This Italian surname of MARSICO was an occupational name for a marshall. The term was originally of Germanic origin MARAH (horse, mare) and SCALC (servant) which was originally applied to a man who looked after horses. During the formation of surnames the name referred on the one hand to one of the most important servants in a great household (particularly in the royal household it was an official of very high rank) and on the other to a humble shoeing smith or farrier. In different European countries a wide range of meanings is found, for example in Poland the name can mean anything from a field marshall or the chairman of the Polish parliament, to the senior servant in a household. The surname is also borne by Jews. The name has numerous spellings which include MARECHAL, MARCHAL, MARCHAUX, MARESCALO, MARESCALCHI and MARYSSAL. Many of the modern family names throughout Europe reflect the profession or occupation of their forbears in the Middle Ages and derive from the position held by their ancestors in the village, noble household or religious community in which they lived and worked. The addition of their profession to their birth name made it easier to identify individual tradesmen and craftsmen. As generations passed and families moved around, so the original identifying names developed into the corrupted but simpler versions that we recognise today. 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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