This Italian surname of GERBINO was originally derived from a Germanic personal name composed of the elements GEB (gift) + HARD (brave, hardy and strong). A saint of this name was bishop of Constance around the end of the 10th century, and his popularity may have had an influence on the continued use of the given name into the Middle Ages. The name has spread widely in many forms which include GERHARDT, GEBHARD, GEBERT, GABERT, GOBHARDT, GEFFE, GIBKE, GEBBERS and GEVE, to name but a few. The origins of Italian surnames are not clear, and much work remains to be done on medieval Italian records. It seems that fixed bynames, in some cases hereditary, were in use in the Venetian Republic by the end of the 10th century. The typical Italian surname endings are 'i' and 'o', the former being characteristic of northern Italy. The singular form 'o' is more typical of southern Italy. A notable member of the name was Paul GERHARDT (1607-76) the German hymnwriter, born in Grafenhainichen in Saxony. He became assistant pastor at St. Nicholas in Berlin in 1657, but for opposing the elector's attempted union of the Lutheran and Reformed Churches was banished in 1666. One of the greatest German Lutheran hymnists, his hymns were unique in their sincerity and simplicity. 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. Over the centuries, most people in Europe have accepted their surname as a fact of life, as irrevocable as an act of God. However much the individual may have liked or disliked the surname, they were stuck with it, and people rarely changed them by personal choice. A more common form of variation was in fact involuntary, when an official change was made, in other words, a clerical error. 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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