This Swedish and Finnish name of AHRENS was a locational name for one who lived on a ridge, from residence nearby. The name was originally rendered in the Old Swedish form AH, and also occasionally was a name given to a tenant farmer. In the 17th century, so-called 'soldiers' names are found as the earliest kind of hereditary surnames in Sweden. These names were derived from vocabulary words, usually martial-sounding monosyllables such as Rapp (prompt) Rask (bold), or occasionally names of animals and birds. The names were bestowed on soldiers for administrative purposes, and no doubt in some cases derived from pre-existing nicknames. The name is also spelt ARENS AHR, AHMANN and AHRENDT. The origin of badges and emblems, are traced to the earliest times, although, Heraldry, in fact, cannot be traced later than the 12th century, or at furthest the 11th century. At first armorial bearings were probably like surnames and assumed by each warrior at his free will and pleasure, his object being to distinguish himself from others. It has long been a matter of doubt when bearing Coats of Arms first became hereditary. It is known that in the reign of Henry V (1413-1422), a proclamation was issued, prohibiting the use of heraldic ensigns to all who could not show an original and valid right, except those 'who had borne arms at Agincourt'. The College of Arms (founded in 1483) is the Royal corporation of heralds who record proved pedigrees and grant armorial bearings. The bulk of European surnames in countries such as England and France were formed in the 13th and 14th centuries. The process started earlier and continued in some places into the 19th century, but the norm is that in the 11th century people did not have surnames, whereas by the 15th century they did. A notable member of the name was Hannah ARENDT (l906-l975), the German born American philosopher and political theorist, born in Hanover. She went to the United States in l940 and held academic positions at Princetown, Chicago, and in New York as well as becoming chief editor at Shocken Books and taking an active role in various Jewish organisations. Her writings often touched a political nerve and had an effect and a readership far beyond the academic world. "The Life of the Mind" was published posthumously in l978.
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