Genealogy, heraldry, names & honours
Medieval historians have for some time recognized the significance of personal naming processes and patterns for the illumination of social relations such as kinship and spiritual kinship or godparenthood. Increasingly, they are employing the investigation of personal naming (anthroponymy) as part of their elucidation of cultural change-attempting, through changes in patterns of personal naming, to discern cultural transitions and transformations. Recent coordinated research on the European continent has produced major collaborative discussion of the cultural implications of naming in France, the Iberian peninsular, and 'Italy'. The fruits of new research into the 'Germanic' lands have also richly enhanced our understanding of cultural change there. So it is predicated that a new trans-European culture arose in the centuries about and after the year 1000.Omitted from this coordinated understanding of the arrival of a new European cultural tradition (as it came to persist) is the British archipelago. We are, however, far from devoid of scholarly examination of the culture of personal naming in the British Isles. An older generation of linguists produced a basic foundation, although it has not remained free of some criticism. Subsequently, several scholars have independently advanced the interpretive analysis (Clark, Fellows Jensen, Insley, and McClure).At one level, then, this book attempts a synthesis of that previous, highly valuable, but diffuse, research, to make it more widely known, understood and accessible. At another level, nonetheless, it engages with what has become a prevailing narrative of cultural change in England after the Norman Conquest: the rapid transformation of English naming (and culture) through the assimilation of a new, dominant, extraneous influence. By reinserting the detail and complexity, it is hoped to demonstrate that far from a single uniform (homologous) culture, there existed residual, even resistant, and 'regional', cultures. The account, it is hoped, presents a cohesive, new narrative of the cultural implications of personal naming in England, whilst also addressing important issues of gender, politics, and social organization.