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Edler (Edler von), was until 1919 the lowest title of nobility in Austria-Hungary and Germany, just beneath a Ritter, but above nobles without title which used only the preposition "von" before their surname. It was mostly given to civil servants and military officers, as well as those upon whom the second rank of an Order had been conferred. Women were styled Edle (Edle von).

Originally, from the Middle Ages, under the feudal system (in Europe and elsewhere), the nobility were generally those who held a fief, often in the form of heritable land worked by vassals.

To preserve the feudal naming practice, even in cases where upper ranking bureaucrats were the recipients of patents of nobility on the basis of long service and/or merit, as in the 18th, 19th, and early 20th centuries (see bureaucratic nobility), the old practice of denoting a noble with a territorial designation was continued out of a sense of tradition.

Thus, landless nobles were created under the formula, "Edler von XYZ", where the surname, XYZ, or possibly a place name, XYZ, followed the German preposition von, which, in this context, was taken to denote nobility. The English translation of this is normally "Noble of XYZ", where "XYZ" is classically a place name, but often a surname. Frequently, the nobiliary particle von (English 'of', or, more commonly, the French particule de noblesse 'de', meaning the same thing), was represented simply by the abbreviation v. to specify that it was being used to denote a member of the nobility, and not simply as the ordinary German-language preposition von.

An example of such a person's name and title is 'Josef Draginda, Edler v. Draginda'. His wife would have been, for example, 'Johanna Draginda, Edle v. Draginda'. Another example is the Austro-Hungarian general Viktor Weber Edler von Webenau, who signed the Armistice of villa Giusti between Austria-Hungary and the Entente in the end of World War I.

Esquire would be the closest English counterpart to Edler, although the German title would tend to carry more gravitas. The compound title of Edler Herr would be the closest (but not precise) approximation to the English sense of the term Lord, with Herr (Lord in German) being more commonly translated as Mister.



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