The surname of MARTINELLI is of Spanish, French, Italian, Portugese and English origin, a baptismal name 'the son of Martin' belonging to Mars, the God of war. This name was borne by a famous 4th century saint, Martin of Tours, and consequently became extremely popular throughout Europe in the Middle Ages. The name has many variant spellings which include MARTEL, MARTELL, MARTEAU, MARTELIER, MARTELLI, MARTIELLO AND MARTELET. French, or rather Norman French, was the language of the aristocracy and the upper classes in England at the time fixed surnames were being developed, it is therefore not surprising that many of our well-known family names are derived from French words. Originally only Christian or personal names were used, and although a few came into being during the 10th century, surnames were not widely used until much later, when people began to realize the prestige of having a second name. A notable member of this name was Charles MARTEL, 'the Hammer' (c.688-74l) ruler of the Franks from 7l9, progenitor of the Carolingian dynasty, and grandfather of Charlemagne. He was the illegitimate son of Pepin II of Heristal and in 7l4 he was chosen duke by the Austrasian (eastern) Franks, defeated the Neustrian (western) Franks in 7l6 and in 7l9 became 'mayor of the palace' of Austrasia and real ruler of all the Frankish kingdom. He earned his nickname by his defeat of the Moors in a desperate battle at Tours, near Poitiers in 732, thus turning back the tide of Arab conquest in Europe, then drove the Saracens out of Burgundy and Languedoc (737). He died in 74l. In the Middle Ages the Herald (old French herault) was an officer whose duty it was to proclaim war or peace, carry challenges to battle and messages between sovereigns; nowadays war or peace is still proclaimed by the heralds, but their chief duty as court functionaries is to superintend state ceremonies, such as coronations, installations, and to grant arms. Edward III (1327-1377) appointed two heraldic kings-at-arms for south and north, England in 1340. The English College of Heralds was incorporated by Richard III in 1483-84.
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