The associated coat of arms for this name are recorded in J.B Rietstaps Armorial General. Illustrated by V & H.V Rolland's. This Monumental work took 23 years to complete and 85,000 coats of Arms are included in this work. The Italian surname of MAFFEI was a baptismal name 'the son of Mathew'. The name was found in medieval registers throughout Europe and means 'gracious gift of Jehovah'. It was an exceedingly popular font name during the 11th and 12th Centuries. This given name was of biblical origin, ultimately from the Hebrew male font name MATITYAHU, recorded in the Greek New Testament in the form MATTHIAS. The name has numerous variant spellings which include MATHEW, MATHEY, MATHIE, MATHYS, MATEO, MATAS, MATTASER and MATESSIAN, to name but a few. A notable member of the name was Francesco Scipione, Marchese de MAFFEI (1675-1755) the Italian dramatist, born in Verona. He fought in the War of the Spanish Succession (1703-04) under his brother Alessandro, a field-marshall. A leading reformer of Italian drama, his tragedy 'Merope' (1714) ran through 70 editions, and the comedy 'Le Ceremonie' (1728) was also successful. He also wrote scholarly works including 'Verona Illustrata' (1731-32). 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. Central Italian heraldry has been much influenced by the church. Families deriving their titles from popes have incorporated papal insignia in their arms, notably the papal tiara and the crossed keys. The heraldry is reflected by the history of the country which has been used as a battlefield for successive German, French, Spanish and Austrian invaders. Italian heraldry has however developed certain characteristics shown by the use of horse-head shaped shields which were put on the foreheads of horses at tournaments. Crests are rare but when they do appear are quite ostentatious.
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