I researched medieval names online. I wanted nothing familiar: no Marios, no Marias. For women, I found Purpurea, Biancofiore, Buona, Oddolina, Adelascia, Rodulfucia, Sapia, Romana, Altemilia, Hostisana, Regimina, Caracosa, Froga, Plasira, and Euphemia. I used Froga, probably because Froga reminds me of strega, or witch, which suited the character in question.
For men, I found Petruccio, Buonfiglio, Riccio, Rufino, Gottifredo, Bobolo (the bastard son of Maccafora), Radulfo Carbonis, Ugolino, Pietro Bursa de Barbarubeis. I used Bobolo (how could I not?) and Ugolino de Barbarubeis (imagining, perhaps, a combination of the unsavory Ugolino from Dante’s Inferno and a red version of the equally vile Bluebeard).
I researched medieval Italian Jewish names, again not wanting anything run of the mill: Alchana de Polonia, Angelino de Levitis son of Guglielmo, Antonia de Villantieriis, Aron de Saerdote son of Abramo, Bartolomeo Berro (and so on) — then found Zedekiah Anaw, a scholar known to have associated with the mystic in question.
Rachel Cantor discusses research for her debut novel A Highly Unlikely Scenario over on Necessary Fiction.
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