We discussed Agnes a few days ago. But there’s another way to get to the nickname Aggie.
Thanks to Lola for suggesting the intriguing Agatha as Name of the Day.
Agnes once topped the popularity lists. The unrelated Agatha hasn’t been so nearly as hot in centuries. Her heyday was probably Medieval England, but even then, she wasn’t as common as Joan, Alice – or Agnes.
Instead, she’s gone from steady use in the late nineteenth century to obscurity in recent years. Agatha last charted in the US Top 1000 in 1945.
And yet, she’s familiar to nearly everyone – and sounds quite smart – thanks to mystery writer Agatha Christie.
Speaking of mysteries, an even earlier Agatha has stumped historians for ages.
Back in 1016, Canute of Denmark routed the armies of King Edward II and took over England. Edward’s young son, also named Edward, was sent off to be murdered but instead ended up living in Kiev and Hungary. Known as Edward the Exile, he eventually became the official heir to the English throne – but met his end before he could be crowned.
Somewhere along the way, he married Agatha. She accompanied him to England in 1057. Some speculate that she’s German or Hungarian; others connect her to Kiev or Bulgaria. Her name is the basis of some arguments – if Agatha is unusual today, it was downright exotic circa 1057.
A little digging turned up a Princess Agatha born in 958 in Constantinople, but she ended her days in a convent. There have been plenty of other royal bearers of the name, but they tend to post-date the could-have-been-queen. A Russian royal wore the name in the 1200s; as recently as 1910, the society wedding of Berlin’s Princess Agatha von Ratibor was covered by the international press.
But perhaps the most intriguing Princess Agatha was the daughter of William the Conqueror. She was almost certainly born after the 1057 death of Edward the Exile, but before our mysterious Agatha left England for Scotland. Could she be named after the not-queen? There’s a historical novel just begging to be written.
While Agatha almost screams to have “Great Aunt” preceding her, she’s far from the most unusual name currently making a comeback. If Hazel and Mabel can seem fashion-forward, why not Agatha?