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Home :: Archive :: 2002 :: July ::
Re: Duke as Count
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 13.1655  Wednesday, 17 July 2002

From:           Al Magary <
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Date:           Tuesday, 16 Jul 2002 11:25:46 -0700
Subject: 13.1648 Re: Duke as Count
Comment:        Re: SHK 13.1648 Re: Duke as Count

I'm a bit late on this non-literary observation but duke and count, like
other titles/offices, could then and can still be held simultaneously.
There is rigid precedence, so that a noble whose highest title is duke
will be in a procession before one whose highest title is count/earl,
but the duke still has all the secondary titles and will use them on
occasion.  For example, in British nobility in recent centuries the next
most important title can be used by the eldest son, so that the duke's
heir-apparent may be an earl, and an earl's heir-apparent may be a
viscount, until the son succeeds to all the titles.
And the duke's property might belong to him as a baron.  All might pass
to his heir, though when titles became disputed, titles and properties
were sometimes parceled out to claimants, and the king might selectively
dispossess the noble of titles or property.

Anciently, dukes, counts, and barons were closely connected to
territory--duchies, counties, and baronies--in which they not only held
property but also ruled.  After 1066, the Norman Kings of England were
powers across the narrow sea as Dukes of Normandy, but still owed the
King of France some obedience, at least ceremonially.  And as is also
well known in history, the Duke of Burgundy was once richer and more
powerful than the King of France.

As time went on, however, kings found it useful to grant titles without
any land or offices.  So, somewhat more likely on the Continent than
England, a duke who might be "all hat, no cattle" might be better known
locally as a count, for his greater importance as property owner,
occupant of the castle, sheriff, judge, and so forth.

Al Magary

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