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Viggiano Coat of Arms / Viggiano Family Crest

This Italian surname of VIGGIANO is of two-fold origin. It was a topographic name for someone who lived in a village as opposed to an outlying farm. The name was derived from the Old Italian word VICO (settlement, village) and rendered in ancient documents in the Latin form VICUS. The name was also an occupational name derived from the Old Latin word VICARIUS, and was originally used to denote someone who carried out pastoral duties on behalf of an absentee holder of a benefice. It became a regular word for a parish priest because in practice most benefice-holders were absentees. Occupational surnames originally denoted the actual occupation followed by the individual. At what period they became hereditary is a difficult problem. Many of the occupation names were descriptive and could be varied. In the Middle Ages, at least among the Christian population, people did not usually pursue specialized occupations exclusively to the extent that we do today, and they would, in fact, turn their hand to any form of work that needed to be done, particularly in a large house or mansion, or on farms and smallholdings. Other spellings of the name include VIGO, VIGGHI, DA VICO, VIGIANO, VIGUTTO, VIGOLO and VIGONE, to name but a few. Despite evidence that hereditary surnames were in use in the Venetian Republic as early as the 10th Century, the origin of many Italian surnames is unclear. There is still a great potential for research into medieval Italian records while documented evidence indicates the adoption of the father's name as a surname is the most common form. The familiar endings of "i" and "o", meaning to be a member of a certain family, bears this out. The Church played a very important role in Central Italian heraldry and many Italian families who derived their titles from popes incorporated elements of the papal insignia, notably the papal tiara and the crossed keys, on their Coats of Arms. As in the rest of Europe, the turbulent history of Italy in the Middle Ages is reflected in its heraldry. Traces remain from the successive invasions of the Germans, French, Spanish and Austrians. Certain characteristics, such as the use of horse-shaped shields which were put on the foreheads of horses during tournaments, remain uniquely Italian.

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Last Updated: May 9, 2020

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