Tudor Fortescue 

I grew up "American". Along with that came an inherent appreciation for the British/English cultural touchstone...

Tudor is a Welsh name adapted from Greco-Roman Theodoros/Theodorus, and can be traced to Roman occupation in the British Isles.

Fortescue is an English adaptation of a French-Norman name, that also comes from Latin, and therefore the Romans.

An interesting thing about the two of these names is that they will often be confused for "Romanian" names. It is confusing to find English names of Latin derivation in a place so far from either the British Isles or Italy. So how did they get there?

First, in order to understand why this happened, the story that Romanians tell of how they came to be:

That starts with Dacia, which correlates more or less with the modern country and the east end of the Danube River, then Roman occupation from approximately 101-271 CE, Roman withdrawal, a thousand years of silence, and then they finally show up in outside records again...

You can gloss over everything in between here and the 18th century because they would probably rather you forget it anyway.

One of the most striking features I noticed while reading about the place was the unique surnames, which were often not present in any other country. They really stood out.

Zamfirescu, Munteanu, Florescu, Balanu, etc. 

Easy to recognize them right away. 

Along comes Greek independence in the 1820's, and the Phanariote Greeks effectively ruled Wallachia (Southern Romania) for a time leading up to this, and so the Greek fraternity "Filiki Eteria" tried to recruit Romanians in Wallachia to join their fight for independence from the Ottoman Empire.

And right about here you'll find out about Tudor Vladimirescu. If you look into the history post 18th century, you'll come across the name Tudor over and over and over. 

When looking into it for myself, I knew already that Tudor was a Welsh name.

I also started becoming familiar with the Vlachs, Wallachs, Wallachia, etc. the first two of these being ethnonyms for the progenitors of the country, and learned not long after of the connection with that word, and the word Welsh, both coming from proto-Germanic elements noting "Latin people, Latin speakers" etc. Examples are numerous and include Welsh, Wales, Wallonia, Wallachia, Walenstadt, Valais, Walser, Vlach, Wloch, Walloon. Places as diverse as England, Belgium, Germany, Romania, Greece, Switzerland. Then I learned the Polish word for an Italian even today is Wloch.

The connection with the Welsh and the name Tudor, and Vlachs and the name Tudor, seemed obvious! 

Somehow this name had survived among both groups long after Roman occupation ended, and was an example of shared mutual history between England and Romania, of all places!

Alas, further research proved unable to substantiate this. The Slavs had adapted Todor, from the Greek Theodoros, through various forms, including Teodor. 

But Tudor in Romania can be documented no earlier than 1780, with the very same Tudor Vladimirescu (apparently the last name was retroactively applied, as he was known as Tudor din Vladimiri throughout his life).

C.S.L. Davies writes in his research article "Tudor: What's in a Name?" that even in England, the name wasn't popular until David Hume published "The History of England Under the House of Tudor" in 1759. 

And then the name Tudor appears in Romania 21 years later with ties to Bucharest, the population and education center of that country.

On the -escu surnames, this wasn't common until the name reforms of 1850, which made mandatory standardized surnames in Romania. I can find very few examples of this form of surname in Romania from before 1850, even those appear to be retroactively applied, and virtually zero before 1780. The standard was to take your father's name (or a notable ancestor), and add the -escu suffix, at least in regards to that form.

Related somewhat indirectly to this, I was reading about the major schisms between the main branches of Christianity, Protestantism, Catholicism, Orthodoxy etc, and in an article about the reunification of the Orthodox church with the Catholic church that resulted in what is called "Greek Catholicism" or "Eastern Catholicism", I happened across the name Adrian Fortescue. I immediately took it for granted that this must be a Romanian due to the -escu suffix at the end of his surname. 

Instead I saw both his parents were English. Apparently he and his family are prominent in England. He himself was a scholar, linguist etc, born in England, who studied at the Scots' College in Rome. 

The surname Fortescue has been in the British Isles for about a thousand years, as it appears in the wake of the Norman Conquest of 1066, with a family who traces their roots to Normandy in France, -escue in the British Isles being a warp of French -esque, as in the surname Levesque. Their family has two members who have been beatified by the Catholic Church. The surname is common enough in England that the author of the Harry Potter series uses it for two minor characters (haven't read it but it's well liked by quite a few).

I thought this was perplexing, as I have seen the name Florescu in the reading I've done about Romania, a common Romanian surname. Since I know the name Tudor is a common name in Romania, and in England and can be traced directly back to Roman occupation, I thought to look up the name Tudor Fortescue, a name that would be seen as quintessentially British by anyone in the know, and would not look out of place at all in Romania either.

The first result that popped up:

"Head of a Tudor Girl"

painted by Eleanor Fortescue-Brickdale (1872-1945)

This painting was done by an English painter with a double barreled surname, who descended from the Fortescue family. The subject is a take on the ideal woman in the Tudor period in England. The name Tudor is prominent as a last name in England as the ruling family for a significant period (the 16th century), but passed originally from a first name among the Welsh to a surname due to their naming conventions.

The man Adrian Fortescue is named for, also named Adrian Fortescue, was murdered by a member of the Tudor family, as the Tudor family was Protestant, and the Fortescue's were Catholic. This earlier Adrian Fortescue was then beatified as a martyr by the Catholic church.

I don't know if Eleanor Fortescue-Brickdale did this on purpose or not, but in addition to the first of her own last-names and the name of the family which the subject of her painting is supposed to embody, the primary colors are reminiscent of Romania as well, as the Romanian flag. The flower the character is holding looks to be a Dianthus plumarius, native to the Eastern Alps through Northwestern "Balkan Peninsula", and naturalized (and now invasive) to several other regions, including the U.K.

I have a feeling that both J.K. Rowling, who named one of her characters in her popular Harry Potter series Florean Fortescue (Florean being another extremely common name in Romania), and Eleanor Fortescue-Brickdale were in the know about this calculated adaptation of Western, especially English and "Latin" cultural links to appear recognizable and familiar to Western European milieu.








Published 4/3/23