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PrincessKaimi 07-07-2011 01:00 PM

Titles Of Nobility And Aristocracy
I'm having trouble understanding the history and etymology of various titles, such as earl, count, duke, marquis, etc. I seem to have a jumble of English and French titles in my mind.

I'm back to 1066 and the Norman conquest, and I can't tell (yet) what titles William the Conqueror bestowed upon the Norman overlords when he carved up England. Did he import the term "duke" or was it already in use in Anglo-Saxon England? Were there dukes at that time? When I read about the 1100's and 1200's, I see mostly Earls in England (and duchies seem to be in France - Kings Richard and John are Dukes of Normandy, etc.)

I guess I'm asking several questions. When did the title "duke" (from the Latin) appear in England and which dukedoms were earliest? Where does the word "earl" come from, is it Saxon? Are there counts in England or no (ever)? I know marquis is mainly in France, but Italy and Spain have cognate terms - so I'm guessing that's from days when Latin was prevelant - and that term never made it to England.

The word that the Welsh use for their highest lords is translated into English as Prince (anyone know what the etymology of Prince is?) I think I understand why, although any illumination on that point would be welcome.

As I lay awake pondering all this, I decided that it would be silly not to avail myself of the venerable expertise that is The Royal Forums. Some of you will understand what I'm trying to get at (a history of royal terminology in England, I guess) and I just know that some of you already know this, extensively.

Thanks in advance for your help. I figure I'm not the only one who could use a refresher in these matters. I also feel like I'm leaving out some titles altogether. (Squire?) I know "knight" is at the bottom of the titles, right?

Warren 07-07-2011 01:49 PM

The best source for fairly definitive answers to these sorts of questions is

These links are very informative:

A Glossary of European Noble, Princely, Royal and Imperial Titles
Royal Styles

Styles of the Members of the British Royal Family

This site is also very useful:

British Titles of Nobility - An Introduction and Primer to the Peerage

lots of interesting reading! :smile:

PrincessKaimi 07-07-2011 02:10 PM

Thank you, Warren. If I were a gambling woman, I'd have bet you knew the resources! I'm going to have a great afternoon and evening - it's all so interesting.

wanderer11220 08-10-2011 05:05 PM

Nobility in European monarchies
Can anyone help me understand what the rules are for European monarchies on granting noble titles? I know each country is different, and that usually it is a royal perogative, but I'd like to know what the rules are for each country, since some (like the Scandinavian countries) give them only to royals while others like Britain seem to have given them away like cheap gum.

NGalitzine 09-30-2011 11:24 PM

I think only the UK, Spain and Belgium still create new peerages outside of the royal family.
In the UK new peerages are for the life of the holder and are not hereditary (except those for the RF). Life peerages are recommended by the government. Not sure what the mechanism is in Spain or Belgium.

Emperor Roku XIV 11-24-2011 09:43 PM

I wish they would start bestowing them in Canada again. Canadians can't have titles, apparently.

CSENYC 08-04-2013 07:32 PM

The Peerage (and other non-Royal hereditary titles in monarchies)
I'm a fan of having a King or Queen, but:

What's the benefit to a country's population in general of having a Peerage (in the UK) or the like: when hereditary titles are given to people who aren't members of a Royal Family?

Do all European monarchies have such a thing, or only the UK?

And why do democratic governments go along with giving hereditary titles to people who aren't Royals?


Ish 08-04-2013 07:48 PM

The British no longer give hereditary peerages out to non-royals. Instead they give out life peerages to individuals who've achieved some sort of greatness.

In the old days it was in the interest of the government to give out hereditary peerages because those individuals sat in the House of Lords. It was also in the interest of the monarch because it was a way to bestow honours on friends and those who had done a service to them.

Ish 08-04-2013 08:24 PM


Originally Posted by Homme (Post 1585455)
PM Thatcher created hereditary peers during her time in office, these peerages were the last hereditary peerages created by a PM.

Peerages are not created by a PM, they are created by the monarch (often at the advice of the PM, but it's still not them doing the creating).

NGalitzine 08-04-2013 08:53 PM

In the UK we now only confer life peerages who are entitled to sit in the House of Lords. Almost all of the hereditary peers have been removed from the House of Lords.
Both Belgium and Spain continue to award peerages, both life and hereditary. Norway has never had its own peerage. Sweden, Denmark, Netherlands have a titled nobility but new titles are not awarded outside of their royal families. The Vatican used to award titles of nobility but I believe that ended with Paul VI.

Ish 08-04-2013 08:58 PM

I believe - although I could be wrong - that the only hereditary peers who now sit in the House of Lords are people who were created hereditary peers themselves (they didn't inherit it), and then had a life peerage bestowed upon them when the House was reformed.

Or is that completely wrong?

CSENYC 08-04-2013 09:25 PM


Originally Posted by COUNTESS (Post 1585471)
Really, why don't you move to where they have these. Our forefathers knew how destructive this was. But, perhaps, you were born in a different nation. What Republics give "Heredity Titles"?

I stated that "democratic governments" give hereditary titles.

Are you stating that only republics-not monarchies-are "democratic governments"? I didn't state that. Northern European monarchies in many respects rank higher in democratic-ness than many republics do.

To everyone else, thanks- very useful info.

Ish 08-04-2013 09:37 PM

Many constitutional monarchies are categorized as the most democratic countries in the world - above the US. However that doesn't stop Countess from attacking monarchies and those who support them.

COUNTESS 08-04-2013 09:54 PM

If you wish to live in a monarchy, so be it. I have no problem. Canada is not a monarchy. If you live here an enjoy the benefits thereof, and respect how we got here, so be it. I have no problem with either. It is not an attack. It is a statement. Millions of people have come to this country to live otherwise. Our founding fathers saw the difficulty and the waste. As this is a "free country", if you want to live under a monarchy, go and do that. There are many wonderful nations you can do that in.

NGalitzine 08-04-2013 10:01 PM

Where did you ever get the idea that Canada is not a monarchy? The last time I checked the Canadian head of State is HM Queen Elizabeth II, Queen of Canada. The armed forces include the Royal Canadian Navy and the Royal Canadian Air Force. Several army regiments include the term Royal and many have members of the royal family as Colonels in Chief. To become a citizen of Canada one must swear an oath of Allegiance to HM The Queen of Canada, her heirs and successors. It all seems very monarchic to me. Indeed Canadians often point to the monarchy as one of the differentiating factors between Canada and the US.

COUNTESS 08-04-2013 10:12 PM

You are correct in essence. I have many Canadian friends who see this as an aberration of their freedom and that it is only a formality. One recently said that to me. On that portion I have no argument, as you are correct. Perhaps, when the queen dies it will be different.

NGalitzine 08-04-2013 10:43 PM

Perhaps Countess but there is no real Republican movement in Canada, and constitutional chnage in Canada is incredibly difficuly and even moreso when it involves the monarchy. I am not sure what freedoms your friends feel denied of since Canada generally ranks amongst the most democratic and free nations in the world.
One of the outstanding points of the monarchy in Canada is that the monarchs representatives are actually more representative of societies diversity than the elected representatives...women, blacks, Asians, native Canadians, visible minorities having held the top job federally or in the provinces as the monarchs representatives long before any would be elected to such offices.

Dman 08-16-2013 08:27 PM

Want to be a Duchess? Of course you do...
Mary Dudley gives you her guide to desirable duchessing...
Want to be a Duchess? Of course you do... - Tatler

Warren 12-24-2013 10:43 AM

Discussion of earlier creations of the Duke of Gloucester has been moved to the British Forums thread
Royal Dukes, Royal Duchies & Royal Ducal Titles.

Posts discussing Prince Adolphus of Teck have been moved to another British Forums thread,
Princess Mary Adelaide, Duchess of Teck & Family.

CyrilVladisla 12-28-2013 09:48 PM

Laszlo Szechenyi was a Hungarian count (Grof) by birth.
Natascha O'Neill, the sister of Christopher O'Neill {the husband of Princess Madeleine of Sweden} is the wife of Graf Ernst von Abensberg und Traun.
Graf is a title of Nobility.
Graf means Count.
The Treaty of Chatillon had promised a duchy for James Hamilton, 2nd Earl of Aran. He becme the Duke of Chatellerault.
How is it possible that this title could go to a non-Frenchman?
Ish, You declared the key statement: at the time titles of nobility weren't restricted to those who were of that nationality.
With the passing of time, there were certainly hundreds of nobility titles to keep track of.

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