8 Bizarre Medieval Names and the People that Bore Them

8 Bizarre Medieval Names and the People that Bore Them

By Stephanie Schoppert
8 Bizarre Medieval Names and the People that Bore Them

There is no denying that life in the Middle Ages was rough. There were battles, poor living conditions, and sometimes you ended up with a name that stuck with you for the rest of history. Some men come by great names that cement their place in history, like William the Conqueror, Charles the Great, or even Vlad the Impaler (if you were into that sort of thing), but other times you got names like the men on this list. Men who would have gladly taken a name like Edward the Penitent or Fredrick the Bitten over the names they were given. Here are some of the strangest names of the Middle Ages and the men who earned them.

Coin featuring Constantine V. Thehistoryofbyzantium.com

Constantine the Shit-Named

There are a few different translations of Constantine’s less than flattering nickname. Some put it as dung-named or other go with the more colloquial expression of shit head. But one of the most common associations is shit-named. The name came during his reign and was unlikely to be a name that you would have ever called the emperor to his face. Today his bizarre nickname is perhaps his biggest claim to fame.

Constantine was born in Constantinople in 718. He was the son of Leo III and began his reign in 741. At the time that his reign began, his brother-in-law, Artabasdos, and his forces attacked Constantine V. They defeated him at first and even took Constantinople where he was accepted at the new emperor. Constantine V refused to share his throne or relinquish it and therefore he retook Constantinople in 743 and secured his place as emperor.

Constantine V punished all of his opponents and rivals within the city with death or blinding. Then he decided to go even further to punish the followers of his brother-in-law. Artabasdos had attempted to usurp the throne largely because Leo III was an iconoclast and Artabasdos wanted to restore the veneration of images. During his own reign, Constantine V was an even more fervent iconoclast than his father and ordered that any images be destroyed. This led to Constantine V’s opponents, the iconodules, calling him Kopronymous or “dung-named” and they spread about the rumor that he had defecated in his baptismal waters.

For the rest of his reign there were no images allowed of the savior or even of saints. In addition to his iconoclast beliefs he was an able general and leader. He worked to increase the defenses of the empire and even undertook three campaigns on three separate fronts. It was during a campaign against the Bulgarians that he died in 775 and he was never able to garnish a nickname that withstood the test of time as well as the one granted him by his enemies.