Encyclopædia Britannica, Ninth Edition/Titles of Honour
TITLES OF HONOUR are words and phrases used for marking and distinguishing the rank or station of the persons to whom they are assigned and appropriated. Whatever may have been their actual or verbal origin, it is certain that among nations which have made any considerable progress in civilization their immediate derivation has been in the great majority of cases from some kind of public office or employment. As Mr Freeman has pointed out, the principal exceptions to this rule are the merely complimentary additions which it is usual to accord in Europe and America to persons who have no ascertained place or precedence in the social scale. Among ourselves "mister" or "master" (magister) and its feminine equivalents, and on the Continent signor, senor, and sieur (senior} and their feminine equivalents, are the leading examples. They are employed simply to avoid the necessity of calling those to whom they are applied by their proper names only, and are not indicative of any special rank or station. In France, however, maltre, which answers to our mister or master, is the professional designation of an avocat, and in England "sir," which answers to signor, senor, and sieur, is the appropriate prefix to the Christian name and surname of a baronet or a knight. Of the derivatives of dominus don, donna, and dame the last in French compounded like sieur with the possessive pronoun in ordinary speech and appearing in madame as the feminine equivalent of monsieur, much the same may be said as of the derivatives of magister and senior. And, although our word " lord " has a special reference to the House of Lords, as the German Herr has to the Herrenhaus in certain of its uses, it largely partakes of the character which belongs to them. Its derivation is analogous to theirs, and within somewhat narrower limits it is almost as indiscriminately employed. More strictly lord and lady are the equivalents of baron and baroness, the fifth grade of the British peerage. But colloquially it is applied to all grades of the peerage except the first; and, though duchesses are not called ladies in society, dukes are unquestionably lords in their capacity as members of the second chamber of the legislature. Certain of the sons and daughters of peers are lords and ladies by courtesy, while the wives of baronets are legally and the wives of knights are conventionally called ladies, although the wives of knights are more accurately described as dames. But besides this we have our lord the king and our lady the queen, lord bishops, lord lieutenants, lord justices, lord advocates, lord mayors, lord provosts, lords of the council, lords of the treasury, lords of the admiralty, lords of manors, and a variety of other lords who have no necessary connexion with the nobility. Lord and lady in fact are among the titles of honour which have never been historically associated with any particular function. Lord was originally in Anglo-Saxon hldford, probably a corruption of hldfweard, "the warden of bread." Lady in Anglo-Saxon is hlaefdige, and has also some connection with hldf. Neither name acquired by means of official association any definite signification beyond the more or less general ascription of superiority.
It is exceedingly difficult to distribute titles of honour into rigidly distinct categories. The following is as near an approximation as we are able to make.
I. Supreme Sovereign Titles.—Among titles implying sovereignty the first place is occupied by "emperor" and "king." Under existing international arrangements the crowned heads of Europe take precedence according to the date of their accession, and their rank is precisely the same, whether their style is imperial or royal. But the proper meaning of emperor is the chief of a confederation of states of which kings are members. The German emperor is an emperor in this sense, and he of course has precedence of the kings of Saxony, Bavaria, and Wurtemberg, whose dominions are in cluded in his empire. But neither he nor the emperors of Russia and Austria have any precedence as such of the queen of the United Kingdom or the kings of Italy and Spain. Originally the title of king was superior to that of emperor, and it was to avoid the assumption of the superior title of rex that the chief magistrates of Rome adopted the names of CSBSOT, imperator, and princeps to signalize their authority. As imperator was the distinctive title of the ruler of the Western empire, so /ScuriXefa was the distinctive title of the ruler of the Eastern empire, and the Greek /SaoiXeiys is the exact equivalent of the Latin rex. The emperor of the East was called avroKparup as well as /SacrtAetfs. But /a(riei/s came to mean the same as imperator in so special a way that the word frf was borrowed to express what had grown to be the in ferior dignity of king. Under Charlemagne the imperial style of Rome and the royal style of Germany were united. It was, however, from Cæsar, which was common to the Western and the Eastern emperors alike, that the Teutonic word for emperor—kaiser—was derived. Until recent times, in fact, no sovereign thought of calling himself emperor unless he claimed in some way to represent the Roman Cæsars. Down to the beginning of the 19th century a German emperor who was not Roman emperor would have been an anomaly. At remote periods more than one of the West-Saxon kings called himself emperor of Britain, and more than one king of Castile called himself emperor of the Spains. But these assumptions appear to have been merely intended as protests against the assertion of superiority over them by the Roman emperors, German or Greek. Later on the kings of Portugal called themselves emperor of the Indies. But that title, like the queen of the United Kingdom's title of empress of India, was secondary only and did not affect their official designation in the hierarchy of European sovereigns.
The title of king does not suggest any of the questions which have been raised by that of emperor. "There is," as Mr Freeman says, "a common idea of kingship which is at once recognized, however hard it may be to define it. This is shown among other things by the fact that no difficulty is ever felt as to translating the word king and the words which answer to it in other languages." Etymologically indeed the Romance and Teutonic words for king have quite distinct origins. The Latin rex corresponds to the Sanskrit rajah, and meant originally steersman. The Teutonic king on the contrary corresponds to the Sanskrit ganaka, and "simply meant father, the father of a family, the king of his own kin, the father of a clan, the father of a people." In English there is no feminine form of king like konigin, the feminine form of konig in German. As the feminine equivalent of king, queen is used, which Prof. Max Müller says is "the old word for mother." He also cites the translation of the Bible by Ulfilas in the 4th century to prove its meaning at that early period as wife or woman. The queen was in fact in a special sense "the woman," or "the wife," the highest of women and the highest of wives in the kingdom. King should properly describe the head of a nation in distinction from the head of a tribe, as emperor should properly describe the head of a confederation in distinction from the head of a nation. The idea of territorial sovereignty, of kingship over a land instead of over a people, grew up under the feudal system. In Britain it was unknown until long after the Norman Conquest. William the Conqueror, like Harold or Edward, was king of the English, and it was only from the reign of Henry II. that his successors were transformed into kings of England. The Eastern titles of sultan and shah are accepted as equivalent to those of emperor and king in the West. The sovereigns of China and Japan are called emperors both in common and in diplomatic parlance. II. Honorary Religious Titles of Sovereigns. The German emperors were formerly styled "defenders of the church," while the kings of France were called " very Christian majesty " and " eldest sons of the church." The queen of England is "defender of the faith," the emperor of Austria as king of Hungary "apostolic majesty," the emperor of Russia as king of Poland "orthodox majesty," the king of Spain "catholic majesty," and the king of Portugal "very faithful majesty." All these titles were originally conferred by the popes. But the queen of the United Kingdom and the emperor of Austria alone employ them as part of their official description.
III. Inferior Titles of Sovereignty. Grand-dukes rank next to kings. Grand -duke was the original title of the czars and was introduced into western Europe by Pope Pius V., who created Cosimo de Medici grand-duke of Tuscany in the last half of the 16th century. There are now seven reigning grand-dukes in Germany. Prince and duke are titles also borne by the reigning chiefs of minor Germanic states. There are reigning princes of Monaco and Montenegro. The Eastern equivalents for these sub ordinate titles are khedive, emir, khan, and bey.
IV. Titles of Nobility. The titles of the greater nobility are prince, duke, marquis, earl or count, viscount, and baron, and most of them exist in all European empires and kingdoms. In the United Kingdom there are no princes outside the royal family. In Russia there are no dukes except the imperial grand -dukes and neither marquises nor viscounts. In Germany there are no viscounts. Among the titles of the lesser nobility or gentry baronet and esquire are peculiar to the United Kingdom. Knight, chevalier, and ritter are recognized throughout Europe, and as far as Persia and Japan. Of old time in Scotland baron, now represented by laird, was not a title of the greater nobility, and the same may be said of freiherr in Germany. The peculiar designations of the chiefs of some of the Scottish clans and Irish septs, as The Chisholm, The O Donoghue, Cameron of Lochiel, Macgillicuddy of the Reeks, and others must also be included among titles of honour. It would be improper to prefix "mister," or to affix "esquire," to their names in addressing them either orally or in writing, and their wives are always called madam. Pasha, bey, and oflendi are the most familiar of the Eastern titles of nobility. The ecclesiastical titles of archbishop, bishop, dean, &c., and the military and naval titles of field-marshal, admiral, general, colonel, major, captain, &c., are common to all the countries of Europe, and are expressed by words in their several languages which are the precise equivalents of each other. But their incidentally dignified character is so overshadowed by their essentially administrative character that they can be regarded as titles of honour only in the same sense as the titles of officers of state or justice.
To the foregoing titles of honour may be added the large assortment of complimentary epithets which are attendant on them, and which are used as alternatively descriptive of the persons by whom they are borne. The Roman Cæsars were by decree of the senate called in Latin augustus, or sacred, which was rendered in Greek by trej3cLffT6s, or adorable. They were also habitually styled divi, pius and/etec, clemens, tranquillus, and sanctissimus. Augustalis majestas and ayla ftaffiXeia were among the styles of the Western and Eastern emperors respectively. Majesty, sacred majesty, or Caesarean majesty, was the peculiar title of the emperors, and it was not assumed by any of the other sovereigns of Europe until comparatively modern times. But it is said to have been adopted in France as early as the reign of Louis XI.; in England the first king who used it was Henry VIII. Before that the kings of England had been called grace and highness, and sometimes excellent grace and kingly highness. All emperors are now imperial majesties, and all kings majesties, while grand-dukes, royal highnesses, and all inferior reigning potentates are highnesses of one sort or another. Imperial or royal highness is the proper title of the sons and daughters of emperors and kings, serene highness, or highness merely, being that of the members of princely families. The German hoJicit, although it is commonly employed as the equivalent of highness or altesse, has a special signification of its own. It holds an intermediate rank between altesse royal or royal highness and altesse serenissime or serene highness, unless it is qualified by the adjectives kaiserliche or konigliche. For many years, however, it has been appropriated to the less important reigning and the mediatized princely houses, to distinguish them from the princely houses of new creation and the mediatized countly houses, to whom the titles of durchlaucht and erlaucht are severally assigned. In the United Kingdom grace is the title of dukes and duchesses, and lordship and ladyship of all other grades of the peerage and the bearers of courtesy titles of superior rank to any one of them. Dukes and duchesses are styled most noble, marquises and marchionesses most honourable, and all other peers and peeresses, lords and ladies by courtesy; privy councillors and the lord mayor of London are styled right honourable. Honourable is the title of the younger sons of earls, the sons and daughters of viscounts and barons, and the judges of the High Court of Justice. Archbishops are most reverend, bishops right reverend, deans very reverend, archdeacons venerable, and all clergymen reverend. The pope is his holiness, and cardinals are eminences. Viceroys, ambassadors, and governors are excellencies. But we have not yet rivalled the nice gradations in the descending scale of ilhistres, spectabiles, clarissimi, perfectissimi, and cgregii which characterized the official or administrative hierarchy of the later Roman empire. (F. DR.)()
- In Longman's Mag., vol. ii. p. 477 sq.
- "The baron alone among the ranks of peerage can hardly be called official, except so far as peerage itself is an office. His title rather marks a rank or class than an office; it does not at once point out even the memory of distinct functions like those of the duke, the marquis, or the earl" (Longman's Mag., vol. ii. p. 483).
- Müller, Lect. Sci. Lang., 2d ser., p. 255.
- Freeman, Comparative Politics, pp. 161-162.
- The great triumph in the life of Charles the Great was when the ambassadors of the Eastern emperor Michael addressed him according to the full, imperial style (Eginhard, Annals, 812), Aquisgrani, ubi ad imperatorem venerunt . . . more suo, id est, Græca lingua, laudes ei dixerunt, Imperatorem eum et Basileum appellantes'" (Freeman, Comparative Politics, p. 353). Mr Freeman notices also the great controversy concerning the imperial titles, especially the word /3a<rte15s, which arose three generations later between the emperors Basil the Macedonian and Lewis the Second. See also John Lydus, De Magistratibus, 1, 3, on the distinction between rtipavvos, /ScKnXetfs, and avTOKpartap, discussed in Freeman, Comp. Pol., p. 445.
- Freeman, Comp. Pol., p. 138.
- Max Müller, Lect. Sci. Lang., 2d ser., p. 255. "All people, save those who fancy that the name king has something to do with a Tartar khan or with a "canning" or "cunning" man, are agreed that the English cyning and the Sanskrit ganaka both come from the same root, from that widely spread root whence comes our own cyn or kin and the Greek γένος. The only question is whether there is any connexion between cyning and ganaka closer than that which is implied in their both coming from the same original root. That is to say, are we to suppose that cyning and ganaka are strictly the some word common to Sanskrit and Teutonic, or is it enough to think that cyning is an independent formation made after the Teutons had separated themselves from the common stock? . . . The difference between the two derivations is not very remote, as the cyn is the ruling idea in any case; but if we make the word immediately cognate with ganaka we bring in a notion about 'the father of his people' which has no place if we simply derive cyning from cyn" (Freeman, Comp. Pol., pp. 450-451; see also his Norm. Conq., vol. i. p. 583, and Growth of the English Constitution, p. 171).
- " The king's wife was called regina in Latin from the beginning; but there is no English word answering to regina: we have not and never had any word like the German königin. The queen is simply queen (cwen), woman, wife, the highest of wives in her husband's dominions. So the earl's wife was simply the earl's wife; the Norman style of countess now came in to fill up what was thought a defect. So with all strictly English titles, knight, sheriff, portreeve, alderman: they have no feminines; in most cases the wife does not share her husband's dignity. But the mayor, being a French title, has his mayoress, just as the duke has his duchess" (Freeman on "Titles," in Longman's Magazine, vol. ii. p. 489).