We tend to file her with botanical names, but her origins are a little bit different.
Thanks to Fran for suggesting Rosamund as our Baby Name of the Day.
Rosamund didn’t initially have much to do with roses. She comes from the Germanic elements hros – horse and mund – protection. Think Edmund or Rosalind.
The earliest record of a Rosamund dates back to the sixth century, a princess born to a kingdom at war. She was eventually kidnapped and married to her family’s rival, the King of the Lombards. Accounts tell us that his cruelty was extraordinary, and Rosamund plotted his death. While she was successful, the plot would be her downfall, too. The tale of the ill-fated Rosamund became a popular one in songs and storytelling.
It might also help explain why Rosamund remained in steady use. Six centuries later, she’s still in use.
The lovely Rosamund Clifford would keep the name in the public eye, and would also change our ideas about the meaning. The mistress of English monarch Henry II, she was referred to as “rose of the world” – a play on her given name and the Latin phrase rosa mundi.
We do this today, too, of course – you’ll find all sorts of indefensible meanings scattered across baby name message boards. And it is hard to separate Rosamund from the many other Rose names in use. Rosalind, another Germanic appellation, underwent a similar transformation, only this time in Spanish. Thanks to Linda – pretty – we assumed that Rosalind means “pretty as a rose.” It wasn’t true, but now maybe it is.
In any event, the ill-fated princess and the royal mistress meant that the name has been big in music and literature and other forms of storytelling over the centuries. She’s spelled Rosamunde and Rosamond and even Rosamonde, but she’s a fairly steady presence over the centuries.
Several early tellings of Sleeping Beauty, including the ones originally recorded by the Brothers Grimm, gave the somnolent princess’ name as Rosamond – though today Disney has cemented her name as Aurora.
More modern Rosamunds include:
- Poet Rosamund Watson wrote poetry under the nom de plume Graham R. Tomson in the late nineteenth century.
- In 1877, a town in California’s Mojave Desert was named Rosamond after the daughter of a railroad official.
- Writer Rosamunde Pilcher penned romance novel for decades, including the 1987 bestseller The Shell Seekers.
- Actress Rosamund Pike, who has played everything from a Bond Girl to a character in a Jane Austen flick.
- The young adult detective series Nate the Great features a dark-haired, cat-collecting character called Rosamond, said by many to be the inspiration for Emily the Strange.
Spelled with a u, the name has never cracked the US Top 1000. Rosamond charted from the 1880s into the 1930s, but never higher than the 500s.
All of this makes her a recognizable rarity with history and style. Sweet nicknames range from Rosie to Romy to Roz. If you’re disappointed that Beatrice is back, Rosamund might be one to consider.