PROSOPOGRAPHY FOR BEGINNERS
STAGE 1 EXERCISES
Comment: First and Second Name Elements, Personal Name plus Descriptor
You should have found exercise 1 easy. Document 1 is fairly straightforward because there are no place names and the personal names are easily identified. But there are some points to notice.
In this document each person is identified by a first name followed by a second name element. The first name is a personal name, such as Alberic or Ralph. We call the second name element a descriptor because its function is to distinguish its subject by describing him in some way, e.g. by some characteristic, function, relationship or location. The descriptors in this document take several forms, e.g.: the toponym, de Emmingeford (of Hemmingford); an ethnonym, Brito (Breton) , a byname or perhaps nickname, Rufus (Red Head) , or surname, Carbonel; a patronym, filius Ricardi (son of Richard) ; a word descriptive of status or occupation, comes (earl).
Not all names in these documents will have two elements. Sometimes a person will be identified by a first name only. Sometimes they will be identified in terms of their relationship to someone else (relational descriptor, e.g. "his wife", "his neighbour"). Sometimes there will be no name at all but a word that clearly refers to an individual ("the priest"). In the following exercise use <relational> </relational> for relational descriptors, and <anonymous> </anonymous> for anonymous (no name) persons. Sometimes there will be more than one descriptor.
Study the following example
<name>Willelmus dei gratia <descriptor> Cantuariensis archiepiscopus</descriptor> </name> … <name> <relationaldescriptor>antecessor noster </relationaldescriptor> dominus Radulfus <descriptor> archiepiscopus</descriptor> </name> malefactoribus eorum imposuit dei et domini pape …
<name>William by the grace of God <descriptor> archbishop of Canterbury </descriptor> </name> … <name><relational descriptor>our [i.e. my] predecessor</relationaldescriptor> <descriptor>archbishop</descriptor> Ralph</name> malefactoribus eorum imposuit dei et <name><anonymous> the lord pope </anonymous> </name>
"Our predecessor Archbishop Ralph" is of course one person, but we have distinguished the two elements in addition to his first name that could be useful in identifying both Archbishop William and Ralph.
Exercise 2 Place-Names, Relational Descriptors, Ecclesiastical Communities
Document 2 refers to ‘all my [King Henry’s] predecessors and successors’. Although we would be interested in recording a named predecessor, such generic statements are of no interest for our name index.
Document 2 also contains place names. You could use <place></place> to mark-up a a place-name. Where a place is mentioned that is part of a larger place (‘the wood of X in the village of N), you could use <locative></locative> within the <place></place> tag. Making place-name registers in prosopography is often a useful and desirable complement to a name index. We shall not be pursuing place-names here, but it is advisable to be aware of them as you move through the documents as they will assist later work on identification.
We first encounter the idea of relational descriptors in the case of ‘his wife Beatrice’, referring to Alberic de Vere. Note that such phrases contain double descriptions: in this case Beatrice is both ‘wife’ and ‘his’, i.e. ‘wife’ of a specific named individual. ‘Wife’ is a descriptor that adds information about the relationship, but it cannot be a meaningful relational term unless it refers to someone else. On the other hand, cases such as Peter, his clerk (Document 8), should be treated as having two descriptors. Peter was a clerk, and would still have been a clerk even if his employer had changed. If the record were lacunary and we could not identify Beatrice’s husband, the descriptor ‘wife’ would tell us that she was a married woman. Hence you could decide to tag ‘his wife’ as either <relationaldescriptor>his wife</relationaldescriptor> or <relationaldescriptor>his </relationaldescriptor> <descriptor>wife</descriptor>; the former, however, would be invalid for Peter the clerk.
Note also another complication of medieval documents, the phrase ‘monks of Abingdon’, or ‘the church of Abingdon’. These refer to an important and long-established religious community at Abingdon, mother-church of the priory of St Mary and St John Evangelist at Earls Colne. Such communities were legal entities that effectively functioned as a person. Where such phrases occur treat the abbey and/or its monks as one person. Use the tag <collective></collective>, since we might see the phrase acting as a ‘collective personal noun’.
Now tag all the personal names in Document 2, including those without descriptors.
Mark-up all the personal names in Document 2, including those without descriptors.
Pay attention to key words that can help to distinguish persons named in the texts, such as "aforesaid", "the same", "the latter". They will not form part of your name record, but they will be important later when you come to distinguish different persons.
©University of Oxford
The compilers were Dr Katharine S. B. Keats-Rohan with the assistance of Dr Olga Borymchuk and Jacquelyn Fernholz.