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Sample History: Rodriguez

The prestigious surname Rodriguez originated in Spain, a country which has figured prominently in world affairs for hundreds of years. The earliest forms of hereditary surnames in Spain were the patronymic surnames, which are derived from the father's given name, and metronymic surnames, which are derived from the mother's given name. Spanish patronymic names emerged as early as the mid-9th century. The patronyms were derived from a variety of given names that were of many different origins. Some names are derived from the saints of the Christian Church, but many Spanish surnames are derived from personal names of Germanic origin. The Visigoths, who ruled Spain between the mid-5th and early 8th centuries had a profound impact on the development of surnames. Spain has yielded many distinguished surnames, which have spread to the New World and beyond. The name Rodriguez has been traced to its source in Castile, where the name originated in Visigothic times.

Although Spanish names often conserve old spellings intact, the variations Rodríguez, Rodriguez, Rodriz, Rodríguiz, Rodriguiz, Rodrigo, Roderiz, Ruderiz, Roiz, Ruiz do share the same origin.

First to populate what is now Spain were the Iberians, emigrating from Africa around 3000 B.C. Celts from Europe settled in the north and west of the peninsula in the 14th century B.C. About 200 years later, the Phoenicians established trading centres along the coast. Around 630 B.C. the Greeks founded several cities in Spain for trading purposes. Within 200 years they were displaced by Carthaginians expanding their Mediterranean empire. This brought Carthage into conflict with Rome and led to the 2nd Punic War, 219-201 B.C., determining eventual Roman control of Spain.

Meanwhile, some Celts and Iberians had formed a mixed culture in the central peninsula, the Celtiberians. These peoples, each with unique customs and languages, adapted to Roman ways. Roman law, agriculture, and engineering were imposed throughout the peninsula. Rome pensioned soldiers in Hispania, who married local women; there arose a new Hispano-Roman culture. Emperors Hadrian and Marcus Aurelius were Spanish by birth, as were many Latin writers, such as Seneca, Martial, and Prudentius.

In the 5th century the Visigoths conquered Hispania, but they lived apart and had little influence. In 711 Spain was invaded by Muslims, who soon conquered the entire peninsula except Asturias. Although the Christians of the north fought back, the struggle lasted 800 years. In the 10th century Castile became independent and began to push south. By the 12th century the re-conquest had reached Toledo. It continued until 1492, when Ferdinand and Isabella took Granada.

The Rodriguez family originated in Old Castile, where the Visigothic nobles became established. One of the first records of the name is from the ninth century, making it one of the oldest documented Castilian surnames: Diego Rodríguez was a Count of Castile, resident in Burgos in the year 884. From Castile the family branched to the other Christian kingdoms of the north, including Asturias, Leon, Galicia, La Rioja and Aragon. With the Reconquest the family branched to southern Spain and became established in Toledo, Seville, Cordoba and Murcia, among other centres. Sometimes place names were added to distinguish different branches of the family; this expansion can be seen in the twelfth to fifteenth centuries with Gutier Rodríguez de Asturias, Alvar Ruiz de Mansilla, Pedro Ruiz de Castro, Pedro Ruiz de Azagra, Fernán Ruiz de Manzanedo, Peidro Rodríguez de Orbaneja, Martín Rodríguez de Argote, Pedro Rodríguez de Olea, Gonzalo Ruiz de Toledo, Gonzalo Ruiz de Cieza, among many others. Prominent among members of the family were Pedro Ruiz de Guzmán, majordomo of King Alfonso IX in 1194; Gonzalo Ruiz, who took over the same post in 1199; Rodrigo Rodríguez, Count of Castile in 1228; Gonzalo Ruiz de Cieza, a fourteenth century nobleman; Gonzalo Ruiz de Toledo, Count of Orgaz and Chancellor of Castile in the early 1300s; Juan Ruiz, Archpriest of Hita and author of the medieval Spanish masterpiece, "Libro de buen amor"; Gonzalo Rodríguez, poet and Archdeacon of Toro around 1380; Beatriz Rodríguez de Molina and Mari Ruiz de Piedrola, fifteenth century noblewomen; Hernán Rodríguez de Monroy, a knight who helped to reconquer Antequera from the Moors in 1410; Juan Rodríguez del Padrón, author of "Siervo libre de amor" (1440); Garci Rodríguez de Montalvo, author of the great chivalric novel "Amadís de Gaula"; and Juan Ruiz de Alarcón, born in Mexico in 1581, who became one of Spain's greatest dramatists of the Golden Age.

After Granada fell in 1492 Spain began to build an empire. Ferdinand and Isabella funded Columbus' voyages, ushering in an era of exploration that took Spanish culture around the world.

Conquistadors followed the explorers, founding settlements in the new colonies. Cortés, Pizarro and Valdivia led many to wealth and adventure. The settlers who built upon these foundations included members of the Rodriguez family. Among the early explorers of the New World was Francisco Ruiz Galán, who journeyed to Argentina with Pedro de Mendoza in 1536. Also of note was Garci Rodríguez de Vergara, who accompanied Alvar Núñez to Paraguay in 1542. His brother Pedro remained in Spain as confessor to King Philip II. Juan Rodríguez Serrano voyaged with Magellan as far as the Philippines, and commanded the fleet after Magellan's death in 1521. Other members of the family who were early emigrants to Spain's colonies in the New World included Vicente, who emigrated to Peru in 1560; Beatriz, to Puerto Rico in 1560; Sebastian, to Colombia in 1561; Bartolomé, to Nicaragua in 1561 with his wife Catalina and sons Francisco and Diego; Pedro, to Florida in 1563; Juan, to Cuba in 1563; and Jorge, to Guatemala in 1565.

Some of the most prominent family members include Spanish bullfighter Manuel Rodríguez Sánchez, known as "Manolete"; Pablo Ruiz Picasso, Spanish artist; J. M. Rodríguez Méndez, Spanish playwright; Manuel Rodríguez Ramos, Puerto Rican writer and law professor; Spanish Olympic boxer Enrique Rodríguez; Venezuelan boxer and Olympic gold medallist Francisco Rodríguez; Dr. Juan G. Rodríguez, American entomologist; Eliseo Rodríguez, professional baseball player; Guillermo Rodríguez Lara, former President of Ecuador; golfer Chi-Chi Rodríguez; Joaquín Rodrigo, Spanish composer and guitarist; Chico Ruiz, professional baseball player; and Aldeano Ruiz, American engineer.

One of the earliest coats of arms granted to this family was:

A blue shield bearing a silver tower and a border showing pine cones.

The crest consisted of:

An eagle.

The family motto was:

In domino spes mea

This page was last modified on 14 February 2011 at 14:55.

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