The surname of INNOCENT was an Italian nickname, derived from the Latin 'innocens'. It was a name often bestowed on an innocent, following the notion that these people, like children, were incapable of doing evil. Surnames having a derivation from nicknames form the broadest and most miscellaneous class of surnames, encompassing many different types of origin. The most typical classes refer adjectivally to the general physical aspect of the person concerned, or to his character. Many nicknames refer to a man's size or height, while others make reference to a favoured article of clothing or style of dress. Many surnames derived from the names of animals and birds. In the Middle Ages ideas were held about the characters of other living creatures, based on observation, and these associations were reflected and reinforced by large bodies of folk tales featuring animals behaving as humans. The surname is found principally in Tuscany and neighbouring regions and is extremely common in Florence, where it was given as a surname to all foundlings received into the 'Spedale degli Innocenti', an orphanage established in the 15th century. Occasionally the surname may derive from a given name, borne by a 4th century bishop of Tortona, and a 6th century bishop of Le Mans. The name was also adopted by a number of influential popes, including Innocent I (360-417), who helped established the jurisdiction of the Roman see over other churches and Innocent III (1160-1216) whose pontificate is regarded as the culminating point of the temporal and spiritual supremacy of the Roman see throughout Christendom, where even powerful monarchies submitted to his directives. The origins of Italian surnames are not clear, and much work remains to be done on medieval Italian records. It seems that fixed bynames, in some cases hereditary, were in use in the Venetian Republic by the end of the 10th century. The typical Italian surname endings are 'i' and 'o', the former being characteristic of northern Italy. The singular form 'o' is more typical of southern Italy.
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