Wednesday, 20 March 2013

Position is Everything

Versailles was famous for its strict and complicated hierarchy. Position was everything because your title also decided what privileges you were entitled to. These are the titles a nobleman at Versailles could hold:
  • Duc: a man in possession of a duchy
  • Prince: not necessarily the son of the King but was also rewarded to the eldest son of influential duke-peers. It should be stated that the title of Prince does not give the same rights as the rank of Prince.
  • Marquis: possessing a marquessate but was often assumed as a courtesy title
  • Comte: possessing a country or self-assumed
  • Vicomte: possessing a vis-country or self-assumed
  • Baron: possessing a barony or self-assumed
  • Chevalier: normally a nobleman with no other title who belongs to an order of chivalry
  • Sire: a gentleman associated with a distinguished family
To make it even more complicated for outsiders to understand, there were ranks within the main titles - and they were of equally great importance.
  • Fils de France: son of the King
  • Petit-fils de France: grand-son of the King
  • Prince du Sang: princes of the blood - a remote (legitimate) son of a King of France
  • Prince légitimé: legitimized son of the King but the actual rank depended on the King's favour
  • Prince étranger: princes of foreign royal houses
  • Écuyer: most untitled nobles
  • Gentilhomme: a gentleman 

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