II: Notable Noble Nomenclature

Today Britain celebrated the birth of its future king, the yet-unnamed son of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge. In celebration, I thought it would be fun to take a peek at some of the most fascinating, famous, and bizarre names in the history of the British monarchy, from 519 A.D. to the present

Let’s begin with the present and work our way back, since the older names are considerably more unusual.

The current queen is a the fifth monarch in the House of Windsor. We’ll lump the Windsors in with the Hanovers and Stuarts. Within these houses, we get quite a lot of repeat names. Among others, there are two James’s, two Charles’s, two Edwards, Georges I-VI, plus the notable queens Victoria I and Elizabeth II.

Before the Kings of Britain (1603-Present), we have the Kings of England and (occasionally) Wales (1126 – 1603), who come from the Houses of Normandy, Plantagenet, Lancaster-York, and Tudor. Again the names are very typically English and not that fascinating. They include Edwards I-VI, Richards I-III, Henrys I-VIII, and Queen Matilda. And even though he wasn’t a king, we can’t forget the last prince of independent Wales, because his name was Llywelyn ap Gruffudd.

Now we can get into the super fun names. The House of Wessex (519-1126) ruled Wessex, which eventually became England. They also had the most outrageous names. From 519-775, everybody’s name started with a “C” — Cynric, Cenfus, Cuthburga, Cedda, Cwichelm, Cyneheard, Ceolwald, Cynegils, Ceawlin, Caedwalla, and Caedwalla’s brother Mul, who clearly did not get the memo.

Around 775, Egbert of Wessex started the new fad called “Everybody pick a prefix.” As a result, we get Aethelstan, Aethelbald, Aethelred, Aethelswith, Aethelweard, Aethelmal, and Aethelwold (several of whom were brothers), as well as two dozen guys whose names start with “Ed”. The Awkward Misfit Name award goes to Sweyn Forkbeard and his son Canute.

So when it comes to names, William and Kate have a lot from which to choose. However, if I had to suggest one, I’d probably go for a 1009 A.D. classic: Godgifu, Prince of the English.

But hey, anything is better than North West.


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