This Spanish and Jewish (Sefardic) regional name of NAVAS was a locational name for someone from Navarre, rendered in Spanish in the form NAVARRA, now divided between Spain and France, but in the Middle Ages an independent Basque kingdom. Its name may have some connection with the Spanish NAVA, treeless plateau. Surnames derived from placenames are divided into two broad categories; topographic names and habitation names. Topographic names are derived from general descriptive references to someone who lived near a physical feature such as an oak tree, a hill, a stream or a church. Habitation names are derived from pre-existing names denoting towns, villages and farmsteads. Other classes of local names include those derived from the names of rivers, individual houses with signs on them, regions and whole countries. The name is also spelt NABARRO, NAVARO and NAVARRE. 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 derivatives. A notable member of the name was Ramon Maria NARVAEZ (1800-68) the Spanish soldier and statesman, born in Loja. He was a supporter of Isabella II, and defeated the Carlists in 1836 and then took part in an unsuccessful insurrection against Espartero in 1840, and fled to France. In 1843 he led a republican insurrection in Madrid, and became virtual dictator. He lost power temporarily in 1851, and was briefly exiled as special ambassador to France, but from 1856 he was premier again several times. In Spain identifying patronymics are to be found as early as the mid-9th century, but these changed with each generation, and hereditary surnames seem to have come in slightly later in Spain than in England and France. As well as the names of the traditional major saints of the Christian Church, many of the most common Spanish surnames are derived from personal names of Germanic origin. For the most part these names are characteristically Hispanic. They derive from the language of the Visigoths, who controlled Spain between the mid-5th and early 8th centuries.
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