The surname of GOTTWALD was a baptismal name 'the son of Godard'. This personal name obtained a strong footing in England, and has left a large number of descendants. It corresponds to the German Gotthard. Originally the name was composed of the elements GOD (good or god) and WALD (forest). The name was popular in Europe during the Middle Ages as a result of the fame of St. Goddard, an 11th century bishop of Hildesheim, who founded a hospice on the pass from Switzerland to Italy that bears his name. This surname and the variant Godard are also borne by Ashkenazic Jews, presumably as an Anglicization of one or more like-sounding Jewish surnames. The name was brought into England in the wake of the Norman Conquest of 1066. Most of the European surnames in countries such as England, Scotland and France 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, some of which include GODARD, GOTTHARDT, GOHART, GODDERTZ, GOTFREY and GEPHERT, to name but a few. An infamous member of the name was Klement GOTTWALD (1896-1953) the Czech politician, born in Dedice, Moravia. In World War I he fought with the Austro-Hungarian army. He then joined the Communist party, whose secretary-general he became in 1927. He opposed the Munich Agreement of 1938 and later went to Moscow, where he was trained for eventual office. In 1945 he became, as a Communist leader, vice-premier in the Czech provisional government. Prime Minister in 1946, he carried out in February 1948 the Communist 'coup d'etat' which averted a defeat for his party at the polls. In June he became president. 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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