This Spanish surname of MENDOZA was from the medieval given name MENENDO from the Visigothic personal name Hermenegild, composed of the elements ERMEN (whole, entire) and GILD (tribute). The personal name was borne by a 6th century member of the Visigothic royal house, who was converted from Arianism to the Catholic faith, and became an enormously popular saint, as a result of which the given name was very common in Spain in the Middle Ages. In the 8th century, Spain fell under the control of the Moors, and this influence, which lasted into the 12th century, has also left its mark on Hispanic surnames. A few names are based directly on Arabic personal names. The majority of Spanish occupational and nickname surnames, however, are based on ordinary Spanish occupational and nickname surnames. The name has variant spellings which include MELEMDEZ, MENDEZ and MENDUS. Pelayo Y Menendez Y Pelayo (1856-1912) was the Spanish critic and poet, He is regarded as the founder of modern Spanish literary history. He was professor at Madrid (1878-98) and director of the Biblioteca National from 1898. His writings all exemplifing his traditionalism and Catholicism include 'The History of Aesthetic Ideas in Spain' (1844-91).
Another notable member of the name was Ramon Pidal Menendez (1869-1968) the Spanish philologist and critic, born in Coruna. A pupil of Menendez Y Pelayo, he became professor at the University of Madrid in 1899, and founded the Madrid Centre of Historial Studies, and carried on the tradition of exact scholarship. His 'La Espana del Cid' (1219) is the finest Spanish modern historical study. He published works on Spanish ballads and chronicles and important historial grammars of Spanish. 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.
The lion depicted in the arms is the noblest of all wild beasts which is made to be the emblem of strength and valour, and is on that account the most frequently borne in Coat-Armour.
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