This universal surname of VAN BEEK is of four-fold origin. It was a topographic name for someone who lived by a stream, derived from the Old Engish word BACH or the German word BOECE. It was also an occupational name for a baker. On the estates of the king or wealthy nobles, many servants were required whose specific duties were means of identification which developed into hereditary family names. The lord's oven, or communal oven, was the place where the villagers cooked their food. The bakers, like the millers were fond of swindling their neighbours. In many places both in England and France the peasants were fined for not baking at the lord's oven. When the great oven was hot, a bell was rung to inform the villagers to bring their bread or cakes to be baked. In Poland and Czechoslovakia the name is a diminutive of Sebastian which was originally an ethnic name meaning 'man from Sebastia' a city in Pontus named from the Greek Sebastos (revered). The name was borne by a 3rd century martyr who became the patron saint of Nuremberg, hence the popularity of the name in Germany. It is also a Catalan name for someone who lived in a sunless spot, derived from the latin word OPACAS. Other spellings of the name include PACHER, BACHE, BATCH, BAISH, BACHER, BEECK, TORBECK, PACHE and UBACH to name but a few. Michael PACHER (circa.1435-98) was the painter and wood-carver, born in the Tyrol, Austria. He was one of the earliest artists to bring Italian Renaissance ideas into northern Europe. He may have travelled to Italy, for his paintings show the influence of Italian artists. His masterpiece was the high altar for the Church of St. Wolfgang on the Abersee (1481) depicting the life of the Virgin Mary and the legend of St. Wolfgang. 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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