Marquess

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A marquess ( UK: /ˈmɑː(r)kwɪs/ ; [1] French : marquis [maʁki] ) [2] [lower-alpha 1] is a nobleman of high hereditary rank in various European peerages and in those of some of their former colonies. The German language equivalent is Markgraf (margrave). A woman with the rank of a marquess or the wife (or widow) of a marquess is a marchioness or marquise. These titles are also used to translate equivalent Asian styles, as in Imperial China and Imperial Japan.

Contents

A portrait of William Kerr, 4th Marquess of Lothian wearing his British Army uniform. William Kerr, 4th Marquess of Lothian on a charger, by David Morier.jpg
A portrait of William Kerr, 4th Marquess of Lothian wearing his British Army uniform.

Etymology

The word marquess entered the English language from the Old French marchis ("ruler of a border area") in the late 13th or early 14th century. The French word was derived from marche ("frontier"), itself descended from the Middle Latin marca ("frontier") Margrave and marchese in the kingdoms of Italy, from which the modern English word march also descends. The distinction between governors of frontier territories and interior territories was made as early as the founding of the Roman Empire when some provinces were set aside for administration by the senate and more unpacified or vulnerable provinces were administered by the emperor. The titles "duke" and "count" were similarly distinguished as ranks in the Byzantine Empire, with dux (literally, "leader") being used for a provincial military governor and the rank of comes (literally "companion," that is, of the Emperor) given to the leader of an active army along the frontier.

Belgium

The title of marquess in Belgium predates the French Revolution and still exists today. See Belgian nobility § Marquesses in the Belgian nobility and List of noble families in Belgium § Marquesses.

Spain

In Spain, the rank of Marquess/Marchioness (Marqués/Marquesa) still exists. One hundred forty-two of them are Spanish grandees. Normally a marqués is addressed as "The Most Illustrious Lord" (Ilustrísimo Señor), or if he/she is a grandee as "The Most Excellent Lord" (Excelentísimo Señor). Examples include the Marquess of Carpio, Grandee of Spain.

United Kingdom

In Great Britain and historically in Ireland, a marquess ranks below a duke and above an earl. A woman with the rank of a marquess, or the wife of a marquess, is a marchioness /ˌmɑːrʃəˈnɛs/ . [3] The dignity, rank, or position of the title is a marquisate or marquessate.

The honorific prefix "The Most Honourable" precedes the name of a marquess or marchioness of the United Kingdom. [4]

In Great Britain, and historically in Ireland, the spelling of this title is marquess. In Scotland, the French spelling marquis is sometimes used.

The coronet for a marquess in the British realms Coronet of a British Marquess.svg
The coronet for a marquess in the British realms

The theoretical distinction between a marquess and other titles has, since the Middle Ages, faded into obscurity. In times past, the distinction between a count and a marquess was that the land of a marquess, called a march, was on the border of the country, while a count's land, called a county, often was not. As a result of this, a marquess was trusted to defend and fortify against potentially hostile neighbours and was thus more important and ranked higher than a count. The title is ranked below that of a duke, which was often largely restricted to the royal family.

The rank of marquess was a relatively late introduction to the British peerage: no marcher lords had the rank of marquess, though some were earls. On the evening of the Coronation of Queen Victoria in 1838, the Prime Minister Lord Melbourne explained to her why (from her journals):

I spoke to [Lord Melbourne] about the numbers of Peers present at the Coronation, & he said it was quite unprecedented. I observed that there were very few Viscounts, to which he replied "There are very few Viscounts," that they were an old sort of title & not really English; that they came from Vice-Comites; that Dukes & Barons were the only real English titles; – that Marquises were likewise not English, & that people were mere made Marquises, when it was not wished that they should be made Dukes. [5]

Analogous non-Western titles

The Marquess of Trazegnies Pompa funebris Albert Ardux - Trazegnies.jpg
The Marquess of Trazegnies

Like other major Western noble titles, marquess (or marquis) is sometimes used to translate certain titles from non-Western languages with their own traditions, even though they are, as a rule, historically unrelated and thus hard to compare. However, they are considered "equivalent" in relative rank.

This is the case with:

In fiction

Marquesses and marchionesses have occasionally appeared in works of fiction.

See also

Notes

  1. Italian: marchese, Spanish: marqués, Portuguese: marquês.

Related Research Articles

Peerages in the United Kingdom form a legal system comprising both hereditary and lifetime titles, composed of various ranks, and within the framework of the Constitution of the United Kingdom form a constituent part of the legislative process and the British honours system. The British monarch is considered the fount of honour and is notionally the only person who can grant peerages, though there are many conventions about how this power is used, especially at the request of the British government. The term peerage can be used both collectively to refer to the entire body of titled nobility, and individually to refer to a specific title. British peerage title holders are termed peers of the Realm.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Viscount</span> Aristocratic title in various European countries

A viscount or viscountess is a title used in certain European countries for a noble of varying status. The status and any domain held by a viscount is a viscountcy.

The Peerage of Ireland consists of those titles of nobility created by the English monarchs in their capacity as Lord or King of Ireland, or later by monarchs of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland. It is one of the five divisions of Peerages in the United Kingdom. The creation of such titles came to an end in the 19th century. The ranks of the Irish peerage are duke, marquess, earl, viscount and baron. As of 2016, there were 135 titles in the Peerage of Ireland extant: two dukedoms, ten marquessates, 43 earldoms, 28 viscountcies, and 52 baronies. However, these titles have no official recognition in the Republic of Ireland, with Article 40.2 of the Constitution of Ireland forbidding the state conferring titles of nobility and stating that an Irish citizen may not accept titles of nobility or honour except with the prior approval of the Irish government.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Count</span> Nobility title in European countries

Count is a historical title of nobility in certain European countries, varying in relative status, generally of middling rank in the hierarchy of nobility. Especially in earlier medieval periods the term often implied not only a certain status, but also that the count had specific responsibilities or offices. The etymologically related English term "county" denoted the territories associated with some countships, but not all.

Margrave was originally the medieval title for the military commander assigned to maintain the defence of one of the border provinces of the Holy Roman Empire or a kingdom. That position became hereditary in certain feudal families in the Empire and the title came to be borne by rulers of some Imperial principalities until the abolition of the Empire in 1806. Thereafter, those domains were absorbed into larger realms or the titleholders adopted titles indicative of full sovereignty.

<i>Kazoku</i> 1869–1947 Japanese system of nobility

The Kazoku was the hereditary peerage of the Empire of Japan, which existed between 1869 and 1947. They succeeded the feudal lords and court nobles, but were abolished with the 1947 constitution.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Chinese nobility</span> Traditional social structure of Ancient China and Imperial China

The nobility of China represented the upper strata of aristocracy in premodern China, acting as the ruling class until c. 1000 CE, and remaining a significant feature of the traditional social structure until the end of the imperial period.

The Peerage of Great Britain comprises all extant peerages created in the Kingdom of Great Britain between the Acts of Union 1707 and the Acts of Union 1800. It replaced the Peerage of England and the Peerage of Scotland, but was itself replaced by the Peerage of the United Kingdom in 1801.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Spanish nobility</span> Privileged social class in Spain

Spanish nobles are persons who possess a title of nobility confirmed by Spain's Ministry of Justice, as well as those individuals appointed to one of the three highest orders of knighthood of the kingdom, namely the Order of the Golden Fleece, the Order of Charles III and the Order of Isabella the Catholic. Some nobles possess various titles that may be inherited or not, but the creation and recognition of titles is legally the prerogative of the King of Spain.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Coronet</span> Small crown consisting of ornaments fixed on a metal ring

In British heraldry, a coronet is any crown whose bearer is less than sovereign or royal in rank, irrespective of the crown's appearance. In other languages, this distinction is not made, and usually the same word for crown is used irrespective of rank In this use, the English coronet is a purely technical term for all heraldic images of crowns not used by a sovereign, and implies nothing about the actual shape of the crown depicted. A Coronet is another type of crown, but is reserved for the lower ranks of nobility like Marquesses and Marchionesses, Earls and Countesses, Barons and Baronesses, and some Lords and Ladies. The specific design and attributes of the crown or coronet signifies the hierarchy and ranking of its owner.

Traditional rank amongst European imperiality, royalty, peers, and nobility is rooted in Late Antiquity and the Middle Ages. Although they vary over time and among geographic regions, the following is a reasonably comprehensive list that provides information on both general ranks and specific differences. Distinction should be made between reigning families and the nobility – the latter being a social class subject to and created by the former.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Grandee</span> Aristocratic title conferred on Spanish nobility

Grandee is an official aristocratic title conferred on some Spanish nobility. Holders of this dignity enjoyed similar privileges to those of the peerage of France during the Ancien Régime, though in neither country did they have the significant constitutional political role the House of Lords gave to the Peerage of England, of Great Britain and of the United Kingdom. A "Grandee of Spain" nonetheless enjoyed greater social privileges than those of other similar European dignities.

Some titles of nobility outside Europe may be considered as equivalents of Duke.

The Qing dynasty (1644–1912) of China developed a complicated peerage system for royal and noble ranks.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Mexican nobility</span>

The Mexican nobility were a hereditary nobility of Mexico, with specific privileges and obligations determined in the various political systems that historically ruled over the Mexican territory.

The title Marquesses of Mancera is a hereditary title in the nobility of Castile and Grandees of Spain. The title was created by King Philip IV of Spain and given to Pedro de Toledo y Leiva, in the 17th century.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Brazilian nobility</span>

The Brazilian nobility refers to the titled aristocrats and fidalgo people and families recognized by the Kingdom of Brazil and later, by the Empire of Brazil, dating back to the early 19th century, when Brazil ceased to be a colony of the Kingdom of Portugal. It held official status until 1889, when a military coup d'état overthrew the monarchy and established the First Brazilian Republic.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">House of Peers (Japan)</span> Upper house of the legislature of Imperial Japan (Imperial Diet)

The House of Peers was the upper house of the Imperial Diet as mandated under the Constitution of the Empire of Japan.

Marquess (marquis) is a hereditary title of nobility.

Ranged Marquis was a rank of the Chinese nobility that existed from the Warring States period to the Chen dynasty.

References

  1. "English: Marquis". Collins Dictionary. n.d. Retrieved 22 September 2014.
  2. "French: Marquis". Collins Dictionary. n.d. Retrieved 22 September 2014.
  3. "Marchioness". Collins Dictionary. n.d. Retrieved 22 September 2014.
  4. "Marquess and Marchioness". Debrett's. n.d. Archived from the original on 10 November 2014. Retrieved 22 September 2014.
  5. Queen Victoria's Journals, Thursday 28th June 1838, Buckingham Palace, Princess Beatrice's copies, Volume:4 (1st June 1838–1st October 1838) p. 84, online, accessed May 25, 2013
  6. Pines, Yuri (2020). "Names and Titles in Eastern Zhou Texts". T'oung Pao. 106. Leiden: Brill: 715.
    Li Feng (2008). "Transmitting Antiquity: The Origin and Paradigmization of the "Five Ranks"". In Kuhn, Dieter; Stahl, Helga (eds.). Perceptions of Antiquity in Chinese Civilization. Würzberg: Würzburger Sinologische Schriften. p. 112.
  7. You Jia (尤佳) (2015). Dong Han Liehou juewei zhidu东汉列侯爵位制度. Kunming: 云南大学出版社. pp. 47–48, 52, 73.
  8. Lebra, Takie Sugiyama (1993). Above the Clouds: Status Culture of the Modern Japanese Nobility. CA, US: University of California Press. p. 51. ISBN   9780520911796.