Usage Medieval Italian
Other Forms FormsBrancaleo
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Contributor Contrib.SeaHorse15 on 1/13/2012
The meaning of this medieval Italian given name is either "a lion's paw" or "he who captures the lion". In the case of the former meaning, the name is derived from Italian branca meaning "paw, claw" combined with Italian leone meaning "lion". In the case of the latter meaning, the first element of the name is derived from brancare, a dialectal form of the Italian verb abbrancare meaning "to grasp, to seize". The second element of the name is the same as with the first meaning. With that said: the first meaning given is probably the most likely one, since a lion's paw was often used as a charge in heraldry - to such a degree that brancaleone had even become part of heraldry jargon. In other words: the use of Brancaleone as a given name must have been inspired by heraldry.However, it should be noted that there are two sources that claim that the name is a combination of two given names, namely Branca (a short form of Brancazio, which is a variant form of the given name Pancrazio) and Leone. This is not that implausible in itself, since Italians have liked to combine given names since medieval times, as names like Giambattista and Giancarlo will prove. But it is hard to find further proof to support this claim.Known real-life bearers of this name include the Genovese nobleman Brancaleone Doria (1337-1409) and Brancaleone degli Andalò (1220-1258), a Bolognese senator of Rome. In popular culture, Brancaleone is the given name of the main character in "L'armata Brancaleone" (1966), an Italian film about a well-meaning but incompetent knight.