This name GRISON is also spelt GRISANTO, GRISONS and GREISON. It is the French and Danish name for the Swiss canton of Graubunden, largest of the cantons of Switzerland. The inner valleys are the highest in Europe, and the main sources of the river Rhine rise here. It also includes the resort of Davos, and in the Upper Engadine, St. Moritz. Romansh is still widely spoken, and it entered the Swiss Confederation in 1803. The name would have been applied to someone who came from this area. During the Reformation, Switzerland was not affected by the religious strife that devastated most of Europe; cities such as Geneva were in the middle of the Reformation and John Calvin became prominent as a Protestant reformer, founding Protestantism. Many people of Swiss origin emigrated from there to seek their fortune in other parts of the world. In the United States they particularly populated the states of Pennsylvania, New York, Illinois, Ohio, Texas and California. The practice of adopting surnames spread to Denmark and Norway from Germany, during the late Middle Ages, but until the 19th century, they were neither fixed nor universal. The Danish state has in recent years been encouraging the adoption of a wider range of surnames. 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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