This surname BATTU which is also spelt as Batu, Batue, Battut and Batut, is a French surname of two-fold origin. It was a nickname for a mistreated servant, originally rendered in the Latin form BATTUERE, meaning 'to strike'. The name was also a topographic name for someone who lived at a place remembered as the site of a military engagement, from the Old French BATTAILLE. Most of the place-names that yield surnames are usually of small communities, villages, hamlets, some so insignificant that they are now lost to the map. A place-name, it is reasonable to suppose, was a useful surname only when a man moved from his place of origin to elsewhere, and his new neighbours bestowed it, or he himself adopted it. A notable member of the name was BATTUTAH (1304-68) who was an Arab traveller and geographer, born in Tangiers. He spent 30 years (1325-54) in travelling, covering all Muslim countries, visiting Mecca, Persia, Mesopotamia, Asia Minor, India, China, southern Spain and Timbukta. He then settled at Fez and dictated the entertaining history of his journeys, published with a French translation in 1855-59 titled 'Travels in Asia' (1929). The earliest French hereditary surnames are found in the 12th century, at more or less the same time as they arose in England, but they are by no means common before the 13th century, and it was not until the 15th century that they stabilized to any great extent; before then a surname might be handed down for two or three generations, but then abandoned in favour of another. In the south, many French surnames have come in from Italy over the centuries, and in Northern France, Germanic influence can often be detected. It has long been a matter of doubt when the bearing of coats of arms first became hereditary and it was not until the Crusades that Heraldry came into general use. Men went into battle heavily armed and were difficult to recognise. It became the custom for them to adorn their helmets with distinctive crests, and to paint their shields with animals and the like. Coats of arms accompanied the development of surnames, becoming hereditary in the same way. The lion depicted in the arms is the noblest of all wild beasts which is made to be the emblem of strength and valour, and is on that account the most frequently borne in Coat-Armour.
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