The surname of KAESTNER was a German and Jewish surname, originally derived from the Old French word CASTEL, meaning a fortified building or set of buildings, especially the residence of a feudal lord. The name was rendered in medieval documents in the Latin form CASTELLUM. The name would also have denoted a servant who lived and worked at such a place, and it may also have meant the dweller at the settlement at the village surrounding the castle. The name was also a baptismal name 'the son of Christian' and in this case it was a derivative of the Greek word KHRISTOS meaning 'to anoint'. This male given name was introduced into England following the Norman Conquest of 1066, especially by Breton settlers. It was also used in the same form as a female name, and in some cases the name may be metonymic in origin. The name has numerous variant spellings which include CHRISTIAN, KIRSTEIN, CASTEL, KESTLE, KESTELL, KASSEL, VAN CASSEL and CASTELOT, to name but a few. 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. 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. A notable member of the name was Erich KASTNER (1899-1947) the German writer, born in Dresden. He is best known for his books for children. His writing career, however, began with two volumnes of verse 'Herz auf Taille' (1928) and 'Larm im Spiegel (1929) both cleverly satirical. Among his later writings is the autobiographical 'When I was a Little Boy' (1957).
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