The Italian surname of MATTEUCCI was a baptismal name 'the son of Mathew'. The name was found in medieval registers throughout Europe and means 'gracious gift of Jehovah'. It was an exceedingly popular font name during the 11th and 12th Centuries. This given name was of biblical origin, ultimately from the Hebrew male font name MATITYAHU, recorded in the Greek New Testament in the form MATTHIAS. The name has numerous variant spellings which include MATHEW, MATHEY, MATHIE, MATHYS, MATEO, MATAS, MATTASER and MATESSIAN, to name but a few. Corvinus I MATTHIAS (1443-1490) was the king of Hungary, the second son of Janos Hunyady. He was elected in 1458, but it cost him six years' hard struggle against Turks, Bohemians, and the emperor Frederick III, before he could have himself crowned. His conquests were facilitated by the creation of a standing army and reform of the fiscal system, although his heavy taxation was unpopular. He coded the laws, patronized the arts, and founded a magnificent library, the 'Bibliotheca Corvina'. MATTHIAS (1557-1619) was the Holy Roman Emperor, the third son of Emperor Maximilian II. He was a tolerant man in religious matters, and favoured a policy of moderation. 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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