Russo is a common Sicilian surname, historically denoting nobility. The first recorded entry of the name Russo was discovered in the documents of Sperlinga Castle in Enna, Sicily, dated 1132. 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. Riccardo then presumably took the surname Russo Rosso and bestowed to the castle a coat of arms featuring a comet against a red backdrop. 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. 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, 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), the French Rousseau, 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.
Notable people named Russo
- Aaron Russo, libertarian entertainment businessman
- Alecu Russo
- Alexander Russo (writer), education writer
- Alexander Russo (athlete), Brazilian track and field sprinter
- Ana Bedran-Russo
- Andrew Russo, American pianist
- Angelo Russo (born 1961), Italian actor
- Anthony Russo, including:
- Anthony Russo (American football), American football wide receiver
- Anthony Russo (director), Emmy Award-winning film and television director
- Anthony Russo (mobster) (1916–1979), Genovese crime family figure
- Anthony Russo (mayor), the 35th mayor of Hoboken, New Jersey
- Anthony Russo (whistleblower) (1936–2008), involved in the Pentagon Papers leak
- Carmen Russo
- Christopher "Mad Dog" Russo, American sports radio host
- Clemente Russo, Italian Boxer
- David C. Russo
- Deanna Russo
- Eddie Russo
- Erminia Russo, Canadian volleyball player
- Ferdinando Russo
- Francois Russo
- Gianni Russo
- Gina Russo
- Giuseppe Genco Russo
- Jack Russo
- James Russo
- Jason Russo
- Joe Russo, including:
- John Russo, including:
- Justin Russo (born 1976), American musician
- Kevin Russo
- Lucio F. Russo, American politician
- Lucio Russo, Italian historian of science
- Margaret Russo (1931–2006), All-American Girls Professional Baseball League player
- Marisabina Russo
- Marcella Russo
- Marius Russo
- Michael Dello-Russo
- Miguel Ángel Russo
- Monette Russo
- Nicholas Russo (1845–1902), Italian-American priest, professor, Boston College president, and church founder
- Pat Russo
- Patricia Russo
- Patti Russo
- Paul Russo
- Peter Russo
- Renato Russo
- Rene Russo, actress
- Richard Russo, American novelist
- Richard Paul Russo, science fiction writer
- Rosa Russo Iervolino, Italian politician and former Mayor of Naples
- Tal Russo, Israeli general
- Vince Russo
- Vito Russo
- William Russo (musician)
- Blossom Russo, main character on the TV series Blossom
- Alex Russo, main character in Wizards of Waverly Place, and other family members:
- Dominic Russo, main character on the TV series Chasing Life
- Ladd Russo, one of the main characters in the anime series Baccano!
Peter Russo- House of Cards
- "Castello di Sperlinga - Storia Castello di Sperlinga - Dominazione Normanna". www.castellodisperlinga.it. Retrieved 2016-03-01.
- "Nobiliario di Sicilia". www.regione.sicilia.it. Retrieved 2016-03-01.
- "Rosso Famiglia". Wikipedia (in Italian).
- "Heraldry". Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.
- "Famiglia Rosso - Origine cognome Rosso - Scheda Araldica, stemma e storia della famiglia Rosso". www.heraldrysinstitute.com. Retrieved 2016-03-01.
- "Russo Camoli family - Russo Camoli last name origin - Heraldry and family Russo Camoli history with coat of arms". www.heraldrysinstitute.com. Retrieved 2016-03-01.
- "Rus' people". Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.
- "Varègues". Wikipédia (in French).
- See, for example, http://www.cnrtl.fr/etymologie/roux.
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