Rowena is an English female given name of uncertain meaning. It was the name of the daughter of the Saxon warrior (and later king) Hengist who was married to Vortigern, a British warlord also known by the title “King of the Britons”. However, the name appears to have first been used by Geoffrey of Monmouth, an English clergyman and chronicler who wrote The History of the Kings of Britain, a supposed history of the kings of Britain beginning with the Trojan Brutus (the great-grandson of the Greek hero Aeneas) leading up to the coming of King Arthur, though it seems that it has little factual evidence behind it. In Geoffrey‘s portrayal, Rowena is depicted as a seductive, wicked figure, a sort of femme-fatale. Scottish novelist and poet Walter Scott later used it for a character in his novel Ivanhoe (1819).
As for the meaning of the name, it’s been linked to Germanic elements hrod (fame) and wunn (joy, bliss) or as a feminine form of Hrodowin meaning “famous friend”. It’s also possible that it may be related to Welsh Rhonwen meaning “fair spear” or “fair (horse)hair” made up from Welsh elements rhon (spear, lance, pike) and or rhawn (horsehair) and wen (fair, white, blessed), but that’s purely conjecture.
- Rowenna (English)