Name Frequency in Medieval Novgorod, Russia

When looking at sources of medieval Russian names, the city state of Novgorod stands out, based on the availability of the birchbark documents (letters and other documents written on birchbark and well preserved by Novgorod’s distinct archaeological conditions) and the availability of collected legal records.

We have several places to look for specifically Novgorodian names: the birchbark documents, the Primary Chronicle, and Gramoty Velikogo Novogoroda I Pskova (GVN), a collection of legal documents from mainly the 15th century. Astrid Baecklund has done some work with GVN, and the Chronicle; Predslava Vydrina and U. I. Chaikina have studied the names in the birchbark documents.

This article will summarize existing work on names from Novgorod. All of these names have been transliterated from the Russian, which uses the Cyrillic alphabet. Several systems exist, and not all sources use the same system, so I have indicated the system used.

Medieval Russians could use anywhere from a given name only to two given names and multiple bynames.  A common name pattern  is a given name and one, perhaps two bynames. Sometimes an individual will be referred to by two given names,  which are generally a Slavic/Old Russian name and a baptismal/Christian name.

Feminine Names

From the Chronicle

(Baecklund excludes princely relatives). 15th c forms are normalized, all are transliterated using the International Phonetic system, using an apostrophe for the soft sign. All of these names are Christian names.

Anna 1168
Mar’m’jana 1168
Elisava 1179
Fegnija 1179
Evdokija 1192
Efrosinija 1192
Marija 1192
Varvara 1195
Chrs’tna 1195

From GVN

Fevron’ja 1192
Vasalisa 14th c first half
Elena(Olenica) 1393
Kilikeja 1393
Marfa 1393
Fekla 14th c last half
Anton’ja (Oton’ja) 1393
Feodos’ja (Fedos’ja) 1393
Mar’ja (11) 15th c
Feodos’ja (7) 15th c
Anastaija (4) 15th c (Nastas’ja)
Ksenija (4) 15th c (Oksen’ja, Oksin’ja
Agrafena (3) 15th c (Ogrofena, Ogrufena)
Jul’jana (3) 15th c (Ul’jana)
Justinja (3) 15th c (Usten’ja, Ustin’ja)
Evdokeja (3) 15th c (Ovdokeja, Ovdokija)
Anna (2) 15th c
Vasalisa (2) 15th c
Elena (2) 15th c (Olena)
Feodora (2) 15th c
Marina (2) 15TH C
Matrona (2) 15th c
Akulina 15th c (Okulina)
Amelfa 15th c (Omelfa)
Antonija 15th c (Onton’ja
Efimija 15th c (Ofim’ja)
Epistim’ja 15th c
Evfrosin’ja 15th c (Oprosen’ja)
Fenja 15th c
Feodotija 15th c
Fetin’ja 15th c
Luker’ja 15th c
Marfa 15th c
Natalija 15th c
Pelageja 15th c
Pokinar’ja 15th c
Sofija 15th c
Tatijana 15th c
Chovra 15th c
Julita 15th c (Ulita)

From the Birchbark documents via Predslava

(Library of Congress transliteration)

Christian names

Names without a frequency number were found four or fewer times

Akulina 12th c
Evfimiia 12th c
Elizaveta 12th c
Fevroniia 12th c
Kharitaniia 12th c
Miropiia 12th c
Iriniia 12th c
Mariia 12th c (14)
Evdokiia 12th c
Iulianiia 12th c
Melaniia 12th c
Anastasiia 12th c (10)
Evfrosiniia 12th c
Khristina 12th c
Pelageia 12th c
Anna 12th c
Marfa 12th c
Varvara 12th c
Ekaterina 12th c
Feodosiia 12th c
Sofiia 12th c
Dominika 12th c
Fekla 12th c
Maremeiana 12th c
Kseniia 13th c
Tatiana 13th c
Domna 14th c
Fetiniia 14th c
Marina 14th c

Old Russian names

Bezubaia 12th c
Kosenila 12th c
Chiudka 12th c
Milka 12th c
Dedenia 12th c
Negoshka 12th c
Deretka 12th c
Nezhka 12th c
Gostiata 12th c
Nedel’ka 12th c, 13th c
Peredeslava 14th c
Marina 14th c


From the Birchbark documents via Chaikina.

These are normalized, Library of Congress transliterated, Christian names from the 11th to 14th c.

Anastasiia 15
Mariia 12
Khristina 7
Efiim’ia 7
Sofiia 7
Iana 6
Evdokiia 5
Ul’iana 5
Fedosiia 5
Fevroniia 4
Marfa 4
Marem’iana 3
Domna 3
Anna 2
Fekla 2
Marina 2
Mirofa 2
Katerina 2

Masculine Names

From GVN

Baecklund’s study of names in GVN shows 21 particularly common masculine names in the approx 13th to 15th centuries. The first number is instances as a given name, the second as a patronymic. These are normalized, and transliterated mostly in the International Phonetic system.

Ivan 150/69
(Ioan , Evan 5, Evanec, Ivan/ Ivann 109, Ivane 18, Ivanko 5, Ivanei, Ivash 7, Ivashko, Ivak, Janko)

Vasilei 83/51
(Vasilii/Vasili/Vaselii/Vaseli 7, Vasilei 44, Vasel/Vasil 3, Vasilko, Vaske 2)

Grigorei 78/33
(Grigori/Grigorii 11, Grigorei/Gregorei 49, Grigor’ja/Grigorija 4, Grigor’, Griga, Grichne 5, Grisha 2, Grishka 2, Gridja 2, Gritka)

Fedor 74/42
(Feodor 7, Fedor 58, Fedore/Fedoro 3, Fedorii, Fedorko, Fed, Fedec’, Fet’ko, Feduta, Feshak, Tudore)

Semen 61/30
(Semion/Semeon 3, Semen 35, Semene, Semenec 3, Semenko, Semjan, Smen, 11, Smene 4, Smenko, Smechno)

Jakov 53/17
(Ijakov, Ijakove, Jakov 44, Jakove 3, Jakovke/Jakovko 2, Jakovec, Jakuta)

Stepan 53/19
(Stefan 4, Stepan 37, Stepane/Stepano 5, Stepanec’ 3, Stepanko 2, Stepach, Stapan)

Michailo 39/18
(Michailo 19, Michaila/Mechaila 10, Michalo, Michala, Michalka, Michal’ Michalec’, Misha, Mishko, Mishuta)

Jurii 35/18
(Georgii, Gjurgi 2, Jurgi, Juri/Jurii 20, Jur’e 6, Jur’ja , Jur’ka, Jurjata, Jur’ec)

Esif 37/17
(Iosif, Iosip, Esif 17, Esip 13, Esip’ko, Osip, Osif, Eska 2)

Dmitrei 29/12
(Dmitrii/Dmitri 5, Dmitrei 13, Dmitre 7, Dmitrok , Dmitrush, Mitja 2)

Ondrei 30/24
(An’drei, Andrei 9, Ondrei 14, Ondri/Ondre2, Ondrii, Onderei, On’drei, Ondreiko/Andreiko)

Matfei 25/13
(Matthei 2, Matfei/Mat’fei 14, Matvei/Matvii 3, Matfi 2, Matfeiko, Mashko, Matuta)

Pavel 25/11
(Pavel 13, Pavle 6, Pavsha 3, Pavlech, Pavlok, Povosha)

Oleksei 24/13
(Aleksei 3, Aleks, Oleksii, Oleksei/Olekse 13, Oleksa 3, Olech, Olechno

Sidor 21/9
(Sidor 19, Sidorja, Sidorko)

Kuzma 20/12
(Kozma 3, Kuzma 15 Kuzmla, Kuzimka)

Maksim 20/12
(Maksim 16, Maksime 2, Maksimka, Maksimec)

Ignatei 21/9
(Ignatii/Ignati 4, Ignatei 10, Ignat 4, Ignate, Ignatec, Igocha)

Mikita 18/4
(Nikita 2, Mikita 13, Mikitka, Mikitica, Miksha)

Oleksandr 21/12
(Aleksandr 4, Aleksandre, Oleksandr/Oleksand 14, Oleksandre 2

From the Birchbark documents via Predslava

These are normalized, and appear to be transliterated using the International Phonetic system.

Ivan 54 XII c
Georgii 32 XII c
Semen 24 XII c
Grigorii 23 XII c
Stepan 23 XI c
Mixail 22 XII c
Foma 21 XII c
Fedor 21 XII c
Vasilij 21 XII c
Iakov 16 XII c
Matfei 16 XII c
Sidor 15 XIII c
Dmitrii 13 XII c
Kuz’ma 13 XIIc
Zaxarii 12 XII c
Boris 12 XII c
Maksim 12 XIII c
Aleksei 11 XII c
Iosif 11 XII c
Pavel 11 XI c
Nikita 10 XII c
Andrei 10 XII c


Baecklund, Astrid, The Names of Women in Medieval Novgorod, in For Roman Jakobson, Essays on the Occasion of his Sixtieth Birthday, Mouton & Co, The Hauge, 1956.
Baecklund, Astrid. Personal Names in Medieval Velikij Novgorod. Stockholm: Almqvist & Wiksell, 1959.
Чайкина Ю. И. Именования женщин в новгородских берестяных грамотах XI-ХIV вв. / Ю. И. Чайкина // Вопросы ономастики. — 2006. — № 3. — С. 33-37.
Predslava Vydrina, Russian Personal Names: Name Frequency in the Novgorod Birch-Bark Letters,

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