Recently, I have been researching Hildegard of Bingen, a very interesting visionary abbess active in twelfth-century Germany. Her life and work are better documented than most women in medieval Europe – there are surviving copies of books, music, and correspondence with all kinds of influential figures attributed to her, as well as a biography started during her life and completed shortly after her death that was used to make a case for her sainthood (which she didn’t officially fully receive until 2012).

There are a lot of books about Hildegard (I currently have 16 checked out from the library), but a good starting place is Hildegard of Bingen: The Woman of Her Age by Fiona Maddocks. It’s sort of a pop history, or a biography for general readers – less academic and less theological than some of the other books in my pile. It’s organized a little bit differently than I might have organized it, but it’s easy to read and helps a modern reader get situated in Hildegard’s world.

Illustration of Hildegard of Bingen receiving a holy vision (from an illuminated manuscript)

While reading this book, I encountered a surprising number of names I had never seen before, so I decided to compile a list of interesting names from Hildegard of Bingen: The Woman of Her Age. I didn’t include every name mentioned in the book, only the ones that were new to me or that I thought might be new to many people (for example, Bernard of Clairvaux is mentioned several times but I didn’t put him on the list).

I tried to focus on given names and exclude family names, but some people were referred to by a single name, which made that identification difficult. Also, some of these names were given in a Latinized form, which may not be the names these people went by in daily life. Some of these people were Hildegard’s contemporaries and correspondents, but others lived well before or after her.

Feminine names

  • Adelheid
  • Alpaïs
  • Claricia
  • Clementia
  • Diemud
  • Ende
  • Guda
  • Guta
  • Hazzecha
  • Herrad
  • Hildegard
  • Hiltrud
  • Hrotsvit
  • Jutta
  • Mechthild
  • Mechtild
  • Radegund
  • Richardis
  • Sigewize
  • Tenxwind
  • Trotula
  • Trutwib
  • Uda

Masculine names

  • Achard
  • Adelbert
  • Adilhum
  • Aelred
  • Anastasius
  • Anselm
  • Bertolf
  • Bovo
  • Craffto
  • Cuno
  • Disibod
  • Drutwin
  • Eadwine
  • Ekbert
  • Gebeno
  • Gedolphus
  • Goscelin
  • Guibert
  • Hartwig
  • Helenger
  • Hildebert
  • Maximin
  • Meinhard
  • Odo
  • Oswald
  • Roricus
  • Ruthard
  • Sintram
  • Suger
  • Suso
  • Theodoric
  • Volmar
  • Wezelin

I think the names I’m most intrigued by are Alpaïs and Wezelin. Which names do you like best? Which do you think are most / least wearable in modern times?

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