This surname of VIEAU is a Portugese religious byname, derived from the Portugese word VEIRIA (scallop) and rendered in ancient documents in the Latin form VENERIA. This was a derivative of the name VENUS; the goddess was often depicted riding on a scallop, which was a symbol of the pilgrim who had been to the shrine of Santiago de Compostela. The name may also have been a habitation name from any of various minor places, so called because they were situated in scallop-shaped depressions. It was not until the 10th century that modern hereditary surnames first developed, and the use of fixed names spread, first to France, and then England, then to Germany and all of Europe. In these parts of Europe, the individual man was becoming more important, commerce was increasing and the exact identification of each man was becoming a necessity. Even today however, the Church does not recognise surnames. Baptisms and marriages are performed through use of the Christian name alone. Thus hereditary names as we know them today developed gradually during the 11th to the 15th century in the various European countries. A notable member of the name was Joao Bernardo VIEIRA born in 1939, the President of Guinea-Bissau, from 1984. He joined the African Party for the Independence of Portugese Guinea and Cape Verde in 1960, and in 1964 became a member of the political bureau during the war for independence from Portugal. In 1984 constitutional changes combined the roles of head of state and head of government, making VIEIRA executive president. He was re-elected unopposed in 1989. Portugese surnames share many of the features of Spanish surnames, in particular Arabic and Visigothic influence. A notable feature of Portugese surnames is the class of religious names referring to festivals of the church or attributes of the Virgin Mary. One respect in which Portugese names differ from those of the rest of the Iberian peninsular, is that some were adopted at a comparatively late date and honour saints who did not give rise to surnames in other languages. Portugese names typically have the ending 'eiro'.
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