Notes from Personal Names in Medieval Velikij Novgorod, by Astrid Baecklund, 1959.

Names are take from Gramoty Velikogo Novgoroda (i Pskova) - a collection of period Novgorodian documents dating to the 12th-15th centuries. p 22

The first goal of her study was "to record the forms, variants and derivatives fo the 21 most frequent masculine praenomina of Greek origin occuring in the Novgorodian charters and documents.. The investigation further endeavors to elucidate the process by which these names were russified." p 23

"the texts and the personal names occuring in them... reflect well the promiscous and interchanging use of o and a; i and и; e and e; ъ and ь; ф and "theta"; ч and ц. In this they demonstrate not only the disuniform writing habits of the Middle ages but also the particularities of the Novgorodian dialects." p 31
"the vast majority of the personal names drawn from GVN are representative of the 15th century... Therefore... two other sources of NOvgorodian personal names will be used in orfder to supply comparitive material, especially for the centuries prior to the fifteenth... the Novgorod Chronicle [NPL]... the inscriptions on birchbark..." p31

"the GVN texts, supplies a stock of about 3400 names borne by some 2000 persons... the Chronicle furnishes... Fewer than 400 persons" although the "enumerative lists of the second supplement... add considerably to this number." p 33-34

There were only 136 birchbark documents available for study at the time Baecklund did her work - more are considered in her Addendum. p34-35

Novgorod was ruled by a mayor, posadnik, who was the chief administrative officer and judge in matters of "land property". The tysjaskij was commander of the militia and judge for commercial litigation. They were assisted by the gospoda, a body of about 300 notables, the boyars. They were a class of landlords hold large estates. They were not a closed class. Wealthy merchants and tradesmen could become boyars by acquiring sufficient estates. p 37 (note that the population of Novgorod was some , which I suspect does not include the many rural peasants who worked the estates owned by these boyars).

The zhitie liudi, smaller landowners, and the people engaged in commerce and trade, formed a counterbalance to the boyars in the Novgorod state. The lowest layer of the later group were the cherniye liudi - the workmen, assistants, and employees of the master craftsmen and merchants. All of the city-dwellers: the boyars, zhitie liudi, merchants, craftsmen and cherniye liudi theoretically enjoyed equal civic rights, unlike the rural population. p 38

One part of the rural population was the small, independent peasants - freemen and full owners of their lands, often the descendents of boyars whose estates had been subdivided. The smerdy were an important category of the lower rural population - freemen, but not full owners of their lands but having a sort of hereditary usufruct from the State. Another similar group were the sjabry who owned and cultivated their fields in common. Below them were various kinds of serfs, and below them - slaves. All of the rural population were abundantly representative in the GVM documents dealing with land exchanges. p 39

The most striking feature of the names is the overwhelming predominance of names of Christian origin. p 39

The bishop of Novgorod, in many ways, functioned as the head of state. p 39

The citizens of Novgorod called themselves Novgorodians, not Russians. p 41

There are two main groups of names in the GVN: pre-Christian and Christian names.

The pre-Christian names mainly consist of native names with a few names of Scandinavian origin which were used mainly by descendents of the Varangians and were russified just as their bearers were. See "Les pre'noms scandinaves". RES, XXXIII, Paris 1956, pp. 26-33.

Native names may be classified into 1) dithematic names of an aristocratic character, 2) monothematic of diverse types, and 3) names derived from place-names. p 42

The dithematic names make up a very small part of the sample of names, esp. when one excludes the names of the princes who were not actually Novgorodian and whose names followed a special naming tradition. Patronymics based dithematic names and on special -jata forms of such names are a little more common than dithematic first names. p 42-3

The monothematic names in GVN make up several different types - as nouns, as adjective, or derived from verb roots or participles. Noun examples: voin, Druzhina, Vorona, Sobol', Guba, Pugva, Gordyoi, Chortyoi. They are most often found as second names after a Christian name, especially as possesive adjectives function as patronymics. Many of them must have originally been nicknames, however, many of them appear so frequently one suspects that the most common ones lost their literal meaning, but many were still descriptive. p43

There were a few personal names used as second names that were derived from the names of places: Sidor Novgorodov, 15th c.; Petr Novotorzec, 1441; Ivan Vezhishcha, early 15th c. p 43

Before and during the time of the GVN the pre-Christian names, both native and Scandinavian, were gradually replaced by Christian names mostly of Greek origin. They didn't disappear completely, but they became very rare. A quite a few of them appear in the GVN but none appear more than once as a forename, while the Christian names are exceedingly frequent as first names - 150 Ivan, 83 Vasilei, 74 Fedor, etc. p 44

Some common names that appear to be pre-Christian are not. Karp is actually from the Greek name Karpos. Volos comes from the Greek Vlasios. Bogdan is basically a Slavic translation of Feodotos, God given. And the origin of the name Boris is uncertain, but as the name of early Slavic saints it was regarded as a Christian name. p44

Christian names are of Greek, Latin and Hebrew origin. There were brought in the Church Slavonic versions that the original Greek forms were transformed into by the first Slavonic Christians. One of the great drivers of the change to Christian names in Russia was the fact that only Christian names could be used in baptism. If one insisted on keeping a pre-Christian name, then they had to have two name - a Christian one for church which was received at baptism and another one for the world. "knyaz' Fedor, mir'skij M'stislav" literally "Prince Fedor, worldly Mstislav." p 45

Despite the close contact between Novgorod and the West, not a single case of names such as Charles, Henry, William or Frederick can be found in the GVN borne by a Novgorodian. footnote p 45

The introduction of Greek or hellenized Christian names followed at least two lines. First of all, some names of Greek origin were imported in two variants at the name time. One was Church Slavonic found in the early church texts. Being included in sacred written texts, these versions were preserved from the changes of the spoken language. The other variant had probably developed in the spoken language of the southern Slavs during their early Christianization. These first Slavic Christians lived in direct contact with Byzantine Christians and so developed their own spoken versions of the Christian names. These oral variants came to Russian with the flood of Bulgarian culture that accompanied the first Christian missionary work. Thereupon, they underwent a stage of russification that did not affect the written Church Slavonic forms. p 46

There are a total of 176 different Christian names in the GVN. Ivan is the most frequent appearing 150 times, while names such as Ferapont, Onufrei and others appear only once each. The frequent names didn't seem to undergo as drastic changes as the rare names, which were simpler to begin with (part of how they became popular?) and more easily adopted across the whole of Rus in a relatively rapid and uniform way. There were enough regional particularities, however, to find characteristic Novgorod forms. p 47-8

Native suffixes were soon added to the spoken variants of the names. This process seems to have already started among the Bulgarians. Some suffixes, such as -'ko, appear mostly in earlier texts, later were preserved as part of placenames. The frequent names make it possible to observe such changes. p 48

Forenames, patronymic and surnames.

Excluding the names of foreigners (Germans, Swedes, Tartars, etc.) in the GVN, we find about 2000 individuals with Russian names. The great majority of them have two names, the second name generally a patronymic. Less numerous are those with only one name. Finally, a very small number have three names, the last of which can sometimes be a surname - the first stage of development of what is now the characteristic Russian names with a first name, patronymic and surname. p 48

Persons appearing with only one name are, first of all, clergy named with their ecclesiastical title. High state dignitaries are occasionally also designated by their first name preceded or followed by their title, et. posadnik Michailo. Sometimes envoys, noblemen (dvorjane), summoners (podvojskie), aldermen (starosty), and merchants appear with first name only, eg. dvoryane Stepanko and Ivanko. In the case of artisans, terms denoting their occupations to their first name hinting at the later development of surnames derived from occupational descriptive names. p 49

The old custom of designating serf by one name was quite consistent except in cases where there was a need to distinguish between serf witht he same forename. p 49

Wills follow a tradional formula which only utilizes the first name, which is followed even by those of higher status who otherwise would have used two names. "Se jas rab bozhii Ostafe spisach rukopisan'e." Although in the 15th century, more and more wills the additional names. p 50

There are exceptional cases in the GVN where a patronymic is given as the only name of a person. Mat'feeva syna, 1392. Ivanovitsev, c. 1450. Tiun Tishkov, 1472. p 50

The majority of persons in the GVN have two names, the first usually a Christian name of Greek origin or less frequently a native name. The second names are either patronymics or bynames of various types, the most common of which are the monothematic substantival (noun) type. Such names can also be the only name given for a person. p 51

Possessive adjectives are derived from these monothematic names referring to the father of the bearer, eg. Gavrila Nosov = son of the Nose, Grigorei Pugvin = son of the Button. Such names are originally adjectival patronymics and occur only as second names. They are much more common than the substantival forms. [Wickenden indicates that they are probably not literal patronymics, but descriptive bynames of patronymic form.]. p 51

Another category is patronymics of a substantival type (originally diminutives) with -ich appended to the possessive adjectives ending in -ov, -ev, -in, -j' (Igumnovich, Popovich), This form only rarely comes from the monothematic names. In contrast, the dithematic ones form such patronymics comparatively often (Tverdislavilich, Volodimerovich). p 51

So monothematic names tend to give rise to adjectival patronymics, while dithematic names tend to form substantival patronymics. This could explain the impression that the -ic names tend to be more dignified than those ending in -ov. p 52

Patronymics based on Christian names take both forms -ov and -ich and their numbers increase with each century in the GVN. They are used interchangeably, with the -ich forms being the more frequent. It seems that the -ich form originated in the upper classes to emphasize family continuity from father to son, and gradually spread to the lower classes. The -ov names, based as they were on the standard possessive adjectival form, carried no such class significance. Such adjectival "names" are closer to descriptive phrases than true names especially when used with syn, doch, vnuk, etc., but eventually they come to be treated as nouns and thus become true names. The line when this occured is difficult to determine, since they are used side by side in the GVN - eg. Lukvijan Vasil'ev syn vs Lukvijan Vasil'ev; Grigor'i Ivanov syn vs Grigori'i Ivanov vs Grigor'i Ivanovich. It is only after the GVN that the -ic and -ov forms completely diverged, with the -ch forms used as patronymics and the -ov forms used as surnames. p 53

However, for women, the adjectival quality of the possessive adjectival patronymics never changed. Unmarried women are invariably designated Ivanova doch (for daughters of Ivan). Married women exchange doch for zhena, but this is sometimes omitted giving it the form of an independent name but still not a "true patronymic" (since a husband is not a father). Feminine patronymics ending in -ovna did not appear in the period covered by the GVN. p 54

Surnames, even in the simplest sense of a third name, are rare in the GVN but there are a few possible surnames. p 54-5

Slavonization and Russification

The Church Slavonic forms came from Greek as literary loans and were essentially transliterated into the Slavonic alphabet, staying close to the Greek equivalents and the pronunciation of the Greek letters. p 56

Some of the names could be adopted practically unaltered. Names such as Simeon and Iosif, ending in consonants, fitted nicely into the Slavonic morphological system. p 56

Others were accepted only after a modification of the end in order to bring them in line with Slavonic grammar, for example -os and -es were dropped and only the stem was kept to bring it in line with -' type Slavonic masculine names. The Greek -as ending was generally changed to -a, for example Kosmas and Nikitas became Kosma and Nikita. The Greek -ios ending was changed to -ii, Dimitrios -> Dimitrii. Names ending in-eios where the e was unstressed could change to -ei or -ii. The final -aios became -yei in Church Slavonic. This seems to have been a systemic intentional set of changes by the early translators. p 56-7

There are some vernacular influences in the texts also, with names that arose from direct contact with Greeks, such as Fedor. Other variants showing the influence of spoken language are shortened forms of names that would end in -ei/-ii (Vasil', Grigor) and contracted forms I'an/I'ann. p 58

The Greek letters phi and theta (?) were transcribed inconsistently even in the earliest Church Slavonic texts. In Old Bulgarian, p was sometimes substituted for f, but more often ф. p 58

The sound of the Greek leter theta was (and is) unfamiliar to the Slavs. It was rendered 3 ways in the Old Bulgarian manuscripts [basically with t or f pronunciation]. The substitution of t for theta was frequent in early texts. So we have Mattei from Matthaios. The form Matei appears as the earliest variant of the name in the Novgorod texts, possibly from Old Bulgarian texts, but it was soon replaced by Matfei or Matfei, which was apparently derived directly from the Greek. The Novgorod documents made no distinction between f and f. p 59-60

The Greek and Old Slavonic priests who Christianized the Rus brought with them the vernacular names in addition to the literary forms. That's presumably how Tudor/Todor (from Feodoros) came to Novgorod as the earliest variant of the name. Later it appears side by side with the Church Slavonic-derived version Feodor/Fedor which appears by 1305. The phonetic signifiance of f ~ f in these early spelling is difficult to determine. Over time the Novgorod and Dvian dialects developed f from v in certain positions, unlike Kievan and White Russia, but this hasn't been confirmed until the 15th or 16th centuries although the tendency might have started sooner. At any rate, soon the Greek phi and theta were rendered by f and f interchangeably in the Novgorod texts. The substitution of ch and chv for f and (theta) popular in the South and White Russian dialects is quite uncommon in Novgorod, and isn't found in the names examined. p 61

Some of the Church Slavonic forms fitted so well into the Old Slavonic patterns that their final syllable actually rhymed with native names: Feodor and Stojvor, Maksim and Tvorim, Jakov and -ov patronymics, Stefan and Zhdan. Others had to undergo slight modifications: Simeon became Simen to conform to native names like Najden. p 63

When the Church Slavonic Ioann came to Russia, it underwent further changes to make it more compatible with Russian orthographics. It becomes Ioan/Ivan to conform to names like Guban. Evan (pronounced iovan) also shows the tendency of the Russians to put a v between vowels in loan words when i or e was followed by a or o. The Novgorod texts provide many examples: Iona~Ivona, Rodion~Rodivon, Larion~Larivon. p 64

The -ei and -ii endings put on Greek words ending in -ios and -eas/eios/aios soon became interchangeable in the Novgorod and Dvina dialects. The names ending in -ii were apparently considered Church Slavonic and the -ei and -ei froms as Russian, perhaps influenced by native names such as Chotei. p 65