Nicknames were popular in the middle ages probably because there was a tendency to give everyone in a family the same name. Also, then as now, there is often a humorous component to nicknames. One of my favorites is King Alfonse IX of Leon and Galicia, the “El Baboso”—“The Slobberer”—because he had spit-spraying fits of rage. In the above picture, I can well imagine the spit flying. One man actually turns his head away.
There was a medieval Bulgarian ruler called Ivajlo the “Cabbage” who ruled in 1278-9. Although cabbage was widely eaten in the medieval world, people believed that it wasn’t good for you. When I was growing up I remember one of the miners at J&L Steel where my dad worked was called “Cabbage” and his son was called “Brussels Sprouts.” Ivajlo had only a daughter. I wonder if she had a nickname.
To find out more medieval nicknames read my novel The Viscountess and the Templars.
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