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Thread: English Counts
01-23-1999, 06:39 PM #1Kenneth GauckGuest
>On a tangent, here's a somewhat related question I'm sure somebody
>can answer. Were there different kinds of counts in England? If so,
>what's the difference?
Short answer: Marquis, Earl, Viscount
England has the best organized system of nobility, esp as compared to
Germany. The main reason for this is the strong monarchy, which kept the
meaning of titles constant. Another is the system of peerage, where there
is no division between high and low nobility (hoher Adel, niedriger Adel).
Except for one difference in style, the English use the normal Carolingian
system of titles which we all normally associate with western Europe.
In that system, there are three levels of nobility:
Counts originally were addministrative appointments, which after the
collapse of the Carolingians became heritable. They were inferior to Dukes
who had military responsibility as needed vast lands to maintain an army.
This distinction remained most notable in Germany where the style of duke
takes on a soveriegn character, whereas in France and England dukes are a
royal title (meaning you are a member of the royal family if you have it)
and in no way suggests independent powers.
In those places where there was no strong monarch (mostly France) the style
of count was divided into a further three grades. Marcher counts (Marquis,
Markgraf, and Landgraf) are better than standard counts, but inferior to
Counts Palatine (Pfalzgraf) are counts with soveriegn powers, though still
subject to a monarch. Counts Palatine include Champagne, Chester, Durham,
the county of Burgundy, and the Rhenish Palatinate.
Standard counts are called Earls in England, and were the only ones there
for a long time. The other kinds of counts are late imports into England
(12th centry and afterwards).
Viscounts (vicomte) are vice-counts, and are inferior to counts. To my
knowledge this rank does not exist in German. My Langenscheidt identifies
viscount as an English title with no translation. If this is incorrect I
would be very interested in the name for this title.
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