Not every person in the Middle Ages got nicknamed the Strong or the Good. Here is our list of ten of the strangest nicknames given to medieval people. They include The Fowler, Fiery Face, and King Bark. We also included The Honest – which made the list for why he was given such a title.
Albert III, Duke of Austria (1365 – 1395) got his nickname because he would wear a lock of his wife’s hair (or some other lady’s) intertwined with his own hair.
2. John Amend-all
Jack Cade led of a popular revolt against the government of England in 1450. He took over parts of southeast England and marched on London. His followers gave him the nickname ‘John Amend-all’ for his leadership abilities.
Archibald, 4th Earl of Douglas, was a Scottish nobleman who fought in three battles. At the Battle of Homildon Hill in 1402 he was wounded 5 times, including losing an eye, before he was captured. The next year at the Battle of Shrewsbury he lost a testicle before being captured again. He later went to France, where he was killed during the Battle of Verneuil in 1424. He was given the nickname ‘Tyneman’ which means Loser in Old Scot.
4. The Catte, the Ratte and Lovell our dogge
William Collingbourne was one of the opponents of England’s King Richard III. In 1484 he pinned these words to the door of St. Paul’s Cathedral in London to mock Richard and three of his closest followers, Richard Ratcliffe, William Catesby and Francis Lovell: ‘The Catte, the Ratte and Lovell our dogge rulyth all Englande under a hogge’. Collingbourne was executed for treason later that year.
When Frederick II became Elector of Brandenburg in 1440, it was thought he would be easily controlled by the nobles. His determined response and ability at ‘biting off’ his enemies earned him the nickname ‘Irontooth’.
Henry I, King of Germany (919-936) gained his nickname ‘the Fowler’ because he was fixing birding nets when messengers arrived to inform him that he was to be king.
7. The Wake
Hereward the Wake led the Anglo-Saxon resistance against the Normans in the 11th century. His nickname, first mentioned in a 14th-century chronicle, might have meant the Watchful.
8. The Honest
Pope Innocent VIII (1484-1492) was given the nickname ‘The Honest’ because he was the first Pope to acknowledge he had illegitimate children.
9. Fiery Face
James II of Scotland (1437-1460) got his nickname because he had a red birthmark on his face, which was seen as a sign that he would have a fiery temper.
10. King Bark
Christopher III, King of Sweden (1441-1448) was nicknamed ‘King Bark’ by the Swedish peasants because the harvests were so bad during his reign that they had to mix in birch bark with the little flour they had to make food.