Sunday, July 20, 2003

Of the thirty queens of England between the Norman Conquest and the death of Henry VIII,

- 4 were named Matilda (counting the Empress Matilda, who never quite ruled England)
- 4 were named Anne
- 4 were named Katherine
- 3 were named Eleanor
- 3 were named Isabella
- 3 were named Margaret
- 2 were named Joan
- 2 were named Elizabeth

The remaining five were named Adela, Berengaria, Philippa, Cecily, and Jane.

This is why the Norman royalty needed to think of more names.

The really scary part is that very similar name distributions occurred in the aristocracy. I am currently writing a thesis about a queen named Eleanor (of Castile, wife to Edward I) and a lady named Margaret (Fitzpernel, countess of Winchester), and I keep finding more thirteenth century figures named Margaret and Eleanor to confuse the issues.

(Of course, the men weren't any better. In the same distribution of time, there were 8 Henrys, 5 Edwards, 3 Richards... but at least they all have convenient numbers in their names to help the poor historian keep track. No one ever refers to Eleanor of Castile as Eleanor III.)


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