Thursday, 10 April 2014

14th Century Visconti Ladies

File:Bernabò e Beatrice Visconti.jpgI love Italy. But then again, really, who doesn't love a country where it's completely normal to have a big plate of pasta before you even get to the main? It's a country with so much to see and do (and eat!), and the names are ever so pretty. Just take the Visconti family. Barnabo Visconti was a Lord of Milan who married Beatrice Regina della Scala, the daughter of the Lord of Verona, in 1350. They might have passed by without catching my notice, but oh their family has such lovely names.

Taddea - The feminine form of Italian Taddeo, from the Greek Thaddaios, it means 'heart'. Taddea Visconti was the Duchess of Bavaria. Born in 1351 in Milan, she married in her mid teens the soon-to-be Duke of Bavaria, one of Germany's wealthiest and most powerful nobles. They had two children, Louis and Isabeau.

Viridis - Likely from the Latin for 'green', Viridis is rather on the obscure side. Viridis, the couple's second daughter, married Leopold III, Duke of Austria.

Agnese - The Italian form of granny-chic Agnes, Agnese is pronounced with an exotic lilt ah-NYE-ze. Her meaning is that of 'chaste'. She married Francesco I Gonzaga, the ruler of nearby Mantua. He had her executed for allegedly having committed adultery. 

Aymonette - You'll find a few Aymonettes scattered about, particularly in France, but her origins are rather mysterious and uncertain. Aymonette Visconti was the 13th child of  Bernabo Visconti. 

Anglesia - As with Aymonette, Anglesia is an obscure beauty. It is likely related to an Italian word for Englishwoman. You will also find Englesia in medieval Italy. With London and Britain being chosen by modern parents, it isn't too far fetched to think that Anglesia could be used by an Anglophile. Anglesia Visconti married King Janu of Cyprus, but the marriage came to an end when they had no children. 

Sovrana - Sovrana was one of Bernabo's illegitimate children by his mistress Donnina de Porri who were made legitimate after the death of his wife. The word Sovrana means 'female sovereign' in Italian.

Valentia - Barnabo and Regina had a daughter named Valentina, which is fabulous and sounds so elegantly Italian, but Valentia is an intriguing choice to consider. She comes from the  Latin valentia, meaning 'strength or capacity'. Valentia was another of Barnabo's illegitimate daughters. 

Isotta - The more obscure Italian form of mythical Isolde, her meaning is of uncertain origins. Isotta was the illegitimate daughter of Bernabo and his mistress Beltramola Grassi. Isotta married Count Lutz von Landau in 1378.

Donnina  - The name of one of Bernabo's known mistresses and of one of his illegitimate daughters. The name means 'little woman' or 'little girl'. Donnina's mother was Montanina di Lazzari. 

Cleofa - Also spelt Cleopa or Cleopha, it was the name of Giammastino, Barnabo's youngest legitimate son's wife. She was the daughter of Cangrande II della Scala, Lord of Verona from 1351 to 1359. The name has links to early Christianity. 

Altaluna - Altalune made a bleep in the news as one of the many names of Uma Thurman's youngest daughter, Rosalind, who goes by Luna (far too complicated for me). It could have the meaning of 'high moon'. She was the half sister of Barnabo's wife Regina, an illegitimate daughter of Mastino II della Scala, ruler of Verona

Veronese - Another illegitimate daughter of Mastino II, it is no wonder why she got the name she did as he was the ruler of Verona. The name of the city is of unknown origin or meaning. 

Tomasinia- An Italian form of medieval Thomasina, she is still clunky and tomboyish but still pretty. Her meaning is that of 'twin'. I do love the possible nickname of Sinnie. 

Alda - A short form for a number of Germanic names, Alda is one that translates well from the 14th century into now. She was the only daughter of Agnese Visconti who was executed for adultery. It is also the name of an early Italian Christian saint.

Image: Barnabo and his wife, Beatrice 1300.