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Trafelet / Traffelet


Ancienne famille suisse originaire du canton de Berne. Bourgeoise de Vinelz, de Berne et de Vevey (1847).


Traffelet - Patronyme originaire du Seeland bernois, autrefois de langue romane sous le nom de comté de Fénil (aujourd’hui germanisé en Vinelz). Viendrait du latin trifolium, trèfle, "trois feuilles", ou du latin trabs, vieux français tref, poutre. Variante : Trafelet. (11.4.93).

Répartition des familles Trafelet en Suisse (1999)

 On estime à environ 42 foyers Trafelet installés en Suisse dont 19 dans le canton de Berne, 7 dans le canton de Thurgovie, 6 dans le canton de Zürich, 5 dans le canton des Grisons, 1 dans le canton de Genève et 1 dans le canton de Neuchâtel.

Par ailleurs, on estime à environ 8 foyers Traffelet installés essentiellement dans le canton de Berne et de Vaud.


Familles Trafelet, de Vinelz (BE)

armoiries inconnues

Messages d'entraide

I have recently received our Trafelet coat of arms, and am seeking interpretation of its symbolism.

Trafelet is from the Canton of Bern, village of Vinelz. I have visited Vinelz many years ago, where I photographed what was presented to me as our coat of arms. Recently, I found a distant cousin, in Canada, who forwarded me an augmented version, from the archives somewhere in Bern.

I don't know if this list accepts attachments, and I don't have the image scanned yet, but here goes:

The basic shield is U shaped, not a pointed chevron. The background is red, with a thick, bluish gray T inside, which
touches the edge of the shield. On either side of the upright bar on the red area, and here's the mystery, are two identical objects that look like flaming balls in a gold or dark yellow color.

My first impression is that they are armaments, or bombs of some sort. They consist of a sphere, shaded
to indicate volume, with a definite opening and lip at the top. *If* it had a flat bottom, it might be a vase, jar, or some sort of container.
Coming out of the opening of this container are five fingers of what appears to be flame, the center "flame" reaching the bottom of the T cross bar.
Now, I've just compared, for the first time, my photograph from Vinelz, and the version from the Bern archive dated 1650. There is a difference in that the Vinelz version, the "fireballs" do not touch the T cross bar.
This basic description is all of what is in the Vinelz version. And now, to the rest of the differences in the 1650 version.

Atop the entire shield is a Knights helmet, closed, facing forward. There appear to be three plumes coming out of the top, two red and a center one black, although the color reproduction has obliterated any detail in the black area.

Coming from behind the helmet, in a symmetrical pattern, are red, "fleur-de-leis" (I know I spelled that wrong), which extend past the shield and dip down, where they turn to a yellow/gold to match the fireballs. These parts are
more leaf like and not rigid outlines, they are shaded and detailed to indicate volume. The finial tips from the red are gold, and reversed, the finial tips of the gold are red.
The last difference of the 1650 version, is that the shield is drawn in perspective, showing the top and right edge
turned slightly toward us. Although this may be a defect in color reproduction, there is a light source from the left, as the shading on the "fleurs" and the fireballs indicate. This shading is what gives the spheres of the fireballs their volume.

I learned, only yesterday, that coats of arms don't necessarily indicate nobility (dreams of castles and titles are now
heard crashing unceremoniously to the ground), although they were awarded for civic or military achievement.
I could have sworn, although it was over thirty (gasp) years ago, that the town records in Vinelz showed Trafelets
from the 15th and 16th centuries listed. Therefore, I am guessing that the Vinelz version predates the modified 1650 version from Bern archives.

As I'm just a dumb American, and don't know my world history well enough, I am going to guess again that no country frees itself from the Holy Roman Empire without a fight. So, 1648 is an important date in Swiss history.
Would it be correct to suppose that the later 1650 version was a result of Trafelet military achievement in that war?

Of course, that's just an uneducated guess, as you can tell. If it's even close, then it makes me wonder about the pre-1650 Vinelz version, and our history there. Again, mere speculation in a fascinating process.

I would so appreciate any corrections, links, or further resources, as there are other Trafelets in Canada and America who have delved into this uncommon name. I, as likely are many of you, also on the SURNAMES list, where I
discovered Trafelet isn't even in the Swiss Surname Registry. Wow. Looks like there's work to be done here.

Many Thanks,
Thomas Trafelet
Los Angeles, California

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mise à jour du 7 juin 2003