This Czechoslovakian surname VANACEK was originally derived from the given name VACLAV, rendered in Old Czech as VECESLAV. It is composed of the elements VECE (greater) and CEK. The name has been Anglizised to WENCESLAS, and other spellings of the name include VACULA, VACHA, VACHEL, VASA, VASAK, VANA, VANAC, VANCURA, WIECKAWSKI, VACIK, VANICEK and VANASEK, to name but a few. Saint WENCESLAS (circa. 907-929) was the prince-duke of Bohemia and patron saint of Czechoslovakia, the 'Good King WENCESLAS' of the Christmas carol. He was raised as a Christian by his grandmother, St. Ludmilla, who was murdered by his pagan mother in the year 921, who then became regent until he became of age in the year 924. He encouraged German missionaries to come to Bohemia, and put his duchy under the protection of King Henry the Fowler of Germany. In 929 he was murdered by his pagan brother, Boleslav. His remains were interred in St. Vitus Cathedral in Prague. The modern state of Czechoslovakia is going through a transitional phase as a result of the fall of the Iron Curtain. Its various regions encompassed the medieval provinces of Bohemia, Moravia, and Slovakia. The first two of these, where the language properly called Czech is spoken, were heavily subject to German cultural and linguistic influence from the Middle Ages onwards, being administratively a Crownland of Austria for much of the time until independence in 1918. This influence is reflected in the many Czech surnames derived from German, both from given names, and from vocabulary words. Occupational names are quite common in Czech as are nicknames, especially those referring to some physical feature. Many of the most common Czech surnames have the diminutive ending 'CEK', which is often found attached to these names. 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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