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Villacorta Coat of Arms / Villacorta Family Crest

Villacorta Coat of Arms / Villacorta Family Crest

There is a large group of surnames, more frequent in French, German and Italian names, which are actually a compound of nickname and patronymic. They consist of an adjective indicating size or an attractive quality as a prefix attached to a given name. This Spanish surname of VILLACORTA is such a name literally meaning one who came from VILLA which was a Spanish habitation name from any of the numerous places so called, which acquired their name from the Spanish VILLA (settlement). CORTA was a nickname which was derived from the Old French word 'curteis' meaning courteous, in feudal society one of courtly manners, a well educated man. Surnames as we know them today were first assumed in Europe from the 11th to the 15th Century. The employment in the use of a second name was a custom that was first introduced from the Normans. They themselves had not long before adopted them. It became, in course of time, a mark of gentler blood, and it was deemed a disgrace for gentlemen to have but one single name, as the meaner sort had. At first the coat of arms was a practical matter which served a function on the battlefield and in tournaments. With his helmet covering his face, and armour encasing the knight from head to foot, the only means of identification for his followers, was the insignia painted on his shield and embroidered on his surcoat, the flowing and draped garment worn over the armour. Over the centuries, most people in Europe have accepted their surname as a fact of life, as irrevocable as an act of God. However much the individual may have liked or disliked the surname, they were stuck with it, and people rarely changed them by personal choice. A more common form of variation was in fact involuntary, when an official change was made, in other words, a clerical error. Among the humbler classes of European society, and especially among illiterate people, individuals were willing to accept the mistakes of officials, clerks and priests as officially bestowing a new version of their surname, just as they had meekly accepted the surname they had been born with. In North America, the linguistic problems confronting immigration officials at Ellis Island in the 19th century were legendary as a prolific source of Anglicization.


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last updated on: September 13 2018

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