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146480.  Tue Feb 13, 2007 10:29 am Reply with quote

Eke name being the old word for nicknames. I wonder if we might be able to do something with eke-names for the panellists?

I have here a lovely book called “Fat, Bald and Worthless: the curious stories behind noble nicknames” by Revd. Robert Easton (Penguin, 2006). There are some great nicknames ...

The Domesday Book included a man called Roger ‘God Save the Ladies.’

Edward the Bankrupt was Edward III of England; he preferred to be known as “King of the Sea” or “the Father of English Commerce.” But no-one chooses their own eke.

Magnus Barelegs was Magnus III of Norway; in 1098 he visited his Scottish territories, and was so taken with the kilt that he took it back to Oslo with him, much to the amusement of his subjects.

In 1338, Edward the Bankrupt sent William Montague to capture Dunbar Castle in east Lothian. The Earl of Dunbar was away fighting, but his countess - later nicknamed Black Agnes - defended the castle heroically. Her chosen weapons included mockery. During every bombardment, she ordered her staff to dust the ramparts with handkerchiefs to show her unconcern. When Montague tried to starve her into submission, she had him sent a bottle of wine and fresh loaf of bread with her compliments. Eventually, Edward’s men gave up and went home.

At the Battle of Bravalla, around the beginning of the 8th century, the nobles present included Hothbrodd the Furious, Thorulf the Thick, Birvil the Pale, Roldar Toe-Joint, Vati the Doubter, Od the Englishman, Alf the Proud, and Frosti Bowl, also known as Frosty Melting-Pot.

Edward VII of the UK, a notorious womaniser, was known as Edward the Caresser.

William I was never known as the Conqueror in his lifetime; he was William the Bastard.

Henry II of England had a jester known as Roland the Farter. He gave him 30 acres of Suffolk, for which, according to the records, “he used to leap, whistle and fart before the king.” (I’m sorry, your majesty, I didn’t know it was your turn ... )

Clovis II (a Merovingian king) was known as Clovis the Do-Nothing King, which sounds like a cartoon character.

Hugh, Lord of Douglas (1294-1342) was known as Hugh the Dull.

George, prince of Denmark (1653-1703), was called George Est-Il-Possible?, because of his habit of responding to endless bad news during those revolutionary days with a shake of the head, a sigh, and that phrase.

Philip II, duke of Orleans (1674-1723), must have loved his nickname: Philip the Godless Regent. He was a professed atheist, who ran a very liberal reign. He was a talented actor, painter and composer, who celebrated religious festivals by holding orgies at Versailles. Fittingly, New Orleans was named after him.

John the Good - John II of France - was described by a chronicler as “the worst and cruellest king who ever lived.”

Philip III of Burgundy - Philip the Good - “loved to amuse himself in a sort of glorified portable shed, a mobile wooden hut in which he would while away the hours simply pottering about, making clogs, soldering broken knives, repairing broken spectacles.”

Good Duke Humphrey was a pious duke of Gloucester (1391-1447). From him, comes the expression “to dine with the Good Duke Humphrey,” which means to go without dinner. Londoners needing to avoid the law used to congregate in St Paul’s where they were safe from arrest, gathered around what was thought to be a monument to Humphrey. In fact, Humphrey was buried at St Albans, and this was someone else’s tomb. People who couldn't afford a meal, and spent their time chatting at this monument instead, were said to be dining with the duke.

James the Good Regent, first earl of Moray, was murdered in 1570 - the first recorded assassination with a firearm.

Albert the Great, a 13th century German nobleman, was a natural scientist. His “Book of Marvels” includes a potion to make someone believe their bed is full of lice - which sounds handy. It includes hawk feathers and winter cherry. To make a woman dance with joy you need the blood of a gannet, a hare and a turtle dove. To make a man fart endlessly, snail’s blood is yer only man.

Some of the see refs in the book are lovely: “Anthony the Great see Anthony the Bastard.” “Wilfrid the Hairy see Wilfrid the Shaggy.” “John the Handsome Englishman see John the Silly Duke.”

Charles the Great, Holy Roman Emperor, never travelled anywhere without his pet elephant.

Constantine the Great, Emperor of Rome, was a keen law-maker. His edicts included: All pagan religious practices were to be conducted in public; A condemned man was not to have his face branded, only his feet; Parents selling their daughters for sex were to have molten lead poured down their throats; The professions of butcher and baker were hereditary. Interestingly, it says here “As was the norm, he waited until his dying hours to be baptized.”

In 4th century Rome there was a terrible shortage of bakers. So, trick taverns and brothels were built: when men entered them, they fell through a trapdoor into the bakeries cunningly hidden below, where they were forced to work as baking slaves. Theodosius the Great is said to have put an end to this.

Yung-cheng the Immortal, emperor of China (d. 1735).

Robert III of Scotland was known as John (sic) of Yesteryear. Poor sod, he was a useless king, and he knew it. After one final calamity, he retired to his ancestral home, and told his wife that he wished to be buried in a dunghill when he died, with the epitaph: “Here lies the worst of kings and the most miserable of men.”

146496.  Tue Feb 13, 2007 11:24 am Reply with quote

Aristides the Just, ancient Athenian statesman, was (goes the story) exiled from his city because of his nickname. The system of ostracizing was democratic: citizens wrote the name of the person they wanted rid of on a pottery fragment; if more than 6,000 voted, the man whose name appeared most often was exiled for ten years. In 482BC, Aristides was a candidate. On the day of voting, an illiterate man approached him and asked him to write Aristides on his ballot. Aristides did so, asking whether this Aristides had done the man any wrong. No, said the voter, I’m just fed up with everyone calling him ‘the Just.’”

Richard the Lionheart’s brother, John, was nicknamed ‘Dollheart.’ Which must have hurt.

Parliamentarians used to call Charles I “the last man” - they refused to use the title king - meaning that he’d be the last man ever to sit on the throne of England. After the restoration, some diehards splendidly took to calling Charles II “son of the last man.”

Archibald Douglas, a 14th century Scots nobleman, lost so many battles he was called “Archibald the Loser.”

Joan the Mad, queen of Castile, was the wife of Philip the Handsome. She was amazingly nervous, said to be “so frightened she could not hold up her head”. It was said that when startled “she would run up curtains like a cat,” which I for one would pay ready money to see. I wish our queen did that, that is what I call good value monarchy. The origin of her madness might have been her philandering hubby - whose nickname was not ironic. He died aged 28 - possibly clapped-out from too much shagging - and Joan the Mad refused to have him buried. She used to cart him around with her from monastery to monastery, trying to get him raised from the dead; she wouldn't take him to convents, because she knew that if she did, he’d knob the nuns. (You might say, “What? When he was dead?” but then, you didn't know the guy.)

Otto the Mad, king of Bavaria 1848-1916, was already completely round the twist when he ascended to the throne. He reckoned it was his royal prerogative to shoot one peasant a day, so his attendants would dress a servant up in a smock, give the king a gun loaded with blanks, and let him carry out his duty. On hearing the bang, the bogus serf would “die” into a nearby bush. (If you've been affected by any of the issues raised in this programme, please call the BBC Helpline.)

Another nickname for Charles II was “the Blackbird,” because he was, basically, black. Some pubs called The Black Boy are named after him.

Leo II, Roman Emperor of the East, was Leo the Butcher. He started by killing supporters of the patriarch Timothy the Cat, who he had replaced with his own man, Timothy Wobble-Hat.

Cromwell had plenty of nicknames, including Nose Almighty, Copper Nose, Ruby Nose, Nosey and Crum-Hell.

The Orkneyinga Saga, written around 1200, records the deeds of, amongst others: Thorarin Bag-Nose, Einar Belly-Shaker, Svein Breast-Rope, Einat Buttered-Bread, Sigurd the Fake Deacon, Brushwood Belly, Ref the Poet, and Hallfred the Troublesome Poet.

Erik the Romantic, king of Sweden, got his nickname for endlessly proposing marriage to numerous princesses and queens. But he could have been called Erik the Nutboy, since he was known for stabbing people for no reason, claiming to be his brother John, and sentencing two of his guards to death for the offence of “annoying the king.” John eventually overthrew him.

Charles the Silly (Charles VI of France) was actually promoted during his reign, from the Silly to the Mad. He had started out as the Well-Beloved, sadly, but went bonkers in 1392, possibly as a result of sunstroke. In a lucid moment, he handed over power to his wife, Isabella the Great Sow.

The man we know as Ivan the Terrible of Russia, should more properly be translated as Ivan the Awesome. He was a bit of a boy, though; one of his hobbies was wandering around the streets knocking over old people at random.

Louis XI of France was called Louis the Universal Spider, for his wily networking; his assistant in this was Tristan the Gossip. He is most famous for his pig piano - pigs of various sizes were attached to a keyboard, so that when the keys were pressed, spikes would jab the pigs, making them squeal in tune.

Fredrick II of Germany was Frederick the Wonder of the World. His birth was pretty amazing: to preclude any rumours about the succession, his ma gave birth to him in public in a market-place. (“In this week’s Hello magazine ... ”)

At one point at the end of the 14th century, Germany was ruled by Wenceslas the Worthless, France by Charles the Silly, and England by Richard the Coxcomb.

146501.  Tue Feb 13, 2007 11:37 am Reply with quote

Gorgeous stuff from Mat the Coward.

146578.  Tue Feb 13, 2007 3:44 pm Reply with quote

I prefer "Mat the Endowed," if it's all the same to you.

146593.  Tue Feb 13, 2007 4:36 pm Reply with quote

Excellent, excellent. Cutting straight to the chase: is there any way of finding out which bit of Suffolk belonged to Roland the Farter, do we suppose?

146748.  Wed Feb 14, 2007 5:29 am Reply with quote

Why? You think you might be descended?

Ah - this come up on google:
Seriantia que quondam fuit Rollandi le Pettour in Hemingeston in comitatu Suff’, pro qua debuit facere die Natali Domini singulis annis coram domino rege unum saltum et sifflettum et unum bumbulum, que alienata fuit per particulas subscriptas.
The following (lands), which formerly were held of Roland the Farter in Hemingston in the county of Suffolk, for which he was obliged to perform every year on the birthday of our Lord before his master the king, one jump, one whistle, and one fart, were alienated in accordance with these specific requirements
- Liber Feodorum. The Book of Fees, Commonly Called Testa de Nevill: Part 2, A.D. 1242-1293, ed. H.C.M. Lyte (London: His Majesty’s Stationery Office, 1923), 1174

146824.  Wed Feb 14, 2007 7:16 am Reply with quote

'Bumbulum', eh? Excellent.

There seems to be very little to be said about Hemingstone other than that it has
no significant amenities other than the village hall known as "Hemingstone Hut"

that the whole parish was cited before a Church Court for 'laxity' in 1597, and that it doesn't start with E.

s: Wiki

146876.  Wed Feb 14, 2007 8:43 am Reply with quote

Relatedly, we have “embarrassing surnames.”

Research (it doesn't say who by or where, except that they were geographers) has shown that:
Willys come from Taunton
Bottoms from Huddersfield
Smellies from Glasgow
Dafts from Nottingham
Jellys from Guildford
Piggs form Newcastle
Nutters from Blackburn.

The names that people have been most eager to dump (again, it doesn't say what that means - by changing their names presumably) in the past 100 years are Handcock, Glasscock, Hickinbottom, Shufflebottom and Winterbottom.

The number of people called Cock is now a quarter of the level of 1881, making it the surname that has lost the most members.

Interestingly, the number of Nutters has only fallen by 35%.

“Analysis of more than 500,000 surnames, first names and place names” has enabled the researchers to find out the “most adventurous at emigrating.” The most widespread across the world (of British isles names, presumably) are Riddle, McRae, Cranger, Crabtree and Tillotson.

S: Western Daily Press, 31.8.06

146881.  Wed Feb 14, 2007 8:47 am Reply with quote

My idea for a question for this idea was

Q. Which town in the UK has the most Cocks living there?

A. Truro

Your "researchers" are "A team of geographers from the Centre for Advanced Spatial Analysis at University College London"

post 90229

146891.  Wed Feb 14, 2007 8:51 am Reply with quote

The most Nutters might have more scope, don't you think?

146901.  Wed Feb 14, 2007 8:58 am Reply with quote

I guess, not quite as purile. Also Stephen likes to trot out his South Lancashire accent should the chance arise (e.g. Burnley, benedictine)

146921.  Wed Feb 14, 2007 9:44 am Reply with quote

eggshaped wrote:

Your "researchers" are "A team of geographers from the Centre for Advanced Spatial Analysis at University College London"

post 90229

Thanks, Egg - the Advanced Spatial Analysis is quite interesting on its own, don't you reckon? It doesn't sound as if it would mean looking up Smellies and Cocks for a living.

148281.  Sat Feb 17, 2007 9:56 am Reply with quote

William the Silent, a sixteenth century ruler of the Netherlands, was assassinated by a man named Francis Guyan. Guyan had turned up at court claiming to be a French Calvinist. William had been impressed by the young man, and appointed him to a diplomatic mission to France. When he met Guyan some time later, still in Holland, he asked him wassup; Guyan said he couldn't afford decent shoes for his journey. William gave him twelve crowns of his own money. On 10 July 1584, Guyan shot William dead.

He was not a Calvinist, but a Catholic; he had been sent to assassinate William, but had arrived at court without a weapon; he used the money William gave him to buy two pistols from one of William’s guards.

‘Amazing Mistakes’ by Michael Johnstone (Capella, 2003).

148550.  Sun Feb 18, 2007 1:51 pm Reply with quote

MatC wrote:
Relatedly, we have “embarrassing surnames.”

John Marwood Cleese's father, an insurance salesman, seems to have been easily embarrassed, bringing as he did one line of Cheeses to an end.

'This is a cheese shop?'

Frederick The Monk
156786.  Thu Mar 15, 2007 9:19 am Reply with quote

MatC wrote:
William the Silent, a sixteenth century ruler of the Netherlands, was assassinated by a man named Francis Guyan. ....... he used the money William gave him to buy two pistols from one of William’s guards.

‘Amazing Mistakes’ by Michael Johnstone (Capella, 2003).

Sadly not true (I've been looking into this for my new book!). William was assassinated by Balthasar Gérard, who was certainly not destitute but working (under cover) for William at the time. The origin of the two wheellock pistols he used is discussed in great detail in The Awful End of Prince William the Silent: The First Assassination of a Head of State with a Handgun by Lisa Jardin.


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