Names of the Week: Percival and Ginevra

This week we’re going vintage, and boy do I mean that. Percival was suggested by the lovely Kendra.

One of the reasons I picked Ginevra as the female name to go with Percival this week is because of the Weasley connection, as in Percy and Ginny Weasley.

So, without further ado, let’s get onto the topic of Percival.

He was created in the 12th century by a French poet with an equally intriguing name, Chrétien de Troyes, for his poem, Perceval, the Story of the Grail. Sounds interesting, right? Without boring the uninterested of you to death, the story revolves around Perceval, one of King Arthur’s knights of the Round Table, who was given a glimpse of the Holy Grail.

The character, and therefore likely the name, was based on the Welsh Hero Peredur, but the spelling altered, due to the influence of the Old French phrase percer val, which means to pierce the valley.

Percival appears in another epic poem, this time by Wolfram von Eschenbach in his Parzival, however this time the name is said to be due to the fact that this Percival was born right after the news of his father’s death reached his mother, who felt great pain, not unlike it was piercing right through her. Thus, the name Percival, coming again from the Old French phrase.

However, there are many versions of Percival’s birth, but in most accounts he is of noble birth; his father is either King Pellinore or another worthy knight. His mother is usually unnamed but plays a significant role in the stories. His sister is the bearer of the Holy Grail, she is sometimes named Dindrane, another note-worthy name! In the tales where he is Pellinore’s son, his brothers are Sir Aglovale, Sir Lamorak and Sir Dornar, and he also has a half-brother, by his father’s affair with a peasant woman, named Sir Tor.

After the death of his father, Percival’s mother takes him to the Welsh forests where she raises him ignorant to the ways of men until the age of 15. Eventually, however, a group of knights passes through his wood, and Percival is struck by their heroic bearing. Wanting to be a knight himself, the boy travels to King Arthur’s court, and after proving his worthiness as a warrior he is knighted and invited to join the Knights of the Round Table.

Other notable accounts of the Arthurian Percival is in Le Morte d’Arthur by Sir Thomas Mallory, and the lost Perceval by Robert de Boron.

As for Percival’s potential nowadays, it’s not exactly fantastic. So why choose Percival? He’s the name of a famous knight, and if you’re into King Arthur et al, it’s a slightly more subtle way to honour that interest than using ,say, Arthur or Lancelot.

Chew on it whilst we discuss this week’s female name.

Ginevra. I personally go between liking this name, and not liking it so much on a regular basis. She’s the italian form of the name Guinevere, but is also associated with the italian word ginepro, which means juniper. Another intriguing name possibility.

By complete coincidence, the name Ginevra also has an Arthurian connection, this time through it’s English form Guinevere. The world is a mysterious place.

In Arthurian legend, Guinevere is the notably beautiful wife of Arthur, but is equally notable for her affair with Sir Lancelot. Her betrayal of her husband was a cause of the battle of Camlann, which led to the deaths of both Mordred and Arthur.

As for the actual roots of Guinevere, she comes from the Welsh name Gwenhwyfar, composed of the elements gwen, meaning fair, white and hwyfar, meaning smooth or shadow, thus collectively the meaning could be construed as being white shadow

And if that wasn’t enough variants for you, the Cornish variant is the ever popular Jennifer.

There’s no doubt Ginevra probably has more potential than Percival, and is, again, another option if you’re looking to honour your interest in King Arthur.

So, there we have it. Another late Names of the Week post. My apologies again, and again as it will also occur next week as well.

Kudos, Lucy.

Categories: Names of the Week | 4 Comments

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4 thoughts on “Names of the Week: Percival and Ginevra

  1. Kota

    Interesting names! I like Juniper and Ginevra, but I never realised that they were connected!


  2. Alessi

    Same as Kota. Wow! You learn something new everyday. Percival is quite sweet, not sure I’d use it though.


  3. Bourneville

    Percival is rather nice, but, again, would I use it? Probably not.


  4. Estrix

    Ginevra is so underrated in my opinion, she sure deserves more attention than, say, Madison.


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