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. This Italian surname of MAIORANA was of two-fold origin. It was an occupational name for one who grew and sold marjoram. The name may also have applied to a spicer, which was an important occupation in the Middle Ages. The nobles and wealthy churchmen spent considerable money on mustard, aniseed, cinnamon, caraway, coriander and pepper to enable the cooks to spice meat which tended to spoil quickly in the absence of modern refrigeration. The name was rendered in medieval documents in the Latin form MAIUS a baptismal name from MAIA, a rather obscure goddess of fertility, whose name meant 'greatness'. The name is also spelt MAI, MEI, MEY, MAYO and MAY to name but a few. Angelo MAI (1782-1854) was the Italian prelate and antiquary, born in Schilpario in Lombardy. Educated to be a Jesuit, he became instead a secular priest in Milan, and keeper of the Ambrosian Library, where he discovered and edited MSS or fragments of several long-lost works. He was transferred to the Vatican Library in 1819, and edited a number of important ancient texts. He was made a cardinal in 1838. 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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