This German surname of AUE was a nickname 'the older, the senior', not necessarily implying old age, but rather used to distinguish an older from younger bearer of the given name. Surnames having a derivation from nicknames form the broadest and most miscellaneous class of surnames, encompassing many different types of origin. The most typical classes refer adjectivally to the general physical aspect of the person concerned, or to his character. Many nicknames refer to a man's size or height, while others make reference to a favoured article of clothing or style of dress. Many surnames derived from the names of animals and birds. In the Middle Ages ideas were held about the characters of other living creatures, based on observation, and these associations were reflected and reinforced by large bodies of folk tales featuring animals behaving as humans.
A notable member of this name was Hartman von AUE (c.ll70-l2l5). He was a German poet of the Middle High German period, who took part in the Crusade of ll97. The most popular of his narrative poems is "Der Arme Heinrich" which based on a Swabian tradition, is utilised in Longfellow's "Golden Legend". He related how worldly passion is expiated by religious faith - the songs are mainly love songs. 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. In the Middle Ages heraldry came into use as a practical matter. It originated in the devices used to distinguish the armoured warriors in tournament and war, and was also placed on seals as marks of identity. As far as records show, true heraldry began in the middle of the 12th century, and appeared almost simultaneously in several countries of Western Europe.
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