English equivalent of Italian Francesco, originally a vocabulary word meaning ‘French’ or ‘Frenchman’ (Late Latin Franciscus; compare Frank). This was a nickname given to St Francis of Assisi (1181–1226) because of his wealthy father's business connections with France. His baptismal name was Giovanni. He had a pleasant, ordinary life as a child and young man, but after two serious illnesses, a period of military service, and a year as a prisoner of war in Perugia, he turned from the world and devoted himself to caring for the poor and sick. He was joined by groups of disciples, calling themselves ‘minor friars’ (friari minores). The main features of the Franciscan rule are humility, poverty, and love for all living creatures. The given name occurs occasionally in England as early as 1300, and more frequently from the early 16th century, when there was a surge of admiration for, and imitation of, Italian Renaissance culture.