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Retz Coat of Arms / Retz Family Crest

This English, French and German surname of RETZ was a baptismal name 'the son of Richard'. The name was originally derived from a Germanic root meaning 'strong-ruler'. The name was in use among the Anglo-Saxons in the form RICEHARD. The name has numerous variant spellings which include RATZ, RATZLOFF, RETZLOFF, REICH, RIKER, RICHE, RICHMAN, RIQUE, REICHE, RIEKE and REITZ. 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. Gilles de RETZ (circa. 1404-40) was the French feudal lord, distinguished soldier, and one time friend of Joan of Arc, who is supposed, by many to be the original 'Bluebeard'. De RETZ engaged in Satanic practices in the course of which he ritually murdered numerous children. He was eventually burnt at the stake. Jean Francois Paul de Gondi, Cardinal de RETZ (1614-79) was the French ecclesiastic and politician. His 'Memoires', first published in 1717, give a vivid firsthand account of the violent episodes of the Fronde (the two popular revolts against monarchial absolutism in 1648 and 1651-2, in which RETZ played a leading role, revealing the events of the period). In the Middle Ages heraldry came into use as a practical matter. It originated in the devices used to distinguish the armoured warriors in tournament and war, and was also placed on seals as marks of identity. As far as records show, true heraldry began in the middle of the 12th century, and appeared almost simultaneously in several countries of Western Europe.

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Last Updated: Dec. 1st, 2021

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