Thursday, March 14, 2013

Cut your hand off so you can win

The story of the Red Hand of Ulster reputedly dates to the arrival of Heremon, 

Heber and Ir - sons of King Milesius of Spain (Galicia), who were dispatched to 

conquer Ireland in 504 BC. One of them supposedly cut off his hand and tossed it 

ashore, that he might be the one to have first claim to the land.

Or a third story that recounts a distant member of the O'Neil family.

Uí Néill and a man named Dermott both wished to be king of Ulster. The High 

King suggested a horse race across the land. As the two came in sight of the 

ending point, it seemed that Dermott would win, so Uí Néill cut his hand off and 

threw it. It reached the goal ahead of Dermott's horse, winning for Uí Néill the 

crown of Ulster.

The O'Neil clan of Ireland has possibly been associated with the red hand since 

the time of Niall of the Nine Hostages in the 6th century, a semi-mythic figure in 

his own right who is considered to be the patriarch of the clan.

But yet other possible origins for the hand include, a representation of the ancient 

Celtic sun god Nuadu, or of the open right hand or Dextera Dei of Christian 

mythology. One important note is that most Neilson arms display a left hand, as 

opposed to the right hand commonly used for the Red Hand of Ulster. The 

meaning of this distinction is unknown, but typically a left hand of the era is 

associated with wickedness.

Neilsons of Corsock - argent, three hands, bend sinister, two in chief, and one in 

base, holding a dagger azure, with a crescent in the centre for the difference. 

Crest, a dexter hand, holding a lance erect, proper. Motto: Hic Regi servitium. 

Red (Gules) was used for fortitude and creative power. Silver (Argent) typically 

meant nobility or serenity. The sword or dagger would be used to indicate justice, 

often military justice. A crescent is the cadence mark of a second son.

The crests of several Neilson arms are also found in Fairbairn's Book of Crests, 

1905, including the one described above featuring a lance. This crest is also the 

same as described for the Craigcaffie Neilsons, perhaps showing a connection.

Ashkenazic Jewry

Until the emancipation of the Jews in the late 18th century, most Jews in Europe 

used the traditional system of patrimonial Hebrew surnames. Exceptions included 

Jewish communities in large cities such as Prague or Frankfurt am Main, where 

many of the names were derived from house-signs; and rabbinical dynasties, 

which often used a town name, typically the birthplace of the founder of the 

dynasty. Such surnames were much easier to shed or change than they would be 

today, and did not have the official status that modern ones do.

The process of assigning permanent surnames to Jewish families (most of which 

are still used to this day) began in Austria-Hungary. On 23 July 1787, five years 

after the Edict of Tolerance, the Austrian emperor Joseph the second issued a 

decree called Das Patent über die Judennamen which compelled the Jews to 

adopt German surnames.[2][3][4] Prussia did so soon after, beginning with Silesia: 

the city of Breslau in 1790, the Breslau administrative region in 1791, the Liegnitz 

region in 1794. In 1812, when Napoleon had occupied much of Prussia, surname 

adoption was mandated for the unoccupied parts; and Jews in the rest of Prussia 

adopted surnames in 1845.[citation needed]

Napoleon also, in a decree of July 20, 1808, insisted upon the Jews adopting 

fixed names[5] His decree covered all lands west of the Rhine; and many other 

parts of Germany required surname-adoption within a few years. Oldenburg was 

the last principality to complete the process, in 1852.[6]

At the end of the 18th century after the Partition of Poland the Russian Empire 

acquired a large number of Jews who did not use surnames. They, too, were 

required to adopt surnames during the early 19th century.

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