This Italian surname of NANNEY was originally derived from the Hebrew given name YOCJANAN (Jehovah has favoured me with a son), and the name was adopted into the Latin (via Greek) as JOHANNES. This name has enjoyed enormous popularity in Europe, being given in honour of St. John the Baptist, precursor of Christ and of St. John the Evangelist, author of the fourth gospel, as well as others of the nearly one thousand saints of the name. There are numerous variant spellings of the surname, and it is known to every country in the world in different forms which include NANNI, IANNI, IANNONI, ZANNONI, NANNY, NANNONI, GIACOMINI, GIACOMO, GIACONE, GIACIMO, GIAMBRONE, GIAMPAOLO and GIANCOLA, to name but a few. There have been many notables of the name including twenty-one popes and two anti-popes XVI (997-8) and XXIII the former included in the papal numbering, which erroneously contained a fictitious John XV who was thought to have ruled for a few weeks immediately prior to the true John (985-96). 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. A notable member of the name was di Banco NANNI (circa.1384-1421) the Florentine sculptor, one of the most important artists of the early Renaissance. He was recorded as a member of the Stonemason's Guild in 1405 and was working with his father shortly afterwards on the Porta della Mandorla of Florence. In his early years he shared two cathedral commissions, for pairs of free-standing figures, with his contemporary Donatello. Later he contributed statues to three of the niches on the guild hall Orsanmichele; his best work was the group of the 'Four Crowned Saints'. In his most important commission, the relief of the 'Assumption of the Virgin' above the Porta della Mandorla (1414-21), he returned to a more Gothic manner. The eagle depicted in the crest is emblematical of fortitude and magnanimity of mind. The Romans used the figure of an eagle for their ensign, and their example has been often followed. It is the device of Russia, Austria, Germany and the United States of America.
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