae0pteryx-ga
List Price: $6.19
Posted: 12 Feb 2005 21:24 PST
Expires: 14 Mar 2005 21:24 PST
Question ID: 473626
Time:  1306
Place:  Arras, France

Needed:  authentic names (first and last) for two Jewish characters, a
tradesman and a rabbi.

Thank you,

Request for Question Clarification by leli-ga on 13 Feb 2005 04:25 PST
Hi archae0pteryx

Are you interested in suggestions from anywhere in northern France? 

I've found two pages which may help, and could try to find more if
this sort of thing would be useful.

1292 Paris

Scholars in Champagne 12th-14th centuries

I think last names are likely to be fathers' names with the occasional
place name, but could look into this further.

Best wishes - Leli

Clarification of Question by archae0pteryx-ga on 13 Feb 2005 16:06 PST

Thanks, northern France is probably close enough.  I see that the
first source is SCA.  Is its authenticity reliable, then?--it isn't

The second list looks promising too, but my French isn't strong enough
to read the text.

I want to be able to give names to two fictitious characters without
using someone's actual name.  I need to be able to piece them together
from real names so they're plausible without getting too close to a
known historic figure.  Are these all the names of actual Jewish

If you can help me out with the French a little bit, I can probably
get what I need here.  Are you willing to work with me a little

Thank you,

Request for Question Clarification by leli-ga on 14 Feb 2005 09:03 PST
Yes, Tryx, I'm happy to continue with this.

I'll talk to you later today.

Subject: Re: Personal names: medieval, Jewish, French
Answered By: leli-ga on 14 Feb 2005 14:06 PST
Rated:5 out of 5 stars
I hope this will be plenty of names to choose from, but please ask if
you'd like more help with sorting though them, and I'll do my best.

It seems that the most common ways of structuring names were:

Name ben Father's Name (Jewish tradition, used on mediaeval
gravestones and in  Hebrew chronicles)

Name de Placename (in French documents from the Middle Ages)

You don't need to worry too much about the names on the SCA site,
though there could be typos. They seem to have quite strict rules
about sources, and say these are taken from a study of:
"Occupational By-Names in the 1292 Tax Role [sic] of Paris as
presented by Hercule Géraud in "Paris sous Philippe le Bel", who in
1837 edited a copy of the original manuscript containing Le Rôle de la
Taille imposed on the inhabitants of Paris in 1292. The book was
reprinted by Max Niemeyer Verlag, Tübingen 1991, as Volume 2 of
Patronymica Romanica, a series edited by Professor Dieter Kremer."

Jewish names from 1292 Paris:

These are actual Tosafist (?) teachers/rabbis:
This section raises a question about which names are everyday names
and which are the biblical or sacred names given to Jewish boys.
When it says, "Juda ben Isaac (Sire Léon de Paris)" it reminds me that
one of the webpages I browsed through gave Léon, Lyon, Leo etc. as
everyday names corresponding to the biblical name Judah.
There is more on naming conventions in a couple of the webpages linked to below.

Names in this list showing alternatives are:
Békhor Schor or Joseph Ben Isaac
Yéhiel de Paris also called Sire Vives
Isaac ben Abraham known by the name d'Isaac le Jeune [the younger] (ha Bakhoukh).

Representatives of the Jewish community in northern France,
responsible for collecting taxes:
Vivant de Montréal de 1383 à 1387, 
Léonnet de Seneu de 1385 à 1388, 
Moreau du Port, 
Léonnet de Baynes 
Isaac Cristofle 
Benion de Salins

More scholars:

Tosafist scholars from Sens

Jewish heads of family recorded in early 13th century official documents:
Jacob de Molins, Segnore, Dex le Beneie, Bonevie de Houdan, Hélias
d'Orbec, Samuel, Leo de Beu, Dex Aie and his brother, David de Gisors,
Vivant, Ursullus, Bonevie junior

From mediaeval gravestones, the name of the deceased - Yéhiel, Obadya,
Salomon - followed by his father's name - Menahem, Elie (twice). The
father of Yéhiel is called Menahem ha-Levi, which the writer says one
should hear not as a patronym but as a tribal title: the Lévite.
Initial R for Rabbi corresponds to Master, Messire or Sire.

Scholars in Normandy:
a. Samuel ben Meir
b. Abraham ibn Ezra
. . .
d. Berakhia ben Natronai le Poncteur
e. Menahem Vardimas et Samuel de Falaise
f. Cresbiah ben Isaac, Eliézer de Touques et Simson de Chinon.

Bonnevie and his sons, Brun and Yossi, in Rouen, end of the 12th century

Graffiti: names from the Rabbinic school in Rouen:
Yehosafyah Kohen, Josué, Amram, Jacob bar Raphaël et Isaac.

All from a paper on Normandy Jews in the Middle Ages:

"The following names appear in Hebrew chronicles describing events in
western Europe during the 10th to 13th centuries, in particular the
Crusades and other attacks on the Jewish communities of Germany and
"The overwhelming majority of the men have names that are Hebrew or
Biblical. (Two names in particular, Yitzchak and Shmuel, are amazingly
popular.) Perhaps some of the men were also known by vernacular names,
but the authors did not see fit to mention them."

"The purpose of this paper is to use the naming conventions adopted by
the Jews of Medieval England (c.1070 - 1290) as a way of generalizing
the rules of period Jewish naming."
This should also help with any difficulties about which of the Paris
1292 names are masculine.

"The following names appear in Hebrew chronicles describing events in
western Europe during the 10th to 13th centuries, in particular the
Crusades and other attacks on the Jewish communities of Germany and

Martyrs of 1171 in Blois, France

I hope you find what you want here.

Good luck with the writing - Leli

search terms - using to avoid typing accents:

juifs juives hebraiques
"moyen age" xiiieme xiveme medievals
France & other placenames
noms prenoms patronymes

Request for Answer Clarification by archae0pteryx-ga on 14 Feb 2005 23:15 PST

Good work.  Thank you.  It looks like I am going to be able to name my
rabbi all right.  I'll put something together from these sources.  All
your supplementary comments are very helpful.  I also did my own
checking first and found that there was a synagogue in Arras, so
that's why I chose it.  No problem there.

I'm a little more concerned about my tradesman, though.  He has to
have an everyday name.  I can find some promising names among your
several lists, but I want to represent it in a way that is suitable
for his station.  If an occupational byname would be appropriate, I
could use a little more help there.  He is involved in the textile
trade and carries either raw materials or finished goods by cart
between seaport towns such as Bruges and points inland.  I don't know
French well enough to judge what might be an occupational title
appropriate for use as an epithet or byname in that time and place. 
Can you advise?

Thanks for any additional guidance you can give me.


Clarification of Answer by leli-ga on 15 Feb 2005 09:54 PST
What about marcheant/marchant = modern French marchand = merchant?

Alternatives could be drapier or telier.

Drapier meant a draper, selling made-up textiles, not just bolts of cloth.

Telier/tellier/toilier meant cloth maker and seller.

These all appear in the 1292 Paris list, though with no specific
Jewish connection. I think the only jobs mentioned in the list of
Jewish names are "priest", doctor and butcher.

Your man's name might come out as:
[first name] le mercheant

Hope this helps, but if not, can you let me know what you'd call him in English?

Best wishes - Leli

Clarification of Answer by leli-ga on 16 Feb 2005 01:07 PST
This article on the late 13th century Flemish textile industry makes
it sound as if "drapier" could be a better word for a generalist
textile entrepreneur than "telier".

Request for Answer Clarification by archae0pteryx-ga on 16 Feb 2005 21:22 PST
Thanks, Leli, but I can't read that article.  My tradesman has to be
something like "Daniel the cloth merchant" or "Ysaac the wool man" or
"Samuel <surname> who carries textiles" or whatever the appropriate
expression would be.  He has to be someone who drives a cart from one
town to another with goods related to the fabric trade, whether it's
to take carded wool to the spinners or yarn to the weavers or bolts to
the fullers or dyers or whatever.  He has to have a reason to be
passing back and forth between these towns with a cart.  And his name
or occupation has to be appropriate to that.  And he's a Jew.


Clarification of Answer by leli-ga on 17 Feb 2005 13:51 PST
Oh, Tryx, I hadn't understood where you wanted to go with this. I
don't have any specialist knowledge here, and have to rely on google
research. I didn't find any references to mediaeval French Jews with
occupational bynames, except for the couple of occupations listed in
the 1292 tax rolls.

As for the textile industry in mediaeval France, most pages I've
looked at name the trades involved in the manufacturing process quite
carefully, but only mention merchants for moving stuff around. I get
the impression that cloth was made by a series of tradesmen working
near one another in the same town, so it would usually just be the
fleece or completely finished products that needed transport.

Your woolman prompted me to look into "lainier" and it's now my best
suggestion. It meant both wool-worker and wool-seller in the Middle
Ages, and I found a 19th century reference to it meaning an
intermediary between farmer and manufacturer, as well as something
about 18th century lainiers being in contact with Englishmen. This is
also encouraging:

"Drapier" as an adjective can mean "to do with the textile industry";
the noun means draper or cloth merchant. I just don't know for sure
that a mediaeval "drapier" would have travelled around. Modern
descriptions of the Middle Ages refer to "marchands drapiers" and
"entrepreneurs drapiers", i.e. textile merchants and textile

I couldn't come up with anything plausible for "who carries . . ".

"Roulier" is a possibility, but I only know it's an "old" name for
someone transporting goods, like this:

Some suggestions would be:

Daniel le lainier (lanier)    = Daniel the wool man/manufacturer/merchant 
Daniel le drapier             = Daniel the draper/cloth merchant 
Daniel le mercheant (marchand)= Daniel the merchant
Daniel le roulier             = Daniel the carter

One of your interesting questions!

I do hope this helps - Leli

Request for Answer Clarification by archae0pteryx-ga on 17 Feb 2005 20:16 PST
That's just fine, Leli, you've given me exactly what I need.  I knew
you would.  Your answers have been tremendously helpful, and your
final suggestions more than I could have expected.  I'm all set
now--for this detail, at least.

There's only about 4000 more.

Thank you,

Clarification of Answer by leli-ga on 18 Feb 2005 09:24 PST
Dear Tryx

Thank you very much. Your generosity is sincerely appreciated.

It's good to know you have one or two details sorted out, even if
there are still thousands to come!

Researching period settings is one of my favourite GA jobs -
mini-voyages in time and space.

Good luck with it all - Leli
archae0pteryx-ga rated this answer:5 out of 5 stars and gave an additional tip of: $11.11
Excellent, thorough, thoughtful, and persistently resourceful response.


Subject: Re: Personal names: medieval, Jewish, French
From: fp-ga on 13 Feb 2005 02:55 PST
Two articles as published in the "12-volume Jewish Encyclopedia" (1901-1906)

JACOB BEN JEKUTHIEL ("French Talmudic scholar; born at Rouen; died at
Arras in 1023"):

"It is quite probable that Jews were living at Arras, as, indeed, they
lived in the whole surrounding region, in the thirteenth and
fourteenth centuries; but of their history nothing whatever is known":

However, these articles were written a century ago. In the meantime
historical research may have come to new conclusions.

Possibly, these publications could help answer your question:
Simon SCHWARZFUCHS, ? The expulsion of the Jews from France ( 1306)? (
extr. de 75 th Anniversary Volume of the Jewish Quarterly Review
1967,pp. 402-409), Revue des études juives CXXX, l971, p. 411

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