How did 15th century royals identify themselves in England/Spain?

How did 15th century royals identify themselves in England/Spain?

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I'm studying the customs of medieval Europe to gather information for a novel I'm writing and a question has arisen about how the nobles, especially the royal family, identified themselves. Did they use their surname/family name or did they use the country/kingdom to which they belonged? For example, if we were in the Middle Ages, Anne (the daughter of Queen Elisabeth II) would be Anne of the United Kingdom or Anne Windsor/ of the House of Windsor. And if both are correct, which would be the most common? My doubt arises because for example Queen Elisabeth (wife of Edward IV) was called Elisabeth of York (York was the royal house to which she belonged), while Queen Catherine (first wife of Henry VIII) was called Catherine of Aragon (Aragon was the country to which she belonged). It may also be that this is due to the names that historians have subsequently chosen. If this is the case I ask again how they were usually called in their time. As I understand it, the nobles, who did not belong to the royal family, did use the family surnames. All this has come up to me because I am a big fan of Game of Thrones, which is also slightly based on the Middle Ages, and there all the characters (or almost all of them) are identified with their first name + their family surname; and I wondered if in medieval Europe this also happened. I don't want my novel to be a copy of Game of Thrones and that's why I prefer to base it on what really happened in the Middle Ages.

If you could inform me about Spain and England in the years 1400-1500. And if it could be that they were not examples but the common way in which nobles and members of the royal family were identified in their time.

The Dynasty that ruled England from 1154 to 1485 is called the Plantagenet Dynasty.

The first king of that dynasty, Henry II, was the son of Geoffry, Count of Anjou and Duke of Normandy, and Matilda of England. Count Geoffry had the nickname of Plantagenet.

Centuries later, in the 15th century, members of the Plantagenet dynasty started to use Plantagenet as their surname.

Richard of York, 3rd Duke of York, adopted Plantagenet as his family name in the 15th century. Plantegenest (or Plante Genest) had been a 12th-century nickname for his ancestor Geoffrey, Count of Anjou and Duke of Normandy. One of many popular theories suggests the blossom of common broom, a bright yellow ("gold") flowering plant, genista in medieval Latin, as the source of the nickname.[1]

It is uncertain why Richard chose this specific name, although during the Wars of the Roses it emphasised Richard's status as Geoffrey's patrilineal descendant. The retrospective usage of the name for all of Geoffrey's male-line descendants was popular during the subsequent Tudor dynasty, perhaps encouraged by the further legitimacy it gave to Richard's great-grandson, Henry VIII.[2] It was only in the late 17th century that it passed into common usage among historians.[3][1]

So no members of the Plantagenent dynasty actually used the surname Plantagenet until just few decades before the Plantagenent dynasty became extinct in the male line.

Many members of the plantagenet dynasty were call "of" a place. And that place was usually not the main fief that they ruled but their birthplace. For example King Edward III (1312-77) was known as Edward of Windsor after his birthplace at Windsor Castle.

His sons included Edward the Black Prince, Prince of Wales, William of Hatfield (1337-1337), Lionel of Antwerp, 1st Duke of Clarence (1338-68) born in Antwerp in The Holy Roman Empire, John of Gaunt, first duke of Lancaster (1340-99), born at Ghent in the Kingdom of France, Edmund of Langley, first duke of YOrk (1341-1402) born at King's Langley Palace, Thomas of Windsor (1347-48), William of Windsor (1348-48), and Thomas of Woodstock First Duke of Gloucester (1355-97) born at Woodstock Palace.

In the eastern Roman of "Byzantine" Empire nobles began using surnames by about 900 or even 800. The first Emperor to have a surname for several centuries after the use of Roman style family names ended was probably Romanus I Lekapenos (c. 871-948). Other eastern European rulers influenced by the "Byzantine" empire also used surnames, often a string of several surnames.


  1. Mezibei

    Bravo, this phrase came in just the right place

  2. Eferhard

    Will manage somehow.

  3. Kekus

    It above my understanding!

  4. Gorisar

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  5. Vudoramar

    You are not right. I'm sure. I can defend my position. Email me at PM, we'll talk.

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