The Italian surname of LAGUARDIA was an official name 'the guard, a warder or watchman'. The occupation was familiar to medieval documents. The small villages of Europe, or royal and noble households, even large religious dwellings and monasteries, gave rise to many family names, which reflected the occupation or profession of the original bearer of the name. The name has many variant spellings which include GUARDI, GARD, GARDES, GUARDIA, LAGUARDIA, GARDET, GARDEY and GUARDIOLA. Many of the modern family names throughout Europe reflect the profession or occupation of their forbears in the Middle Ages and derive from the position held by their ancestors in the village, noble household or religious community in which they lived and worked. The addition of their profession to their birth name made it easier to identify individual tradesmen and craftsmen. As generations passed and families moved around, so the original identifying names developed into the corrupted but simpler versions that we recognise today. A notable member of the name was Francesco de GUARDI (1712-1793) the Venetian painter. His teacher was Canaletto, who for long was esteemed above GUARDI, whose paintings, most of Venice, though superficially similar to those of Canaletto, are in fact far different in their more sensitive treatment of light and colour. GUARDI took delight in the fleeting moment, catching the inter-play of light and shadow on water. 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. 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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