This German surname of ALFSON was originally from the Germanic personal name Adalwulf, composed of the elements ADAL (noble) and WULF (wolf). This was a common given name until the Second World War and was, for example, a dynastic name in the noble houses of Holstein and Nassau. The name is also spelt ADOLF, AHLF, ADINOLFI, AHLFS, ADOLFSEN and ADOLFSSON. The first hereditary surnames on German soil are found in the second half of the 12th century, slightly later than in England and France. However, it was not until the 16th century that they became stabilized. The practice of adopting hereditary surnames began in the southern areas of Germany, and gradually spread northwards during the Middle Ages. FREDRIK ADOLF (1710-71) was the king of Sweden from 1751, first king of the House of Holstein-Gottorp. The son of Christian Augustus, Duke of Schleswig-Holstein-Gottorp, he was descended on his mother's side from King Karl X1. He was a favourite of the Empress Elizabeth Petrovna of Russia, he was adopted as successor-designate to King Fredrik I in 1743. In 1744 he married Louisa Ulrika, sister of King Frederick II, the Great of Prussia, and in 1747 was appointed commander-in-chief of the Swedish forces. As king his powers were severely limited by parliament during the so-called 'Era of Liberty'; but this came to an end when he was succeeded by his brilliant son Gustav III. 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.
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