- Francesca fItalian: feminine form of FRANCESCO (SEE Francesco). Originally a vocabulary word meaning ‘French’, it was bestowed from the 13th century onwards in honour of St Francis of Assisi. It has also been used independently as an English name. Probably its most famous bearer was Francesca di Rimini, daughter of Giovanni da Polenta, Count of Ravenna. A legendary beauty, she was betrothed by her father to the misshapen Giovanni Malatesta, Lord of Rimini, in return for military support. However, when Malatesta's good-looking younger brother, Paolo, acted as proxy in the betrothal, Francesca and he fell in love. They were discovered, and put to death by Malatesta in 1289. Their tragedy is enshrined in the Fifth Canto of Dante's Inferno, as well as in several other works of literature and in a symphonic fantasy by Tchaikovsky.Cognates: English: FRANCES (SEE Frances). Irish Gaelic: Proinséas. Scottish Gaelic: Frangag. French: Françoise. Spanish, Portuguese: Francisca. German: Franziska. Polish: Franciszka. Czech: Františka.Pet forms: Spanish: Frascuela, Frasquita. German: Zissi.
First names dictionary. 2012.