Recorded in over one hunded spelling forms from the English Mark, Marke and Markes, the French Marc, Marcq, the Italian and Spanish Marco and Marcos, to the Dutch Murkus, Czech Marek, and such diminitives as the Russian Markowitz and Markovski this ancient surname is Roman. It originates from the popular pre-Christian baptismal name "Marcus", itself a development of the word "mar", meaning to gleam, although there is also a possible asscoiation with "Mars", the god of war. The popularity of the name is closely associated with St Mark, the Evangelist, and author of the Second Gospel, although the surname itself is over one thousand years later. The name, as St Mark or St Marc, or Sanctus Marcus, was often applied in pre-medieval times to religious sanctuaries, monastery's, and other places of religion. These place names were particularly popular in Italy and Spain, and the south of France. The developing locational surnames were sometimes given either to the original lords of the village or region, and thereafter were adopted as hereditary surnames, or more usually the name was given as a form of identification to people who moved from their original homelands. It was then, and it often remains so today, that one of the easiest means of identifying a stranger is to call him or her by the name of the place or country from which they originate. Other popular examples of the surname spellings, the original name being recorded in every European country, include De Marco, Di Marko, Marcus, Marchi, Merck, Marck and Van der Marck, to Marconi, Marchitello, De Marchi, Marcovitch, Markushkin, and even Marczewski. The first known recording is probably that of Heinrich Mark, in the charters of the town of Biberach, Germany, in the year 1390.