Etymology & Historical Origin of the Baby Name Isabell
Isabell is the German form of Isabel, a name which developed in the Middle Ages as a Provençal form of Elizabeth. Originally Isabel was used primarily among the French, Spanish and Portuguese (although the Spanish and Portuguese used the Latinate form Isabela with an “a”). The name gained widespread appeal among all Europeans by the 13th century thanks to a well-known French noblewoman, Isabella of Angoulême, who was betrothed to King John of England in 1200 (at the ripe old age of 12!). Not only did Isabella hold the lofty position of Queen Consort of England, but she was also the mother to another future king, Henry III of England. Another namesake was Isabella of France (daughter of King Philip IV of France). As a girl of twelve (again!), this Isabella was also sent to England to marry King Edward II in the early 14th century (who she would eventually have deposed and murdered, consequently earning her the sobriquet “She-wolf of France”). Another illustrious medieval Isabella was the 15th century Queen of Castile and León who famously financed Christopher Columbus’ 1492 voyage to the New World. See historic references on the Isabella page for more information on these memorable medieval Isabellas. While the name Elizabeth has maintained widespread popularity thanks to the Biblical reference, the forms of Isabel, Isabell, Isabelle, Isabela and Isabella were largely popularized by European royalty in the Middle Ages (the name is actually Ysabel in Old Spanish). All of the “Isabel” names can find their root origin in the Hebrew "Elisheba", which means "God is my oath". Elisheba/Elizabeth shows up in Exodus as the wife of Aaron (the older brother of Moses and the first High Priest of Israel). Separately, another Biblical Elizabeth appears in the New Testament (herself a descendent of Aaron) as the mother of John the Baptist. See the name Elizabeth for more detail. Through centuries of movement through various geographies, cultures and languages, Isabel is yet another derivation of Elisheba. The German spelling of Isabell is popular in Germany, but also well-used in the Scandinavian countries of Norway and Sweden. Diminutives include Isa, Izzy, Bell and Bella.