Illustration of  Jehan Frollo picture image

Illustration of Jehan Frollo

Jehan is an old French from of Iohannes or John. Iohannes is Latin form of the Greek name Ioannes. Ioannese is derived from the Hebrew name Yochanan which means Yahweh is gracious.

John and the Jehan form are commons names but it seems that Jehan’s name is meant with irony. This  is because he is a good-for-nothing  mooch. However he does have Frollo’s favor at the beginning of the novel but he loses it when Frollo loses patience for his life style.

For the meaning of Frollo, please see my post on Claude Frollo’s name meaning

Considering the two Frollos are both killed by Quasimodo, does that make Quasimodo an allegorical King Arthur?

There another compontent of his name, Jehan Frollo du Moulin, which means “of the Windmill.” Jehan was raised at a windmill

Disney Djali from Hunchback of Notre Dame

Disney Djali from Hunchback of Notre Dame

Djali means a wandering performer/musician/dancer. In some places in the world it has a negative connotation.

Djali  is a performer as she does harmless tricks and mimic people.


Julie Zenatti as Fleur de Lys Notre Dame de Paris picture image

Julie Zenatti as Fleur de Lys, Notre Dame de Paris

Fleur de Lys de Gondelaurier is Phoebus’ fiancee. She is a young noblewoman.

Fleur de Lys means lily and is the symbol of France and part of the royal family heraldry.    Lilies denote  purity but a theory on her name indicates that it signifies how alike she is is to the rest of her social class. That she is a stereotype, a symbol of the greater populace.

Her surname is Gondelaurier and it doesn’t seem to be a real surname. It can be broken down to Gond meaning “hinge” or Hinge pin” as a  in a door and laurier meaning laurel tree. The Laurel  tree is her house sigil. One could surmises that the hinge means that she is the door to Phoebus’s social climbing and it “hinges” on her. The laurel imagery also reflects on Phoebus as it has connections to Apollo. Very simply, Apollo fell in love with a nymph named Daphne. Apollo pursued her. She begged her father to help and he turned her into a laurel tree. Apollo took the laurel leaves and made a crown. The connection is that when Fleur de Lys avoids Phoebus, he pursues but only to to get respectability, the crown of laurels.

Clopin with Puppet Disney Hunchback of Notre Dame picture image

Clopin with Puppet Disney Hunchback of Notre Dame

Clopin Trouillfou is the king of beggars and in many versions he is the king of the entire Paris underworld.

Clopin is his given name. It comes from an expression that means to “to hobble along” or Marcher clopin-clopant.  Clopin itself comes from  the word clopiner meaning to limp. Unlike Frollo, whose given name also mean limp, here it reference the fact that Clopin is king of people who fake ailments for money as well as he himself who pretends not to have a leg.

Trouillfou is a compound of Trouille which means fear with a strong connotation, as in “scared to death,”  and fou which means fool. Basically it mean scared crazy.  This name suggests that he either is crazy or his presence makes people crazy, like Gringoire or his legion of beggars.

Bruno Pelletier as Gringoire in Notre Dame de Paris picture image

Bruno Pelletier as Gringoire in Notre Dame de Paris

Pierre Gringoire was based on a real person. The Real-life Gringoire was born in 1475 and died 1538 and was an accomplished playwright and writer.

Pierre is French for stone. It is derived from the Greek word Petros meaning stone or rock. It is a form of Peter. Pierre is a very very common French name. It’s interesting to note that towards the end of the novel Gringoire becomes interested in Architecture and  stone.

Then we have Gringoire. As  we know Gringoire was based on a real person, we also know that it is a real surname.  The meaning is a little hard to pin down. It would seem that the name Gringoire comes out of the ancient greek name Gregorein, which means watchful or awake.   The spelling variations are Gregoir, Gregoire, Greguer, Gregure, De Gregoire, Degregoire, De Gregoir, Degreoire and more. The name was first found in Guyenne. Their family seat is held in the village and estate of Gregoire in the department of Lot-et-Garonne in tarn in the South of France.

I think in giving Gringoire a normal name it significance him as the normal guy.


watercolor of Phoebus and Esmeralda picture image

watercolor of Phoebus and Esmeralda

By the novel’s own admission, Phoebus’ name comes from the Greek God Phoebus Apollo. Apollo was the god of many things including light, prophecy, poetry, music and healing. While Apollo’s name roots are uncertain, Phoebus means light in Greek. Phoebus’ name reflects Esmeralda’s love the sun and brightness. Phoebus himself is a darker character than his bright name suggests as he likes to engage in deceit and debauchery.

As an added little bonus, Parnassius phoebus is a species Swallowtail butterflies found in Eurasia and North America.

Then their his surname de Chateaupers, This is a real surname but it’s meaning is near impossible to ascertain. The “de” is common in French Surnames, it means “of.” It is often given to high ranking families. Chateaupers came be broken down to Chateau meaning “castle” and “pers” which could mean person. So his name could mean person of the castle. Perhaps it reflects his family being stewards for the Chateau family or steward in a castle. After all Phoebus wasn’t of a high noble family which why he has to marry Fleur de Lys.

Lemud Illustration of Frollo picture image

Lemud Illustration of Frollo

Claude Frollo seems to have a very tricky name to break down. Let’s start with the easy part, Claude.

Claude is a Latin name that means Lame, as in limp. This name could relate to Frollo’s crippled soul. In Book 4 Chapter 6,  the local boys also said  to Frollo and Quasimodo when they would pass by “Claudius cum claudo” meaning in Latin “Claude with the crippled.”

Then there is Frollo. Frollo is a mysterious surname. It doesn’t sound very French at all does it? Well, it’s not, in fact it’s not really a surname. Frollo has Roman roots but isn’t really Roman. The only evidence of Frollo aside from Hugo’s Frollo and Leone Frollo (an Italian Comic Stripe Creator) is in the Arthurian Legends.

According to the Legend, Arthur conquered Norway for with Brother-in-law, King Lot. On his was back he went through Denmark and to Gaul. Gaul was ruled by the Roman Emperor Leo and it was governed by Frollo. Arthur defeated the army and Frollo fled to Paris. Arthur besieged the city. Frollo knew the city couldn’t hold out a long siege, so he challenged Arthur to one-on-one combat for Gaul. Frollo managed to wound Arthur but was killed. The Legends claim that Frollo means  in Old English “Killed by Arthur.”   Which would mean he got the name after the fact and it would make it an Old English name.

But wait there’s more, according to the Vulgate Lancelot, a major source for the Arthurian Legend written in French, Frollo was an ally of King Claudas. Yet another connection to the name Claude.

Esmeralda Illustration Image picture

19th century Illustration of Esmeralda

La Esmeralda’s name rather simply means Emerald in Spanish. Emerald in it of itself  originated from the Greek smaragdos meaning “green gem.”  In the book, Esmeralda’s name is an alias, she knows it’s not her real name but she thinks it’s pretty because  of it’s uniqueness. The reason she is known as La Esmeralda in the book is because of a green silk bag she wears around her neck that has a green glass gem on it that looks like an emerald. This bag is were she keeps her protective talisman, her baby shoe. Esmeralda could also have a connection to The Emerald Tablet, which is a hermetic Alchemist text. Frollo practiced hermetic.

Esmeralda’s true given name is Agnès.  Agnès means pure. Purity is an important facet of Esmeralda’s character as Phoebus is attracted to her innocence and Frollo is comforted by her purity. Agnès also is associated with lambs. This because it was the emblem  of Saint Agnes, who was young Roman virgin martyr. Lambs also the connotation for being sacrificial as well as being a tile for Jesus that appears in the Gospel of John.

It is interesting to point out, that her green silk pouch, which her name Esmeralda comes from, protects her purity or her true name. The pouch also safeguards her only link to her true name, her baby shoe.

Every monday for a while, I will go behind the Hunchback character’s name to see hidden facets to their characters as indicated by their names or in some cases very apparent facets. Anyway, let’s start with Mr. Quasimodo.

Quasimodo Illustrtion Francois flameng

Illustration of Quasimodo


Quasimodo’s name is a sad pun within the book. Frollo found Quasimodo abandoned at Notre Dame on Low Sunday, the Sunday after Easter, also called Quasimodo Sunday.  The name Quasimodo for this Sunday comes from the Latin text of the traditional Intriot from this day. An Introit is part of the opening of the liturgical celebration of the Eucharist. The Intriot for Low Sunday begins with “Quasi modo geniti infantes…”  from 1 Peter 2:2.  It roughly translates to  “As newborn babes, desire the rational milk without guile…”  The “Quasi modo” part means “As if” in this instance.

Quasimodo in isolation roughly means “Almost merely” or “Merely Almost.” The name indicates Quasimodo’s deformity and that he almost looks like a human or is an approximation of human. The meaning “half-formed” isn’t correct but it’s  the right idea.

In the Disney version, in an effort to villainize Frollo, which considering he just kill a mother and almost committed infanticide wasn’t necessary, they claimed the name was cruel. It’s not a name that one should give to a child as the meaning isn’t all that nice but  it’s not cruelly given. Naming children for days was a common practice. Frollo didn’t mean it cruelly, it was the day and apt description of the child. It is a very brilliant pun.

Side Note – Low Sunday was also known as St Thomas Sunday, so I guess Quasimodo COULD have been called Thomas but that doesn’t have the pathos as Quasimodo.

I tend to go a bit mad when I decorate Christmas Cookies and here is my Cross-section of La Fidel from the stupid Hunchback Sequel to prove it.

La Fidel Cookie hunchback sequal

La Fidel Cookie

It’s an almond cookie for anyone who is curious.