This English and French surname of REEN was originally from a Germanic personal name, composed of the elements RAGIN (counsel) + HARD (hardy, brave, strong). The name was introduced into England by the Normans in the form REINARD. This was the name borne by the cunning fox in the popular medieval cycle of beast-tales, with the result that from the 13th century it began to replace the previous Old French word for the animal. The conservatism of 17th and 18th century heraldry is shown by the fox - an animal regarded as vermin in the Middle Ages, and therefore hardly ever used in blazoning of arms. It re-emerged with the new found sport of fox-hunting, a sport normally associated with noble families. The name has numerous variant spellings which include REINHART, RENHARD, RENNARD, RENYARD, REINARD, REYNARD and RENNERT, to name but a few. 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. Django REINHARDT (1910-53) was the Belgium guitarist, born in Liverchies to a family of gipsy entertainers. He became one of the first European jazz virtuosi. In 1946 he joined the Duke Ellington Orchestra for an American tour, and he became a powerful influence among swing-style guitarists.
Another notable member of the name was Adolf Fredrick REINHARDT (1913-67) the American painter and critic, born in Buffalo, New York. He studied at the National Gallery of Design, New York. French heraldry bears a close relationship to British. From the Renaissance people tended to place only their coronets of rank upon their helmets. By the 18th century the helmet had also been abandoned and coronets were placed directly above the shield. After the French Revolution of 1789, heraldry was abolished, being replaced some 15 years later by a new Imperial heraldry, characterised by weapons and images of Napoleonic campaigns, crests, helmets and mottoes being removed.
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