Surnames from a 16th-Century Italian Armorial

The Bavarian State Library owns a multi-volume armorial made somewhere in what is now Italy in the middle of the 16th century. It's shelfmarked as Codices inconographici 266 through 280, and the library has very generously scanned the pages and uploaded the images to its website. They contain thousands of surnames, recorded in clear block print that is (with a few isolated exceptions) quite easy to read. Unfortunately, no more than four of them are on any one page and each section is alphebetized independently (and often imperfectly), so flipping through the books in search of a particular name or a name with particular characteristics is prohibitively time-consuming. I've compiled this index to make the information more accessible.

Please note that I have not transcribed all text from all volumes of this work. Most notably, some volumes contain the heraldic achievements of secular and ecclesiastical leaders, most of whom were already historical figures when the armorial was created, with their full Latinized names and official titles. I have not included any of those. Only the surnames shown above simple escutcheons, four to a page, are presented here, as they appear to be those of ordinary armigers contemporary to the text.

I have separately indexed the place names and house names found in the armorial.

The armorial is split into sections, each headed with the name of one of twenty-five cities (Ancona, Arezzo, Bologna, Cortona, Ferrara, Florence, Genoa, Lucca, Mantua, Milan, Naples, Padua, Perugia, Pesaro, Pisa, Pistoia, Rome, Sansepolcro, Siena, Urbino, Venice, Verona, Vicenza, Viterbo, and Volterra). These cities were, when the armorial was made, in several different countries. Without a precise date for its composition, it's hard to say exactly how many. (The political situation in this part of Europe was fairly volatile in the first half of the 16th century.) But I believe the map to the right shows something close to how things stood with them when the work was commissioned.

It is important to remember that while these countries were close to one another, had been affected by many of the same historical events, and were to a greater or lesser degree all linguistically related, their naming pools varied significantly. They'd experienced different trends and fashions in naming practices over the preceding centuries. They each had their own native languages, and had imported or borrowed from separate alien tongues. Even the dialects of Italian used within them were in some cases very different from one another, in vocabulary and in the phonemes they employed. A name from one might be completely inappropriate for a persona from another. (To this day it is possible to identify names with certain characteristics as being, say, distinctively Tuscan or typically Neopolitan.) So if you're trying to put together a16th-century name from a particular place, it would be wisest to either (A) pick a surname the armorial associates with that area, or (B) get a good book on regional Italian naming patterns and learn enough to be able to identify names appropriate to that place for yourself.

It is also important to note that naming pools and patterns change over time. Appearance in this armorial is evidence of the use of a particular name (and, most especially, of a specific form of a particular name) only in the 16th century. If you're looking for an earlier name, seek evidence from an earlier source.

A quick note on the utility of this index:

Sometimes, especially if you're not an expert in a relevant field, a secondary source is more helpful in research than a primary source. This is not one of those times.

This index contains no noteworthy additional facts, annotation, or explication, and its source material is readily accessible. In addition, I have doubtless made errors in transcription, and while I have striven to keep my own assumptions out of things as much as possible, there were some places where I was forced to make guesses. (For example, in a few spots it's hard to tell whether you're looking at one word in which the letters aren't quite evenly spaced or two words with an unusually small space between them, and in other places little letters have been written above or within the original text as corrections but it's difficult to say exactly where they are meant to belong.)

I strongly recommend that you consult the original material before drawing any conclusions, and that if you choose to submit one of the names listed here to the S.C.A. College of Arms for registration you use the manuscript scans, not this index, as your supporting documentation.

A few tips you might find helpful:

Many names in this armorial have been Latinized. Many others have not. If you're trying to choose a name and you don't know the difference, it would be a good idea to seek advice from someone who does.

All the inscriptions in the sections on Rome and Milan begin with "DE", and almost all of those in the section on Mantua with "DI". That degree of uniformity in the use of prepositions is not found in other 16th-century sources. It seems likeliest that the prepositions aren't properly part of the names at all, but signify "of" as in, "These are the arms of. . .." Therefore, finding "DE" or "DI" before a name in one of those sections doesn't appear to be a reliable indication of real-life period usage. (In other parts of the armorial, most names are without prepositions, so it is likely that those shown with them really did include them in their everyday forms. Similarly, the few names in the section on Mantua that begin with "DA" or "DE" might well have actually used those prepositions.)

I have in alphabetizing the names in this index disregarded independent initial prepositions, articles, and pronouns. For example, you will find "DA BARBERINO" under "B", "DE LA CAPRONA" under "C", "QVEI DA ROMENA" under "R", and "LI ALESANDRINI" under "A".

Many modern Italian names combine into one word what were originally two or more. This process was underway in the 16th century, and a significant number of names in this armorial are of this sort. I have maintained them in their recorded forms and alphabetized them as written. This has, unfortunately, separated a few close variants from one another. (For instance, "DA RIVA" is under "R" but "DARIVA" under "D", "FRANCHA" is under "F" but "LAFRANCHA" under "L".)

In some sections of the armorial the scribes have put a period or comma at the end of every word or at the end of every surname. I have not transcribed these.

At some point in its history the pages of the armorial were trimmed, and the first or last letters were cut from some names. In the index I have used a hyphen to mark names that appear likely to be among them, where the missing letters would be.

Initially, "V" and "U" were variant forms of the same letter. By the 16th century, some writers had begun to use the "V" form only where a consonant was wanted and the "U" form only where it a vowel was, but that pattern is not evident in this armorial. The "V" form is always used.  
At first, "I" and "J" were variant forms of the same letter. By the 16th century, some writers had begun to use the "I" form only where a vowel was wanted and the "J" form only where a consonant was, but the scribes of this armorial were not among them. The "I" form is always used.
The overline is a siglum used in many medieval and Renaissance texts to say, "You already know what letter comes after this one, so I'm going to save a little space by not bothering to write it down." In my transcriptions, I've used macrons to represent overlines on letters "A", "E", "I", and "O" (so they appear as "Ā", "Ē", "Ī", and "Ō"). There's a note next to each of the few names containing overlines on other letters.  In this armorial, the unwritten letter appears to always be an "N", so I have alphebetized as if each overlined letter were followed by one.  
Some volumes of the armorial contain a letter that has at various times and places been used as a form of "S", as a form of "Z", and as a letter representing some sound not covered (in a particular orthographic system) by either "S" or "Z". In these books it seems to serve as a retrograde "Z", so I've used "Z" to represent it in my transcriptions. However, I have made a note next to any name using it so that if your interpretation of its significance differs from mine you can readily identify names you'd consider to have been mistranscribed.  
In the armorial a symbol like a double comma is used to indicate a word continued on the next line (much as we might use a hyphen). I have re-joined these words and alphabetized them as is appropriate for their contiguous forms without marking them in the index.  
Several names in the armorial end with a mark resembling a small number 9, drawn near the top of the final letter. This is a siglum often used in Latin manuscripts to represent the ending "us", "os", "is", or "s". I have used an apostrophe to represent this mark in my transcriptions.  
Some of the inscriptions contain an "S." before the given name of a male Roman Catholic saint. For convenience, I've alphabetized these names as if the "S." were the word "SANTO" (though some of them might well represent "San" or "Sant'", the shorter forms more often used in modern Italian, or some declension of the Latin "Sanctus").  


Jump Directly to Names Beginning with:

(You can also browse from page to page within the index, starting wherever you like.)


AB- ~ AC- ~ AD- ~ AG- ~ AI-

ALA- ~ ALB- ~ ALC- ~ ALD- ~ ALE- ~ ALF- ~ ALG- ~ ALI- ~ ALL- ~ ALM- ~ ALP- ~ ALS- ~ ALT- ~ ALV- ~ ALZ-

AM- ~ AN- ~ AP- ~ AQ-

ARA- ~ ARB- ~ ARC- ~ ARD- ~ ARE- ~ ARF- ~ ARG- ~ ARI- ~ ARL- ~ ARM- ~ ARN- ~ ARO- ~ ARR- ~ ARS- ~ ART- ~ ARV- ~ ARZ-

AS- ~ AT- ~ AV- ~ AY- ~ AZ-


BAB- ~ BAC- ~ BAD- ~ BAF- ~ BAG- ~ BAI- ~ BAL- ~ BAN-


BAS- ~ BAT- ~ BAV- ~ BAX- ~ BAZ-

BEA- ~ BEC- ~ BED- ~ BEF- ~ BEH- ~ BEL-


BEO- ~ BER- ~ BES- ~ BET- ~ BEV- ~ BEX- ~ BEZ-

BI- ~ BL- ~ BN-

BOA- ~ BOB- ~ BOC- ~ BOE- ~ BOF- ~ BOG- ~ BOL- ~ BOM-


BOR- ~ BOS- ~ BOT- ~ BOV- ~ BOX-

BRA- ~ BRE- ~ BRI- ~ BRO- ~ BRV-

BVB- ~ BVC- ~ BVD- ~ BVF- ~ BVG- ~ BVL- ~ BVO- ~ BVR- ~ BVS- ~ BVT- ~ BVX- ~ BVZ-


CAB- ~ CAC- ~ CAD- ~ CAF- ~ CAG- ~ CAI- ~ CAL- ~ CAM- ~ CAN- ~ CAO- ~ CAP- ~ CAR- ~ CAS- ~ CAT- ~ CAV- ~ CAX- ~ CAZ-

CEC- ~ CEE- ~ CEL- ~ CEN- ~ CEP- ~ CER- ~ CES- ~ CET- ~ CEV-

CHA- ~ CHE- ~ CHI- ~ CHL- ~ CHO- ~ CHR-

CI- ~ CL-

COC- ~ COD- ~ COF- ~ COG- ~ COI- ~ COL- ~ COM- ~ CON- ~ COP- ~ COQ- ~ COR- ~ COS- ~ COT- ~ COV- ~ COZ-

CR- ~ CV-


DAB- ~ DAC- ~ DAD- ~ DAF- ~ DAI- ~ DAL- ~ DAM- ~ DAN- ~ DAP- ~ DAR- ~ DAS- ~ DAT- ~ DAV- ~ DAY- ~ DAZ-

DE- ~ DI- ~ DO- ~ DR- ~ DV-




FAB- ~ FAE- ~ FAF- ~ FAG- ~ FAL- ~ FAN- ~ FAR- ~ FAS- ~ FAT- ~ FAV- ~ FAX- ~ FAZ-

FE- ~ FI- ~ FL- ~ FO- ~ FR- ~ FV-


GAB- ~ GAC- ~ GAD- ~ GAE- ~ GAF- ~ GAG- ~ GAI- ~ GAL- ~ GAM- ~ GAN- ~ GAR- ~ GAS- ~ GAT- ~ GAV- ~ GAY- ~ GAZ-

GE- ~ GH-

GIA- ~ GIB- ~ GIE- ~ GIG- ~ GIL- ~ GIM- ~ GIN- ~ GIO- ~ GIR- ~ GIS- ~ GIV- ~ GIX-

GL- ~ GN- ~ GO-

GRA- ~ GRE- ~ GRI- ~ GRO- ~ GRV-

GVA- ~ GVB- ~ GVE- ~ GVG- ~ GVI- ~ GVL- ~ GVM- ~ GVR- ~ GVS- ~ GVV-



IA- ~ IB- ~ IE- ~ IL- ~ IM- ~ IN- ~ IO- ~ IP- ~ IR- ~ IS- ~ IV- ~ IX-




LAB- ~ LAC- ~ LAD- ~ LAF- ~ LAG- ~ LAI- ~ LAL- ~ LAM- ~ LAN- ~ LAP- ~ LAR- ~ LAS- ~ LAT- ~ LAV- ~ LAZ-

LE- ~ LI- ~ LO- ~ LV-


MAC- ~ MAD- ~ MAF- ~ MAG- ~ MAI- ~ MAL- ~ MAM- ~ MAN-


MAS- ~ MAT- ~ MAZ-


MEC- ~ MED- ~ MEF- ~ MEI ~ MEL- ~ MEM- ~ MEN- ~ MEO- ~ MER- ~ MES- ~ MET- ~ MEZ-


MOC- ~ MOD- ~ MOG- ~ MOI- ~ MOL-


MOP- ~ MOR- ~ MOS- ~ MOT- ~ MOZ-



NA- ~ NE- ~ NI- ~ NO- ~ NV-


O ~ OB- ~ OC- ~ OD- ~ OG- ~ OL- ~ OM- ~ ON- ~ OR- ~ OS- ~ OT- ~ OV- ~ OX-


PAD- ~ PAG- ~ PAI- ~ PAL- ~ PAM- ~ PAN- ~ PAO- ~ PAP- ~ PAR- ~ PAS- ~ PAT- ~ PAV- ~ PAZ-

PEC- ~ PED- ~ PEG- ~ PEL- ~ PEN- ~ PEO- ~ PEP- ~ PER- ~ PES- ~ PET- ~ PEX- ~ PEZ-

PIA- ~ PIC- ~ PIE- ~ PIG- ~ PIL- ~ PIN- ~ PIO- ~ PIR- ~ PIS- ~ PIT- ~ PIX- ~ PIZ-


PO ~ POC- ~ POG- ~ POL- ~ POM- ~ PON- ~ POP- ~ POR- ~ POS- ~ POT- ~ POV- ~ POY- ~ POZ-

PR- ~ PV-




RA- ~ RE- ~ RI-

RO ~ ROB- ~ROC- ~ ROD- ~ ROF- ~ ROL- ~ ROM- ~ RON- ~ ROS- ~ ROT- ~ ROV- ~ ROX- ~ ROZ-



SAB- ~ SAC- ~ SAD- ~ SAG- ~ SAI- ~ SAL- ~ SAM- ~ SAN- ~ SAO- ~ SAP- ~ SAR- ~ SAS- ~ SAT- ~ SAV-


SCA- ~ SCH- ~ SCL- ~ SCO- ~ SCR-

SEC- ~ SED- ~ SEG- ~ SEL- ~ SEM- ~ SEN- ~ SEP- ~ SER- ~ SES- ~ SET- ~ SEV-

SF- ~ SI- ~ SM- ~ SO- ~ SP- ~ SQ- ~ ST- ~ SV-


TA- ~ TE- ~ TH- ~ TI-

TOC- ~ TOD- ~ TOL- ~ TOM- ~ TON- ~ TOP- ~ TOR- ~ TOS- ~ TOT- ~ TOV-

TR- ~ TV-


VAC- ~ VAD- ~ VAG- ~ VAI- ~ VAL- ~ VAN- ~ VAP- ~ VAR- ~ VAS- ~ VAY-

VB- ~ VC- ~ VD-

VEC- ~ VED- ~ VEG- ~ VEL- ~ VEM- ~ VEN- ~ VEP- ~ VER- ~ VES- ~ VET- ~ VEZ-


VIA- ~ VIB- ~ VIC- ~ VID- ~ VIE- ~ VIG- ~ VIL- ~ VIM- ~ VIN- ~ VIO- ~ VIP- ~ VIS- ~ VIT- ~ VIV- ~ VIZ-

VL- ~ VM- ~ VN- ~ VO- ~ VP- ~ VR- ~ VS- ~ VV-


ZA- ~ ZE- ~ ZI- ~ ZO- ~ ZV-


Creative Commons LicenseThis page was written and is maintained by Coblaith Muimnech, who holds the copyright to the text, and all images not excerpted from works more than 300 years old. It is made available under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 United States License.


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