Recorded as Soudon, Sowden, Soltan, Soldan, Sultan and the female Sultana, this is a surname of Turkish and Arabic origins. Introduced into Northern Europe in medieval times, and therefore often in a curious way associated with the period of the famoud Christian crusades to free the Holy Land from Muslim control, it originates from the word "sultan", meaning a ruler. It is said that it was originally given as a nickname either to someone who behaved in an aristocratic manner or to one who played the part of a Sultan in a medieval pageant, or to a person with a dark or Latin appearance. The surname is first recorded in England in the early 13th Century, with Robert le Sowden in the Hundred Rolls of Buckinghamshire in 1279, and in France the later recording of Catherine Sultan at Champenoux, Meurthe-et-Moselle, on June 30th 1746. The first recorded spelling is shown to be that of Roger le Soudan. This was dated 1208, in the Pipe Rolls of Yorkshire during the reign of King John, known as "Lackland", 1199 - 1216. Surnames became necessary when governments introduced personal taxation. In England this was sometimes known as Poll Tax. Throughout the centuries, surnames in every country have continued to "develop" often leading to astonishing variants of the original spelling.
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