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Encyclopedia > Viscounty
British Viscount Coronet
British Viscount Coronet

A viscount (pronounced [ˈvaɪˌkaʊnt]) is a member of the European nobility whose comital title ranks usually, as in the British peerage, above a baron, below an earl (in Britain) or a count (his continental equivalent). The Viscount was a medium-range turboprop airliner introduced in 1953 by Vickers-Armstrongs, making it the first such aircraft to enter service in the world. ... This is a concise version of the International Phonetic Alphabet for English sounds. ... // Nobility is a traditional hereditary status (see hereditary titles) that exists today in many countries (mainly present or former monarchies). ... The Peerage is a system of titles of United Kingdom and is one part of the British honours system. ... Baron is a specific title of nobility or a more generic feudal qualification. ... For people, see Earl (given name) and Earl (surname). ... A count is a nobleman in most European countries, equivalent in rank to a British earl, whose wife is also still a countess (for lack of an Anglo-Saxon term). ...



The word viscount, known to be used in English since 1387, comes from Old French visconte (modern French: vicomte), itself from Medieval Latin vicecomitem, accusative of vicecomes, from Late Latin vice- "deputy" + Latin comes (originally "companion; later Roman imperial courtier or trusted appointee, ultimately Count). Old French was the Romance dialect continuum spoken in territories corresponding roughly to the northern half of modern France and parts of Belgium and Switzerland from around 1000 to 1300 A.D. It was known at the time as the langue doïl to distinguish it from the langue... Medieval Latin refers to the Latin used in the Middle Ages, primarily as a medium of scholarly exchange and as the liturgical language of the medieval Roman Catholic Church. ... The accusative case of a noun is the grammatical case used to mark the direct object of a verb. ... Vulgar Latin, as in this political engraving at Pompeii, was the language of the ordinary people of the Roman Empire, distinct from the Classical Latin of literature. ... Latin is an ancient Indo-European language originally spoken in Latium, the region immediately surrounding Rome. ... Comes (genitive: comitis) is the Latin word for companion, either individually or as a member of a collective known as comitatus (compare comitatenses), especially the suite of a magnate, in some cases large and/or formal enough to have a specific name, such as a cohors amicorum. ...

As a rank in British peerage, it was first recorded in 1440, when John Beaumont, 1st Viscount Beaumont, was made one by King Henry VI. The word viscount corresponds in Britain to the Anglo-Saxon shire reeve (root of the non-nobiliary, royal-appointed office of Sheriff). Thus early viscounts were not originally normally given their titles by the monarch, nor hereditary; but soon they too tended to establish hereditary principalities lato sensu. For alternative meanings, see number 1440. ... The title of Baron Beaumont is an ancient one in the Peerage of England, created in 1309 for a younger part of the de Brienne-family. ... Henry VI (December 6, 1421 – May 21, 1471) was King of England from 1422 to 1461 (though with a Regent until 1437) and then from 1470 to 1471, and King of France from 1422 to 1453. ... Note: This page contains phonetic information presented in the International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA) using Unicode. ... Look up Sheriff in Wiktionary, the free dictionary. ... Look up Sheriff in Wiktionary, the free dictionary. ...

Viscount in Britain and the Commonwealth

A viscount is said to hold a "viscountship" or "viscounty", or (more as the area of his jurisdiction) a "viscountcy". The female equivalent of a viscount is a viscountess.

  • In British practice, the title of a viscount may be either a placename, or a surname, or sometimes, a combination thereof. In any event, the style of a viscount is "The Viscount X," or "The Viscount X of Y." Examples include: The Viscount Falmouth (placename); The Viscount Hardinge (surname); The Viscount Gage of Castle Island (surname of placename); and The Viscount Combermere of Bhurtpore (placename of placename). An exception exists for Viscounts in the peerage of Scotland, who are styled "The Viscount of X," as in: The Viscount of Arbuthnott (surname).

A British viscount is addressed in speech as Lord X, while his wife is Lady X. The children of a viscount are known as The Honourable [Forename] [Surname]. A style of office, or honorific, is a form of address which by tradition or law precedes a reference to a person who holds a title or post, or to the political office itself. ... The prefix The Honourable or The Honorable ( or formerly The Honble) is a title of quality attached to the names of certain classes of persons. ...

  • A specifically British custom is the use of viscount as a courtesy title for the heir of an earl or marquess. The peer's heir apparent will sometimes be referred to as a viscount, if the second most senior title, held by the head of the family is a viscountcy. For example, the eldest son of the Earl Howe is the Viscount Curzon, because this is the second most senior title held by the Earl. More often than not the eldest son of a British duke enjoys the courtesy title of marquess; an exception is the Dukedom of Norfolk, which does not hold the secondary title of marquess so the heir enjoys the next title down in status which is that of an earl.
  • The son of a marquess or an earl can be referred to as a viscount when the title of viscount is not the second most senior if those above it share their name with the substantive title. For example, the second most senior title of the Marquess of Salisbury is the Earl of Salisbury. The eldest son of the Marquess does not use the title Earl of Salisbury, but rather the next most senior title, Viscount Cranborne. This is because peers sign their name with the name of their title only (e.g. "Salisbury") thus to prevent confusion the heir would not use the title Earl of Salisbury.
  • Sometimes the son of a peer can be referred to as a viscount even when he could use a more senior courtesy title which differs in name from the substantive title. Family tradition plays a role in this. For example, the eldest son of the Marquess of Londonderry is Viscount Castlereagh, even though the Marquess is also the Earl Vane. See Courtesy titles for more information.

A courtesy title is a form of address in the British peerage system used for wives, children, and other close relatives of a peer. ... Contrasting with heir presumptive, an heir apparent is one who cannot be prevented from inheriting by the birth of any other person. ... For the article about the island go to Lord Howe Island. ... Earl Howe is a title that has been created twice: once in the Peerage of Great Britain and another time in the Peerage of the United Kingdom. ... A marquess is a nobleman of hereditary rank. ... Thomas Howard, 3rd Duke of Norfolk holding the baton of the Earl Marshal. ... A substantive title is a title of nobility or royalty actually held, usually alone, by someone which they gained through either grant or inheritance, as opposed to one given or loaned to them either as a courtesy title, or gained through marriage. ... The title Marquess of Salisbury is a British title of Peerage, created in 1789 for James Cecil, 7th Earl of Salisbury. ... The title Marquess of Salisbury is a British title of Peerage, created in 1789 for James Cecil, 7th Earl of Salisbury. ... The title Marquess of Salisbury is a British title of Peerage, created in 1789 for James Cecil, 7th Earl of Salisbury. ... The title of Marquess of Londonderry (pronounced Lundundry) is a title in the Peerage of Ireland created in 1816 for Robert Stewart, 1st Earl of Londonderry, father of Lord Castlereagh, the Foreign Secretary at the time. ... Robert Stewart, 2nd Marquess of Londonderry, (June 18, 1769 - August 12, 1822), known until 1821 by his courtesy title of Viscount Castlereagh, was an Anglo-Irish politician born in Dublin who represented the United Kingdom at the Congress of Vienna. ... The title of Marquess of Londonderry (pronounced Lundundry) is a title in the Peerage of Ireland created in 1816 for Robert Stewart, 1st Earl of Londonderry, father of Lord Castlereagh, the Foreign Secretary at the time. ... A courtesy title is a form of address in the British peerage system used for wives, children, and other close relatives of a peer. ...


A viscount's coronet of rank bears 16 silver balls around the rim. Like all heraldic coronets, it is only worn at the coronation of a sovereign, but a viscount has the right to bear his coronet of rank on his coat of arms, above the shield.

Continental forms of the title

  • The title of viscount is less common in Italy ("visconte"), though the noble Visconti family, rulers of Milan, offers an outstanding example. In Italy, a younger member of a conte (count)'s family, assigned a fortified rocca on the outskirts of the territory, would be more likely to be "X, dei conti Y" ("X, of the counts of Y") than Viscount.
  • In the former kingdom of Portugal a visconde ranks above a barão (baron) and below a conde. The first Portuguese viscountcy, that of D. Leonel de Lima, visconde de Vila Nova de Cerveira, dates from the reign of Afonso V. A flood of viscountcies, some 86 new titles, was awarded in Portugal between 1848 and 1880 (Portuguese Wikipedia).
  • In the kingdom of Spain the title was awarded from the reign of Felipe IV (1621-65; Habsburg dynasty) until 1846.
  • In various languages we need to verify whether the existing title has actually been awarded there, or is just an empty rendering of foreign realities.
    • Hungarian: várgróf or vikomt and even vicomte (as in French)
    • Polish: Wicehrabia (literally vice-count)

Visconti was a noble family that ruled Milan during the Middle Ages and Early Renaissance period. ... Afonso V of Portugal, the African, thirteenth king of Portugal was born in Sintra in January 15, 1432 and died in the same city in August 28, 1481. ... Philip IV (), (April 8, 1605 – September 17, 1665) was King of Spain from 1621 to 1665 and also King of Portugal until 1640. ...

Equivalent western titles

There are non-etymological equivalents to the title of Viscount (i.e meaning 'Vice-Count) in several languages including German.

However, in such case titles of the etymological Burgrave-family (not in countries with a viscount-form, such as Italian burgravio alongside visconte) bearers of the title could establish themselves at the same gap, thus at generally the same level. Consequentally a Freiherr (or Baron) ranks not immediately below a Graf, but below a Burggraf. Burgrave, the Eng. ...

Thus in Dutch, Burggraaf is the rank above Baron, below Graaf (i.e. Count) in the kingdoms of the Netherlands and of Belgium (by Belgian law, its equivalents in both other official languages, are Burggraf in German and vicomte in French).

Non-western counterparts

Like other major Western noble titles, Viscount 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, which are considered 'equivalent' in relative rank.

This is the case with:

  • the Korean Pansoh
  • the Chinese Tzu, hereditary title of nobility of the fourth rank
  • the Japanese Shishaku (子爵) or Shi, fourth and lowest but one of the five peerage ranks
  • the Vietnamese Tu

Korean monarchy and native nobility existed in Korea until the Japanese occupations end. ... Tu or TU may stand for: Tu, an abbreviation for the Russian Tupolev design bureau; or Tu Hundred - a district of Westmannia in Sweden the IATA code for Tunisair Tempus Universalis i. ...

See also

  • List of British Viscountcies
  • Visconti, the leading noble family that became ruling dukes of Milan, apparently taking its surname from a returning crusader Ottone who was created Visconte of Milan

This page lists all viscounties, extant, extinct, dormant, abeyant, or forfeit, in the peerages of England, Scotland, Great Britain, Ireland and the United Kingdom. ... Visconti was a noble family that ruled Milan during the Middle Ages and Early Renaissance period. ...

Sources and references

  • EtymologyOnLine
  • RoyalArk- see various non-European countries
  • WorldStatesmen- see individual countries
  • Burke's Peerage & Baronetage, 1956, introduction, pp cxx-cxxviii.



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