Thursday, December 23, 2010

Fool's Heritage

A year ago June in 2009, I wrote a post on Till Eulenspiegel (here) and echoed it again a couple of days ago on the occasion of the solstice. In the earlier post I claimed descent from a fifteenth century court jester in Germany, a pretty good one, I assume, because his jests earned him a title of nobility. I can thus claim descent from a long line of wise fools, and did so stake the claim back then. The curious thing is that in such cases, descent does not run in the blood, but sometimes spirit and flesh do coincide. Our name then was Dorner—meaning of the or belonging to the thorn. When my ancestors went to seek their fortunes in Hungary (as iron merchants) they changed the name to sound more Hungarian. The Hungarian version of the name would make you think that we were from a place called Darna. No such thing. Our origins in Hungary, where the wandering ancestors settled, was called St. Martin, therefore the whole name is Darnay from St. Martin. The last two word in the label, család cimere, means familys crest.

Back when I wrote much the same thing, I did not yet own my trusty little Kodak. It was a birthday present I got in July of that year (the best of gifts, Monique!). Had I had it, I would have shown our family’s coat of arms. I thought I’d catch up with that now and show the picture. This version was produced in Hungary and the jester wears characteristic Hungarian head gear. In the original crest, the hat looked different. Did I mention that I was born in the Sign of Leo?

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