The Full Wiki

Earl: Wikis


Note: Many of our articles have direct quotes from sources you can cite, within the Wikipedia article! This article doesn't yet, but we're working on it! See more info or our list of citable articles.

Did you know ...

More interesting facts on Earl

Include this on your site/blog:


From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Ranks of Nobility
Coronet of an earl
Emperor & Empress
King & Queen
Archduke & Archduchess
Grand Duke & Grand Duchess
Duke & Duchess
Prince & Princess
Infante & Infanta
Marquess & Marchioness
Marquis & Marquise
Margrave & Margravine
Count & Countess
Earl & Countess

Viscount & Viscountess
Baron & Baroness
Baronet & Baronetess
Nobile, Edler von, panek
Ritter, Erfridder
Hereditary Knight
Black Knight, White Knight, Green Knight
Knight & Dame
The royal procession to Parliament at Westminster, 4 February 1512. Left to right: The Marquess of Dorset, Earl of Northumberland, Earl of Surrey, Earl of Shrewsbury, Earl of Essex, Earl of Kent, Earl of Derby, Earl of Wiltshire. From: Parliament Procession Roll of 1512

Earl was the Anglo-Saxon form and jarl the Scandinavian form of a title meaning "chieftain" and referring especially to chieftains set to rule a territory in a king's stead. In Scandinavia, it became obsolete in the Middle Ages and was replaced with duke (hertig/hertug); in later medieval Britain, it became the equivalent of the continental count (in England in the earlier period, it was more akin to duke, while in Scotland it assimilated the concept of mormaer).

In modern Britain, an earl is a member of the peerage, ranking below a marquess and above viscount.[1] The English never developed a feminine form of earl; the wife of an earl is styled countess (the continental equivalent).



See also Ríg for the account in Norse mythology of the warrior Jarl or Ríg-Jarl presented as the ancestor of the class of warrior-nobles.

According to Procopius, the Heruli, after having raided the European continent for several generations, returned to Scandinavia in 512 AD as a result of military defeats. As their old territory was now occupied by the Danes, they settled next to the Geats in present-day Sweden. While the Proto-Norse word for this mysterious tribe may have been erilaz, which is etymologically near "jarl" and "earl", and it has often been suggested they introduced the runes in Scandinavia[2], no elaborate theory exists to explain how the word came to be used as a title. Arguably, their knowledge in interpreting runes also meant they were gifted in martial arts and, as they gradually integrated, eril or jarl instead came to signify the rank of a leader.[3]

The Norman-derived equivalent "count" was not introduced following the Norman Conquest of England though "countess" was and is used for the female title. As Geoffrey Hughes writes, "It is a likely speculation that the Norman French title 'Count' was abandoned in England in favour of the Germanic 'Earl' […] precisely because of the uncomfortable phonetic proximity to cunt".

The Irish, Scottish Gaelic, and Welsh words for "count" or "earl" (iarla in Irish and Scottish Gaelic, iarll in Welsh) are all descended from English "earl" or one of its ancestors. In Scotland the word earl was used in English to refer to a mormaer.

Earls in the United Kingdom and the Commonwealth

See also List of earldoms

An earl's coronation robes.

Forms of address

An earl has the title Earl of [X] when the title originates from a placename, or Earl [X] when the title comes from a surname. In either case, he is referred to as Lord [X], and his wife as Lady [X]. A countess who holds an earldom in her own right also uses Lady [X], but her husband does not have a title (unless he has one in his own right).

The eldest son of an earl, though not himself a peer, is entitled to use a courtesy title, usually the highest of his father's lesser titles (if any); younger sons are styled The Honourable [Forename] [Surname], and daughters The Lady [Forename] [Surname] (Lady Diana Spencer being a well-known example).


Changing power of English earls

In Anglo-Saxon England, earls had authority over their own regions and right of judgement in provincial courts, as delegated by the king. They collected fines and taxes and in return received a "third penny", one-third of the money they collected. In wartime they led the king's armies. Some shires were grouped together into larger units known as earldoms, headed by an ealdorman or earl. Under Edward the Confessor earldoms like Wessex, Mercia, East Anglia and Northumbria—names that represented earlier independent kingdoms—were much larger than any shire.

Earls originally functioned essentially as royal governors. Though the title of Earl was nominally equal to the continental duke, unlike them earls were not de facto rulers in their own right.

After the Norman Conquest, William the Conqueror tried to rule England using the traditional system but eventually modified it to his own liking. Shires became the largest secular subdivision in England and earldoms disappeared. The Normans did create new earls like those of Herefordshire, Shropshire, and Cheshire but they were associated with only a single shire at most. Their power and regional jurisdiction was limited to that of the Norman counts. [4] There was no longer any administrative layer larger than the shire, and shires became "counties". Earls no longer aided in tax collection or made decisions in country courts and their numbers were small.

King Stephen increased the number of earls to reward those loyal to him in his war with his cousin Empress Matilda. He gave some earls the right to hold royal castles or control the sheriff and soon other earls assumed these rights themselves. By the end of his reign, some earls held courts of their own and even minted their own coins, against the wishes of the king.

It fell to Stephen's successor Henry II to again curtail the power of earls. He took back the control of royal castles and even demolished castles that earls had built for themselves. He did not create new earls or earldoms. No earl was allowed to remain independent of royal control.

The English kings had found it dangerous to give additional power to an already powerful aristocracy, so gradually sheriffs assumed the governing role. The details of this transition remain obscure, since earls in more peripheral areas, such as the Scottish and Welsh marches and Cornwall, retained some viceregal powers long after other earls had lost them. The loosening of central authority during the Anarchy also complicates any smooth description of the changeover.

By the 13th century, earls had a social rank just below the king and princes, but were not necessarily more powerful or wealthier than other noblemen. The only way to become an earl was to inherit the title or marry into one—and the king reserved a right to prevent the transfer of the title. By the 14th century, creating an earl included a special public ceremony where the king personally tied a sword belt around the waist of the new earl, emphasizing the fact that the earl's rights came from him.

Earls still held influence and as "companions of the king", were regarded as supporters of the king's power. They showed that power for the first time in 1327 when they deposed Edward II. They would later do the same with other kings they disapproved of. Still, the number of earls remained the same until 1337 when Edward III declared that he intended to create six new earldoms.

Earls, land, and titles

A loose connection between earls and shires remained for a long time after authority had moved over to the sheriffs. An official defining characteristic of an earl still consisted of the receipt of the "third penny", one-third of the revenues of justice of a shire, that later became a fixed sum. Thus every earl had an association with some shire, and very often a new creation of an earldom would take place in favour of the county where the new earl already had large estates and local influence.

Also, due to the association of earls and shires, the medieval practice could remain somewhat loose regarding the precise name used: no confusion could arise by calling someone earl of a shire, earl of the county town of the shire, or earl of some other prominent place in the shire; these all implied the same. So there were the "earl of Shrewsbury" (Shropshire), "earl of Arundel", "earl of Chichester" (Sussex), "earl of Winchester" (Hampshire), etc.

In a few cases the earl was traditionally addressed by his family name, e.g. the "earl Warenne" (in this case the practice may have arisen because these earls had little or no property in Surrey, their official county). Thus an earl did not always have an intimate association with "his" county. Another example comes from the earls of Oxford, whose property largely lay in Essex. They became earls of Oxford because earls of Essex and of the other nearby shires already existed.

Eventually the connection between an earl and a shire disappeared, so that in the present day a number of earldoms take their names from towns, mountains, or simply surnames. Nevertheless, some consider that the earldoms named after counties (or county towns) retain more prestige.

Order of precedence

List of English earls in order of precedence


The oldest earldoms in Scotland originated from the office of mormaer, such as the Mormaer of Fife, of Strathearn, etc; later earldoms developed by analogy.


A coronet of a British Earl

A British earl is entitled to a coronet bearing eight strawberry leaves (four visible) and eight silver balls (or pearls) around the rim (five visible). The actual coronet is mostly worn on certain ceremonial occasions, but an Earl can bear his coronet of rank on his coat of arms above the shield.



In medieval Norway, the title of jarl was the highest rank below the king himself. The jarl was the only one, beside the king himself, who was entitled to have a hird (large armed retinue). There was usually no more than one jarl in mainland Norway at any one time, sometimes none. The ruler of the Norwegian dependency of Orkney held the title of jarl, and after Iceland had acknowledged Norwegian overlordship in 1261, a jarl was sent there as well as the king's high representative. In mainland Norway, the title of jarl was usually used for one of two purposes:

  • To appoint a de facto ruler in cases where the king was a minor or seriously ill (e.g. Håkon galen in 1204 during the minority of king Guttorm, Skule Bårdsson in 1217 during the illness of king Inge Bårdsson).
  • To appease a pretender to the throne without giving him the title of king (e.g. Eirik, the brother of king Sverre).

In 1237, jarl Skule Bårdsson was given the rank of duke (hertug). This was the first time this title had been used in Norway, and meant that the title jarl was no longer the highest rank below the king. It also heralded the introduction of new noble titles from continental Europe, which were to replace the old Norse titles. The last jarl in mainland Norway was appointed in 1295

Some Norwegian jarls:


The usage of the title in Sweden was similar to Norway's. Known jarls from the 12th and 13 century were Birger Brosa, Jon jarl, Folke Birgersson, Karl Döve, Ulf Fase and the most powerful of all jarls and the last to hold the title, Birger jarl.


Only one person ever held the title of Earl (or Jarl) in Iceland. This was Gissur Þorvaldsson, who was made Earl of Iceland by King Haakon IV of Norway for his efforts in bringing Iceland under Norwegian kingship during the Age of the Sturlungs.


  1. ^ Stevenson, Angus, ed (2007). Shorter Oxford English Dictionary. 1 A-M (6th ed.). Oxford: Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19-920687-2. 
  2. ^ See the Järsberg Runestone from the 6th century carrying the inscription ek erilaR [...] runor waritu...
  3. ^ Lindström (2006:113–115).
  4. ^ Crouch p108


  • David Crouch, The Normans (2002) ISBN 1 85285 387 5
  • Marc Morris, The King's Companions (History Today December 2005)
  • Geoffrey Hughes, Swearing : a social history of foul language, oaths and profanity in English, ISBN 0-14-026707-7
  • Lindström, Fredrik; Lindström, Henrik (2006). Svitjods undergång och Sveriges födelse. Albert Bonniers förlag. ISBN 91-0-010789-1 (Swedish)

1911 encyclopedia

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From LoveToKnow 1911

EARL, a title and rank of nobility (corresponding to Lat. comes; Fr. comte), now the third in order of the British peerage, and accordingly intervening between marquess and viscount. Earl, however, is the oldest title and rank of English nobles, and was the highest until the year 1337, when the Black Prince was created duke of Cornwall by Edward III.

The nature of a modern earldom is readily understood, since it is a rank and dignity of nobility which, while it confers no official power or authority, is inalienable, indivisible, and descends in regular succession to all the heirs under the limitation in the grant until, on their failure, it becomes extinct. The title is of Scandinavian origin, and first appears in England under Canute as jarl, which was englished as eorl. Like the ealdorman), whose place he took, the eorl was a great royal officer, who might besetover severalcounties, but who presided separately in the county court of each with the bishop of the diocese. Although there were counts in Normandy before the Norman Conquest, they differed in character from the English earls, and the earl's position appears to have been but slightly modified by the Conquest. He was still generally entitled to the "third penny" of the county, but his office tended, under Norman influence, to become an hereditary dignity and his sphere was restricted by the Conqueror to a single county. The right to the "third penny" is a question of some obscurity, but its possession seems to have been deemed the distinctive mark of an earl, while the girding with "the sword of the county" formed the essential feature in his creation or investiture, as it continued to do for centuries later. The fact that every earl was the earl of a particular county has been much obscured by the loose usage of early times, when the style adopted was sometimes that of the noble's surname (e.g. the Earls Ferrers), sometimes that of his chief seat (e.g. the Earls of Arundel), and sometimes that of the county. Palatine earldoms, or palatinates, were those which possessed regalia, i.e. special privileges delegated by the crown. The two great examples, which dated from Norman times, were Chester and Durham, where the earl and the bishop respectively had their own courts and jurisdiction, and were almost petty sovereigns.

The earliest known charter creating an earl is that by which Stephen bestowed on Geoffrey de Mandeville, in or about 1140, the earldom of Essex as an hereditary dignity. Several other creations by Stephen and the empress Maud followed in quick succession. From at least the time of the Conquest the earl had a double character; he was one of the "barons," or tenants in chief, in virtue of the fief he held of the crown, as well as an earl in virtue of his "belting" (with the sword) and his "third penny" of the county. His fief would descend to the heirs of his body; and the earliest charters creating earldoms were granted with the same "limitation." The dignity might thus descend to a woman, and, in that case, like the territorial fief, it would be held by her husband, who might be summoned to parliament in right of it. The earldom of Warwick thus passed through several families till it was finally obtained, in 1449, by the Kingmaker, who had married the heiress of the former earls. But in the case of "co-heiresses" (more daughters than one), the king determined which, if any, should inherit the dignity.

The 14th century saw some changes introduced. The earldom of March, created in 1328, was the first that was not named from a county or its capital town. Under Edward III. also an idea appears to have arisen that earldoms were connected with the tenure of lands, and in 1337 several fresh ones were created and large grants of lands made for their support. The first earldom granted with limitation to the heirs male of the grantee's body was that of Nottingham in 1383. Another innovation was the grant of the first earldom for life only in 1377. The girding with the sword was the only observance at a creation till the first year of Edward VI., when the imposition of the cap of dignity and a circlet of gold was added. Under James I. the patent of creation was declared to be sufficient without any ceremony. An earl's robe of estate has three bars of ermine, but possibly it had originally four.

Something should be said of anomalous earldoms with Norman or Scottish styles. The Norman styles originated either under the Norman kings or at the time of the conquest of Normandy by the house of Lancaster. To the former period belonged that of Aumale, which successive fresh creations, under the Latinized form "Albemarle" have perpetuated to the present day (see Albemarle, Earls And Dukes Of). The so-called earls of Eu and of Mortain, in that period, were really holders of Norman comtes. Henry V. and his son created five or six, it is said, but really seven at least, Norman countships or earldoms, of which Harcourt (1418), Perche (1419), Dreux (1427) and Mortain (? 1430) were bestowed on English nobles, Eu (1419), and Tankerville (1419) on English commoners, and Longueville (1419) on a foreigner, Gaston de Foix. Of these the earldom of "Eu" was assumed by the earls of Essex till the death of Robert, the parliament's general (1646), while the title of Tankerville still survives under a modern creation (1714). An anomalous royal licence of 1661 permitted the earl of Bath to use the title of earl of Corbeil by alleged hereditary right. Of Scottish earldoms recognized in the English parliament the most remarkable case is that of the Lords Umfraville, who were summoned for three generations (1297-1380), as earls of Angus; Henry, Lord Beaumont, also was summoned as earl of Buchan from 1334 to 1339.

The earldom of Chester is granted to the princes of Wales on their creation, and the Scottish earldom of Carrick is held by the eldest son of the sovereign under act of parliament.

The premier earldom is that of Arundel, but as this is at present united with the dukedom of Norfolk, the oldest earldom not merged in a higher title is that of Shrewsbury (1442), the next in seniority being Derby (1485), and Huntingdon (1529). These three have been known as "the catskin earls," a term of uncertain origin. The ancient earldom of Wiltshire (1397) was unsuccessfully claimed in 1869 by Mr Scrope of Danby, and that of Norfolk (1312), in 1906, by Lord Mowbray and Stourton.

The premier earldom of Scotland as recognized by the Union Roll (1707), is that of Crawford, held by the Lindsays since its creation in 1398; but it is not one of the ancient "seven earldoms." The Decreet of Ranking (1606) appears to have recognized the earldom of Sutherland as the most ancient in virtue of a charter of 1347, but the House of Lords' decision of 1771 recognized it as having descended from at least the year 1275, and it may be as old as 1228. It is at present united with the dukedom of Sutherland. The original "seven earldoms" (of which it was one) represented seven provinces, each of which was under a "mormaer." This Celtic title was rendered "jarl" by the Norsemen, and under Alexander I. (c. 1,15) began to be replaced by earl (comes), owing to Anglo-Norman influence, which also tended to make these earldoms less official and more feudal.

In Ireland the duke of Leinster is, as earl of Kildare, premier earl as well as premier duke.

An earl is "Right Honourable," and is styled "My Lord." His eldest son bears his father's "second title," and therefore, that second title being in most cases a viscounty, he generally is styled "Viscount"; where, as with Devon and Huntingdon, there is no second title, one may be assumed for convenience; under all circumstances, however, the eldest son of an earl takes precedence immediately after the viscounts. The younger sons of earls are "Honourable," but all their daughters are "Ladies." In formal documents and instruments, the sovereign, when addressing or making mention of any peer of the degree of an earl, usually designates him "trusty and well-beloved cousin," - a form of appellation first adopted by Henry IV., who either by descent or alliance was actually related to every earl and duke in the realm. The wife of an earl is a countess; she is "Right Honourable," and is styled "My Lady." For the earl's coronet see Crown And Coronet.

See Lord's Reports on the Dignity of a Peer; Pike's Constitutional History of the House of Lords; Selden's Titles of Honour; G. E. C (okayne)'s Complete Peerage; Round's Geoffrey de Mandeville. (J. H. R.)

<< Ear

John Earle >>


Up to date as of January 15, 2010

Definition from Wiktionary, a free dictionary

See also earl




Proper noun




  1. The title of an earl.
  2. (chiefly US) A male given name from the English noun earl.
  3. A surname for service in the household of an earl, or from a nickname.

Related terms


  • 1922 F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Beautiful and Damned
    "Of course Gladys and Eleanor, having graced the last generation of heroines and being at present in their social prime, will be passed on to the next generation of shopgirls -"
    "Displacing Ella and Stella," interrupted Dick.
    "And Pearl and Jewel,", Gloria added cordially, " and Earl and Elmer and Minnie."
  • 1961 Richard Yates, Revolutionary Road, Vintage Contemporaries, 2000, ISBN 0375708448, page 74
    - - - in a world of mandatory diminutives, a corporation of jolly Bills and Jacks and Herbs and Teds in which an unabbreviable given name like Earl must have been a minor handicap, "Oat" was the best that could be done for a man with the given name of Otis.




Up to date as of February 01, 2010

From Wikia Gaming, your source for walkthroughs, games, guides, and more!


As he appears in the original game.

Game Series ToeJam & Earl series
1st Appearance ToeJam & Earl 1991
Alias: Big Earl
Alter Ego:
Japanese Name: Haku
Nationality: Alien
Species Large Orange Alien
Age: Teenager
Gender: Male
Blood Type:
Birthplace: Funkatron
Likes: jazz-funk, rap, & junk food
Dis-Likes: Moldy Food
Hobbies: Rapping
Family: His Mom, Dad, his little sister & brother.
Home: Funkatron
Power: Funk-Fu
Fighting Style:
Special Skill(s):
Creator(s): Greg Johnson
Voice Actor(s): Greg Brown(ToeJam & Earl III)
Trademark: High Tops & Shorts

This article is a stub. You can help by adding to it.

Stubs are articles that writers have begun work on, but are not yet complete enough to be considered finished articles.

This article uses material from the "Earl" article on the Gaming wiki at Wikia and is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike License.

Simple English

at Westminster, 4 February 1512. Left to right: The Marquess of Dorset, Earl of Northumberland, Earl of Surrey, Earl of Shrewsbury, Earl of Essex, Earl of Kent, Earl of Derby, Earl of Wiltshire. From: Parliament Procession Roll of 1512]]

An Earl or Jarl was an Anglo-Saxon and Scandinavian title, meaning "chieftain" and it referred especially to chieftains set to rule a territory in a king's stead. In Scandinavia, it got out of use in the Middle Ages, whereas, in Britain, it became synonymous with the continental count.

Today, an earl is a member of the British peerage and ranks below a Marquess and above a Viscount. A British Earl is equivalent to a continental Count. Since there is no feminine form of Earl, the wife of an Earl bears the rank of Countess (the continental equivalent).

Got something to say? Make a comment.
Your name
Your email address