This German and French surname was originally from a Spanish personal name composed of the elements FARO (journey, expedition) and NANO (daring and brave). The surname is of comparatively recent origin in German-speaking countries, and in France, for the given name was not introduced from Spain until the late 15th century. It was brought to Austria by the Habsburg dynasty, among whom it was a hereditary surname, and from Austria it spread to France. The name was much favoured in the royal house of Castille, and it owes its popularity in large to King Ferdinand III of Castile and Leon (1198-1252) who recaptured large areas of Spain from the Moors and was later canonized. When the first immigrants from Europe went to America, the only names current in the new land were Indian names which did not appeal to Europeans vocally, and the Indian names did not influence the surnames or Christian names already possessed by the immigrants. Mostly the immigrant could not read or write and had little or no knowledge as to the proper spelling, and their names suffered at the hands of the government officials. The early town records are full of these misspelled names most of which gradually changed back to a more conventional spelling as education progressed. 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. Most of the European surnames were formed in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries. The process had started somewhat earlier and had continued in some places into the 19th century, but the norm is that in the tenth and eleventh centuries people did not have surnames, whereas by the fifteenth century most of the population had acquired a second name. The name has numerous variant spellings which include Hernando, Hernan and Hernanz.
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