This surname of DE BIASI was a French, Italian, Swiss, Polish and German, medieval given name BLAISE, originally rendered in the Latin form BLASIUS. This is an old family name originally a byname for someone with some defect, either of speech or gait. The name was borne by a Christian saint martyred in Armenia in 316, whose cult achieved wide popularity, in particular as the patron saint of carders, by virtue of the fact that he was 'carded to death' i.e. his flesh was scraped off in small pieces with metal combs. During the 17th century surnames were brought to Britain, North America and southern Africa by French Huguenot exiles. The Huguenots were French Protestants, and in 1572 large numbers of them were massacred in Paris on the orders of Queen Catherine de'Medici. Many of the survivors sought refuge in England and elsewhere. Although the Edict of Nantes (1598) officially guaranteed religious toleration, persecution continued, and the Edict was revoked by Louis XIV in 1685. It was then the trickle of emigration became a flood. Many migrated to England, while others joined groups of Dutch Protestants settling around the Cape of Good Hope. Others sailed across the Atlantic to establish themselves in North America. The name has numerous variant spellings which include BIAGI, BIALIS, BLAES and BLAISE. A notable member of this name is BIAS (6th century BC) native of Priene in Ionia, famous for his pithy sayings and one of the 'Seven Wise Men' of Greece. 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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