This personal name VIARES was derived from a medieval given name VITUS, meaning life. The name was popular in the Middle Ages as a result of the cult of an early Christian martyr in South Italy, about whom very little of historical value is known. He was regarded as a patron saint against epilepsy and the nervous tremor named after him 'St. Vitus dance'. He is said to have been the son of a Sicilian pagan, and was converted by his nurse Crescentia and her husband Modestus. His feast day is June 15th. His cult spread into Germany and thence through East Europe, where the name was reinforced by native Slavnic names such as Vitoslav and Vitomir. The earliest Polish surnames were patronymic. The personal names from which they were derived were mainly Slavonic, but as the Middle Ages progressed, traditional Slavonic given names, began to give way to saint's names, mainly of Latin origin. Surnames derived from Slavonic personal names are of early origin, and tend to be borne by aristocratic families. Following the crusades in Europe in the 11th, 12th and 13th centuries, a need was felt for a family name to replace the one given at birth, or in addition to it. This was recognized by those of noble birth, and particularly by those who went on the Crusades, as it added prestige and practical advantage to their status. The name is also spelt VIAU, VIALE, VIAL, BIALE, VITALIS and VITALONI. A notable member of the name was Theophile de VIAU (1590-1626) the French poet, born in Clairac, France. He wrote the tragedy 'Pyrame et Thisbe' (1621) and love poetry distinguished by its naturalness. He was condemned to the stake (1623) for the impiety and obscenity of the poems, but his sentence was commuted to exile for life. In the Middle Ages heraldry came into use as a practical matter. It originated in the devices used to distinguish the armoured warriors in tournament and war, and was also placed on seals as marks of identity. As far as records show, true heraldry began in the middle of the 12th century, and appeared almost simultaneously in several countries of Western Europe.
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