PROSOPOGRAPHY FOR BEGINNERS
STAGE 1 EXERCISES
Isolating the name forms; anthroponyms and descriptors
If you have not already done so, read Section II of Keats-Rohan, Naming and Identity.
The names occurring in the sources contain important information in themselves. Whatever the difficulties posed to the modern interpreter, there is no doubt that onomastics - the study of all kinds of names and naming naming systems - is an important aid to understanding past societies, at all social levels. The name forms that will be indexed in the Index of Names will provide a key resource for the researcher in its own right. The task must be approached with care and rigour. In preparation for the task, we should start we an overview of naming practice.
Onomasticians are in broad agreement about the naming systems used in the Middle Ages, though, unfortunately, terminology is somewhat variable. Essentially, a person's name had two elements, a personal name, or anthroponym, such as Robert, and a second name that could take several forms. It is best to follow the practice of students of early name systems and refer to these second name elements generically as "descriptors", because they function in documents as descriptions of the person in relation to a specific circumstance. "John the priest" might in another circumstance be '"John, youngest son of Robert", with no reference made to his ecclesiastical status.
When a second name element was passed from father to son and then to grandson, it is called a "surname". More common at this time were "bynames", a second name element that identified an individual but was not inherited by his heir. Both these types of descriptor fall into four main groups.
One of the barons established in England after the Norman Conquest in 1066 occurs as Richard son of Gilbert, Richard son of Count Gilbert, Richard de Bienfaite, Richard of Clare and Richard of Tonbridge.
When you first begin work on your sources you will know very much less about the individuals that make up your group than you will at the end. You will want to preserve all the information that name forms can provide by noting all their occurrences, even if they obviously relate to the same person within a text.
To mark-up the names in this tutorial we shall use a set of tags.
Study the following example:
<name> Alberic <descriptor> de Ver </descriptor> </name>
The whole name record is contained within the <name> </name> tag. Note that tags always come in pairs, an opening tag <name> and a closing tag </name>. The descriptor is tagged separately within the name-record tag, which isolates the given name without the need for a separate tag.
Subsequently we shall enter the data into tables, which is a simpler way of doing things, but the tagging system will force you to think carefully about, and to become familiar with, the name data you encounter.
As you mark-up each document, remember that initially we are tagging name records.We are not trying to identity individuals, only to isolate name forms that indicate an individual. Tag all name forms even if you suspect that the same person is mentioned more than once.
Using a <name> </name> for the personal name and <descriptor> </descriptor> for the second name element, mark-up Document 1.
Start with Document 1.
©University of Oxford
The compilers were Dr Katharine S. B. Keats-Rohan with the assistance of Dr Olga Borymchuk and Jacquelyn Fernholz.