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Forms of Address among peasants


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#1 medievalwriter

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Posted 22 June 2010 - 03:40 PM

I am working on writing an historical fiction novel, set in Britain, and have a question for those of you who frequent this forum. I realize that "Farmer" in the agricultural sense is anachronistic (1590's, according to etymonline), and I'm wondering if you could suggest an alternate form of address than "Farmer So-and-so". "Husbandman" is time-appropriate but cumbersome, and "churl" has such a derogatory connotation (those being the terms etymonline suggests for synonyms). "Goodman" is about the only other thing I can think of, but I do not know how prevalently or in what ways that title was used. Can anyone suggest an easy but accurate title of address? Thank you for your time.
Amanda Langdon
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"Reason is a tool used by Satan to undermine faith" -- Ivanhoe (1997)

#2 Melisende

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Posted 22 June 2010 - 06:47 PM

I am sure first names would have been used. Though Fred whose trade was a baker might have been known as "Fred the Baker" when two people are speaking and referring to Fred.
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#3 Ariella

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Posted 25 June 2010 - 08:39 PM

You could call a peasant [Name] Plowman, as in Piers Plowman. In the Miller's Prologue of Chaucer's Canterbury Tales, the Miller and the Reeve also address one another familiarly as "brother".

In general, forms of address are usually terms of respect. Since medieval peasants didn't get a lot of respect, I don't think people worried too much about giving them formal titles.

#4 medievalwriter

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Posted 27 June 2010 - 12:38 PM

Thanks, Ladies, for your help! It is much appreciated!
Amanda Langdon
Graduate Student
School of Library & Information Science
University of Iowa

"Reason is a tool used by Satan to undermine faith" -- Ivanhoe (1997)