10 February, 2018

English Place-Names in Edward II's Accounts

One of the funniest (to my mind, anyway) things about Edward II's chamber accounts and other documents of the era is that his clerks translated English place-names into French, or rather Anglo-Norman, wherever possible. So Newcastle-on-Tyne appears as Noef Chastel sur Tyne, Bury St Edmunds is Bourgh Seint Esmon, Robertsbridge is Pount Robert (the modern French word for bridge is 'pont'), Horsham St Faith is Seinte Foy, and Battle in Sussex is Bataylle. The name of the River Thames was always written Tamyse, London was Loundres, Westminster was Westmoster or Westmouster, Pontefract was Pountfreit, and Lincoln, oddly enough, was always called Nicole or Nichole. In a letter sent by Piers Gaveston, earl of Cornwall, to his retainer Sir Robert Darcy in 1308, Windsor came out as the rather magnificent 'Wyndelesoures' (it was usually spelt 'Wyndesore').

4 comments:

sami parkkonen said...

My personal favorite has to be Westmouster

Kathryn Warner said...

Mine is Noef Chastel sur Tyne. :D

Margaret Jones said...

I love Bury St. Edmunds in Anglo-Norman, it's so wonderfully 'Allo 'Allo. Great to see that the Normans invented Franglais!

Kathryn Warner said...

"Leesten vairy carefully! I shall say zees only once!" Love Allo Allo and Franglais :D