This surname of RASMUSSEN was a German personal name (a Latin form of the Greek erasmos, meaning loved'), borne by a rather obscure early Christian saint who was numbered among the 'fourteen holy helpers' and was regarded as the patron of turners and seamen. The fame of the great Humanist scholar Desiderius ERASMUS of Rotterdam (1466-1536) enhanced the popularity of the given name, but not in time for the surname period to give it much frequency. ERASMUS was educated by the Brethren of the Common Life at Deventer, and joined an Augustine monastery, where he was ordained a priest in 1492. He travelled widely, writing, teaching and meeting Europe's foremost intellectuals, and he published many works. The first hereditary surnames on German soil are found in the second half of the 12th century, slightly later than in England and France. However, it was not until the 16th century that they became stabilized. The practice of adopting hereditary surnames began in the southern areas of Germany, and gradually spread northwards during the Middle Ages. The name is also spelt ERASMUS, ASMUSSEN, RASMUS, ERAS, RASEM, ASAM, ASUM and RAES. The origin of badges and emblems, are traced to the earliest times, although, Heraldry, in fact, cannot be traced later than the 12th century, or at furthest the 11th century. At first armorial bearings were probably like surnames and assumed by each warrior at his free will and pleasure, his object being to distinguish himself from others. It has long been a matter of doubt when bearing Coats of Arms first became hereditary. It is known that in the reign of Henry V (1413-1422), a proclamation was issued, prohibiting the use of heraldic ensigns to all who could not show an original and valid right, except those 'who had borne arms at Agincourt'. The College of Arms (founded in 1483) is the Royal corporation of heralds who record proved pedigrees and grant armorial bearings. The bulk of European surnames in countries such as England and France were formed in the 13th and 14th centuries. The process started earlier and continued in some places into the 19th century, but the norm is that in the 11th century people did not have surnames, whereas by the 15th century they did.
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