This French English, Catalan, Italian, German, Spanish and Dutch surname of FRANSEN was from the medieval given name FRANCIS. The name was very familiar to 13th and 14th century documents. St. Francis of Assissi (1181-1226) was the Italian religious founder of the Franciscan Order, born in Assisi, the son of a wealthy merchant. He was remarkable for his happiness and love of life, and although he joined a military expedition, he was halted by a dream and returned to devote himself to the care of the poor and sick. He was canonized by Pope Gregory 1X in 1228, and in 1980 was designated patron saint of ecology. The name has numerous variant spellings which include FRANCIES, FRANSES, FRANCOIS, FRANC, SCINI, FRAGINO, FRENSCH, and FRONSEK, to name but a few. A notable of the name was FRANCIS of Paola or St. FRANCESCO de Paula (1416-1507) the Italian Franciscan monk, and founder of Minim friars, born in Paola in Calabria. Of poor parents, he retired to a cave at 19 and was soon joined by others. He founded his order in 1436. Communities were established throughout Europe, but not in the British Isles. Louis XI of France summoned FRANCESCO to his death-bed, and Charles VIII and Louis XII built him convents at Plessis-les-Tours and Amboise. He died at Plessis on Good Friday, and was canonized in 1519. His feast day is 2nd April. Over the centuries, most people in Europe have accepted their surname as a fact of life, as irrevocable as an act of God. However much the individual may have liked or disliked the surname, they were stuck with it, and people rarely changed them by personal choice. A more common form of variation was in fact involuntary, when an official change was made, in other words, a clerical error. In the Middle Ages the Herald (old French herault) was an officer whose duty it was to proclaim war or peace, carry challenges to battle and messages between sovereigns; nowadays war or peace is still proclaimed by the heralds, but their chief duty as court functionaries is to superintend state ceremonies, such as coronations, installations, and to grant arms. Edward III (1327-1377) appointed two heraldic kings-at-arms for south and north, England in 1340. The English College of Heralds was incorporated by Richard III in 1483-84.
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