Marquess: Wikis


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A 17th-century engraving of the robe used by a marquis during this creation ceremony.

A marquess (pronounced /ˈmɑrkwɨs/) or marquis (pronounced /mɑrˈkiː/) (from French "marquis") is a nobleman of hereditary rank in various European monarchies and some of their colonies. The term is also used to render equivalent oriental styles as in imperial China and Japan. In the British peerage it ranks below a duke and above an earl (see Marquesses in the United Kingdom and the Commonwealth). In Europe it is usually equivalent where a cognate title exists. A woman with the rank of marquess, or the wife of a marquess, is a marchioness (in British usage) (pronounced /ˌmɑrʃəˈnɛs/), or a marquise (in Europe, pronounced /mɑrˈkiːz/).


Marquesal titles in other European languages

The following list may still be incomplete. Feminine forms follow after a slash; many languages have two words, one for the "modern" marquess and one for the original margrave.

In Italy the equivalent modern rank (as opposed to margravio) is that of marchese, the wife of whom is a marchesa, a good example of how several languages adopted a new word derived from marquis for the modern style, thus distinguishing it from the old "military" margraves. Even where neither title was ever used domestically, such duplication to describe foreign titles can exist.

Germanic languages

  • Danish: Markis, Markgreve / Markise, Markgrevinde
  • Dutch: Markgraaf, Markies / Markgravin, Markiezin
  • Faroese: Markgreivi / Markgreivakona
  • German: Markgraf, Marquis / Markgräfin, Marquise or Reichsgraf / Reichsgräfin
  • Icelandic: Markgreifi / Markgreifynja
  • Norwegian: Markis / Markise
  • Scots: Marquis / Marchioness
  • Swedish: Markis, Markgreve / Markisinna, Markgrevinna

Romance languages

Slavonic and Baltic languages

Other languages

  • Albanian: Markiz / Markizë
  • Estonian: Markii/Markiis or Markkrahv / Markkrahvinna
  • Finnish: Rajakreivi / Rajakreivitär or simply Markiisi /Markiisitar
  • Georgian: Aznauri/Markizi
  • Greek: Μαρκήσιος, Markēsios / Μαρκησία, Markēsía
  • Hungarian: Őrgróf (Márki) / Őrgrófnő (Márkinő) / Őrgrófné (consort of an Őrgróf)
  • Maltese: Markiż / Markiża
  • Turkish: Markiz

Equivalent non-Western titles

Like other major Western noble titles, marquess or marquis is sometimes used to render certain titles in 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 ancient China, 侯 (hóu) was the second of five noble ranks created by King Wu of Zhou and is generally translated as marquess or marquis.
  • in imperial China, 侯 (hóu) is generally, but not always, a middle-to-high ranking hereditary nobility title. Its exact rank varies greatly from dynasty to dynasty, and even within a dynasty. It is often created with different sub-ranks.
  • in Meiji Japan, Kōshaku (侯爵), a hereditary peerage (Kazoku) rank, was introduced in 1884, granting a hereditary seat in the upper house of the imperial diet just as a British peerage did (until Tony Blair's House of Lords Act 1999), with the ranks usually rendered as baron, viscount, count, marquis and duke. The Japanese rendered these titles in Chinese (though there the titles devalue when a new generation succeeds), though the Western titles were used in translation.
  • in Korea, the title of Hyeonhu (현후, 縣侯), of which the meaning is "marquess of district", existed for the hereditary nobility in the Goryeo dynasty. It was equivalent to the upper fifth rank of nine bureaucratic orders, and was in the third rank of six nobility orders. In the Joseon dynasty, there was no title equivalent to marquess.
  • in Vietnam's Annamite realm / empire, hau (Hán tự: 侯) was a senior title of hereditary nobility, equivalent to marquis, for male members of the imperial clan, ranking under vuong (king), quoc-cong (grand duke), quan-cong (duke) and cong (prince, but here under duke, rather like a German Fürst), and above ba (count), tu (viscount), nam (baron) and vinh phong (no equivalent).

See also


^ Although the vast majority of marquessates are named after places, and hence their holders are known as the "Marquess of X", a very few of them are named after surnames (even if not the bearer's own), and hence their holders are known as the "Marquess X". In either case, he is still informally known as "Lord X", regardless whether there is an of in his title, and it is always safe to style him so.

Sources and references


1911 encyclopedia

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From LoveToKnow 1911

MARQUESS, or Marquis (Fr. marquis, Ital. marchese; from med. Lat. marchio, marchisus, i.e. comes marchiae, " count of the March"), a title and rank of nobility. In the British peerage it is the second in order and therefore next to duke. In this sense the word was a reintroduction from abroad; but lords of the Welsh and Scottish "marches" are occasionally termed marchiones from an early date. The first marquess in England was Robert de Vere, the 9th earl of Oxford, who was created marquess of Dublin by Richard II. on the 1st of December 1385 and assigned precedence between dukes and earls. On the 13th of October following the patent of this marquessate was recalled, Robert de Vere then having been raised to a dukedom. John de Beaufort, earl of Somerset, the second legitimate son of John of Gaunt, was raised to the second marquessate as marquess of Dorset on the 29th of September 1397, but degraded again to earl in 1399. The Commons petitioned for the restoration of his marquessate in 1402, but he himself objected because "le noun de Marquys feust estraunge noun en cest Roialme." From that period this title appears to have been dormant till the reign of Henry VI., when it was revived (1442), and thenceforward it maintained its place in the British peerage. Anne Boleyn was created marchioness of Pembroke in 1532. A marquess is "most honourable," and is styled "my lord marquess." His wife, who is also "most honourable," is a marchioness, and is styled "my lady marchioness." The coronet is a circlet of gold on which rest four leaves and as many large pearls, all of them of equal height and connected. The cap and lining, if worn, are the same as in the other coronets (see Crown and Coronet). The mantle of parliament is scarlet, and has three and a half doublings of ermine.

In France, so early as the 9th century, counts who held several counties and had succeeded in making themselves quasi-independent began to describe themselves as marchiones, this use of the word being due to the fact that originally none but the margraves, or counts of the marches, had been allowed to hold more than one county. The marchio or marquess thus came to be no more than a count of exceptional power and dignity, the original significance of the title being lost. In course of time the title was recognized as ranking between those of duke and count; but with the decay of feudalism it lost much of its dignity, and by the 17th century the savour of pretentiousness attached to it had made it a favourite subject of satire for Moliere and other dramatists of the classical comedy. Abolished at the Revolution, the title of marquess was not restored by Napoleon, but it was again revived by Louis XVIII., who created many of Napoleon's counts marquesses. This again tended to cheapen the title, a process hastened under the republic by its frequent assumption on very slender grounds in the absence of any authority to prevent its abuse. In Italy too the title of marchese, once borne only by the powerful margraves of Verona, has shared the fate of most other titles of nobility in becoming common and of no great social significance. (See also MARGRAVE.) (J. H. R.)

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