Friday, October 21, 2016

Word of the month: Some Italianisms in the Port Books of Southampton

A map of medieval Southampton based on the Terrier of 1454:

My previous AND blog [July 2016] on luxury fabric colours introduced the study of Anglo-Norman / Italian language contact, an area which has been largely overlooked by academics so far.[1] Tuscans, Genoese and Venetians played a crucial role in the economy of late medieval England and Italian merchants and bankers could be found in many social niches. They dominated the textile and wool markets, they were the main importers of sugar and spices, they acted as personal money-lenders to the King and ran the Royal Mints, they worked closely with the London Guilds (such as the Worshipful Company of Grocers) and they were the undisputed European masters of shipping. One of the aims of my recently submitted PhD thesis (Money Talks: Anglo-Norman, English and Italian language contact in medieval merchant documents, c1200-c1450) is to uncover probable Italian borrowings in the AND2 which have, so far, not been identified. Examples of loanwords are as wide-ranging as the Italians’ influence and include silks and brocades (AND damask / baldekin / taffata), dyes (AND cramoisé), financial terms (AND tare1), boat names (AND carrak / tarette), wine types (AND vernage), a high-quality Indian ginger (AND belendin) and a verb for ‘sifting the refuse from spices prior to sale’ (AND garbeler).

This month’s blog, however, looks at some of the handful of entries in the AND2 which are already labelled as ‘Italian’. All three are found in two sets of Anglo-Norman records tracking imports to and exports from the busy port of Southampton, a major destination for Genoese carracks and Venetian galleys in the 1400s. Rather than sailing in and out of the harbour with no interaction with locals, we have evidence that Italians became very much part of the life of the town. For instance, there are surviving records of 134 Italians  - listed as Genoese (78) / Venetians (20) / Florentines (15) / Italians (12) / Lombards (9) - who were residents of Southampton between 1431 and 1472.[2] The diary of Luca di Maso degli Albizi, captain of a state galley from Florence, details his stay in the Hampshire town in the winter of 1429-30 where he lodged with a wealthy ship owner, William Soper, and was wined and dined by local dignitaries.[3] Italians even became civic officials themselves: the Venetian, Gabriel Corbizzi, was Port Steward in the 1440s, overhauling the office accounting along Italian lines.[4] More impressively, the Florentine Cristoforo Ambruogi (Christopher Ambrose) was twice elected mayor of Southampton in 1486 and 1497, a rare privilege for an ‘alien’ in England at the time.[5] Finally, Stewards’ Books from 1487-88 and 1492-93, written in Middle English, reveal that Southampton townsmen and Venetian galley crew worked together on several occasions to fell timber in the New Forest and build derricks (or scaffolding) on the dockside to unload cargo.[6] Italian loanwords also feature in these sources, e.g. maregon (‘ship’s carpenter’) < Venetian marangóne. In all these situations, it is fascinating to imagine how the English and Italians involved communicated and how loanwords moved from one language to another.

The route followed by the merchant galleys from Venice to Southampton:

1. AN fangot (‘bundle of cloth’) < Ital. fangotto
 liij bales xxi fangot , contenu vij c x draps ij verges  (Port Bks 50) (att. 1428) (AND fagot, no. 2)
The Port Books of 1427-30 were edited back in 1913 by Paul Studer and he was the first scholar to recognise an Italianism in an insular French text: “As the word is of Italian origin, cf. Ital. fangotto, it may well have been introduced into England by the Genoese settled in Southampton”. He also notes enthusiastically that “the word must have been quite familiar to Southamptonians of A.D. 1428, seeing that it was commonly applied to bundles of exported cloth (!)”[7]

The loanword fangot is used eleven times in Port Book entries between 1428 and 1430 and reappears as fangottis in a Latin Port Book from Southampton from 1440:  

pro xxv pakikis, vij balettis et xiij fangottis panni / pro iij fangottis panni continentibus j pannum et xviij vergas (Port Bk Southampt. 72 / 73) (DMLBS fagotus).

In 1474, we also find fanget of cloth in a Middle English account, from the Guildhall in London:
For sealyng of a litill Fanget of cloth (Let. Bk. Lond. L, Gldh, 118) (MED fangot)

Fangotto is a lesser known variant of Italian fagotto (itself a Gallicism from OF fagot ‘bundle of sticks / firewood’): TLIO fagotto (att. 1348).[8] The word developed a new meaning of a ‘bundle of cloth’ but this specialised use is not found in France, only in Italy and England. It was still being used in this way in northern Italy in the nineteenth century, according to Giuseppe Olivieri’s Dictionary of Genoese sub fangotto. The borrowed fangot is unusual as, unlike many Italian loanwords in medieval England, it remained in use by English drapers for over three hundred years. We find it in Edward Hatton’s The Merchant’s magazine or Trade-man’s treasury (first published in 1695 with eight subsequent editions) in a chapter helpfully called ‘A Merchant Or Trader's Dictionary, Explaining the Most Difficult Terms Used in Trade’ :

Fangot: an uncertain quantity, as of Raw Silk, 1 to 2 ½ C. Grogram and Mohair Yarn 11/2 C. to 2½ C.

We can more examples in early modern English the OED2 entry sub fangot, e.g.

one Fangot of White Cyprus Silk (London Gaz. No. 841/4) (1673)
Fangotts of Italian raw silk (London Gaz. No. 4472/4.4) (1708)

2. AN sport (basket) < Ital. sporta

vij sport de resins (Port Bks 43) (att. 1428) / i sport de suchre pot, val. xxs. (Local Port Bk 66) (att. 1436)  (AND sport)

Another example of a commercial loanword from Italian in the Port Books of 1427-30 is sport or ‘basket’. We also find the borrowing a few years later in the Local Port Book of 1435-36, another set of accounts written by the same man: the Southampton Water Bailiff, Robert Florys. He uses sport over twenty times in total and always with the same five commodities: almonds, raisins, figs, soap and suchre pot (‘pot-sugar’). Interestingly, its use is not confined to the ‘Alien Book’ (the section in the Local Book dedicated to trade with Italians) but also the ‘Common Book’ which deals with everything else. This suggests that, for Robert Florys at least, sport was an everyday part of his business vocabulary.

We also find rarer examples of the diminutive, sportin, which appears to mean ‘small basket’ or ‘half a sport’ in both Florys’ Port Books:

iiij sport ij sportin de almand (Port Bks 49) (att. 1428) / viii sportin de resin (Local Port Bk 108) (att. 1436) (AND sportin)

Records of medieval Italian sporta are easy to find. If we look at the OVI corpus, we find over fifty examples from 1318 onwards including this from the Florentine Pegolotti’s merchant handbook where he states that pepper is sold in such baskets:

Olio in giarre. A sporta si vende: Pepe. A peso si vende: Indaco. (Pegolotti Practica 70.16) (c1335-1343) (OVI sporta)

Sporta even remains in modern colloquial Italian but mainly in fixed expressions such as un sacco e una sporta (‘a large amount’) and dirne un sacco e una sporta a qualcuno (‘to give someone a telling off’). An etymon for sportin is, surprisingly, less easy to find. The obvious candidate is sportino / a but there is no medieval record of the term. Could the name of a round Florentine fruited bread known as the sportina di Pasqua, although not recorded until the 1800s, hint at the earlier existence of the word?

Sportina di Pasqua:

3. AN cotegnate (‘quince marmalade or paste’) < Ital. cotognato

j barel de cotegnate   (Local Port Bk 90) (att. 1436) (AND cotegnate)

Unlike fangot and sporta, this Italian borrowing  is a ‘hapax’ and appears only once in the Anglo-Norman record, with one entry referring to a 100lb barrel of quince marmalade, worth 13 shillings and 4 pence, arriving into Southampton on the 4th of January on a Venetian ship.[9]

La cotognata:

La cotognata is still eaten in Italian today: a traditional confection served in small squares and equivalent to Spanish membrillo. Its first appearance in an Italian text actually records its import into London in 1306 by the Gallerani of Siena, alongside other sweet treats like candied nuts and ginger confit (OVI cotognato). We also know that English cooks prepared their own version of quince preserve with ‘native’ names such as connates and quynade. These terms feature in Middle English recipes from a1399 and a1450 and appear to be compound words made up of variants of ‘quince’ (AND coign1 / OED2 coyn), followed by an –ate / -ade suffix:

Connates. Take Connes and pare hem. (Form Cury (Add 5016) p. 18) (att. a1399) (MED connates)

Quynade: Take Quynces & pare hem clene [etc.]. (Two 15th-cent. Cookery-bks. (1888) 27) (att. a1450) (OED3 quinade)

The later name codiniac found in English in 1539 (OED2 codiniac), is clearly borrowed from the Continental French variants coudoignac / coudougnac, first recorded in France in the 1380s and themselves influenced by Occitan codonat / quodonat, according to the FEW (II-2, 1606a: cydonem).

However, given the circumstances of this loanword’s use in a Southampton document directly linked to imports from Venice in 1436, Italian cotognato seems the obvious choice for our lone example of cotegnate. Overall, what is interesting about the Southampton material is that in all three of our loanword examples, the writer could have used a range of pre-existing Anglo-Norman or Middle English terms: e.g. bundelle / fardel for ‘bundle’, couple / frael / paner for ‘basket’, connates / quinade for ‘quince paste’. But instead, Robert Florys chose (consciously or not, we will never know) to borrow a term from Italian instead. [MST]

[1] David Trotter discusses this issue in two articles from 2011: ‘Death, taxes and property: some code-switching evidence from Dover, Southampton and York’, in Code-Switching in Early English, ed. by Herbert Schendl and Laura Wright (Berlin: De Gruyter), pp. 155-89  /  ‘Italian merchants in London and Paris: evidence of language contact in the Gallerani accounts, 1305-08, in Le changement linguistique en français: études en homage au professeur R. Anthony Lodge, ed. by Dominique  Lagorgette and Tim Pooley, (Chambéry: Presses de l’Université de Savoie), pp. 209-26. I have also presented various new sources of loanword evidence: (2012) ‘Mercantile multilingualism: two examples of Anglo-Norman and Italian contact in the fourteenth century’, in Present and future research in Anglo- Norman: Aberystwyth Colloquium, July 2011, ed. by David Trotter (The Anglo-Norman Online Hub), pp. 91-99 / (forthcoming) ‘Early Anglo-Italian contact: new loanword evidence from two mercantile sources, 1440-1451’ in Merchants of Innovation: The Languages of Traders, ed. by Esther-Miriam Wagner, Bettina Beinhoff and Ben Outhwaite (De Gruyter Mouton).
[2] This data is available on the England’s Immigrants 1330-1550 website, a project based at the University of York and directed by Prof. Mark Ormrod.
[3] This Tuscan source is transcribed in full on pp.207-80 of Michael Mallett’s The Florentine Galleys in the Fifteenth Century (London: Oxford) from 1967.
[4] See The Fifteenth-Century Stewards’ Books of Southampton, a PhD thesis by Anne Thick from the University of Southampton (1995) and also T. B. James’ (2015) ‘The Town of Southampton and its Foreign Trade 1430-1540’ in English Inland Trade, ed. by Michael Hicks (Oxford: Oxbow Books), pp.11-24 (p.13)
[5] See Alwyn Ruddock (1951): Italian merchants and shipping in Southampton, 1270-1600 (Southampton: University College), pp.185-86.
[6] See Alwyn Ruddock (1944): ‘The Method of Handling the Cargoes of Mediaeval Merchant Galleys’, in Bulletin of the Institute of Historical Research, XIX: 140-48.
[7] Paul Studer (1913): The Port Books of Southampton or (Anglo-French) accounts of Robert Florys, Water-Bailiff and Receiver of Petty-Customs, A.D. 1427-1430 (Southampton: Southampton Record Society),  p.50.
[8] The Tesoro della Lingua Italiana delle Origini (TLIO) is available online at but hyperlinks cannot be made to individual entries.
[9] See Brian Foster (1963): The local port book of Southampton for 1435-36 (Southampton: The University Press), p. 91.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

WoM: 'galahoth', 'cumant' or ten thousand Mongolian hats

While the AND is primarily designed to give definitions for words found in medieval British literary and administrative texts, what it can also do is offer us insights into the linguistic reality of a medieval, multilingual Britain. While the tradition (and erroneous) view was that only the nobility used Anglo-Norman, while the other classes remained Anglophone, research by a number of scholars has shown that there was considerable interaction between Anglo-Norman and other languages during the period, and that a number of individuals were literate in multiple languages. An analysis of lexical borrowings into Anglo-Norman can offer some clues about the circles in which the language circulated.

The AND has a set of language tags that it adds to entries when the editors consider that the word is a borrowing from another language and not fully naturalized. It's not a comment on the etymology of the word, but more of an acknowledgement by the editors that the word retains some of the features of the source language (though the use of these tags, like that of the original semantic tags, has been inconsistent and needs systemic revision).

The vast majority of borrowings into Anglo-Norman come from Latin and Middle English, which is to be expected, as these would be the languages most commonly used. It may seem unexpected to indicate borrowings from Latin, when Anglo-Norman is a language derived from Latin. We tend to use this language tag for words, or variants, which seem to be drawn directly from Latin, rather than having undergone the normal Romance morphological and phonological evolution.

While a certain amount of borrowing from Latin and Middle English is not unexpected, the AND has noted the presence of borrowings from a number of other languages. The dictionary includes words derived from Anglo-Saxon, Arabic, Dutch, Gascon, Germanic, Greek, Hebrew, Irish, Italian, Mongolian(!!), Spanish and Welsh. These can also form compounds with Anglo-Norman words, and as such we have compound tags, such as Germanic and A.F. (confusingly, we use A.F. for ancien français and not A.N.) We will be discussing each of these languages in future blogs - one on ME borrowings, one on Latin borrowings, one on Greek, Arabic and Hebrew; one on Romance borrowings; and one on Celtic borrowings. But what about Mongolian?

There are two entries in AND so tagged: cumant#1 and galahoth. Both of these entries are illustrated with citations drawn from Jean de Mandeville's Le livre des merveilles du monde, a fictitious account of travels in the East.

Galahoth seems to describe a type of hat worn by the Great Khan. The MED also includes galaoth  from the ME translation or the text, and defines it as 'diadem worn by a Tartar emperor'.

il ouste sa galahoth qe siet sur sa teste en guyse d’un chapeau de feutre, qe est fait d’or et des pierres preciouses et de grosses perles Mandeville 401

('he removed his 'galahoth' which sat on his head like a felt hat, which was made of gold and precious stones and large pearls')

BL Add. MS 42130

The Lexis of Cloth and Clothing project includes an entry on this hat, but suggests that our Mongolian tag might be optimistic. Under galahoth we find the suggestion that the word may in fact be derived from the name Gilead: "It may in some way be related to galeola, Latin diminutive of galea 'helm', and also the Latin adjective galeatus 'helmed'. It is possible that the word was 'exoticised' in form under influence of a name (e.g., common medieval spellings of Biblical Gilead in various medieval texts include galaath, galaoth, etc.)."

The word is not included in other dictionaries of medieval French, though there are similar terms suggestive of an etymological link. The DMF includes an entry galiot#3, drawn from another version of Mandeville's text, describing a similar type of hat:

Et l'empereur les fait venir devant lui [les religieux d'une procession], et oste contre la crois son galiot [même mot que galeros ?], qui siet sur son chief en signe de chapeau, qui tous est d'or et de pierre precieuses (Vers. liég. Livr. Mandeville T.R., c.1375-1390, 134).

('And the emperor had them come before him and removed the cross from his 'galiot', which sat on his head like a hat, which was completely of gold and precious stones')

The DMF also includes an entry for galeros, attested once in a text from the late fifteenth-century, with the meaning of 'leather hat with the insignia of Mercury':

...nous commancerons a son chief [de la statue de Mercure], qui est couvert d'un habillement de cuir que les Grecz appellent "galeros", en signifiance que la planecte de ce nom est de petite apparence entre les corps celestes (Hist. prem. destruct. Troie R., c.1470-1480, 66).

('we began at the head (of the statue of Mercury), which was covered by a leather item of clothing that the Greeks call 'galeros', to signify the planet by this name which has a small appearance among the celestial bodies')

This term may then derive from the Classical Latin galerus (FEW IV,29b 'kappe'; DMLBS galerus 'head-covering, hat'). Not as interesting of an etymology as one derived from Mongolian, but perhaps a bit more likely.
BnF espagnol 286, f.35r

Cumant is used twice by Mandeville and appears to refer to the concept of 'ten thousand':

Cele cité vaut trop au seignur du pays, qar il y ad touz les aunz de rente de celle cité, si come sils de la cité dient, LMilz cumanz des florins d’or. Qar ils acomptent la touz par cumanz, et vaut chescun cumant Xmil florins Mandeville 365

('This city was very valuable to the lord of the country as every year the rents from the city, as those from the city say, amount to .L. thousand 'cumants' of gold florins. For they count the totals by 'cumanz' and each 'cumant' is of the value of ten thousand florins')

The same concept is expressed in other versions of the text through the term tumau. The DMF links this term to that of toman, found in Marco's Polo's book, from a Persian word. tūmān, used to denote ten thousand. It seems likely that we should understand the word cumant and toman as being the same word, as confusion between the letters 'c' and 't' is quite common in medieval scripts.

It appears then that our Mongolian tag is in error upon further evaluation of the two terms and there doesn't seem to have been contact between the two languages (unsurprisingly!) However, we do seem to have uncovered a borrowing from Persian and will need to add a new tag to reflect this origin! [hap]

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Word of the Month: Sky blue, peacock blue, indigo and luxury fabric colours

As part of my PhD thesis, I have been researching language contact between Anglo-Norman and dialects of medieval Italian.

The AND currently only has five entries labelled as Italianisms: comyt < It. comito (‘first officer on a galley’); cotegnate < It. cotognato (‘quince jam’); fangot (sub fagot) < It. fangotto (‘a bundle of cloth); sarme < It. sarma (‘a measure of capacity’) and sport < It. sporta (‘a basket’).[1] These words are all found in the same two sources from the city of Southampton: the Port Books of 1427-30 and the Local Port Book of 1435-36, administrative records which list the cargoes of the many Venetian and Genoese ships which docked in the Hampshire port in the early fifteenth century.

(Source: wikimedia commons; public domain)

However, my research has found that there is much more evidence to be uncovered of Italian influence on Anglo-Norman. One of the semantic fields that showed numerous potential loanwords was that of luxury and exotic textiles. The English market for silks, brocades and velvets was monopolised by the Italian traders who, for over two hundred years, imported fabric from the Middle East, China and Mongolia. Following the Crusades, the Republics of Venice and Genoa had both become powerful maritime states which established various rival colonies around the eastern Mediterranean, the Black Sea and the Levant: this Italian shipping empire was late medieval England’s only connection to many international commodities. Increasingly, from the 1300s onwards, silks of Eastern origin were manufactured in Italy itself, especially in Lucca (in Tuscany) and Venice. The dense, soft silk type we know as velvet was also invented in the weaving centres of medieval Italy and became one of noble Europe’s most sought-after products.[2] The AND corpus contains many records of purchases of such expensive fabrics, especially on behalf of the Royal Wardrobe: these were of varying thickness, smooth or textured, plain or adorned with gold or silver embroidery: e.g. attaby, baldekin, camaca, damaske, emperial, maramas, ragamas (sub frunt), satin, taffata, tartarin, velvet. The recently completed online database, The Lexis of Cloth and Clothing Project ( gives a very useful overview of the spread of textile lexis throughout medieval British languages and we also find some of these silk names in Latin, English, Scots, Welsh and Cornish.

 (Source: Silk from Lucca,14th century. Now in Uppsala Cathedral, Sweden)

It seems that the Italians imported not just sumptuous fabrics into England but also words associated with their colour.  In many cases, these colours gradually came to be used as cloth names in themselves. This blog focuses on the blue-purple spectrum for which we already have several colour names recorded in the AND: bleu, of course, but also azur, jacinte, jacintin, passe, pers, persan, plunket, purpre,[3] violettez (sub motlé) and, borrowed from Middle English, hawen and wachet. Three blues in particular found in Anglo-Norman texts appear to have close links to Italy. Our first example is ‘sky- / heavenly-blue’ or celestrin, a fabric colour most likely derived from Italian celestrino / cilestrino.  Panni celestrini are first attested in the Latin of Rome in 1287 and then in numerous Italian merchant texts form the 1300s and 1400s: see Tesoro della lingua italiana delle origini (TLIO) sub celestino and the Lessico Etimologico Italiano (LEI) sub caelistinum. Some cloth samples of this blue colour from c1402 have even survived, attached to a business letter, in the Datini Archive in Prato, as you can in the photograph below. The textile historian, Lisa Monnas has noted that there was more than one kind of ‘celestrine blue’, citing a Florentine document of 1419-28 which contrasts cilestrino per Roma (‘Roman celestrine’) with cilestrino al modo nostro (‘our celestrine’).[4]

(Source: Lettera 1173 con campione di tessuto, Bacellona-Firenze’, c1402, Datini Archive homepage)

In England, we find the colour / fabric name in Anglo-Norman and Middle English sections of the accounts of the Worshipful Company of Grocers (a London livery company with very close connections to Italian merchants) and, later, in the accounts of Richard III where, coincidentally, it appears alongside another blue cloth name of Italian origin (see OED2 sub turkin):

drap de colour celestryn (Grocers 90) (1401)  (AND sub celestrin)

The clothing murrey and plunket celstyne (Some Acct. Worshipful Company of Grocers 419) (1435-36) (OED2 sub celestrine / celstine)

Cloth called Vervise, otherwise called Plonkets, Turkins, or Celestrines (Act 1 Rich. III c.8 §18) (1483) (OED2 sub celestrine / celstine)
(Source: BNF Français 343 - Queste del Saint Graal / Tristan de Léonois Folio: 3v)

Our second blue – paunace – is not yet found in the AND corpus but will be included when the Second Edition of ‘P’ is published online (early 2017). There is a clear link to Italy in the case of this expensive ‘peacock-blue’ fabric in England, even if the earliest records of its name are found in France (the Old French colour peonace or ‘rouge violacé’ is attested c1172, see FEW VIII, 84a: pavo). The cloth-name appears in the Latin Close Rolls in England from 1208:

item xxj uln’ de poenac’ ad opus camerar’ regine (Cl 88b) (1208) (DMLBS sub pounaceus)

and among other prized possessions (such as a cloth of gold and a silk-trimmed coverlet) in the Anglo-Norman wardrobe inventory of the knight, Osbert Spaldington, from 1298:

Ço est a saver .iij. dras d’or e un say e .j. coverlit linge od le bordur de cendel. E un coverture de gris od le drap de paunace 

The ‘peacock’ colour name was only applied to highest quality dyed silks and woollen cloth and by far the most prolific producers of such cloths were the Italians. As Lisa Monnas details, the Venetians, in particular, were famed for obtaining a unique iridescent, purplish colour with tinges of red (paonazzo) by mixing two costly dyes: indigo (see below) and the red ‘grain’ (grana).[6] Compare this cloth description of the exotic cloth cameletto (camelot or ‘camlet’)) which has been dyed in this way, recorded in another English Close Roll from 1252:

robam integram de optimo cameletto vel de ponacio tincto in grein  (Cl 290) (1252) (DMLBS sub pounaceus)


Our third and final blue is an especially exciting find for lexicographers! Indigo dye has been used since ancient times, first extracted from Indigofera tinctoria, a member of the bean family cultivated in India. Once again, it was the Italian maritime states, especially Venice, Genoa and Pisa, who dominated the import of this rare and expensive commodity from their overseas colonies until the sixteenth century (after which the Portuguese, Spanish and Dutch took over).

Indigo is not currently found in the AND corpus. It does not appear in Continental French until 1544, or in English until 1555 (as the dye) and until 1622 (as the colour): see TLFi sub indigo / OED2 sub indigo. In the Middle Ages, the term used for this dark blue in all dialects of French and in Middle English was inde / ynde from the same ultimate Latin root indicus (‘of India’): see, for example, AND sub inde1 (attested c1175), TLFi sub inde (attested c1150), DMLBS sub indicus (attested 9th century), OED2 sub inde (attested 1320).

However, I have recently found the colour yndigo used to describe satin in an Anglo-Norman account written in London as far back as 1440, 182 years earlier than the first OED entry. The text forms part of the Views of the Hosts of Alien Merchants (edited in English translation by Helen Bradley in 2012), a collection of bureaucratic documents recording the imports and exports of foreign (and mainly Italian) merchants in England.[7] The account in question deals with the Contarini family of Venice and it almost certain that yndigo is borrowed from the Venetian indigo /endego, a dialectal form first attested in 1246: see Dizionario Etimologico Italiano (DEI) sub indigo and TLIO sub indaco.

Item a John Olney le xxvij iour d’April v peces satyns yndigo vjli xiijs iiij (E101/128/30 ret. 6, Sir William Estfield, host to Bertucci and Tommaso Contarini, merchants of Venice) (1440)

Coincidentally, the first mention of indigo dye in an English-matrix text in 1555 is the form endego, found in a translation of a Venetian geographical treatise by Giovan Battista Ramusio (OED2 sub indigo). As the TLFi and the OED both highlight in their etymologies, Spanish indico and Portuguese indigo must have played a role in the transmission of this dye / colour name in the second phase of its trade history during the sixteenth century. But this much earlier yndigo is an important remnant of Anglo-Italian language contact in the later Middle Ages.

[Megan Tiddeman, Aberystwyth]

[1] The former Chief Editor of the AND, David Trotter, discusses these loanwords in an article from 2011: ‘Death, taxes and property: some code-switching evidence from Dover, Southampton and York’, in Code-Switching in Early English, ed. by Herbert Schendl and Laura Wright (Berlin: De Gruyter), pp. 155-89.
[2] The following three studies give a fascinating insight into the lucrative Italian silk industry in the Middle Ages: Monnas, Lisa. 1989. ‘Silk Cloths Purchased for the Great Wardrobe of the Kings of England, 1325-1462’, Textile History, 20: 283-308 / King, Donald and Monique King. 1988. ‘Silk Weaves of Lucca in 1376’, in Opera Textilia variorum temporum: To Honour Agnes Geijer on her ninetieth birthday, ed. by Inger Estham and Margareta Nockert (Stockholm: Staten Historiska Museum), pp. 66-77 / Molà, Luca. 2000. The Silk Industry of Renaissance Venice (Baltimore: John Hopkins University Press).
[3] See also AND editor, Heather Pagan’s blog on ‘purpre’ from February 2016.
[4] See Monnas, Lisa. 2014. ‘Some Medieval Colour Terms for Textiles’, Medieval Clothing and Textiles, 10: 25-57 (pp.28-29).
[5] See Lachaud, Frédérique. 1994. ‘An Aristocratic Wardrobe of the Late Thirteenth Century: The Confiscation of the Goods of Osbert de Spaldington in 1298’, Bulletin of the Institute of Historical Research, 67: 91-100 (p.90).
[6] See Monnas, Lisa. 2014. ‘Some Medieval Colour Terms for Textiles’, Medieval Clothing and Textiles, 10: 25-57 (p. 49).
[7] See Bradley, Helen. 2012. The Views of the Hosts of Alien Merchants, 1440-1444 (London: The Boydell Press).