Comments for the name Æðelmær

Comments for ÆÐELMÆR:

ÆÐELMÆR or ÆÞELMÆR (early scribes were often as unclear of the difference between the hard th of Þ "thorn" and soft th of Ð "eth" as people today) contains two of the most popular of the old Germanic dithematic name elements. ÆÐEL, EÐEL, AÐEL, ODAL, OEÐEL, ADEL (often abbreviated) was used as a common first element or standing alone, and literally means "possession of Ead (property)" (by right of inheritance or freehold). Before feudal times rank was determined by wealth in property. A man who had inherited or acquired five hides of land (a hide could support one family) was given responsibilities as a servant or "thegn" of the court—effectively elevated to minor aristocracy. Amass much more land and he would become an Atheling or Earl, with even more status and responsibilities. On the other hand as one monk from an aristocratic family put it somewhat disparagingly "a churl possessing a gold cross {i.e. very wealthy) but not five hides of land, is still a churl". Thus an athelman was not merely wealthy, but an aristocrat, and Athel gains the sense of "noble".

The second element MÆR, MAR, or MER can occur initially, terminally or by itself. The root is that of MO, MORE, and the original sense is "magnified", "magnificent", "made great". Additional applications of "famous" "celebrated", "illustrious" etc. Are implicit or consequential to being "magnificent".
-- thegriffon  6/3/2012

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