The history of the English language in between the 12th and 15th century is called Middle English. This language is derived from the old English language which was popular in Norman England and spoken during the Plantagenet era. Middle English lost its charm when Chancery Standard which is a form of London based English was introduced by William Caxton started a printing press using this language.
Middle English literature was not popular in the 12th and 13th centuries. The language became popular as a literature language in the 14th century when poets, such as Langland and Chaucer started writing in this language. Descending from Old English and highly Anglo-Norman, French, influenced, Middle English is the ancestor language of today's Modern English.
Middle English names were used in the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, New Zealand, Australia and numerous other areas in the English speaking world. A complete name includes the given or first name, middle or second given name, and a surname, also called the surname. Middle English names can have multiple or no middle names. The majority of given names in Middle English were not derived from the language itself, but rather from a wide stock of other sources, including surnames, made up names, vocabulary words, variants on traditional names, and diminutives or short forms of other names. Examples of these include: Bradley, Alicia, Bill, Jessie, Jolene, Cameron, and Summer.
Middle English Surnaming
It was during the Middle English period that Britain adopted the tradition of following surnames. Middle English surnames were based on seven categories: occupation which included surnames such as “Baker”, “Cooper”, “Farmer”, “Hunt”, “Page” and “Potter”. Personal characteristics which included surnames such as “Short”, “Brown”, “Young” and “Long”. Geographical features which included surnames such as “Wood”, “Lake”, “Forest” and “Brooks”. Places which included surnames such as “Flint”, “Laughton”, “London” and “Hamilton”. Estate surnames which came from those who owned lands or castles include “Windsor” and “Ernle”.
Middle English surnames segregated people by class and religion as it was easy to identify a person's status by his last name. It was a tradition during the Middle English times that a man should only marry a girl who comes from a higher class society as compared to him and he would often take his wife's last name.
Vocabulary Influences On Naming Customs
Early Middle English was highly influenced by Anglo-Saxon vocabulary. The grammatical expressions used in Early English were replaced by prepositional constructions in early Middle English. The government still used French and Norman as the language for law and literature in early Middle English, however there were a few changes in grammar and vocabulary which gradually reflected in writings and literature.
Social Change & The King James Bible
During the late Middle English period, there were a lot of social changes which took place. Men from the lower society started coming into power and brought about a linguistic change during this period. This was the time England began printing in English. In 1066, the Norman Conquest took place in England installing a new ruling class, the Normans. This social restructuring brought about a transformation in naming, as well, as Old English names dropped out of use being replaced by Germanic names and Middle English names.
In the 13th century, Christian naming became the naming trend. The King James Bible was printed in English causing churches and prayer meetings to begin using English as the primary language of theological communication. England's Church strongly encouraged parents to use saint's names for their children derived from Latin, Ancient Greek, and Hebrew. Fundamental Puritan names, such as Patience and Charity, as well as obscure Old Testament biblical names, like Miriam and Jeremiah, re-emerged in the 17th century and continue to remain popular among the English today.
Architectural Naming Influence
Middle English architecture is strongly influenced by the Anglo-Saxon culture. There are at least fifty churches in the country which still reflect the existence of the Anglo-Saxon heritage in this country. These buildings include Coptic influenced architecture and Christian basilica influenced culture. The architecture is noticed by the blank arcading, triangular headed openings, pilaster strips and baluster shafts.
There are a number of buildings and churches which reflect the English tradition and the country style houses during this era. The English heritage and the National trust manage and preserve these constructions for people who visit these places to understand the culture and tradition during that period.
English Art
Middle English art was highly influenced by artists from all over the world. Only during the 18th century, did native artists began to gain recognition. English artists and their names started becoming popular, like William Hogarth, Thomas Gainsborough and Joshua Reynolds. Hogarth's style of satirical paintings became famous during this era.
Tea & Crumpets
Middle English food was all about home style cooking and simple flavours. The people concentrated on using high quality produce and strong natural flavors like garlic. They didn't believe in using complex sauces and other such substances. Meats, breads and cheese were highly used in Middle English cuisine. Middle English breakfast was a popular meal and is now served at restaurants worldwide. This usually includes scrambled eggs, hash browns, sausages, bacon, black pudding, mushrooms, tomatoes and baked beans. The English tradition of tea became popular during this era. English consider tea as a separate meal altogether, and they team it up with cupcakes and cookies. Families or friends often sit together over a cup of tea and chat. Beer and wine is also quite popular with the English.
Common Middle English Boy Names, Meaning
Ackley, dwells in the oak tree
Hurst, dwells in the forest
Bede, prayer
Cole, also very popular in America, means promise
Merlin, from the hill over the sea
Common Middle English Girl Name, Meaning
Jolie, a French word used as a name,which literally means “pretty”.
Faith, a Puritan offshoot, to trust
Scarlet, bright red color, is a color naming trend still commonly seen in England.
Sibley, sister from the meadow
Unity, another frequently practiced naming trend of using words as names, meaning together.