This Russian, Italian, French and English surname of DALESSIO was originally from the given name ALEXIS, ultimately from the Greek Alexios, meaning to help and defend. The name owed its popularity in the Middles Ages to St. ALEXIUS, a shadowy figure about whom many legends grew up. The historical St. ALEXIS appears to have been a religious figure, venerated as a 'man of God' who lived in the 4th-5th century in Edessa (a centre of early Christianity in Syria). His cult was also popular in the Eastern Church, which accounts for the frequency of the Russian given name ALEKSI. The name has numerous variant spellings which include ALEXEI, ALEJO, ALESSIO, OLES, OLEK, OLOCH, OLEKSIAK, ALEKSICH, OLYUNIN, to name but a few. Surnames as we know them today were first assumed in Europe from the 11th to the 15th Century. The employment in the use of a second name was a custom that was first introduced from the Normans. They themselves had not long before adopted them. It became, in course of time, a mark of gentler blood, and it was deemed a disgrace for gentlemen to have but one single name, as the meaner sort had. At first the coat of arms was a practical matter which served a function on the battlefield and in tournaments. With his helmet covering his face, and armour encasing the knight from head to foot, the only means of identification for his followers, was the insignia painted on his shield and embroidered on his surcoat, the flowing and draped garment worn over the armour. A notable member of the name include Mikhailovich ALEXEI (1629-1676) the Tsar of Russia from 1645. He was the son of Mikhail Romanov, known as the 'quiet one', he gave Russia a new code of laws in 1649 and this remained in force until the early 19th century; it favoured the landowners and confirmed serfdom. He approved the church reforms of Metropolitan Nikon which led to the dangerous schism in the Orthodox church. He fought wars against Poland (1645-67) and Sweden (1656-61) and won the Ukraine for Russia. The Rose depicted in the arms is used as a distinction for the seventh son. The Distinction of Houses are used to distinguish the younger from the elder branches of a family, and to show from what line each is descended.
In the Middle Ages heraldry came into use as a practical matter. It originated in the devices used to distinguish the armoured warriors in tournament and war, and was also placed on seals as marks of identity. As far as records show, true heraldry began in the middle of the 12th century, and appeared almost simultaneously in several countries of Western Europe.
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