Noble Titles - Ranks and Titles - Other Sovereigns, Royals, Peerage, and Nobility

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. Freiherr coming from the german "Free-Man"
  • 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 prepend the prefix Erb- (hereditary) to their respective title, e.g. Erbherzog, Erbprinz, Erbgraf, Erbherr etc., to distinguish from their junior siblings.

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