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Fictional Aristocracy

Discussion in 'Research' started by taylorjune, Oct 18, 2012.

  1. taylorjune

    taylorjune New Member

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    I am currently working on a story with parts inspired by british peerage. It's not going to be exactly the same but I don't want to be too far off. Here's the problem: My heroine is the only female heir to two separate titles. Her mother was a Duchess in her own right; her mother married a Count. They have only one daughter and no other living male relatives. First of all, what title would her mother take once married to a man beneath her station? would she keep the title of duchess but be called the countess? Second of all, what title would their daughter take? Let me know if you can help me! Thanks :)
     
  2. Ankari

    Ankari Hero Breaker Moderator

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    Wouldn't you equate this to a queen marrying a man beneath her station? The man would earn the title of king. Using parallel logic, the mother wouldn't degrade her title, the count would elevate his. Now, how much control the count has over the mother's land is up to you. Contracts can be written that deny him any control over her lands and vice versa.
     
  3. PaulineMRoss

    PaulineMRoss Inkling

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    Oh, huge can of worms! Are you sure you really want to get into this? I'm not an expert but... after a quick Google, my guess would be:

    The mother would stay as the Duchess (higher ranking title takes precedence). At a ball, the couple would be announced as Count Thingy and the Duchess of Whatsit.

    The daughter's title would depend on whether she is allowed to inherit from her mother (she's be Lady Mary Familyname), but being a Duchess in your own right is kinda rare, so the rules vary.

    I don't know what the daughter of a Count would be (Lady Mary Familyname or the Honourable Mary Familyname, I'd guess). I don't think there actually are any British Counts (it's a European thing). There are Countesses, though (wives of earls).

    If you want to do this properly, start with Debrett's Peerage but remember for every rule there are at least three exceptions. Or you could just make up your own rules. :)

    @Ankari: no, the Count wouldn't elevate his status, and a man who marries a Queen in her own right doesn't become King (the current example is the Duke of Edinburgh). A woman who marries a King becomes a Queen (usually), but it doesn't work in reverse. Yeah, sexist or what?
     
    Ankari likes this.
  4. Ankari

    Ankari Hero Breaker Moderator

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    What would a man not a king who marries a queen become then? I can't think he keeps his old title and sits in the corner. Royal Consort?
     
  5. PaulineMRoss

    PaulineMRoss Inkling

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    In Britain, he has no automatic right to any title. When the present Queen got married, her husband was created Duke of Edinburgh just before the wedding so he had a title. But when the Princess Royal (Princess Anne) married, she refused any title for her husband, or the children. I think Queen Victoria's husband Prince Albert was officially called the Royal Consort.

    The British Peerage is hugely complicated. I strongly recommend making up your own fantasy peerage.
     
  6. Ankari

    Ankari Hero Breaker Moderator

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    Note to self: Don't use the British Peerage system unless you want to confound the readers...or sell a world encyclopedia companion book.
     
  7. Butterfly

    Butterfly Auror

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    Technically, the title of King outranks a Queen, and must come to the title be by blood. So any man marrying a queen, cannot be given the title of king as she is the head of state by right and not him. Hence, the queen's husband's highest title is Prince.

    Most of the royals have several titles, one superseding the other, so the children would be able to tak the right honourable thingy of any one of them, usually the eldest son would take the highest.
     
  8. Shockley

    Shockley Maester

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    It depends on the situation. There are a number of historical examples:

    Empress Matilda, who was also Queen of England, was married to Geoffrey Plantagenet, whose highest title was the Duke of Normandy (but was Count of Anjou for most of his reign).

    Queen Elizabeth was married to Albert, who was Prince Consort. As I recall, Albert had no titles in his own right.

    Queen Mary II was married to William, Stadtholder of the Dutch Republic. When Queen Mary II assumed the throne, William became William III of England and William II of Scotland and reigned as King.

    While Philip is indeed the Duke of Edinburgh (and that seems to be his preferred title), he was born the Prince of Greece and Denmark but vacated his titles after entering exile. He is, technically speaking, a Prince of the United Kingdom as well.

    So you have a lot of freedom on this point, but it would really depend on the era you're interested in. Do you have a specific time frame in mind?
     
  9. Butterfly

    Butterfly Auror

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    Err... It was Queen Victoria who was married to Prince Albert.

    Elizabeth II is married to Prince Phillip - yes he actually bears the prince title as well.

    Elizabeth I was known as the virgin queen, never married or had children. Rumour has it, she saw herself as married to the kingdom, and also inspired a cult of virginism.
     
    Last edited: Oct 21, 2012
  10. Shockley

    Shockley Maester

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    Yes, I meant Victoria.

    I just wrote a rather large paper on the Elizabethan Settlement, so that was on the brain.
     
  11. Graylorne

    Graylorne Archmage

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    He was Prince of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha and Duke of Saxony.
     
  12. Caged Maiden

    Caged Maiden Staff Article Team

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    Also, it should be noted that Lord and Lady are honorifics attached to nobility only. You do not call just anyone, My Lord. Also, Right Honorable Such and Such, did not exist until the 1700's so it is completely out of context in a medieval setting.

    I prefer either German of Italian nobility, for the sole reason that the merchant class was able to increase rank. In England, you were born noble or not. You might marry into a higher class as a woman and be styled, My Lady, but for a man, that didn't happen. If you were of common birth, your only chance was to be knighted. Very few nobles were "made' in history.

    Here are some helpful links. We've been over all this before, but I'm not going to search for the threads, its easier for me to just reshare the links. But, we've gone into detail about this matter on this forum before if you can find it.

    Life in Elizabethan England 13: Titles and Forms of Address

    Royal and noble ranks - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

    Honorific - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

    Forms of address in the United Kingdom - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

    Best wishes!
     
  13. Shockley

    Shockley Maester

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    No. Ernest, his brother, was Duke of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha. Saxe-Coburg and Gotha was never a principality - the use of the title by future Dukes of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha came solely from their title of Prince of the United Kingdom (since Alfred, Victoria's son, ended up succeeding Ernest after he died children).

    The Duchy of Saxony was abolished in the 13th century and at the time of Prince Albert was the Kingdom of Saxony ruled over by the House of Wettin. Saxe-Coburg-Gotha and Saxony have never, as best as I can remember, been the same state.

    Bluntly said, it was very unexpected that Albert got to marry Victoria because of his low rank. He had started to woo her before it became obvious that she was going to become Queen of the United Kingdom (she was the daughter of the fourth child of King George III, and George III had surviving male children at the time of her ascension), so the marriage was something of a done-deal before Victoria really mattered. That's why you have a non-titled member of the nobility married to the Queen.

    This does, of course, depend on the time frame and the monarch in question. Some of them, such as James I, made a habit of selling baronetcy as a way to raise funds.
     
  14. Graylorne

    Graylorne Archmage

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    Albert was a Wettin, the whole house of Saxe-Coburg was Wettin. Coburg came from the Ernestine Line of Johann II Elector of Saxony through Ernst I Duke of Saxe-Gotha, Eisenach, Altenburg and Coburg. Johann II came from the margraves of Meissen, who were also counts palatine of Saxony before they got the electorate in 1423 and descendents of Konrad I count of Wettin (d.1157).

    His title Duxe in Saxony (that of/in was my mistake) was, as far as I remember, common for all male descendants, because by law all inherited their father's title of duke (honorific).

    For some years I made a study of all royal family-trees of Europe. Rather fascinating stuff, you see the modern world grow throught their marriages and machinations. But that's how I have a smattering of knowledge about these things.
     
  15. Shockley

    Shockley Maester

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    Correct. That said, I still maintain that the Duchies of Saxony and Saxe-Coburg-Gotha were always politically independent of each other. Remember, Saxe-Coburg-Gotha was carved out of Thuringian, not the traditional Saxon, lands.

    That does make more sense.

    Good stuff. I'm actually in the midst of writing a paper on Frederick the Wise.
     
  16. mpkirby

    mpkirby Scribe

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    One thought is to look at peerage and inheritance in your world as an extension of the economic system. In Britain, inheritance tended to be handed in its entirety to the oldest son. Younger sons might have some form of title, but were dirt poor.

    This created two interesting economic conditions:

    A concentration of wealth that allowed for the concentration of capital when industrialization came around.

    And

    A supply of highly educated poor people who aspired greatly for that which they grew up with.

    Compare this with France where inheritance tended to be split between children, resulting in smaller and smaller pools of ownership (capital too small to do much with ), yet still large enough to live off of.

    In your story, perhaps there is a younger sister, or younger men who fall into the work hard category, where her access to capital would be of interest to those around her (and not in just the usual "want to marry someone rich" sense)

    I realize I'm not really answering your question (as I know nothing about british peerage other than the passing economic understanding). But hopefully this is helpful nonetheless.

    Mike
     
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