This Italian surname of PROSPERI was a baptismal name 'the son of PROSPER' one who was prosperous, flourishing, successful and thriving. The name is also spelt PROSPERTIUS, PROSPERI and PROSPERO. 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. Notables of the name include Sextus PROPERTIUS (circa.48-15 BC) who was the Roman elegiac poet, born probably in Assisi in Umbria. Of his poems only his first book devoted to his mistress Cynthia, was published. St. PROSPER of AQUITAINE (circa.390-463) was the French theologian, born in Aquitaine, the champion of Augustinian doctrine against the Semi-Pelagians. He was prominent in southern Gaul from 428 to 434, and then settled in Rome. Besides letters, Responsiones and pamphlets on grace and free will, he wrote a chronicle coming down to 455, a hexameter poem against the Pelagians and 'Epogrammata ex sententiis Sancti Augustini'. It was not until the 10th century that modern hereditary surnames first developed, and the use of fixed names spread, first to France, and then England, then to Germany and all of Europe. In these parts of Europe, the individual man was becoming more important, commerce was increasing and the exact identification of each man was becoming a necessity. Even today however, the Church does not recognise surnames. Baptisms and marriages are performed through use of the Christian name alone. Thus hereditary names as we know them today developed gradually during the 11th to the 15th century in the various European countries. Over the centuries, most people in Europe have accepted their surname as a fact of life, as irrevocable as an act of God. However much the individual may have liked or disliked the surname, they were stuck with it, and people rarely changed them by personal choice. A more common form of variation was in fact involuntary, when an official change was made, in other words, a clerical error.
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