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                           ROYAL AND NOBLE RANKS
 
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 grand duke.

Nobility titles

The European nobility, the highest ranking citizens of a country besides the royal family, consisted of anyone who had been summoned to Parliament. Usually they were the owners of a vassalage, land given to them for their allegiance and services to the ruling monarch. Although titles were given different names in different countries, the system of ranking the nobility is pretty much the same throughout Europe.

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 period in history) 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).
 
Grand Prince, ruling 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
 
Archduke, ruling 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
 
Duke, rules 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
 
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 ruler 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[citation needed]
 
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.

The degrees of the nobility all have different coronets. In practice coronets are rarely worn today except at coronations. They are, however, depicted on the majority of noble coats-of-arms.

                                       CORONETS

 

NOBILE

Nobile (Untitled Nobleman). Nobile or Uomo is an Italian title of nobility in general equivalence to a baron. Like the other titles of nobility, such as baron or count, nobile is also used immediately before the family name, usually in the abbreviated form: Nob. or NU.

The crest coronet of a nobile is a jeweled circlet of gold surmounted by five pearls, supported by stems or set directly upon the rim.
   

BARON/BARONESS

Barone, Baronessa. (Baron, Baroness). Baron is a title of nobility. The word baron comes from Old Frenchbaron, itself from Old High German and Latin (liber) baro meaning "(free) man, (free) warrior"; it merged with cognate Old English beorn Barons rank below viscounts, and form the lowest rank in the peerage. Normally one refers to or addresses Baron [X] as Lord [X] and his wife as Lady [X]. In the case of women who hold baronies in their own right, they can be referred to as Baroness [X] as well as Lady [X]. meaning "nobleman."

The standard heraldic coronet of a baron is a jeweled circlet of gold surmounted by seven pearls

 

 

COUNT/COUNTESS

Conte, Contessa. (Count, Countess). A count is a nobleman in European countries; his wife is a countess. The word count came into English from the French comte, itself from Latincomes—in its accusative comitem—meaning "companion", and later "companion of the emperor, delegate of the emperor". The British equivalent is an earl (whose wife is also a "countess", for lack of an Anglo-Saxon term). Alternative names for the "Count" rank in the nobility structure are used in other countries, such as HakushakuJapanese Imperial era. during the imperial era.

The heraldic coronet of a count is a jewelled circlet of gold surmounted by nine visible pearls, supported by stems or set directly upon the rim.

   

MARQUESS/MARCHIONESS

Marchese, Marchesa. (Marquess, Marchioness). A marquess or marquis (from French "marquis") is a nobleman of hereditary rank in various European monarchies and some of their colonies. In the British peerage it ranks below a duke and above an earl. A woman with the rank of marquess, or the wife of a marquess, is a marchioness (in British usage), or a marquise (in Europe). In Italy the equivalent modern rank (as opposed to margravio) is that of marchese, the wife of whom is a marchesa.

Although the vast majority of marquessates are named after places, and hence their holders are known as the "Marquess of X", a very few of them are named after surnames (even if not the bearer's own), and hence their holders are known as the "Marquess X". In either case, he is still informally known as "Lord X", regardless whether there is an of in his title, and it is always safe to style him so.

The heraldic coronet of a marquess is a jeweled circlet of gold surmounted by three visible strawberry leaves, the central leaf flanked by two rows of three pearls each, supported by stems or set directly upon the rim.
   

DUKE/DUCHESS

Duca, Duchessa. (Duke, Duchess). A Duke is a member of the nobility, historically of highest rank below the monarch, and historically controlling a duchy. The title comes from the Latin Dux Bellorum, which had the sense of "military commander" and was employed by both the Germanic peoplesRoman authors covering them to refer to their war leaders. themselves and by the

In the Middle Ages the title signified first among the Germanic monarchies. Dukes were the rulers of the provinces and the superiors of the counts in the cities and later, in the feudal monarchies, the highest-ranking peers of the king. A woman who holds in her own right the title to such duchy or dukedom, or is the wife of a duke, is normally styled Duchess.

In Italy, Germany and Austria the title of "duke" ("duca" in Italian, and "Herzog" in German) was quite common. As the Holy Roman Empirecourtesy title. was until its dissolution a feudal structure, most of its Dukes were actually reigning in their lands. As the titles from the HRE were taken over after its dissolution, or in Italy after their territories became independent of the Empire, both countries also had a share of fully sovereign dukes.

The heraldic coronet of a duke is a jeweled circlet of gold surmounted by five visible strawberry leaves. Usually, the crimson tasseled cap is not rendered within the coronet.
   

PRINCE/PRINCESS

Principe, Principessa. (Prince, Princess). Prince, from French "Prince" (itself from the Latin root princeps), is a general term for a monarch, for a member of a monarchs' or former monarch's family, and is a hereditary title in some members of Europe's highest nobility. The feminine equivalent is a princess.

Generically, prince refers to members of a family that ruled by hereditary right, the title being used to refer either to sovereigns or to cadets of a sovereign's family. The term may be broadly used of persons in various cultures, continents or eras. In Europe, it is the title legally borne by dynastic cadets 

in monarchies, and borne by courtesy by members of formerly reigning dynasties.

In parts of the Holy Roman Empire in which primogeniture did not prevail (i.e. Germany), all legitimate agnates had an equal right to the family's hereditary titles. While this meant that offices, such as emperor, king, and elector could only be legally occupied by one dynast at a time, holders of such other titles as duke, margrave, landgrave, count palatine, and prince could only differentiate themselves by adding the name of their appanage to the family's original title.

PRINCE AS A REIGNING MONARCH

A prince or princess who is the head of state of a territory that has a monarchy as a form of government is a reigning prince.

NON-DYNASTIC PRINCES

France and the Holy Roman Empire

In several countries of the European continent, e.g. in France, prince can be an aristocratic title of someone having a high rank of nobility royal family, which makes comparing it with e.g. the British system of royal princes difficult. in chief of a geographical place, but no actual territory and without any necessary link to the

The kings of France started to bestow the style of prince, as a title among the nobility, from the 16th century onwards. These titles were created by elevating a seigneurie to the nominal status of a principality—although prerogatives of sovereignty were never conceded in the letters patent. These titles held no official place in the hierarchy of the nobility, but were often treated as ranking just below dukedoms, since they were often inherited (or assumed) by ducal heirs.

The heraldic coronet of a noble prince is a jeweled circlet of gold surmounted by four visible pearls between five visible strawberry leaves. In most representations, the deep red tasseled cap is not rendered within the coronet.

   

 KING

king is a head of state, who may or may not, depending on the style of government of a nation, exercise monarchal powers over a nation, usually called a kingdom or a realm. A king is the second highest sovereign title, only looking up to an emperor.

The female equivalent of king is queen; although the term "queen" may refer to one ruling as a monarch in her own right, a queen regnant, or to the wife of a king, a queen consort. A queen who becomes the reigning monarch because the king has died, has become debilitated, or is a minor, is known as aqueen regent. The husband of a queen regnant is sometimes styled the king consort but is more commonly styled the prince consort. A king or queen may wear a crown or carry other regalia.

Terms for kings can vary (Sumerian lugal, Semitic melech, Celtic rix, Latin rex, Greek basileus, Sanskritraja, Germanic kuningaz) and in some cases can be a tribal leader or chief, or the tyrant of a city state. Tribal leaders continue to be referred to as king also into the modern period, e.g. Maquinna, king of perhaps 2000 Nootka people in the early 20th century.

Often, the king will not only have a political function, but also a religious one, acting as high priest or divine king.

In rare cases women have been crowned as kings instead of queens, such as Jadwiga of Poland andChristina of Sweden.

A government that is completely under a king or queen's rule is called an absolute monarchy (such countries include Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates). A government that has a king or queen with limited power is called a constitutional monarchy (such countries include Canada, the United Kingdom and Japan).

 

TITLES AND FORMS OF ADDRESS

When writing to someone of title, there are certain conventions that should be followed in the addressing and greeting of the letter.  It is courteous and respectful to properly honor a person of title in the address, the salutation, and even in the closing of your letter. Below is a guideline to the use of appropriate protocol in your written correspondence to people of title.
 
Royalty and Noble Titles

Emperor
Address:        His Imperial Majesty (Name of Emperor), Emperor of (Country)
Salutation:     Sir:   or   May it please Your Majesty:
Closing:         I have the honor to remain Your Imperial Majesty’s obedient servant

The King
Address:         His Majesty the King
Salutation:      Your dignified Majesty:
Closing:          I have honor to remain, Sir, Your Majesty’s most humble and obedient subject

The Queen
Address:         Her Majesty the Queen
Salutation:      Madam:   or   May it please Your Majesty:
Closing:          I have honor to remain, Madam, Your Majesty’s most humble and obedient subject

Royal Prince
Address:         His Royal Highness The Prince of ……
Salutation:      Sir:
Closing:          I have honor to remain, Sir, Your Highness’s most humble and obedient subject

Royal Princess
Address:         Her Royal Highness The Princess of ……
Salutation:      Madam:
Closing:          I have honor to remain, Madam, Your Highness’s most humble and obedient subject

Duke
Address:         His Grace The Duke of …..
Salutation:      My Lord Duke:
Closing:          Yours faithfully,

Duchess
Address:         Her Grace The Duchess of …..
Salutation:      Dear Madam:
Closing:          Yours faithfully,

Baron
Address:         The Rt Hon. The Lord …..
Salutation:      My Lord:
Closing:          Yours faithfully,

Baroness (wife of a Baron)
Address:         The Rt Hon.  The Lady …..
Salutation:      Dear Madam:
Closing:          Yours faithfully,

Marquess
Address:         The Most Hon. The Marquess of …..
Salutation:      My Lord:
Closing:          Yours faithfully,

Marchioness   (wife of a Marquess)
Address:         The Most Hon.  The Marchioness  of …..
Salutation:      Dear Madam:
Closing:          Yours faithfully,

Earl
Address:         The Rt Hon. The Earl of …..
Salutation:      My Lord;
Closing:          Yours faithfully,

Countess   (wife of an Earl)
Address:         The Rt Hon.  The Countess  of …..
Salutation:      Dear Madam:
Closing:          Yours faithfully,

Viscount
Address:         The Rt Hon. The Viscount of …..
Salutation:      My Lord:
Closing:          Yours faithfully,

Viscountess   (wife of a Viscount)
Address:         The Rt Hon.  The Viscountess …..
Salutation:      Dear Madam:
Closing:          Yours faithfully,

Baronet
Address:          Sir (First name and surname), Bt
Salutation:       Dear Sir:
Closing:           Yours faithfully,

Baronet’s Wife
Address :         Lady (Surname only)
Salutation:       Dear Madam:
Closing:           Yours faithfully,

Knight
Address:          Sir (First name and surname), followed with appropriate letters relevant to Order 
Salutation:       Dear Sir:
Closing:           Yours faithfully,

Knight’s Wife
Address:          Lady (Surname only)
Salutation:       Dear Madam:
Closing:           Yours faithfully,

 

Religious Dignitaries

The Pope
Address:         His Holiness (Name & Roman Numeral)
Salutation:      Your Holiness:
Closing:           I have the honor to remain Your Holiness’s obedient servant,

Cardinal
Address:         His Eminence, (First and Last Name)
Salutation:      Your Eminence:   or    Dear Cardinal (Surname):
Closing:          Yours very truly,

Archbishop
Address:         The Most Reverend (First and Last Name), Archbishop of (Name of Diocese)
Salutation:      Dear Archbishop (Surname)
Closing:          Yours very truly,

Bishop
Address:         The Most Reverend (First and Last Name), Bishop of (Name of Diocese)
Salutation:      Dear Bishop (Surname)
Closing:          Yours very truly,

Abbot
Address:          The Very Reverend (First and Last Name), Abbot of …..
Salutation:       Right Reverend Father:    or   Dear Abbot (Surname)
Closing:           Yours sincerely,

Canon
Address:          The Very Reverend (First and Last Name)
Salutation:       Dear Canon (Surname)
Closing:           Yours sincerely,

Priest
Address:           The Reverend (First and Last Name)
Salutation:        Dear Father:
Closing:            Yours sincerely,

Nun – Mother Superior
Address:           Reverend Mother (First and Last Name)    
Salutation:        Dear Reverend Mother:
Closing:            Yours sincerely,

Nun – Sister
Address:           Sister (First and Last Name)        
Salutation:        Dear Sister (Surname):
Closing:            Yours sincerely,

Dean
Address:           The Very Reverend (First and Last Name), Dean of (Name of Cathedral)   
Salutation:        Dear Dean (Surname):
Closing:            Yours sincerely,

Archdeacon
Address:           The Venerable (First and Last Name)                             
Salutation:        Dear Archdeacon (Surname):
Closing:            Yours sincerely,

Minister
Address:          The Reverend (First and Last Name)                               
Salutation:       Dear Dr./Mr./Mrs./Ms./Miss (Surname):
Closing:           Yours sincerely,

Rabbi
Address:          Rabbi (First and Last Name)                              
Salutation:       Dear Rabbi:
Closing:           Yours sincerely,