Discussion:
The naming of John Lackland
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Peter Stewart
2018-04-04 02:06:49 UTC
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When this subject came up before I thought that the name given to John was probably chosen in homage to "prester John" the imaginary Christian "king of the Indies", whose legend was sweeping Europe not long before he was born. His next-elder sibling was his sister born in 1165 named Joan, and there seems to have been a strong predilection for this previously rare name for boys and girls around that time (the letter purportedly from "prester John" to emperor Manuel I was received in 1165.)

There was a slight ancestral precedent in the Angevin case, as the paternal grandfather of Joan and John was a great-grandson of John of La Flèche (died 1095/96), who has come up in another thread. Until I looked into this Jean's background I hadn't realised that his name was apparently revived in his agnatic family (the seigneurs of Baugency) at around the same time as it appeared among his descendants in the English royal family. Jean I of Baugency died in 1215/16 and may have been born in the mid-1160s.

It would be interesting to collect details of other Johns and Joans born ca 1165, if people here know of any.

Peter Stewart
Peter Stewart
2018-04-04 02:29:12 UTC
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Post by Peter Stewart
When this subject came up before I thought that the name given to John was probably chosen in homage to "prester John" the imaginary Christian "king of the Indies", whose legend was sweeping Europe not long before he was born. His next-elder sibling was his sister born in 1165 named Joan, and there seems to have been a strong predilection for this previously rare name for boys and girls around that time (the letter purportedly from "prester John" to emperor Manuel I was received in 1165.)
I should have written: the letter purportedly from "prester John" to emperors Manuel I and Frederick I was received in 1165.

It would be interesting to see if there was a sudden fad for the name John in Germany, Burgundy and/or Italy ca 1165.

Peter Stewart
Hovite
2018-04-06 10:05:22 UTC
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Post by Peter Stewart
emperor Manuel I
The father of Manuel I was John II, whose own paternal grandfather was another John.

http://www.roman-emperors.org/comnen1.htm

Elizabeth Withycombe (1945 The Oxford Dictionary of English Christian Names, 1st edition, page 80) said John “did not become common in western Europe until after the first Crusades”.
Peter Stewart
2018-04-06 12:45:15 UTC
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Post by Hovite
Post by Peter Stewart
emperor Manuel I
The father of Manuel I was John II, whose own paternal grandfather was another John.
http://www.roman-emperors.org/comnen1.htm
Elizabeth Withycombe (1945 The Oxford Dictionary of English Christian Names, 1st edition, page 80) said John “did not become common in western Europe until after the first Crusades”.
It's only in western Europe that the sudden popularity of the name from the mid-1160s is something of a phenomenon - in the Byzantine empire it was not a rare name before then. As you have noted, it occurs in the Komnenos family from the early 11th century. Also the Byzantines didn't undergo such a craze about prester John as in the west, as they had enough experience to recognise a hoax when they saw one and didn't care much anyway for non-Orthodox Christians to their east.

In France the name is harder to find - one of the few examples where it appears consistently in a family over generations before the 1160s are the counts of Vendôme in the Preuilly line - the first of these Jeans was born ca 1105/1110, and it was evidently a family trait to stick with favourite names, as he had two daughters named Mathilde and his heir had two sons named Jean.

Peter Stewart
Hovite
2018-04-21 14:33:11 UTC
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Ernest Weekley (1939 Jack and Jill, pages 37-38) offered a different explanation:

“In the 6th. century about half the names used in France were Teutonic. By the 10th. century these were supreme; but, as they no longer had a meaning for the now French speaking conquerors, new formations and combinations became impossible and the name-list was consequently very restricted … It was partly as a consequence of the paucity of existing names that, from the 12th. Century onward, the use of Biblical and saints’ names became much more common … The list of William I’s chief friends and supporters given in Planché’s The Conqueror and his Companions comprises 80 names … The only Biblical names are Samson and John.”

The John referred to as a companion is Jean d’Ivri. Planché (1874 The Conqueror and his Companions, volume 2, pages 220-221) suggested that the name John indicated some connection with John, Bishop of Avranches, Archbishop of Rouen, son of Ralph, sometimes styled Comte d’Ivri.
Peter Stewart
2018-04-21 22:50:30 UTC
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Post by Hovite
“In the 6th. century about half the names used in France were Teutonic. By the 10th. century these were supreme; but, as they no longer had a meaning for the now French speaking conquerors, new formations and combinations became impossible and the name-list was consequently very restricted … It was partly as a consequence of the paucity of existing names that, from the 12th. Century onward, the use of Biblical and saints’ names became much more common … The list of William I’s chief friends and supporters given in Planché’s The Conqueror and his Companions comprises 80 names … The only Biblical names are Samson and John.”
The John referred to as a companion is Jean d’Ivri. Planché (1874 The Conqueror and his Companions, volume 2, pages 220-221) suggested that the name John indicated some connection with John, Bishop of Avranches, Archbishop of Rouen, son of Ralph, sometimes styled Comte d’Ivri.
Connection with a bishop named John is not very unusual in a layman of the same name.

I don't see that Weekley has offered a different explanation, but just looked at a different aspect of the new popularity of John and very approximately at its timing. There is no equivalent sudden rise in the number of Samsons from ca 1165. This apparently specific timing is the aspect I am concerned with.

Apart from that, the Biblical name Manasses was relatively common in the Frankish aristocracy before the mid-12th century, as were Simon, Thomas, Peter and others. Non-Germanic names were used for centuries before the Norman conquest, as can be seen from a glance at Morlet's 3-volume *Les noms de personne sur le territoire de l’ancienne Gaule du VIe au XIIe siècle*.

Peter Stewart
Richard Smith
2018-04-18 17:56:00 UTC
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Post by Peter Stewart
When this subject came up before I thought that the name given to John was probably chosen in homage to "prester John" the imaginary Christian "king of the Indies", whose legend was sweeping Europe not long before he was born. His next-elder sibling was his sister born in 1165 named Joan, and there seems to have been a strong predilection for this previously rare name for boys and girls around that time (the letter purportedly from "prester John" to emperor Manuel I was received in 1165.)
There was a slight ancestral precedent in the Angevin case, as the paternal grandfather of Joan and John was a great-grandson of John of La Flèche (died 1095/96), who has come up in another thread. Until I looked into this Jean's background I hadn't realised that his name was apparently revived in his agnatic family (the seigneurs of Baugency) at around the same time as it appeared among his descendants in the English royal family. Jean I of Baugency died in 1215/16 and may have been born in the mid-1160s.
It would be interesting to collect details of other Johns and Joans born ca 1165, if people here know of any.
Genealogics has two other John's born between 1155 and 1175:

http://genealogics.org/search.php?mybool=AND&nr=50&myfirstname=John&fnqualify=contains&mybirthyear=1165&byqualify=pm10

Richard
Andrew Lancaster
2018-04-18 21:31:47 UTC
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Post by Richard Smith
Post by Peter Stewart
When this subject came up before I thought that the name given to John was probably chosen in homage to "prester John" the imaginary Christian "king of the Indies", whose legend was sweeping Europe not long before he was born. His next-elder sibling was his sister born in 1165 named Joan, and there seems to have been a strong predilection for this previously rare name for boys and girls around that time (the letter purportedly from "prester John" to emperor Manuel I was received in 1165.)
There was a slight ancestral precedent in the Angevin case, as the paternal grandfather of Joan and John was a great-grandson of John of La Flèche (died 1095/96), who has come up in another thread. Until I looked into this Jean's background I hadn't realised that his name was apparently revived in his agnatic family (the seigneurs of Baugency) at around the same time as it appeared among his descendants in the English royal family. Jean I of Baugency died in 1215/16 and may have been born in the mid-1160s.
It would be interesting to collect details of other Johns and Joans born ca 1165, if people here know of any.
http://genealogics.org/search.php?mybool=AND&nr=50&myfirstname=John&fnqualify=contains&mybirthyear=1165&byqualify=pm10
Richard
By chance I was recently reading of an earlier Count John in 1018 in Lotharingia. It has to be said that it seems scholars are stumped. He is mentioned in more than one record concerning the battle of Vlaardingen.

van Winter, Johanna-Maria (2017) “Middenrijks Friesland een Markgraafschap?” Middeleeuwers in drievoud pp.135-160. Originally published as “Mittelreichisches Friesland, eine Markgrafschaft?”, Jaarboek voor Middeleeuwse Geschiedenis 13 (2010) pp.33-57
Peter Stewart
2018-04-18 23:06:43 UTC
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Post by Andrew Lancaster
Post by Richard Smith
Post by Peter Stewart
When this subject came up before I thought that the name given to John was probably chosen in homage to "prester John" the imaginary Christian "king of the Indies", whose legend was sweeping Europe not long before he was born. His next-elder sibling was his sister born in 1165 named Joan, and there seems to have been a strong predilection for this previously rare name for boys and girls around that time (the letter purportedly from "prester John" to emperor Manuel I was received in 1165.)
There was a slight ancestral precedent in the Angevin case, as the paternal grandfather of Joan and John was a great-grandson of John of La Flèche (died 1095/96), who has come up in another thread. Until I looked into this Jean's background I hadn't realised that his name was apparently revived in his agnatic family (the seigneurs of Baugency) at around the same time as it appeared among his descendants in the English royal family. Jean I of Baugency died in 1215/16 and may have been born in the mid-1160s.
It would be interesting to collect details of other Johns and Joans born ca 1165, if people here know of any.
http://genealogics.org/search.php?mybool=AND&nr=50&myfirstname=John&fnqualify=contains&mybirthyear=1165&byqualify=pm10
Richard
By chance I was recently reading of an earlier Count John in 1018 in Lotharingia. It has to be said that it seems scholars are stumped. He is mentioned in more than one record concerning the battle of Vlaardingen.
van Winter, Johanna-Maria (2017) “Middenrijks Friesland een Markgraafschap?” Middeleeuwers in drievoud pp.135-160. Originally published as “Mittelreichisches Friesland, eine Markgrafschaft?”, Jaarboek voor Middeleeuwse Geschiedenis 13 (2010) pp.33-57
The name John occurs in much of Europe throughout the medieval period - but it was relatively rare before the mid-1160s and relatively common afterward (not just in its own changing frequency, that is, but also in comparison to other names).

Before ca 1165 in Frankish societies it is much more likely that any random John coming to notice will have been be a cleric rather than a layman. This doesn't necessarily mean that it was a name reserved for sons destined to be clerics, though given the role of John the Baptist this was almost certainly a factor.

In that context, obviously not every son intended for the Church would have followed this course in life. Counts named John are very few and far between, and they tended not to have sons named John who succeeded them. It seems that from ca 1165 many more families took up the name, often for heirs, and perpetuated it for eldest sons.

Peter Stewart
Peter Stewart
2018-04-18 23:13:55 UTC
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Post by Peter Stewart
Post by Andrew Lancaster
Post by Richard Smith
Post by Peter Stewart
When this subject came up before I thought that the name given to John was probably chosen in homage to "prester John" the imaginary Christian "king of the Indies", whose legend was sweeping Europe not long before he was born. His next-elder sibling was his sister born in 1165 named Joan, and there seems to have been a strong predilection for this previously rare name for boys and girls around that time (the letter purportedly from "prester John" to emperor Manuel I was received in 1165.)
There was a slight ancestral precedent in the Angevin case, as the paternal grandfather of Joan and John was a great-grandson of John of La Flèche (died 1095/96), who has come up in another thread. Until I looked into this Jean's background I hadn't realised that his name was apparently revived in his agnatic family (the seigneurs of Baugency) at around the same time as it appeared among his descendants in the English royal family. Jean I of Baugency died in 1215/16 and may have been born in the mid-1160s.
It would be interesting to collect details of other Johns and Joans born ca 1165, if people here know of any.
http://genealogics.org/search.php?mybool=AND&nr=50&myfirstname=John&fnqualify=contains&mybirthyear=1165&byqualify=pm10
Richard
By chance I was recently reading of an earlier Count John in 1018 in Lotharingia. It has to be said that it seems scholars are stumped. He is mentioned in more than one record concerning the battle of Vlaardingen.
van Winter, Johanna-Maria (2017) “Middenrijks Friesland een Markgraafschap?” Middeleeuwers in drievoud pp.135-160. Originally published as “Mittelreichisches Friesland, eine Markgrafschaft?”, Jaarboek voor Middeleeuwse Geschiedenis 13 (2010) pp.33-57
The name John occurs in much of Europe throughout the medieval period - but it was relatively rare before the mid-1160s and relatively common afterward (not just in its own changing frequency, that is, but also in comparison to other names).
Before ca 1165 in Frankish societies it is much more likely that any random John coming to notice will have been be a cleric rather than a layman. This doesn't necessarily mean that it was a name reserved for sons destined to be clerics, though given the role of John the Baptist this was almost certainly a factor.
In that context, obviously not every son intended for the Church would have followed this course in life. Counts named John are very few and far between, and they tended not to have sons named John who succeeded them. It seems that from ca 1165 many more families took up the name, often for heirs, and perpetuated it for eldest sons.
Peter Stewart
I forgot to add: Van Winter remarks (p 49) that modern scholarship has nothing to say about the count John mentioned above, because the name does not occur in any of the (Lotharingian) family connections that have been studied.
Andrew Lancaster
2018-04-22 09:32:58 UTC
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Post by Peter Stewart
Post by Peter Stewart
Post by Andrew Lancaster
Post by Richard Smith
Post by Peter Stewart
When this subject came up before I thought that the name given to John was probably chosen in homage to "prester John" the imaginary Christian "king of the Indies", whose legend was sweeping Europe not long before he was born. His next-elder sibling was his sister born in 1165 named Joan, and there seems to have been a strong predilection for this previously rare name for boys and girls around that time (the letter purportedly from "prester John" to emperor Manuel I was received in 1165.)
There was a slight ancestral precedent in the Angevin case, as the paternal grandfather of Joan and John was a great-grandson of John of La Flèche (died 1095/96), who has come up in another thread. Until I looked into this Jean's background I hadn't realised that his name was apparently revived in his agnatic family (the seigneurs of Baugency) at around the same time as it appeared among his descendants in the English royal family. Jean I of Baugency died in 1215/16 and may have been born in the mid-1160s.
It would be interesting to collect details of other Johns and Joans born ca 1165, if people here know of any.
http://genealogics.org/search.php?mybool=AND&nr=50&myfirstname=John&fnqualify=contains&mybirthyear=1165&byqualify=pm10
Richard
By chance I was recently reading of an earlier Count John in 1018 in Lotharingia. It has to be said that it seems scholars are stumped. He is mentioned in more than one record concerning the battle of Vlaardingen.
van Winter, Johanna-Maria (2017) “Middenrijks Friesland een Markgraafschap?” Middeleeuwers in drievoud pp.135-160. Originally published as “Mittelreichisches Friesland, eine Markgrafschaft?”, Jaarboek voor Middeleeuwse Geschiedenis 13 (2010) pp.33-57
The name John occurs in much of Europe throughout the medieval period - but it was relatively rare before the mid-1160s and relatively common afterward (not just in its own changing frequency, that is, but also in comparison to other names).
Before ca 1165 in Frankish societies it is much more likely that any random John coming to notice will have been be a cleric rather than a layman. This doesn't necessarily mean that it was a name reserved for sons destined to be clerics, though given the role of John the Baptist this was almost certainly a factor.
In that context, obviously not every son intended for the Church would have followed this course in life. Counts named John are very few and far between, and they tended not to have sons named John who succeeded them. It seems that from ca 1165 many more families took up the name, often for heirs, and perpetuated it for eldest sons.
Peter Stewart
I forgot to add: Van Winter remarks (p 49) that modern scholarship has nothing to say about the count John mentioned above, because the name does not occur in any of the (Lotharingian) family connections that have been studied.
It is an interesting way to put it, and the article confirms how the same methodology works the other way. Count Godfried who appears as well, does have speculations about him, including by van Winter, simply based on his name, even though Godfried was a very common name among people of comital rank in this region and period, and at least van Winter does not think they are all in the same family. (Jongbloed goes more in the direction of linking them all.)
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