The titles of nobility (or noble titles) are classifications granted to the different hierarchies of the nobility. The granting of these titles served to differentiate the hierarchical position of the members of the aristocracy.
Titles have two main characteristics: they are lifelong (they have no expiration date) and hereditary (they are passed on from generation to generation, from parents to children).
They emerged on the European continent and were related to the royal family that ruled a certain region. They were granted taking into account the functions performed by the nobles and their hierarchical position in relation to the King.
Although they appeared in Europe, it is important to clarify that there are titles of nobility equivalent to these in the monarchies of other places.
Hierarchical order of titles of nobility
Let us now know a little about the five titles of nobility of the members of the aristocracy, according to the order of importance:
The title of Duke is the highest rank of members of the aristocracy, hierarchically just below the King. The Dukes were the members of the nobility who had the most proximity and trust with the King.
The title of Duke was granted in different ways according to the reign and was usually accompanied by the power of government over a part of the royal territory. These territories were commonly called duchies.
The title comes from the Latin word dux , which means one who leads, in allusion to the trust placed by the King in the administration of the duchy.
In 1869, Luís Alves de Lima e Silva received the title of Duque de Caxias . The title was awarded for his contribution to the command of the Brazilian Army.
Below the Duke is the title of Marquis. This title was given to members of society who were destined to govern large border regions of royal territories. Whoever received the title had powers of command throughout the administered region.
As with the Dukes, whoever won the title of Marquis obtained a kind of recognition of their loyalty and trust with the King.
The title comes from the German word markgraf , which can be translated as the defender or protector of the province.
The Brazilian politician Cândido José de Araújo received the title of Marquis of Sapucaí in 1872.
The title of Count has existed since the time of the Roman Empire and was given to members of the nobility who had the role of advising the King. It could also be given in recognition of loyalty to the monarch.
Counts were normally responsible for protecting and ruling royal territories, however, they were responsible for smaller or less important regions.
The origin of the title derives from the Latin word comes , which can be translated as companion.
Manuel Marques de Sousa received, in 1868, the title of Count of Porto Alegre . The title was awarded for his participation in the Farroupilha Revolution and the Silver War.
Discover the main features of the Roman Empire .
The title of Viscount was granted to members of the aristocracy who performed the same functions as the Counts. However, these only acted in substitution, when the Counts had some impediment in their government.
Later, the title of Viscount was also granted to the direct heirs of the Counts.
The origin of the title’s name is the Latin word vicecomes, which can be literally translated as Vice-Count, that is, the substitute of the Count.
Irineu Evangelista de Souza became Viscount of Mauá in 1874. He received the title for his contribution to the country’s economy and industrialization.
The title of Baron is the lowest in the aristocratic hierarchy. It was also given to people who had government functions over small territories that belonged to a kingdom.
The title could also be bestowed on members of the nobility in recognition of loyal military service to the dynasty, primarily for participating in the maintenance of royal territories.
Thus, the title could be granted to a person who was not part of the nobility, but who had performed great services to the State.
The same Irineu Evangelista de Souza, before becoming Viscount, had already received the title of Baron of Mauá in 1854.
The title originates from the word baro , which in German meant free man.
Also read: nobility.
royal family titles
The titles of nobility have existed since the medieval period and the highest belonged to the royal family: King, Prince and Infante. Just below these were created the titles we have seen, granted to other members of aristocratic society, but who did not belong to the King’s family.
King is the highest title of nobility, reserved for the member of the royal family who presides over the monarchic government, responsible for the rule of the dynasty. Prince is the title given to the King’s children, his heirs in the line of succession to the throne. It is usually given to the first child, who will be the right heir.
The title of Infante , on the other hand, can be attributed to the other children of the King who are not directly heirs to the throne, as they are not the firstborn children.
The granting of this title only occurs in some monarchies. In others, all the king’s descendants are princes or princesses, as is the case in England.
Are there variations in the attribution of titles of nobility?
Yes, there are differences both in the names and in the way of granting titles of nobility, that is, there are aspects that may vary from one monarchy to another.
In addition, the form of concession can be changed according to the season. For example, the way in which titles of nobility were granted during the period of the Empire may be different from what happens in current monarchies.
See also: aristocracy .