This name DESANTI is of English and French origin and was a nickname for a notably pious individual. The name was originally derived from the Latin SANCTUS (blameless and holy). The name was occasionally used in the Middle Ages as a given name, especially on the Continent. 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. The name has numerous variant spellings which include SAUNT, SANT, SANTOS, SAINTEAU, SANTELLO, SANTERRE and DE SANCTIS. A notable member of the name was Antoine Joseph SANTERRE (1752-1809) the French Revolutionary and soldier. A wealthy brewer, he received a command in the National Guard in 1789, took part in the storming of the Bastille and was in charge at king Louis's execution. 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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