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Heldreich Coat of Arms / Heldreich Family Crest

This German given name of Heldreich was from the medieval given name of Geidenreich, ostensibly composed of the elements HEIDEN (heathen) and RECIH (power, rule), but it was probably in origin a variant by folk etymology of Hetterich. The name was extremely popular at the time of the Crusades, the sense 'power' over the heathens' being attributed to it.

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.

Since the dawn of civilisation the need to communicate has been a prime drive of all higher mankind. The more organised the social structure became, the more urgent the need to name places, objects and situations essential to the survival and existence of the social unit. From this common stem arose the requirements to identify families, tribes and individual members evolving into a pattern in evidence today. In the formation of this history, common usage of customs, trades, locations, patronymic and generic terms were often adopted as surnames. The demands of bureaucracy formally introduced by feudal lords in the 11th century, to define the boundaries and families within their fiefdoms, crystallized the need for personal identification and accountability, and surnames became in general use from this time onwards.

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Last Updated: Dec. 1st, 2021

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