Mansi; My Fascination With Italian Surnames Part 1

Origins Of The Italian Surname ‘Mansi’

This page and its contents, including all images, is Copyright To Anne Frandi-Coory All Rights Reserved 23 November 2013


Manzo Coat of Arms

Original Manzo Coat of Arms

Raffaela Ishtar Arts

Raffaela Marisi Mansi Grego

… Since doing research for my book ‘Whatever Happened To Ishtar?‘ I have become fascinated with the origins of surnames. … … My maternal great grandmother’s maiden name is recorded on original documents as Raffaela Marisi Mansi and her father’s name as Johannis Mansi (possibly reflecting Austrian origins).  It’s likely that Raffaela’s mother’s family name was the Italian Marisi. Raffaela was raped by a Catholic Priest in Rome when she was 13 years old. She was sent to London in disgrace when she became pregnant as a result of the rape. … … creating ripples which affected the fortunes of succeeding generations.


Raffaela Marisi Mansi

Raffaela Marisi Mansi Grego

… The first Italian records showing variations of the surname Mansi were found in Venetia, northern Italy. The region of Venetia is named for the Veneti, a race related to the Illyrians who allied themselves with the ancient Romans and consequently prospered. From this famous region in Italy, the name Manzo, or Manso, emerges. Research shows that it is Germanic in origin and means ‘strength’. It is believed that the name became Italianized over time with various spellings according to dialect. For example, documents can be found in Friuli dating as far back as 1083, with such names as Patriarca di Aquileia Volserico Manzano. The history of the Venetia region begins with the invasion of the Ostrogoths and Vandals under Attila the Hun in the mid 5th Century CE.


The most famous city in the region is Venice which was created on the island of Rialto as a refuge for those fleeing from Attila and his army. The city of Venice remained a refuge for many centuries. After the Lombardi invasion of Italy in the 6th Century, more fled to its relative safety. Venice became a fully fledged city in the 8th Century when Duke Orso was elected and supported by Pope Gregory. However, it wasn’t until the Frankish invasion that Venice felt a true sense of unity, when an alliance was formed in order to retain its independence. In the 9th Century, while Charlemagne was king of Italy, the Eastern Emperor Nicephorus was lord over Venice. Thus Venice retained closer alliances with the East than with the rest of Europe. Venice became a religious rival of Rome when it received the remains of St Mark, for whom the Basilica Cattedrale Patriarcale di San Marco and the Piazza San Marco are so named. … ……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….. The famous winged lion, which is considered to be the emblem of Venice, was originally the emblem of St Mark. Venice proved itself to be an economically strong city, noteworthy for its trade overseas and as a gateway to the major trade centres of Central Europe. It also maintained diplomatic ties with the East. Various forms of the surname gradually moved down the peninsula: Manzi, Manzo, Mansi, Manzano, Manzoni, Manzonni, Manzonno, Manzina, Manzino, Manzini, Mansone, Manzolino, Manzolina, Manzone, Manzano, Manzoli, to name a few variations. Artistic prosperity was one of the most important features of Venetian history. Many of the most famous painters in the history of art come from this region. The earliest Coat of Arms for the Manzo dynasty displays a blue shield with a lion holding a bull’s head and three fleur de lis. Prominent members who share the Manzo/Manso heritage include Torpe di Federico del Manzone of Sicily, a priest in Pisa for seven years. His son acquired the position after his death. Pierangelo Manzoli (Marcello Stellato) a poet and philosopher 1500 – c.1543 Cianciano Manzano was commander of the castle of Manzano the remains of which still stand in Friuli. The Manzini family of Modeno was one of the most powerful families in the city during the medieval period. Alessandro Manzoni was born in Milan in 1785. He was a poet and novelist of noble blood and wrote the historical novel I Promessi Sposi (The Betrothed)  published in 1827. It is regarded as the most famous and widely read novel in the Italian language.  In 1860, Manzoni was elected senator for the Kingdom of Italy. Pope Benedicto XlV born Prospero Lorenzo in Bologna 1675 to Marcello Lambertini. He died in Rome in 1758. He was a descendant of the Mansi family.  See more: Pope Benedict XlV Lucida Mansi was a descendent of wealthy silk merchants and her family home, the Mansi Palace, still stands today in Lucca, Italy, as a museum owned by the state since 1957.  For more about the legend of Lucida Mansi see Silhouette in Bagni Di Lucca In 1680 the marriage between Arlo Mansi and Eleonora Pepoli, from a wealthy Bolognese family, increased the riches of the Mansi family. This was the first familial Roman/Italian connection with the Germanic Mansi clan. The Mansi family’s commercial enterprises sold silks, and other fabrics throughout France, Italy and Germany. The first members of the Mansi family arrived in Italy from Saxony in the 11th Century. ….

See Here: Frandi; My Fascination With Italian Surnames Part 2

  1. Very interesting, Anne, and very well documented. I have not been to Italy as yet, but have dealt with several Italians during the early stages of my long career in shipping and logistics. Of all European languages, Italian is easily the most musical, so are the people and place names. Be it place names such as Messina, Milano, La Spezia, Carrara, Pisa, Venice, Florence, Calgary, or even a dictator’s name like Mussolini, there is a musical ring to it. That Italy is a nation rich in arts, paintings and sculpture, therefore, is no surprise, as a language so musical is truly a reflection of its people and culture…best wishes… Raj.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Kevin said:

    This is a very interesting read since my surname is Manzano and I developed a desire to found out more about my ancestors. Some Manzanos arrived in Puerto Rico years ago, but I always found interesting that our surname is rare in the country. Many people wondered where my surname came from, now I guess I finally have an answer, and it’s much more interesting than I ever thought.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Anne said:

    Hello Kevin

    I know how you feel…familial names help to connect us with our ancestors. So important to us as humans and so interesting too. Glad my research has helped in some small way.


  4. Teresa said:

    Very interesting. My maiden name is Mansy and my great aunt was married to a Khoury. I’m Lebanese, Chaldean and Italian/Greek. I find your research very interesting.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Anne said:

    Hello Teresa, fancy that; same surnames, different spellings. Someone asked me recently if I was going to write another book, and if so, what would I write about. I replied that I could fill a book with the fascinating comments I have received on my blog from all around the world. Kind regards, Anne

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Dianna said:

    Lovely insights regarding the surname Mansi, thank you. My surname is Mansi. My grandfather was a Mansi from Ravello, Italy (Campania in the south of Italy) and I have always wondered if there is a connection to the Mansi family in Lucca. I am currently visiting Lucca to try out further information. Ironically my paternal grandmother is a Lucchese but not a Mansi. If anyone has any information regarding a possible connection between the Mansi’s of Lucca and the Mansi’s of Ravello Italy I would be very interested. Grazie a tutti!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Anne said:

    Ciao Dianna, thanks for your comment. My great grandmother Raffaela Marisi Mansi was born in Ravello in 1870! Her father was Johannis Mansi. So it is probable that we share the same Mansi ancestors. As you can see by reading this post, the origins, and familial connections with surnames, are very complicated. However, when I was visiting the beautiful Mansi palace in Lucca, there was an Italian genealogist stationed there to assist descendants of the Mansi ‘tribe’ to trace their ancestry. I have written about this specific meeting in my book ‘Whatever happened To Ishtar?’ but to cut a long story short, the genealogist explained that any family members with the Mansi surname living in and around Florence in the nineteenth century, were certain to belong to the same family as the owners of the Mansi Palace. Our Mansi ancestors were known to travel the length of Italy and those who originated in the north of Italy had surnames ending in ‘i’. She also stated that first names were very significant, as particular names were passed down through many generations, and ‘Raffaela’ and ‘Raffael’ appeared frequently in Mansi Palace documents. Raffaela’s middle name ‘Marisi’ has its highest density in Italy and I believe that given all of the results of the research I have done into her background, that she is a descendant of the Lucca, Mansi palace family. Please keep in touch. Anne.


    • Dianna Mansi Nunez said:

      Anne, I am so sorry not to have replied earlier. Today was the first time I saw your post. Thank you for the information. In my recent visit to the Mansi palace in Lucca, in Spring of this year, the docent also indicated that she believed that the Mansi’s in Campania were related to the Mansi family in Lucca. So very fascinating.
      My grandfather, Alfonso Mansi, was born in 1899 in Ravello to Pantaleone Mansi and Maria Rapolla. I have only been able to trace the lineage to my great grandparents but hope to be able to find more information on subsequent trips to Ravello. Please keep in touch. Grazie. Dianna

      Liked by 1 person

      • Rachel Ashwood said:

        So I am tracing my lineage and too cannot go past my ancestors named Pantaleone Mansi and Maria Rapollo! My great grandmother was Maria Antoinette Mansi from Galveston! I’m thinking we are related!

        Liked by 2 people

      • noninuni said:

        Rachel I don’t know if you will see this reply. I am aware that there was a Amelia Maria Mansi in Galveston. Was your great grandmother sister’s, Amelia Mansi? My grandfather was Alphonso Mansi, Amelia Maria Mansi’s brother. If your grandmother is the sibling of Alphonso and Amelia, then yes we would be related. So fascinating, I wasn’t aware of additional sisters in Galveston, however my father may have mentioned them. Unfortunately all members of my father’s immediate family and my father are deceased so that information is difficult to obtain now.

        I have been to Ravello, Italy several times and have looked at the local graveyards trying to find further clues. There are several Pantaleone Mansi’s buried there. I could not find Maria Rapallo. I will be in Italy again this Spring and if I find further information regarding the parents of Pantaleone Mansi and Maria Rapallo I will let you know.


        Liked by 1 person

      • Rachel Deese Ashwood said:

        So my great grandmother was Amalia and Alphonse’s sister! Yes I live in Santa Fe where Alphonse and Rudy lived and knew Rudy Mansi towards the end of his life!! Would love to hear more as I’ve been gathering stuff on the Mansi family! Are you Leon’s daughter by chance? Please email me if you get a chance

        Liked by 2 people

  8. Anne said:

    Thank you, Judith …it’s amazing how much human history is hidden in surnames.

    Liked by 1 person

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