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The origin of the Rodeghiero’s/Rodighiero's family is closely related to the origin of the Cimbrian community of the Seven Municipalities (I Sette Comuni), District of Vicenza, Italy. Coming from Lower-Bavaria (Swabian-Bavarian plateau)

 in the middle of  XII century, the future Cimbrian (Zimbern ) settled in the mountains of  Pre-alps of Veneto’s region between Astico and Brenta rivers.
Between the XI and XIII centuries, in some geographical areas near to Veneto some ecclesiastical institutions, in this area  the powerful local lords, in particular the Ezzelini’s family (also from Germanic origins) in need of trustworthy people to recruit for their military campaigns and to control their lands and make it economically profitable, contribuited several times to increase  population and encourage colonization through feudal investitures  and agricultural contracts of  perpetual or long-term leasing.
     The Germanic patronymic of Rodeghiero’s/Rodighiero's family name, the Bavarian German language (AltBayrischer Dialekt)  spoken in all Seven Municipalities until XIX century, the historical connections with the belonging areas and others documentary evidences testify the Germanic origins, in particular  they are from the south-eastern Bavaria.


     Rodeghiero/Rodighiero is a patronymic family name, hence a descent from such a Rüdegar. This surname is one of the oldest family names, if not the oldest, of Germanic origins still existing on the plateau of the Seven Municipalities - one of the few names brought by Cimbrian in the Municipality of Asiago, (together with Enghelmar, now disappeared)  and nowadays still alive.
     It was a common family name bore in Germany in 1200: among St. Francis of Assisi’s companions were the German brother Rödeger, who first brought the franciscan order in Germany. He was St. Elizabeth of Hungary’s spiritual guide and he founded the first monastery in Eisenach (1225) with her help.

Sir Rüdeger, the central character of the most important Germanic epic Nibelungenlied, is recalled in the chivalric poem of the Nibelungs, a XII century masterpiece,  which ascribes to Rüdeger the personification of the knightly mentality.
Rodeghiero/Rodighiero derives from Germanic hrode-ger = Javelin (Warrior) famous, from which the medieval term Rodeger/Rodiger (translate in latin: Rodegerius).
On the plateau, it is found for the first time as patronymic (Rodegeri = Rödeger’s son). On May 5, 1261, 750 years ago, Federicus Rodegeri appears as leaseholder of one Ezzelino’s III   property  in Enego, in a sale’s document made by the Podestà of Vicenza, Marco Quirino of Venice. Enego is the first village on the plateau mentioned in an ancient document of November 25, 1031. But he is not a mere settler: he was also a soldier engaged by Ezzelino III, Lord of Marca Trevigiana (correspondent to the current Veneto region), whose family was composed by imperial vassals invested with Crown lands. Ezzelino III was in kinship with the emperor Frederick II after the marriage with his daughter Violente. The bond Ezzelino III and Federicus Rodegeri consists of a legal institution, the masnada, specific to the post-lombard period, for which the settler was required to give a fee but also to provide a military service. Rolandino, who relates the life and death of Ezzelino III da Romano, reminds us all the times Germans were at his side and were crucial to win their battles. Probably, the documentation held by Ezzelino III Court notaries could say much more about their provenance, but this archive was destroyed after Ezzelino’s III death by confederated municipalities, to take over easier all his riches.
Frederick Rodegeri and all the other settlers will be freed from this covenant only a few years later, when Cunizza, sister of Ezzelino III, after his death, was sent into exile in Florence in 1265 (date in which Dante was born in Cavalcanti Palace) and in front of three witnesses (Farinata Uberti’s sons) raised men and women of their troop commitments. Cunizza was put in Heaven between the lovers spirits by Dante in his masterpiece “Divine Comedy”. This could be the background document of the Organization of the Seven Municipalities in a Community with its self-government.

A witness of Ezzelino’s properties in Marcesina (Bertoliana Library of Vicenza, Regestum, Fondo Torre numero 762) testifies again the presence in 1262 in Enego of Federicus Rodegerii de Enico, a settler leaseholder of a propriety.
Later, on August 19, 1288, (but he’s already present at the Demarcation of 1248 between Ezzelino da Romano and the Bishop of Feltre, alias the Lords of Valsugana) Rodeghiero Federico from Enego was one of the witnesses the agreement between Vicenza and the Lords of Valsugana, about their respective properties on Marcesina’s land, in the municipality of Enego (Bertoliana Library from Vicenza, Fondo Arhivio del Comune, into a document of November 1, 1359). Then (we don't have documentary elements that witness family ties, but the geographical and temporal proximity doesn’t exclude it, indeed it could be hypothesized) a descendant of Rodeghiero is traceable in Foza (State Archives of Milan, Fondo religioso, San Benedetto Pò, cr 211, dossier "G"), then invested on  March 23, 1346 with a landlordship in Valstagna by the prior of Campese. In 1385, another person of Rodeghiero’s family is traceable in Gallio. In the next century there are numerous Rodeghiero in Asiago.

The use of this patronymic family name begins to spread in the second half of XII century, then it was quite diffused as surname in XIV century. Its presence represents the colonization of the Plateau. Conco (VI)  weas added at the former property of Asiago. The current family name presents some evolutions: initially the most used was Rudegeri, then Rodegero,  with the variant Rodigiero. The last name Rodeghiero, with its variants (Rodighiero), is mostly present in the North of Italy (especially in Veneto). To the Asiago family group, through a linguistic analysis of the two most common similar variants, it’s applicable the "lectio facilior" (the most euphonic, in this case Rodighiero) or the "lectio difficilior" (the most difficult to pronounce, Rodeghiero).

The "Lectio difficilior" (Rodeghiero) is the oldest one; its sound is harder and it looses its meaning by  reiterated transcriptions. In the next transcriptions it was mitigated into the most similar form of the contemporary linguistic system, changing some parts, especially its vocals.  That happens when the surname is registered outside the place (Asiago’s area) where was born. But it happens even ' on-site ', often for inattention.

Flavio Rodeghiero, Rüdegar. Una storia familiare dell'Altopiano, Cierre edizioni, Sommacampagna (Vr) 2013.  In attached a CD, by Alberto Alberti,  (containing  the equivalent of four sheets of 470 x 70 cm) with the family genealogy.



[1] The term was adopted much later than the period of settlement by Loschi Antonio (1365-1441). It helps us so much more than linguistic analysis: the Baum (History of the Cimbri, Monaco 1983), in the footsteps of Bavarian Andreas Schmeller philologist who had studied from 1833 to 1837, described a Bavarian dialect spoken on the plateau back per thousand, and the period of colonization in 1150, with a significant other coming after 1200. Immigration was certainly made it attractive to the privileges and tax exemptions granted by the feudal lords, although a first wave may have been caused by famine in Lower Bavaria in the eleventh century. The main activity, after centuries of neglect following the disregarding of the Roman presence in guaranteeing security to roads, was made from cutting the forest and tilling the soil, so they were defined in Altdeutsche "Zimberer", meaning lumber-jacks.

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