ABBAS is a Spanish name of Basque origin, composed of the elements ABAS (priest) and KALE (street), possibly meaning a visiting priest or a monk. The male member of a religious order or monastery was an important person in Medieval Europe. It designated the members of the four mendicant orders, which became prominent in the 13th century, the Dominicans, Franciscans, Carmelites and Augustinians. They lived among their fellowmen travelling and preaching throughout the world. The villagers appreciated their courage and service and welcomed them. Some of the members were lay brothers or 'conversi' who lived according to a rule, but were not so strict as the monks or canons. They were illiterate, engaged mainly in manual work, and had their own living quarters. Jews would sometimes convert to Christianity and in 1154 there was a school in Bristol, England for converts. During the 13th century King Henry III founded the House of Converts in Chancery lane, London, as a home for Jews who had abandoned their faith. The name is also spelt ABBE, ABBATI, ABBADO, LABBATE, ABADE, ABASCAL and ABASOLO. There are many notables of this name which include ABBAS I (the Great) (1571-1629) fifth Safavid Shah of Persia. After his accession (1587) he set about establishing a counterweight to the Turkmen tribel chiefs who under his father Muhammad Khudabanda had constituted the principal political and military powers in the state, and whose propensity for feuding was a major cause of instability. This was achieved by the creation of a standing army drawn especially from Caucasian prisoners and immigrants and financed by an increase in the extent of the crown lands. ABBAS Mirza (1783-1833) was the prince of Persia, favourite son of Shah Feth-Ali. He commanded the Persian armies with great bravery but little success in the wars with Russia (1811-13 and 1826-28) losing Persian provinces in the Caucasus and Armenia. Ferhat ABBAS (1899-1955) was the Algerian nationalist leader, who headed the Algerian government-in-exile before independence from France in 1962.
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