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 MASCARENAS is of two-fold origin. It was a locational name meaning 'one who came from MASCARA' a town in north west Algeria. In 1832 Abdelkader chose the town as his headquarters, but it was razed by the French in 1835. (Abdelkader was the Algerian nationalist who resisted the French invasion. He became Emir of MASCARA in 1832, but finally surrendered to the French in 1847). It was also a nickname for someone with a big head, or a name which was applied to a manly and vigorous fellow. Nicknames usually originated as a by-name for someone by describing their appearance, personal disposition or character but which became handed down through the ages and did not apply to their descendants. The name is also spelt MASCARO, MASCARI and MASCAREO. Despite evidence that hereditary surnames were in use in the Venetian Republic as early as the 10th Century, the origin of many Italian surnames is unclear. There is still a great potential for research into medieval Italian records while documented evidence indicates the adoption of the father's name as a surname is the most common form. The familiar endings of "i" and "o", meaning to be a member of a certain family, bears this out. 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.
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