This famous surname with spellings of Blanc, Leblanc, Blanche, (French), Blanch, Blank, Bluanche (English & Dutch), Bianchi, Bianco, Lo Bianco, (Italian) Blanco, Bianca, (Spanish), Blanck, (German), Blank and Du Blank (Flemish), and others, is of pre 5th century Frankish origins from North Germany. It derives from the word 'blanc', and the original meaning was 'bright or shining', although this seems to have gradually been changed to mean fair or 'white,' in France and Italy. As such it was given as a sarcastic nickname to the fair haired Viking invaders from Scandanavia, who swept down through Germany, and into France in the 8th and 9th centuries, until stopped by the sea, at what is now 'Normandy', or the country of the Northmen. The earliest recordings as a surname were in the English records known as the Hundred Rolls of landowners for the counties of Huntingdonshire, Leicester and Cambridgeshire where the name is recorded as Blanke, Blaunche and Blanche, and sometimes with the prefix 'le'. Early examples of surname recordings include William le Blanc, given as being a count of France in 1334, with the coat of arms of a red field, a chief silver, and overall a gold lion rampant, whilst in Italy the arms of Bianco granted in 1477, have the blazon of a red field charged with three silver fleur de lys, suggesting victory over the French. The first recorded spelling of the family name anywhere in the word is believed to be that of Nigellus le Blanke. This was dated 1196, in the Pipe Rolls of Leicestershire, during the reign of King Richard 1st, known as 'The Lionheart', 1189 - 1199. Surnames became necessary when governments introduced personal taxation. In England this was sometimes known as the Poll Tax. Throughout the centuries, surnames in every country have continued to "develop" often leading to astonishing variants of the original spelling.