Surnames as we know them today were first assumed in Europe from the 11th to the 15th Century. The employment in the use of a second name was a custom that was first introduced from the Normans. They themselves had not long before adopted them. It became, in course of time, a mark of gentler blood, and it was deemed a disgrace for gentlemen to have but one single name, as the meaner sort had. At first the coat of arms was a practical matter which served a function on the battlefield and in tournaments. With his helmet covering his face, and armour encasing the knight from head to foot, the only means of identification for his followers, was the insignia painted on his shield and embroidered on his surcoat, the flowing and draped garment worn over the armour. The German surname of WENDEL has the associated coat of arms recorded in Rietstaps Armorial General. Registered in Bale. The name has numerous variant spellings which include WEND, WENDISCH, WINSCH, WUNDISCH, WENSTER, WINTSCHER and VINDIS to name but a few. The name is of two-fold origin. It was a baptismal name meaning 'the son of Wendimar' one who is a wanderer and famous. It was also a locational name, derived from the Old German word WINIDA. The Wends once occupied a large area of North East Germany, and many German placenames and surnames are of WENDISH origin. Their Slavonic language is still spoken in the South East part of Eastern Germany, around Bautzen and Cottbus. Surnames are divided into four categories, from occupations, nicknames, baptismal and locational. All the main types of these are found in German-speaking areas, and names derived from occupations and from nicknames are particularly common. A number of these are Jewish. Patronymic surnames are derived from vernacular Germanic given names, often honouring Christian saints. Regional and ethnic names are also common. The German preposition 'von (from) or 'of', used with habitation names, is taken as a mark of aristocracy, and usually denoted proprietorship of the village or estate from where they came. Some members of the nobility affected the form VON UND ZU with their titles. In eastern Germany there was a heavy influence both from and on neighbouring Slavonic languages. Many Prussian surnames are of Slavonic origin.
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