Moniz Barreto is the surname of one of the oldest and noblest families of Portugal.
The origin of the Moniz Barreto goes back to the XV th century. It starts with the union of Ines Barreto and Henrique Moniz, who married circa 1453.
As members of famous historical families of Portugal, both of them kept their birth names and generated a new branch.
Henrique Moniz was the governor of Silves, by then the capital city of Algarve (southern Portugal).
The Barreto family name goes back to the XIII th century. It has been used by the descendents of a knight from northern Europe who,
as a consequence to his participation in the Reconquista,
has been rewarded by the first kings of Portugal with titles and lands.
The surname seems to be derivated from the ancient portuguese word Barra which designated a coastal cliff ; their family manor being by then located
on the top of a cliff along the atlantic coast in the region of Viana do Castelo (northern Portugal).
The Moniz family name is even more ancient : the first written trace of the name Moniz can be found in a manuscript of the end of the X th century,
in which a lady holding the name of Moniz is being mentionned as a parent of the queen of Leon.
The origin of the surname is uncertain and often debated by historians but is most probably derivated from the name of a high ranked muslim military
who was part of the army led by Tariq ibn Ziyad, who crossed the mediterranean sea with 12 000 men on april 711, to invade the iberian peninsula.
Along centuries, some new branches were born out of the original Moniz Barreto trunk, and flourished durably in various regions of the world.
Among those branches two prestigious ones must be cited : the Moniz Barreto Corte Real (Madeira & Azores) and the Moniz Barreto de Aragaô (Brazil).
Up there is the Moniz Barreto Corte Real coat of arms.
The escutcheon (escudo in portuguese) is quartered (esquartelado) :
Moniz in the upper left quarter (in heraldic terms : dexter chief ) is to be depicted in english heraldic terms as field azur five stars or per saltire ;
Barreto in the upper right quarter (sinister chief ) with field argent ermine spots (arminho in portuguese);
Corte Real in the lower part (the base).
The crest (at the top of the helmet) is of the Moniz : a blue leopard with a golden star on his forefront.