This surname of VITTORIO was an Italian and French medieval given name, rendered in ancient documents in the Latin form VICTOR (Conqueror). Early Christians often bore this name in reference to Christ's victory over sin and death, and there are a large number of saints so called. Some of the principal ones who contributed to the popularity of the name in the Middle Ages are a 2nd-century pope, a 3rd-century Mauritanian martyr and a 5th-century bishop of Cologne. Other spellings of the name include VITTORIA, VITTORE, VITTORI, VETTORI, VITOR, VIKTORA, VETTORETTO, DE VETTORI and VICH, to name but a few. The name is also a Jewish name which originated in the Hebrew phrase avi-GEDOR 'father of Gedor', which occurs in I Chron. 4:4, 18, and was used as a given name under the influence of VICTOR. 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. French, or rather Norman French, was the language of the aristocracy and the upper classes in England at the time fixed surnames were being developed, it is therefore not surprising that many of our well-known family names are derived from French words. Originally only Christian or personal names were used, and although a few came into being during the 10th century, surnames were not widely used until much later, when people began to realize the prestige of having a second name.
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