Today we’re looking to the literary world, specifically Edmund Spenser’s The Faerie Queen (1590), which uses both Arthegal and Artegal spellings of the name.
In the works, Sir Arthegal is a knight of the Queene, and he is trained by Astraea to be the champion of True Justice. During the course of the tale he meets Britomart dressed as a knight and defeats her in a swordfight, before falling in love with her. He also has a trusty companion in the form of Talus, who spends his days pursuing and killing any number of villains. A painting by John Hamilton Mortimer, named Sir Arthegal, the Knight of Justice, with Talus, the Iron Man (from Spenser’s ‘Faerie Queene’) depicts the two together, and can been seen in the Tate.
Where I think this name will find his fans is with those looking for something like Arthur, but not Arthur. If you’re a member of that select group, you’re in luck. The name Arthur has been in the England&Wales Top 100 since 2009, and continues to climb: in 2013, he ranked at #43, whereas Arthegal / Artegal / Arthegall does not rank.
The name Arthur has a fierce debate surrounding him as to his origins. I’m just going to run you through the possibilities, then feel free to pick your favourite.
The name Arthur could derive from Artorius, a name from Roman times. He could also come from Arcturus, the name of the third brightest star in the night sky after Sirius and Canopus; this name derives from the Greek arktos, meaning bear, and ouros, meaning guardian. Put together, the meaning of Arcturus is guardian of the bear.
As for the origins of the name Arthegal, it’s another topic for debate; some link the name to Ardghal, an Irish name meaning high valour, but I remain sceptical.
Either way, Arthegal remains an alluring literary choice without certain origins that joins the likes of Caspian, Gawain and Percival.