Russo is a common Sicilian surname, historically denoting nobility[2]. The root of the name originates from Medieval Latin for, Rus', meaning, "the Norseman" -- the Viking founders of the Russian Principalities -- from Old Norse, "the men who row"[3]. The first recorded entry of the name Russo was discovered in the documents of Sperlinga Castle in Enna, Sicily, dated 1132[1][4]. 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[4]. The Normans were descendants of the Viking Norseman who conquered Sicily[5][better source needed], and Riccardo was a direct descendent of the House Hauteville (in Sicilian, d’Autavilla). As 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[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[6]. 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.

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,[7][8] 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[9]), the French Rousseau,[10] 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[11]

Notable people named Russo

Fictional characters

Peter Russo- House of Cards

See also


  1. ^ a b c "Castello di Sperlinga - Storia Castello di Sperlinga - Dominazione Normanna". www.castellodisperlinga.it. Retrieved 2016-03-01. 
  2. ^ "Nobiliario di Sicilia". www.regione.sicilia.it. Retrieved 2016-03-01. 
  3. ^ American Heritage Dictionary. Houghton Mifflin. pp. Russia. ISBN 0-395-20360-0. 
  4. ^ a b "Rosso Famiglia". Wikipedia (in Italian). 
  5. ^ https://en.wikipedia.org/php/SummaryGet.php?FindGo=Normans.  Missing or empty title= (help)
  6. ^ "Heraldry". Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. 
  7. ^ "Famiglia Rosso - Origine cognome Rosso - Scheda Araldica, stemma e storia della famiglia Rosso". www.heraldrysinstitute.com. Retrieved 2016-03-01. 
  8. ^ "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. 
  9. ^ "Rus' people". Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. 
  10. ^ "Varègues". Wikipédia (in French). 
  11. ^ See, for example, http://www.cnrtl.fr/etymologie/roux.