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Lau Coat of Arms / Lau Family Crest

Lau Coat of Arms / Lau Family Crest

This German surname of LAU was a nickname for a brave or regal person, originally derived from the Old German word LOWE meaning 'lion'. In some cases the name may have denoted someone who lived at a house which was distinguished by the sign of a lion. It was also an Ashkenazic Jewish name adopted in some cases because of the association of the animal with the tribe of Judah; in the blessing of Jacob (Genesis.49:9) Judah is likened to a lion's whelp. The name has many variant spellings which include LOW, LEEB, LAUE, LEUE, LEV and LEVENSTEIN, to name but a few. A notable member of this name was Max von LAUE, (l879 - l960) German physicist, born near Koblenz. He was professor at Zurich, Frankfurt and Berlin. He did good work in relativity, predicted that X-rays would be diffracted by a crystal, and won the Nobel prize for physics in l9l4. He was later appointed director of the Kaiser Wilhelm Institute for Theoretical Physics (l95l). Surnames which were derived from ancient Germanic personal names have the same meaning in many languages. The court of Charlemagne (Charles the Great, king of the Franks (742-814) was Christian and Latin speaking), the vernacular was the Frankish dialect of Old High German, and the personal names in use were Germanic and vernacular. These names were adopted in many parts of northwest Europe, particularly among the noble ruling classes. Hereditary surnames were found in Germany in the second half of the 12th century - a little later than in England and France. It was about the 16th century that they became stabilized. It was not until the 10th century that modern hereditary surnames first developed, and the use of fixed names spread, first to France, and then England, then to Germany and all of Europe. In these parts of Europe, the individual man was becoming more important, commerce was increasing and the exact identification of each man was becoming a necessity. Even today however, the Church does not recognise surnames. Baptisms and marriages are performed through use of the Christian name alone. Thus hereditary names as we know them today developed gradually during the 11th to the 15th century in the various European countries.


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Last Updated: Dec. 1st, 2021

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