This surname of VIOLANTE was an Italian and Spanish female medieval given name, originally an affectionate nickname, rendered in ancient documents in the Latin form VIOLA. It was also an occupational name for a player of the musical instrument the VIOLA. The name is also spelt VIOLI, LA VIOLA, VIOLLE, VIOLETTA, LIOLINA, VIOLINI and VIOLLEAU. In the form VIOLET, the best known of the flower names, it is famous as the name of the heroine of Verdi's opera 'La Traviata'. Many of the modern family names throughout Europe reflect the profession or occupation of their forbears in the Middle Ages and derive from the position held by their ancestors in the village, noble household or religious community in which they lived and worked. The addition of their profession to their birth name made it easier to identify individual tradesmen and craftsmen. As generations passed and families moved around, so the original identifying names developed into the corrupted but simpler versions that we recognise today. A notable member of the name was Eugene Emmanuel VIOLLET-LE-DUC (1814-79) the French architect and archaeologist, born in Paris. In 1840 he became director of the restoration of the Saine Chapelle in Paris, and from then on was the great restorer of ancient buildings in France, including the cathedrals of Notre Dame in Paris, Amiens, Lyon and the Chateau de Pierrefonds. He served as engineer in the defence of Paris, and was an advanced republican politician. 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.
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