Marcantonio Coat of Arms / Marcantonio Family Crest
The Italian surname of MARCANTONIO was an occupational name for a buyer and seller of goods, originally rendered in the Latin form MERCATANS (to trade, exchange). In the Middle Ages the term was used mainly of a wholesale dealer. The earliest merchants were the itinerant pedlars who carried their stock of goods strapped to their backs. They called upon castles, manor houses and cottages. They often congregated at the church on Sundays to exhibit their wares. The king exercised the power of licensing the right to hold a fair or market which was profitable to the lord and trader alike. The more established traders were attracted to the larger cities, where they grew wealthy and became respected citizens. There were many traders and merchants during medieval times because usually the man who made the article or grew the crop was the dealer. The name has become widespread in many forms, which include MARCHENT, MERCANTE, MERCANTI, MERCHAN and MERCANTONE. A notable member of the name was MARCANTONIO Raimondi (circa.1488-1534) the Italian engraver, born in Bolognia. At first a goldsmith, he moved to Rome in 1510 and became an engraver of other artists' work, especially Raphael and Michelangelo. The capture of Rome by Charles Bourbon in 1527 drove him back to Bologna. The Church played a very important role in Central Italian heraldry and many Italian families who derived their titles from popes incorporated elements of the papal insignia, notably the papal tiara and the crossed keys, on their Coats of Arms. As in the rest of Europe, the turbulent history of Italy in the Middle Ages is reflected in its heraldry. Traces remain from the successive invasions of the Germans, French, Spanish and Austrians. Certain characteristics, such as the use of horse-shaped shields which were put on the foreheads of horses during tournaments, remain uniquely Italian. Social conditions in Southern Italy during the agricultural depression of the late 19th Century spurred the first wave of emigration as thousands of people escaped to the New World. Latin America was the original destination for these early settlers but as the economy strengthened in the United States, North America became more popular.
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