Wednesday, 16 November 2011

Portuguese Donas: Part I

 http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/c/cf/Casamento_Jo%C3%A3o_I_e_Filipa_Lencastre.JPG

The names below are that of ladies (or donas) from the Portuguese aristocracy and royal family. Most European monarchies intermarried, and Portugal was no exception. Many of the Portuguese kings and queens came from Spanish dynasties and later were of Germanic ancestry. The following names date from the 12th to the 19th century. With all foreign names there is always the matter of pronunciation. Adapt it to your own language, or keep it original? I've attampted to show how a Portuguese person might say the names below (fngers crossed other Portuguese people actually agree).

Brites- (BREE-tes). Portuguese name meaning 'power'. It is also a variant of Bridget. 

Ximena- (He-meh-nah, Hee-MEYN-ah, SHE-meh-nah or Zee-meh-nah). There doesn't seem to be one established pronunciation, so take your pick. An archaic Spanish name, it is a form of Simone. It's meaning is 'one who hears'.

Urraca- (Oo-Hah-Kah). In Spanish, Urraca literally translates to 'magpie'. Other spelling alternatives include Urracha and Hurracka.

Elvira- (El-VEE-ra). A name mainly used in Spain but of Old German origins. Its meaning is likely to be 'all true'.

Petronila- (Peh-Tro-Nee-La). Spanish name meaning 'rock'.

Dulce- (DOOL-see). Spanish for 'sweet'.

Branca- (BRAHN-ka). The Portuguese form of Blanche, meaning 'white'.

Berengaria- Feminine form of Berengar, meaning 'maiden of the bear spear'.

Mafalda- Portuguese form of Matilda, meaning 'mighty in battle'.

Violante- (Vee-O-Lan-Teh). Form of the name Yolanda, meaning 'violet'.

Benedita- Portuguese feminine form of Benedict, meaning 'blessed'.

Guiomar- (Gi-oh-mar). Both a feminine and masculine name, possibly derived from the German name Wigmar. Its meaning is 'famous in war'. 

Vicenca- (Vee-sen-sah). A variant of the name Vicenza, a city in Italy. 


Two further fascinating names I encountered were Ermensinda and Aurembiax. I have no idea of their origins, and have been unable to find a source that explained their meanings. If anyone has any information about them, I would be delighted to know more. Also, I have removed all accents from the names, as in many countries they are not allowed on birth certificates.

Image: 'Casamento de Joao I e Filipa Lencastre'.