Origin, Meaning and Family History of the Prus Name
Prus is an old Polish demonym used while referring to a person hailing from old Prussia (before the Teutonic conquest). According to a legend, the arms “Prus” was granted by king Bolesław II the Generous to three Prussian princes, who settled in Poland after the martyrdom of St. Adalbert of Prague in 997. The cross was an obvious charge, because the princes were converted pagans. The legend is at least partially true, because Polish genealogists agree on a fact that early members of the Prus clan arrived sometime in XIII century from old Prussia to Mazovia, where they intermarried with local minor nobility and perhaps even adopted and modified its arms. Coat of arms “Prus” is among the oldest Polish coats of arms. The oldest known mention of “Prus” arms is from 1389, and its oldest depiction is on seal from 1456. Coat of arms “Prus” was known under alternative names Półtora Krzyża (One-and-a-half cross), Słubica, Turzyna, Wagi, Wiskałła, Wiskawa, Wiszczała.
Typically for Polish heraldry, in the course of ages the “Prus” clan expanded to include many noble families, of which some were probably even unrelated. This happened because in XV-XVI century, descendants of the Prus clan used to adopt new surnames alluding to names of their home villages and also adopted other, unrelated and possibly poorer families, who during the war time fought under the “Prus” banner. Currently, the heraldic researches associate these arms with a total number of 391 surnames, with the surname Prus and its variants (Prusewicz, Prusiecki, Pruski, Pruss, Pruś, Pruszanowski, Pruszewski) being just a few out of many. According to Polish heraldist from XVIII century, Kasper Niesiecki, the most prominent families entitled to use the “Prus” coat of arms were: Andrzejewski, Biestrzykowski, Bogusławski, Borowski, Bystram, Chomętowski, Chwałkowski, Cygański, Długojewski, Dobrodziejski, Drozdowski, Druszkowski, Dymitrowski, Frycowski, Garlicki, Gawłowicki, Głowacki, Gniewiewski, Goworowski, Grzymisławski, Isaykowski, Jeżowski, Juchnowski, Julewski, Jurecki, Kaczkowski, Klicki, Kliczkowski, Korycki, Krzywokulski, Krzyżakowski, Łącki, Łątkiewicz, Łososiński, Michalczewski, Mroczek, Nielepiec, Niemczykowski, Niewiadomski, Obrzycki, Ormieński, Orzeł, Ossowski, Otocki, Petryczyn, Piszczański, Płoński, Podleski, Polikowski, Przechowski, Przezdziecki, Raczkowski, Rokotowski, Rożanka, Rudowski, Ruwski, Rywocki, Ślepczyc, Słubicki, Spinek, Stradomski, Studzieński, Szamowski, Szczepanowski, Swarocki, Tobaszowski, Trembecki, Więckowski, Wiśniewski, Woliński, Wolski, Zajączkowski, Załęski. Full list of surnames can be viewed here.
Probably the most widely known member of Prus clan was Bolesław Prus, real name Aleksander Głowacki (1847-1912), Polish novelist, journalist, short-story writer. Prus arms is also associated with bishop Stanislaus of Szczepanów (1030-1079), martyr and one of the saint patrons of Poland and Kraków city, although he lived long before Prus coat of arms was even mentioned. Polish modernist painter and art critic Eligiusz Niewiadomski (1869-1922) was also a member of Prus clan. Wacław Szybalski (born 1921 in Lwów), currently a professor of oncology at the McArdle Laboratory for Cancer Research, University of Wisconsin–Madison Medical School, comes from Prus clan. Certain sources associate with Prus clan a Republican member of the US House of Representatives from New York, Polish-American Joseph Mruk (1903-1995).
It is possible, that two other Polish arms and clans were spawned from Prus, by addition of new elements to the old Prus arms. They are also called Prus: Prus II (Prus secondo) which spawned further modification called Prus III (Prus tertio).
Coat of arms Prus II according to a legend was granted around 1047 to a knight coming from Prus clan. The knight fought for Polish prince Casimir I the Restorer as a commander-in-chief against the rebellious Miecław, a self-proclaimed prince of Mazovia. For his bravery and sacrifice (he was twice wounded) he received and addition to old arms in form of two wolf-hooks – taken from coat of arms of the knight’s opponent. The oldest mention of “Prus II” arms is from 1401, while its oldest depiction is on seal from 1402. Its alternative names are Wilczekosy, Wilcze Kosy, Falcastrum Lupinum (Wolf hooks), Słubica.
Currently, the heraldic researches associate “Prus II” arms with a total number of 105 surnames. It is worth noting that the surname Prus is not on this list, only its one variant, Pruski. According to Polish heraldist from XVIII century, Kasper Niesiecki, the most prominent families entitled to use the “Prus II” coat of arms were: Baworowski, Dębowski, Głuchowski, Daniecki, Faszczewski, Grzybowski, Jezierski, Kobyliński, Łaźniewski, Małachowski, Misiewski, Mitnarowski, Myślecki, Nakwaski, Niewierski, Nowomiejski, Olszewski, Preczkowski, Pruski, Radomiński, Wołowski, Zaborowski, Zglinicki. Full list of surnames can be viewed here.
Coat of arms Prus III according to a legend was adopted by a descendant of the knight who received Prus II coat of arms. He married a very wealthy girl from Pobóg clan, who bore in her arms a horseshoe with a cross on an azure field. The knight decided to create a whole new coat of arms by mixing his and his wife’s arms. The descendant of this knight, who lost his leg during a battle for king Bolesław, received golden armed leg in crest from grateful king. The oldest mention of Prus III is from 1415, while its oldest depiction is on a seal from 1461. Alternative name of Prus III is Nagody, which means To the wedding and alludes to its legendary beginning.
Currently, the heraldic researches associate “Prus III” arms with a total number of 125 surnames. It is worth noting that the surname Prus is not on this list, only its variants: Prossewski, Proszewski, Prószewski, Prusiecki, Pruski, Prusakowski, Pruszkowski. According to Polish heraldist from XVIII century, Kasper Niesiecki, the most prominent families entitled to use the “Prus III” coat of arms were: Bełdycki, Bogdański, Byszyński, Czarnecki, Dawidowski, Dłużniewski, Dobrzyniecki, Glaznocki, Jabłonowski, Jaruntowski, Karniski, Korewicki, Kowalewski, Łosowski, Miński, Mlącki, Młocki, Mroczkowski, Mrozowicki, Napiorkowski, Nogalski, Opacki, Osowiński, Pisanka, Pruszkowski, Radomski, Rosochacki, Rudziński, Rzeczkowski, Skowroński, Słucki, Wichulski, Wietwiński, Zieleński, Zuchorski, Żukowski. Full list of surnames can be viewed here.
Probably the best known Polish figure from Prus III clan was Stanisław Jabłonowski (1634-1702), Polish military commander under king Jan III Sobieski. His descendants acquired titles of counts and dukes, and his grandson Stanisław Leszczyński was king of Poland in 1704-1709 and 1733-1736.
Prus Coat of Arms Meaning
The two main devices (symbols) in the Prus blazon are the cross and horseshoe. The three main tinctures (colors) are argent, gules and azure .
Argent is the heraldic metal Silver and is usually shown as very pure white. It is also known more poetically as pearl, moon (or luna) . In a sketch or drawing it is represented by plain, unmarked paper .
The bold red colour on a heraldic shield is known as gules. It has a long history within heraldry, it is known that one of those who besieged the scottish castle of Carlaverock in 1300 was the French knight Euremions de la Brette who had as his arms a simple red shield.. The word gules is thought to come from the Arabic gule, or “red rose” . Later writers associated it with the precious stone ruby and the metal iron , perhaps because of the red glow of iron in the heat of the blacksmith’s forge.
The bright, strong blue color in Heraldry is known in English as azure, and similarly in other European languages – azul in Spanish, azurro in Italian and azur in French. The word has its roots in the Arabic word lazura, also the source of the name of the precious stone lapis lazuli . Despite this, those heralds who liked to associate colours with jewels chose instead to describe blue as Sapphire. According to Wade, the use of this colour symbolises “Loyalty and Truth” .
No other symbol appearing in heraldry is subject to as much variation as the cross . Mediaeval Europe was a deeply religious and Christian and many of the nobility wanted to show their devotion by adopting the symbol of the cross as part of the arms. In its basic form, the cross is created from two broad bands of colour at right angles covering the whole extent of the shield. It has been subject to all manner of embellishment, and the interested reader is referred to the references, especially Parker’s Heraldic dictionary for many examples of these. Suffice it to say that any armiger would be proud to have such an important device as part of their arms.
Although we expect to find fierce creatures and fearsome weapons depicted in a coat of arms this is not always the case – sometimes simple household objects are used . The horseshoe is a typical example of this. Sometimes these objects were chosen for the familiarity they would have for the obsever, helping them identify the owner. . In addition, the horseshoe, which is one the earliest symbols found in heraldry can be seen as a “safeguard against evil spirits” and may still be found nailed above doorways today.