This surname of SAKS was a German regional name from Saxony (originally SACHSEN). The region is so called after the Germanic tribe which settled there in Roman times; they in turn appear to have been named from a kind of knife or dagger that they used, and is is possible that at one time the family were cutlers, makers of swords or armory. Habitation names were originally acquired by the original bearer of the name, who, having lived by, at or near a place, would then take that name as a form of identification for himself and his family. When people lived close to the soil as they did in the Middle Ages, they were acutely conscious of every local variation in landscape and countryside. Every field or plot of land was identified in normal conversation by a descriptive term. If a man lived on or near a hill or mountain, or by a river or stream, forests and trees, he might receive the word as a family name. Almost every town, city or village early times, has served to name many families.
A notable member of the name was Nelly Leonie Sachs (1891-1970) the German-born Swedish poet and playwright, born in Berlin of a wealthy Jewish family. Between the wars she published a book of stories 'Tales and Legends' (1921) and several volumes of lyrical poetry. In 1940 she escaped to Sweden through the intercession of the Swedish Royal Family. In 1966 she was awarded the Nobel prize for literature, jointly with the novelist Shmuel Yosef Agnon. The acquisition of surnames in Europe during the past eight hundred years has been affected by many factors, including social class and social structure, naming practices in neighbouring cultures, and indigenous cultural tradition. On the whole, the richer and more powerful classes tended to acquire surnames earlier than the working classes and the poor, while surnames were quicker to catch on in urban areas than in more sparsely populated rural areas. These facts suggest that the origin of surnames is associated with the emergence of bureaucracies. As long as land tenure, military service, and fealty were matters of direct relationship between a lord and his vassals, the need did not arise for fixed distinguishing epithets to mark out one carl from another.
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