This Spanish surname of ENCINAS was a topographic name for someone who lived by a holm-oak, originally derived from the Old Spanish ENCINA, and rendered in medieval documents in the Latin form ILICINA. It is also the name of several places in the provinces of Salamanca, Valladolid and Segovia. The name is also spelt ENCINA, ALSINA and ENCINAR. In the 8th century, Spain fell under the control of the Moors, and this influence, which lasted into the 12th century, has also left its mark on Hispanic surnames. A few names are based directly on Arabic personal names. The majority of Spanish occupational and nickname surnames, however, are based on ordinary Spanish derivatives. A notable member of this name was Juan de la ENCINA (cl469-l534), Spanish dramatist and poet, born near Salamanca. He was successively secretary to the first Duke of Alva, musical director in Pope Leo X's chapel at Rome, and Prior of Leon in Spain. Besides his 'Cancionero' (l496) he wrote in l52l a poetical account of his pilgrimage to Jerusalem. His fame rests on l4 dramatic poems, 7 of which were the first secular poems to be dramatized in Spain (l492). In Spain identifying patronymics are to be found as early as the mid-9th century, but these changed with each generation, and hereditary surnames seem to have come in slightly later in Spain than in England and France. As well as the names of the traditional major saints of the Christian Church, many of the most common Spanish surnames are derived from personal names of Germanic origin. For the most part these names are characteristically Hispanic. They derive from the language of the Visigoths, who controlled Spain between the mid-5th and early 8th centuries. 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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