This Italian surname of MURA was a name which was applied to someone who lives in solitude, a hermit. The name may also have been a Spanish and Portugese topographic name for someone who lived by a mulberry or blackberry bush, from the Spanish MORA, and rendered in medieval documents in the Latin form MORUM. There are numerous places named with this word. It is also possible that it was used as a nickname with reference to the dark colour of the berries for someone with dark hair or a swarthy complexion. The name is also spelt MORO, MORA, MOURIER, MAURIER, MURABITO, MORILL and MORAIS. Surnames as we know them today were first assumed in Europe from the 11th to the 15th Century. The employment in the use of a second name was a custom that was first introduced from the Normans. They themselves had not long before adopted them. It became, in course of time, a mark of gentler blood, and it was deemed a disgrace for gentlemen to have but one single name, as the meaner sort had. At first the coat of arms was a practical matter which served a function on the battlefield and in tournaments. With his helmet covering his face, and armour encasing the knight from head to foot, the only means of identification for his followers, was the insignia painted on his shield and embroidered on his surcoat, the flowing and draped garment worn over the armour. A notable member of the name was Anthonis MORO (1519-75) the Dutch portrait painter, born in Utrecht. In 1547 he entered the Antwerp guild of St. Luke; in 1550-51 he visited Italy, in 1552 Spain and in 1553 England, where he was knighted, and painted Queen Mary for her bridegroom Philip II of Spain. From about 1568 he lived in Antwerp. 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.
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