From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
A depiction of the historic Russo coat of arms (circa 1132), as described in the Sperlinga Castle records.[1]
Bayeux Tapestry, scene 32: Halley's Comet

Russo is a common Sicilian surname, historically denoting nobility.[2] The first recorded entry of the name Russo was discovered in the documents of Sperlinga Castle in Enna, Sicily, dated 1132.[1][3] Under the Norman rule of Sicily, King Roger II had granted the land title of Sperlinga Castle to one of his descendants, Riccardo, whom the King had made a baron.[3] Riccardo then presumably took the surname Russo Rosso and bestowed to the castle a coat of arms featuring a comet against a red backdrop.[1] Prior to the Norman invasion of England, there was no recognizable system for hereditary coats of arms, but it was following that conquest that the Middle Ages saw the dawn of heraldry.[4] The features of the banner are significant in that they provide an explanation and give historical context to the devising of the title, Russo Rosso: red is an archetypal color symbolizing The Warrior, or in general, War, and the image of Halley’s comet has been characterized as an icon for the Viking Invaders, e.g. in the Bayeux Tapestry, denoting a portent of doom for the opposing forces.

The Normans, or Norsemen, who ruled Sicily were descendants of the House Hauteville (in Sicilian, d’Autavilla), and were thus direct descendants of the Viking conquerors who had landed on the island two centuries prior, during the Arab-Byzantine era of Sicily. Both the Arabs and the Byzantines at that time referred to the Viking Norsemen as Rus’, meaning, “the men who row,” and as the term proliferated through the centuries, the etymology likely evolved from Rus’ to a Latinized form, Russo. It is perhaps owing to the original tandem identity of  “Russo Rosso” that the same heraldry is cross-referenced for both the families Rosso and Russo Camoli,[5][6] and it is likely resulting from this coupling that both Russo and Rosso carry connotations of the word, “red.” It is useful to note that while Rosso does indeed directly translate from the Italian as, “red,” the word Rus’ does not.

The origins of Russo and all of its cultural variants, such as the Greek, Rhoussos (from Rhos[7]), the French Rousseau,[8] or the English, Russell (from Anglo-Norman) are all explicitly derived from the word Rus’, and yet, unjustifiably, the connotation of the color red remains part of the elementary explanations of their origins.[9]

Notable people named Russo[edit]

Fictional characters[edit]

Peter Russo- House of Cards

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c "Castello di Sperlinga - Storia Castello di Sperlinga - Dominazione Normanna". Retrieved 2016-03-01. 
  2. ^ "Nobiliario di Sicilia". Retrieved 2016-03-01. 
  3. ^ a b "Rosso Famiglia". Wikipedia (in Italian). 
  4. ^ "Heraldry". Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. 
  5. ^ "Famiglia Rosso - Origine cognome Rosso - Scheda Araldica, stemma e storia della famiglia Rosso". Retrieved 2016-03-01. 
  6. ^ "Russo Camoli family - Russo Camoli last name origin - Heraldry and family Russo Camoli history with coat of arms". Retrieved 2016-03-01. 
  7. ^ "Rus' people". Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. 
  8. ^ "Varègues". Wikipédia (in French). 
  9. ^ See, for example,