This widespread English, German, French Catalan, Italian, Spanish and Hungarian name of OBERLE was originally derived from a Germanic personal name ALBRECHET, which was composed of the elements ADAL (noble) and BERHT (bright and famous). This was one of the most common Germanic given names, and was borne by various medieval princes, military leaders and great churchmen, notably St. Albert of Prague (Czech name Vojtech, Latin name Adalbertus), a Bohemian prince who died a martyr in 997 attempting to convert the Prussians to Christianity; St Albert the Great (?1193-1280) Aristotelian theologian and tutor of Thomas Aquinas; and Albert the Bear (1100-70) Margrave of Brandenburg. 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 is also spelt OBERLIN, and a notable member of the name was Johann Friedrich OBERLIN (1740-1826) the Alsatian clergyman, born in Strasbourg. In 1767 he became Protestant pastor of Waldbach in the Ban de la Roche, which had suffered in the Thirty Years' War. OBERLIN introduced better methods of cultivation and manufacture, made roads and bridges, formed a library and school. It was not until the 10th century that modern hereditary surnames first developed, and the use of fixed names spread, first to France, and then England, then to Germany and all of Europe. In these parts of Europe, the individual man was becoming more important, commerce was increasing and the exact identification of each man was becoming a necessity. Even today however, the Church does not recognise surnames. Baptisms and marriages are performed through use of the Christian name alone. Thus hereditary names as we know them today developed gradually during the 11th to the 15th century in the various European countries.
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