This surname of MANASCO is a Spanish, French and Jewish nickname for a devious character or alternatively for an astute or skilful person. The name was rendered in medieval documents in the Latin form MANIA. The name is also spelt MANNAS, MANASSEH and MANIAS. Surnames having a derivation from nicknames form the broadest and most miscellaneous class of surnames, encompassing many different types of origin. The most typical classes refer adjectivally to the general physical aspect of the person concerned, or to his character. Many nicknames refer to a man's size or height, while others make reference to a favoured article of clothing or style of dress. Many surnames derived from the names of animals and birds. In the Middle Ages ideas were held about the characters of other living creatures, based on observation, and these associations were reflected and reinforced by large bodies of folk tales featuring animals behaving as humans. MANASSEH was the biblical king of Judah, and eldest son of Hezekiah whom he succeeded as king (697-42BC). He earned an evil name for idolatry and wickedness till, as a captive in Babylon, he repented. MANASSEH Ben Israel (1604-57) was the Dutch Jewish scholar, born in Lisbon. He was taken early to Amsterdam, where he became chief rabbi at the age of 18 in 1622, and set up the first printing press in Holland (1626). In 1655-57) he was in England, securing from Cromwell the re-admission of the Jews. He wrote important works in Hebrew, Spanish and Latin, and in English a 'Humble Address' and 'A Declaration' (1656). 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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