Lesseur-JadwigaGender: Feminine
Origin: German
Meaning: “heathen war; battle, combat, war.”
Eng (HED-wig); Germ (HED-vig)

The name probably conjures images of Harry Potter for you, maybe you were looking for a good “Halloween” themed name for a pet, or heck, even a child, and you stumbled here.

Hedwig is an old Germanic name either composed of the elements hadu meaning “battle; combat” and wig meaning “war.” It has even been suggested to be composed of the Germanic elements hede meaning “heathen” and wig meaning “war.”

The name used to be quite prevalent in German speaking countries as well as in Scandinavia, but is now considered a dated name. Its Polish form of Jadwiga (jahd-VEE-gah) has been somewhat common in Poland for centuries.

It was borne by two Polish queens and saints. One was a German import who most likely first introduced the name into Poland. She was the Duchess of Silesia (1174-1243) and the wife of Henry I the Bearded of Silesia. She chose to enter a convent upon his death. St. Hedwig was known for her piety and charity, refusing to wear shoes as a sign of humility, and she is also known for establishing German culture in Poland, particularly in the region of Silesia.

The other Jadwiga 1373/4-1399, also a canonized saint, was proclaimed King instead of Queen to reflect her sovereignty. She was the daughter of Louis I of Hungary and Elisabeth of Bosnia. She was known for her well-rounded education, (she could speak six languages fluently), and her extreme piety. Among her contributions to Polish society was the restoration of the Krakow University (now known as Jagiellonie in her honour), and her union with Jogaila, the Lithuanian duke. Due to their marriage, Lithuania became Christian and a strong ally of Poland.

Many legends have been attributed to the female king’s sanctity, one of which was that she would smuggle food out of her comfortable surroundings and distribute it among the poor. It is even said that she miraculously brought a drowned boy back to life.

Other notable bearers of this name include Hedwig Countess of Mons (970-1013) she is also known as Avoise, Hadevide, and Haltude. Hedwige of Saxony (910-965), Jadwiga of Kalisz (1266-1339). Of course we all know that Harry Potter’s pet owl boasts this name. It was also the full name of actress Hedy Lamarr (1914-2000). It is also borne by Hedvig Raa-Winterhjelm (1838-1907) a Swedish stage actress who contributed greatly to Finnish theatre, by uttering the first lines in Finnish in theatre history.

Other forms of the name include. Divided alphabetically by nationality

  • Hedvika (Czech/Slovak: diminutives include Heda, Heddy, Hedva, Hedine and Viky)
  • Jadviga (Czech/Latvian)
  • Hedevig (Danish)
  • Hadewych (Dutch)
  • Hedvi (Estonian)
  • Heivi (Estonian)
  • Heiðvík (Faroese)
  • Helvi (Finnish)
  • Heta (Finnish)
  • Avoise/Edvige (French: Avoise is the medieval form which has gone out of usage, Edvige is the more modern French form)
  • Hedy (German/Dutch: originally a diminutive form, sometimes used as an independent name)
  • Hedí (Icelandic)
  • Heiðveig (Icelandic)
  • Edvige (Italian/Corsican)
  • Hedvigis (Late Latin)
  • Eda/Ede (Latvian/Estonian)
  • Hedija (Latvian)
  • Jadvyga (Lithuanian)
  • Hadewig (Old German)
  • Jadwiga (Polish: common diminutives include Jadzia and Iga).
  • Hedvig (Scandinavian/Hungarian)
  • Hedda (Swedish/Norwegian: currently a very popular name in Norway)
  • Hedviga (Slovak/Latvian/Croatian)

Its designated name-day is October 15.

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