The associated coat of arms for this name are recorded in J.B Rietstaps Armorial General. Illustrated by V & H.V Rolland's. This Monumental work took 23 years to complete and 85,000 coats of Arms are included in this work. This surname of VISCONTI was from the Italian word 'visconte' a title of rank, and rendered in ancient documents in the Latin form VICECOMES. Other spellings of the name include VISCONTE, BISCONTE, VICECONT and VICECONTI. The VISCONTIS were rulers of Milan for almost 200 years, from 1277 to 1447, and took their name from their hereditary office. They trace their descent from Desiderius, whose daughter married Charlemagne. They were related to the royal houses of Valois, Tudor and Habsburg as a result of marriages arranged by Duke Gian VISCONTI (1351-1402). His son was the last of the direct line, and in 1447 the Duchy passed to the Sforza family. 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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