This surname CASTANO was an Italian and French topographic name for someone who lived by a horse-chestnut tree, originally derived from the Old French CASTAN and from the Latin CASTANEA. The surname may also perhaps have originally been a nickname for someone of chestnut or auburn colouring. The name has many variant spellings which include Chastaing, Chastang, Chastand, Chatain, Chastagnier, Chatenier, Castagno Castagna, Castagnaro, and Castanie. The earliest French hereditary surnames are found in the 12th century, at more or less the same time as they arose in England, but they are by no means common before the 13th century, and it was not until the 15th century that they stabilized to any great extent; before then a surname might be handed down for two or three generations, but then abandoned in favour of another. In the south, many French surnames have come in from Italy over the centuries, and in Northern France, Germanic influence can often be detected. The origins of Italian surnames are not clear, and much work remains to be done on medieval Italian records. It seems that fixed bynames, in some cases hereditary, were in use in the Venetian Republic by the end of the 10th century. The typical Italian surname endings are 'i' and 'o', the former being characteristic of northern Italy. The singular form 'o' is more typical of southern Italy. A notable member of the name is Andrea del Castagno, properly Andrea di Bartolo de Simone (1409-80) the Florentine painter, born in Castagno, Tuscany. After early privations, he attracted the attention of Bernardetto de Medici, who sent him to study in Florence. His last dated work is the famous equestrian portrait of 'Niccolo da Tolentin' in Florence Cathedral. In his own time he was praised also as a draughtsman. It has long been a matter of doubt when the bearing of coats of arms first became hereditary and it was not until the Crusades that Heraldry came into general use. Men went into battle heavily armed and were difficult to recognise. It became the custom for them to adorn their helmets with distinctive crests, and to paint their shields with animals and the like. Coats of arms accompanied the development of surnames, becoming hereditary in the same way.
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