Royal and noble ranks
Royal and noble ranks Emperor & Empress King & Queen Viceroy & Vicereine Archduke & Archduchess Infante & Infanta Grand Duke & Grand Duchess
Grand Prince & Grand Princess
Duke & Duchess Marquess & Marchioness
Marquis & Marquise
Margrave & Margravine Earl & Countess
Viscount & Viscountess Freiherr & Freifrau Baronet & Baronetess Hereditary Knight, Ritter Knight & Dame
Nobile, Edler von
Traditional rank amongst European royalty, peers, and nobility is rooted in Late Antiquity and the Middle Ages. Although they vary over time and between geographic regions (for example, one region's prince might be equal to another's grand duke), the following is a reasonably comprehensive list that provides information on both general ranks and specific differences.
Ranks and titles
- The word monarch is derived from the Greek μονάρχης (from μόνος, or mónos "one/singular," and ἄρχων, or archon "leader/ruler/chief" through the Latin: monarcha (mono: "one" + arch "chief").
- The word sovereign is derived from the vulgar Latin superanus "chief, principal," from the Latin super "over".
- Autocrat is derived from the Greek αὐτοκράτωρ: αὐτός ("self") and κρατείν ("rule"), and may be translated as "one who rules by himself".
- Common Titles for European and Near Eastern Monarchs
Note that many titles listed may also be used by lesser nobles - non-sovereigns - depending on the historical period and state. The sovereign titles listed below are grouped together into categories roughly according to their degree of dignity; these being: imperial, high royal, royal, others (princely, ducal, more), and religious.
- Emperor, from the Latin Imperator, meaning "commander" or "one who commands." In English, the feminine form is Empress (the Latin is imperatrix). The realm of an emperor or empress is termed an Empire. Alternate words meaning Emperor, include:
- Caesar, the appellation of Roman emperors derived from the Roman dictator Julius Caesar, whose great-nephew and adopted son Gaius Julius Caesar Augustus became the first emperor of Rome.
- Tsar, derived from Caesar, primarily used in Russian and Slavic countries.
- Kaiser, derived from Caesar, primarily used in Germanic countries.
- Perandor, derived from Caesar, used in Albania.
- Basileus, from Mycenaean Greek meaning "chieftain", later used for the Roman emperors of the Byzantine period.
- Samraat (Sanskrit: samrāṭ or सम्राज् samrāj) is an Ancient Indian title sometimes translated into modern English as "Emperor". The feminine form is Samrãjñī.
- King of Kings mostly used to denote Jesus Christ or the Christian Roman emperors of the Late Empire and Byzantine periods.
- Shahanshah, literally "King of Kings" a corruption of the Middle Persian šāhān šāh, meaning"King's King." Used in Persia, the Ottoman Empire, and surrounding countries.
- Mepe-Mepeta, Georgian for "King of Kings."
- Khagan, derived from Khan of Khans, meaning king of kings in the Mongol Empire and successor states.
High royal titles
- High King, A king who rules over lesser kings.
- Mahārāja, Sanskrit for a "great king" or "high king".
- Padishah, Persian pād "master" and shāh "king"
- Anax, from Mycenaean wanax for "High King". Outranked Basileus in Mycenaean usage.
- Nam-Lugal High kings of ancient Sumer (Mesopotamia).
- Pharaoh, used in Ancient Egypt to denote the High kings of the upper and lower kingdoms of the Nile river valley.
- Ard Rí, Gaelic for high king, most notably used for high kings of Ireland and high kings of Scotland.
- Bretwalda, high kings of Anglo-Saxon England.
- Yang di-Pertuan Agong, in Malaysia, is the king's title, and means "He who is made supreme lord" Generally rendered a king, the position is elected among the nine kingdoms, so may properly be classed a high king.
- King, from the Germanic *kuningaz, roughly meaning "son of the people." (See: Germanic kingship)  The realm of a King is termed a Kingdom (sovereign kings are ranked above vassal kings)
- Rex Latin for "ruler." Cognate with Raja, Rí, Reign, Regina, etc.
- Raja, Indian for "ruler.". Cognate with Latin Rex, Gaelic Rí, etc.
- Rí, Gaelic title meaning king, of which there were several grades, the highest being Ard Rí (High king). Cognate with Indian Raja, Latin Rex, and ancient Gaulish rix.
- Khan, from the Turko-Mongol word for "lord," like Duke it was originally a military rank. A Khan's realm is called a Khanate.
- Shah, Persian word for king, form Indo-European for "he who rules"
- Sultan, from Arabic for "has power."
- Malik, Arabic for King.
- Lakan, Fillipino title (mostly for the Island of Luzon) which, together with the term "Datu" of Visayas and Mindanao, is used as an equivalent to Raja, and therefore, to King or sovereign Prince.
- Tuanku, the title of the kings of the nine Royal states of Malaysia; all princes and princesses of the Royal Families also receive the appellation Tengku,
- Queen, from the Germanic *kwoeniz, or *kwenon, meaning "wife." The female equivalent of a King, a Queen's realm is also a kingdom.
Princely, ducal, and other sovereign titles
- Prince, from the Latin princeps, meaning "first citizen". The feminine form is Princess. Variant forms include the German Fürst.
- Morza A Tartar title usually translated as "prince," it ranked below a Khan. The title was borrowed from Persian and Indian appellation Mirza added to the names of certain nobles, which itself derived from Emir.
- Despot, Greek for "lord, master", initially an appellation for the Byzantine emperor, later the senior court title, awarded to sons and close relatives of the emperor. In the 13th-15th centuries borne by autonomous and independent rulers in the Balkans.
- Duke, from the Latin Dux, meaning "leader," a military rank in the late Roman Empire. Variant forms include Doge, and Duce; it has also been modified into Archduke (meaning "chief" Duke), Grand Duke (literally "large," or "big" Duke), Vice Duke ("deputy" Duke), etc. The female equivalent is Duchess
- Emir, often rendered Amir in older English usage; from the Arabic "to command." The female form is Emira (Amirah). Emir is the root of the English military rank "Admiral."
- Bey, or Beg, Turkish for "Chieftain."
- Pope (also "Supreme Pontiff of the Universal Church and Vicar of Christ"); once wielding substantial secular power as the ruler of the Papal States and holder of various fiefs, the Pope is also the absolute ruler of the sovereign state Vatican City
- Caliph, was the ruler of the caliphate, an Islamic title indicating the successor to Muhammad. Originally both a religious and a secular leader in the mode of the medieval Popes.
Other sovereigns, royals, peerage, and nobility
Several ranks were widely used (for more than a thousand years in Europe alone) for both sovereign rulers and non-sovereigns. Additional knowledge about the territory and historic period is required to know whether the rank holder was a sovereign or non-sovereign. However, joint precedence among rank holders often greatly depended on whether a rank holder was sovereign, whether of the same rank or not. This situation was most widely exemplified by the Holy Roman Empire (HRE) in Europe. Almost all of the following ranks were commonly both sovereign and non-sovereign within the HRE. Outside of the HRE, the most common sovereign rank of these below was that of Prince. Within the HRE, those holding the following ranks who were also sovereigns had (enjoyed) what was known as an immediate relationship with the Emperor. Those holding non-sovereign ranks held only a mediate relationship (meaning that the civil hierarchy upwards was mediated by one or more intermediaries between the rank holder and the Emperor).
- Archduke, ruler of an archduchy; was generally only a sovereign rank when used by the rulers of Austria; it was also used by the Habsburgs of the Holy Roman Empire, Austrian Empire, and the Austro-Hungarian Empire for members of the imperial family; it was also used for those ruling some Habsburg territories such as those that became the modern BeNeLux (Belgium, Netherlands, Luxembourg) nations
- Grand Prince, ruler of a grand principality; a title primarily used in the medieval Russian principalities; it was also used by the Romanovs of the Russian Empire for members of the imperial family
- Duke, ruler of a duchy, also for junior members of ducal and some grand ducal families
- Prince, Prinz in German; junior members of a royal, ducal or princely family (the title of Fürst for heads of princely families and sometimes all members, e.g. Wrede)
- In particular Crown Prince, Kronprinz in German, was reserved for the heir apparent of an emperor or king
- Dauphin, title of the crown prince of the royal family of France
- Infante, title of the cadet members of the royal families of Portugal and Spain
- Elector, Kurfürst in German, a rank for those who voted for the Holy Roman Emperor, usually sovereign of a state (e.g. the Margrave of Brandenburg, an elector, called the Elector of Brandenburg)
- Marquess, Margrave, or Marquis was the ruler¹ of a marquessate, margraviate, or march
- Landgrave, a German title, ruler of a landgraviate
- Count, theoretically the ruler of a county; known as an Earl in modern Britain
- Viscount (vice-count), theoretically the ruler of a viscounty or viscountcy
- Freiherr, holder of an allodial barony – these are "higher" level of barons
- Baron, theoretically the ruler of a barony – some barons in some countries may have been "free barons" (liber baro) and as such, regarded (themselves) as higher barons
Regarding the titles of duke and prince: in Germany, a sovereign duke (Herzog) outranks a sovereign prince (Fürst), but a royal cadet prince (Prinz) outranks a cadet duke of a ducal or grand ducal family. In the German nobility as well, being created a duke was a higher honour than being created a prince. The issue of a duke were sometimes styled as dukes or as princes; princely issue were styled as princes. In particular, the heir apparent to a certain title would usually append the prefix Erb- (hereditary) to their respective title, e.g. Erbherzog, Erbprinz, Erbgraf, Erbherr etc., to distinguish from their junior siblings.
Aristocracy and gentry
- Baronet is an hereditary title ranking below Baron but above Knight; this title is granted only in the British Isles
- Dominus was the Latin title of the feudal, superior and mesne, lords, and also an ecclesiastical and academical title (equivalent of Lord)
- Vidame, a minor French aristocrat
- Seigneur or Knight of the Manor rules a smaller local fief
- Knight is the basic rank of the aristocratic system
- Patrician is an Italian title of nobility ranking between that of a knight and an esquire; it was only granted in the Italian aristocratic city republics
- Fidalgo or Hidalgo is a minor Portuguese and Spanish aristocrat (respectively; from filho d'algo = filho d'alguém = son of someone [noble])
- Nobile (aristocracy) is an Italian title of nobility for prestigious families that never received a title
- Principalía the aristocratic class of Filipino nobles, through whom the Spanish Monarchs ruled the Philippines during the colonial period (c. 1600's to 1898).
- Jonkheer is a title for prestigious Dutch families that never received a title, so instead a new title was invented; Though these titles have no claim to a territory, city, or province in the Netherlands, they are basically claiming a good family name; A woman who holds this title is called a Jonkvrouw, though the wife of a Jonkheer is a Mevrouw or sometimes Freule, which could also be used by daughters of the same
- Esquire is a rank of gentry originally derived from Squire and indicating the status of an attendant to a knight or an apprentice knight; it ranked below Knight but above Gentleman
- Gentleman is the basic rank of gentry, historically primarily associated with land or manoral lords; within British Commonwealth nations it is also roughly equivalent to some lower nobility of some continental European nations
In Germany, the constitution of the Weimar Republic in 1919 abolished nobility and all nobility titles. They are now merely part of the family name, and there is no more right to the traditional forms of address (e.g., "Hoheit" or "Durchlaucht"). The last title was conferred on 12 November 1918 to Kurt von Klefeld. The actual rank of the holder of a title in Germany was dependent on not only the title, but also on other factors such as the degree of sovereignty and the rank of the lord of the title-holder. Such matters as the age of the princely dynasty also play a role (Uradel, Briefadel, altfürstliche, neufürstliche, see: German nobility). Thus, any sovereign ruler is higher than any formerly sovereign, i.e. mediatized, family of any rank (thus, the Fürst of Waldeck, sovereign until 1918, was higher than the Duke of Arenberg, mediatized). Members of a formerly sovereign house rank higher than the regular nobility. Among the regular nobility, those whose titles derive from the Holy Roman Empire rank higher than those whose titles were granted by one of the German princes after 1806, regardless of what title was held.
In Austria, nobility titles may no longer be used since 1918.
In Switzerland, nobility titles are prohibited and are not recognized as part of the family name.
General chart of "translations" between languages
Below is a comparative table of corresponding royal and noble titles in various European countries. Quite often, a Latin 3rd declension noun formed a distinctive feminine title by adding -issa to its base, but usually the 3rd declension noun was used for both male and female nobles, except for Imperator and Rex. 3rd declension nouns are italicized in this chart. See Royal and noble styles to learn how to address holders of these titles properly.
English French Italian Portuguese Spanish German Dutch Norwegian Swedish Czech Slovak Finnish Polish Russian Danish Greek Slovene Welsh Latin Turkish Maltese Hungarian Emperor,
Keisarinna (or Keisaritar, obsolete)
Grand Duke/Grand Prince,
Grand Duchess/Grand Princess
Megas Doux, Megali Doukissa Veliki vojvoda,
Magnus Dux/ Magnus Princeps,
magna ducissa, magna principissa
Nagyherceg, fejedelem, vajda
nagyhercegnő, fejedelemasszony, -
Archiduc, Archiduchesse Arciduca,
Archidoux, Archidoukissa Nadvojvoda,
Kurfiřt Kurfirst/Knieža voliteľ/Knieža volič Vaaliruhtinas,
Princeps Elector Veliaht Prens,
Earl / Count,
Jarl / Greve,
Ypokomis, Ypokomissa Vikont,
Paronitar, Rouva/ Herratar
Baronnet Baronetto Baronete,
Baronet Erfridder Baronet Baronetti, "Herra" (=fiefholder),
Baronet Baronet Baronet,
Baronetos, Baroneta Baronet,
Knight / Dame Chevalier Cavaliere Cavaleiro Caballero Ritter Ridder Ridder Riddare/ Frälseman,
Rytíř Rytier Aatelinen/Ritari
style of wife: Rouva
Rycerz/ Kawaler Rytsar Ridder Hippotis Vitez Marchog Eques Şövalye Kavallier Lovag (vitéz) Esquire, Gentleman Ecuyer Nobile,Nobiluomo Fidalgo Escudero, Hidalgo Junker (Prussia), Edler (Austria),
Jonkheer Oproda Nobilis Homo (N.H.) Bey, Efendi Nemes,
Aristocratic titles in medieval Korea
In the Kingdom of Korea, similarly to the Chinese Empire, there were 7 aristocratic titles:
- Gun (i.e. Crown Prince),
- Kung (hereditary prince or Duke),
- Champan (Marquess),
- Poguk (Count or Earl),
- Pansoh (Viscount),
- Chamise (Baron),
- Chusa (cca. Baronet).
- Forms of address in the United Kingdom
- Table of Ranks in the Russian Empire
- German comital titles
- Royal and noble styles
- Nobiliary particle
- False titles of nobility
- ^ a b Loss of sovereignty or fief does not necessarily lead to loss of title. The position in the ranking table is however accordingly adjusted. The occurrence of fiefs has changed from time to time, and from country to country. For instance, dukes in England rarely had a duchy to rule.
- ^ Dukes who are not actually or formerly sovereign, such as all British, French, and Spanish dukes, or who are not sons of sovereigns, as titulary dukes in many other countries, should be considered nobles ranking above marquess.
- ^ The meaning of the title Esquire became (and remains) quite diffuse, and may indicate anything from no aristocratic status, to some official government civil appointment, or (more historically) the son of a knight or noble who had no other title above just Gentleman.
- ^ In the United States, where there is no aristocracy, the title Esquire is sometimes arrogated (without any governmental authorization) by lawyers admitted to the state bar.
- ^ Ruling of the Court of the Lord Lyon (26/2/1948, Vol. IV, page 26): 'With regard to the words 'untitled nobility' employed in certain recent birthbrieves in relation to the (Minor) Baronage of Scotland, Finds and Declares that the (Minor) Barons of Scotland are, and have been both in this nobiliary Court and in the Court of Session recognised as a ‘titled nobility’ and that the estait of the Baronage (i.e. Barones Minores) are of the ancient Feudal Nobility of Scotland’. This title is not, however, in and of itself a peerage title, and nobility, or the noblesse, in Scotland incorporates the concept of gentry in England.
- ^ Austrian law on noble titles
- ^ Finland accorded the noble ranks of Ruhtinas, Kreivi, Vapaaherra and Aatelinen. The titles Suurherttua, Arkkiherttua, Vaaliruhtinas, Prinssi, Markiisi, Jaarli, Varakreivi, Paroni, and Baronetti were not granted in Finland, though they are used of foreign titleholders. Keisari, Kuningas, Suuriruhtinas, Prinssi, and Herttua have been used as official titles of members of the dynasties that ruled Finland, though not granted as titles of nobility. Some feudally-based privileges in landowning, connected to nobily related lordship, existed into the nineteenth century; and fiefs were common in the late medieval and early modern eras. The title Ritari was not commonly used except in the context of knightly orders. The lowest, untitled level of hereditary nobility was that of the "Aatelinen" (i.e. "noble").
- ^ In keeping with the principle of equality among noblemen, no noble titles (with few exceptions) below that of prince were allowed in Poland. The titles in italics are simply Polish translations of western titles which were granted to some Polish nobles by foreign monarchs, especially after the partitions. Instead of heraditory titles, the Polish nobility developed and used a set of titles based on offices held. See "szlachta" for more info on Polish nobility.
- ^ Latin titles are for etymological comparisons. They do not accurately reflect their medieval counterparts.
- ^ a b c d "Prince" (Prinz in German, Prins in Swedish, Prinssi in Finnish, "Principe" in Spanish) can also be a title of junior members of royal houses. In the British system, for example, prince is not a rank of nobility but a title held exclusively by members of the royal family.
- ^ In central Europe, the title of Fürst or kníže (e.g. Fürst von Liechtenstein) ranks below the title of a duke (e.g. Duke of Brunswick). The title of Vizegraf was not used in German-speaking countries, and the titles of Ritter and Edler were not commonly used.
- ^ a b c d e f g No noble titles were granted after 1906 when the unicameral legislatures (Eduskunta, Riksdag) were established, removing the constitutional status of the so-called First Estate. However, noble ranks were granted in Finland until 1917 (there, the lowest, untitled level of hereditary nobility was "Aatelinen", or "noble"; it was in essence a rank, not a title).
- ^ a b c For domestic Russian nobility, only the titles Kniaz and Boyar were used before the 18th century, when Graf was added.
- ^ In the German system by rank approximately equal to Landgraf and Pfalzgraf.
- ^ The title Markýz was not used in Bohemia and thus referred only to foreign nobility, while the title Markrabě (the same as the German Markgraf) is connected only to a few historical territories (including the former marches on the borders of the Holy Roman Empire, or Moravia).
- ^ In Portugal, a baron or viscount who was a "grandee of the kingdom" (Portuguese: Grandes do Reino) was called a "baron with grandness" (Portuguese: Barão com Grandeza) or "viscount with grandness" (Portuguese: Visconde com Grandeza); each of these grandees was ranked as equal to a count.
- ^ Does not confer nobility in the British system.
- ^ Non-hereditary. Does not confer nobility in the British system. See also squire and esquire.
- ^ The "vitéz" title was introduced in Hungary after 1920. In preceding ages simply meant a warrior or a courageous man.
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