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Ritter (German for "knight") is a designation used as a title of nobility in German-speaking areas. Traditionally it denotes the second-lowest rank within the nobility, standing above "Edler" and below "Freiherr" (Baron). For its historical association with warfare and the landed gentry in the Middle Ages, it can be considered roughly equal to the titles of "Knight", but is hereditary so is closer to the British title of "Baronet".
As with most titles and designations within the nobility in German-speaking areas, the rank was hereditary and generally was used with the nobiliary particle of von or zu before a family name.
The wife of a Ritter was called a "Frau" (in this sense "Lady") and not Ritterin.
In the Austrian Empire the title of "Ritter von" was bestowed upon citizens who deserved more than the plain "von" but were not considered deserving enough as to be given a barony as "Freiherr". In addition to the described system, Württemberg introduced orders of merit beginning in the late 18th century which also conferred nobility as "Ritter von" but kept the title limited to the recipient's lifetime (see Military Order of Max Joseph).
In heraldry, from the late 18th century a Ritter was often indicated by the use of a coronet with five points, although not everyone who was a Ritter and displayed arms made use of such a coronet.
A knight is a person granted an honorary title of knighthood by a head of state or representative for service to the monarch, the church or the country, especially in a military capacity.
The peerage in the United Kingdom is a legal system comprising both hereditary and lifetime titles, composed of various noble ranks, and forming a constituent part of the British honours system. The term peerage can be used both collectively to refer to the entire body of nobles, and individually to refer to a specific title. British peerage title holders are termed peers of the Realm. The peerage's fundamental roles are ones of government, peers being eligible to a seat in the House of Lords, and of meritocracy, the receiving of any peerage being the highest of British honours.
A viscount or viscountess is a title used in certain European countries for a noble of varying status.
Baron is a rank of nobility or title of honour, often hereditary. The female equivalent is baroness.
The Swedish nobility has historically been a legally and/or socially privileged class in Sweden, and part of the so-called frälse. The archaic term for nobility, frälse, also included the clergy, a classification defined by tax exemptions and representation in the diet. Today the nobility does not maintain its former privileges although family names, titles and coats of arms are still protected. The Swedish nobility consists of both "introduced" and "unintroduced" nobility, where the latter has not been formally "introduced" at the House of Nobility (Riddarhuset). The House of Nobility still maintains a fee for male members over the age of 18 for upkeep on pertinent buildings in Stockholm.
Graf (male) or Gräfin (female) is a historical title of the German nobility, usually translated as "count". Considered to be intermediate among noble ranks, the title is often treated as equivalent to the British title of "earl".
Freiherr, Freifrau and Freiin are designations used as titles of nobility in the German-speaking areas of the Holy Roman Empire, and in its various successor states, including Austria, Prussia, Bavaria, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, etc. Traditionally it denotes the titled rank within the nobility above Ritter (knight) and Edler and below Graf and Herzog (duke). The title superseded the earlier medieval form, Edelherr.
A coronet is a small crown consisting of ornaments fixed on a metal ring. By one definition, a coronet differs from a crown in that a coronet never has arches, and from a tiara in that a coronet completely encircles the head, while a tiara does not. By a slightly different definition, a crown is worn by an emperor, empress, king or queen; a coronet by a nobleman or lady. See also diadem.
Traditional rank amongst European 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.
Edler was until 1919 the lowest rank of nobility in Austria-Hungary and Germany, just beneath a Ritter, but above untitled nobles, who used only the nobiliary particle von before their surname. It was mostly given to civil servants and military officers, as well as those upon whom the lower rank of an Order had been conferred. The noun Edler comes from the adjective edel ("noble"), and translated literally means "noble [person]". In accordance with the rules of German grammar, the word can also appear as Edle, Edlem, or Edlen depending on case, gender, and number.
Riedesel is a German family name that began to appear in legal documents in the early 13th century. They were of the knightly class, though not all had the official status of Ritter or knight. Its exact geographical and temporal origins are uncertain. However, all of the early references are from the area of Hesse, and many served as vassals of the Margrave of Hesse in Marburg. In later centuries, the men served a wide variety of higher nobility as men-at-arms, administrators, and counselors.
Jonkheer is an honorific in the Low Countries denoting the lowest rank within the nobility. In the Netherlands, this in general concerns a prefix used by the untitled nobility. In Belgium, this is the lowest title within the nobility system, recognised by the Court of Cassation. It is the cognate and equivalent of the German noble honorific Junker, which was historically used throughout the German-speaking part of Europe, and to some extent also within Scandinavia.
The German nobility and royalty were status groups which until 1919 enjoyed certain privileges relative to other people under the laws and customs in the German-speaking area.
Hans Ritter von Adam, born Hans Adam, was a Bavarian flying ace in World War I, with 21 victories before being killed in action. He enlisted as an infantry private, and rose through the ranks to be commissioned an officer. His valor earned him his nation's highest awards, including one that posthumously raised him to nobility.
The British nobility is the peerage of the United Kingdom. The nobility of its four constituent home nations has played a major role in shaping the history of the country, although now they retain only the rights to stand for election to the House of Lords, dining rights there, position in the formal order of precedence, the right to certain titles, and the right to an audience with the monarch. Still, more than a third of British land is in the hands of aristocrats and traditional landed gentry.
Moritz Friedrich Joseph Eugen Freiherr Auffenberg von Komarów was an Austro-Hungarian Military officer in the Austro-Hungarian Army and Minister of War. At the outbreak of World War I, he took command of the Fourth Army.
Eugen Siegfried Erich Ritter von Schobert was a German general during World War II. He commanded the 11th Army during Operation Barbarossa, the invasion of the Soviet Union. Schobert died when his observation plane crashed in a Soviet minefield.
The Military Order of Max Joseph was the highest military order of the Kingdom of Bavaria. It was founded on 1 January 1806 by Maximilian I Joseph of Bavaria, the first king of Bavaria. The order came in three classes:
Ridder is a noble title in the Netherlands and Belgium. Traditionally it denotes the second lowest rank within the nobility, standing below Baron, but above the untitled nobility (Jonkheer) in these countries. "Ridder" is a literal translation of Latin Eques and originally meant "horseman" or "rider". For its historical association with warfare and the landed gentry in the Middle Ages, it can be considered roughly equal to the titles of "Knight" or "Baronet". In the Netherlands and Belgium no female equivalent exists. The collective term for its holders in a certain area as an executive and legislative assembly is named the Ridderschap.
Mathias Franz Graf von Chorinsky Freiherr von Ledske, 4 October 1720 in Patzeslawitz (Pačlavice) – 30 October 1786 in Gurein (Kuřim), Moravia, Holy Roman Empire, was first Bishop of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Brünn (Brno), Imperial and Royal senior Privy Counsellor of the Imperial and Royal Privy Council of the Habsburg monarchy and with his equally eminent brothers the first Counts of Chorinsky.
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