OLMEDA is of Portugese origin, a locational name 'one who came from Almeida' the flat land. Local names usually denoted where a man held his land, and indicated where he actually lived. Portugese surnames share many of the features of Spanish surnames, in particular Arabic and Visigothic influence. A notable feature of Portugese surnames is the class of religious names referring to festivals of the church or attributes of the Virgin Mary. One respect in which Portugese names differ from those of the rest of the Iberian peninsular, is that some were adopted at a comparatively late date and honour saints who did not give rise to surnames in other languages. Portugese names typically have the ending 'eiro'. Between the 11th and 15th centuries it became customary for surnames to be assumed in Europe, but they were not commonplace in England or Scotland before the Norman Conquest of 1066. The name is also spelt ALMEDA and ALMEIDA. Those of gentler blood assumed surnames at this time, but it was not until the reign of Edward II (1327-1377) that it became common practice for all people. 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 draped and flowing garment worn over the armour. Brites de ALMEIDA (1385) was a legendary Portugese heroine, born in Alijubarrota. She is said to have been a baker; about 1385 during the war between John I and the King of Cadiz she led her towns-people against the Spanish forces attacking her village, and killed 7 of them with her baker's shovel. The incident was celebrated by Camoens in a poem. The shovel is believed to have been preserved as a relic in Aljubarrota for several generations. Francisco de ALMEIDA (1450-1510) was the Portugese soldier and Ist Viceroy of the Portugese Indies in 1505-09 until he was superseded by Affonsio D'Albuquerque the Great. He was killed in South Africa on his voyage home in a skirmish with Hottentots at Table Bay, and buried where Capetown now stands.
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