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25 November 2012 @ 02:43 pm
Fictional Facts of the Phoenix Empire Part ten - Titles of Nobility  
Aslittleni pointed out, the whole business of noble titles in our Phoenix Empire feels a little confusing. So, both as a service to you and future reference for us, I've written down what we have so far on the subject. As usual, please feel free to ask if anything feels missing or is unclear.

Noble titles in the Phoenix Empire sound like a terribly confusing mess, but are actually a very strictly sorted and simple system of hierarchic ranks.

Sovereign titles

So even there is a slew of titles in the Empire, the political power runs in a clear and short line:

Emperor > Duke > Count > Baron > Baronet > Knight

Those are the ‘sovereign’ titles, the ones that confer rulership over a certain domain if the title is connected to a piece of real estate. All sovereign titles are bound together by oaths of fealty that gather upwards and end in the Emperor.

Historically, there were Kings between the Emperor and the Dukes, but during the Age of the Feuding Houses this title has fallen out of use as it seemed either petty or preposterous.

There is a long going discussion if Knights are sovereign titles or not, as they are rarely connected to domains and also rarely are heritable titles. For the use of this paper, they are assumed to be sovereign titles, though, as a Knight who does hold a piece of land holds full sovereignty therein.


The sovereign titles are the ones that hold power if connected to a piece of real estate, called a domain. The size of a domain is roughly proportionate with a noble’s title, and is approximately sorted like this:

Emperor > Duke > Count > Baron > Baronet > Knight
Empire > Planet > Continent > Country > Region > Town or Estate

Often, Nobles attach the name of their domain to their title in full style. If they attach a domain to their given name, though, it can be the domain of their birth and unrelated to their actual holdings.

In full style, the sovereign titles are addressed as follows (names and domains are given as examples):
- His Imperial Majesty, Emperor Gregorius of the Phoenix Empire
- His Royal (Ducal, Serene) Highness, Mel Ohm Dracon, the Duke of Malicorn
- Her Illustrious Highness, Agneta, the Countess of Yslain
- His Lordship, Baron Yuri of Serin
- His Lordship, Baronet Gallyd
- Lady Layla, Knight of Isphahan

Derived titles

Unlike the sovereign titles, derived titles do not hold any direct legal or political powers. They are conferred to someone by being related to or employed by someone holding a sovereign title.

Someone passing on a sovereign title becomes the ‘Arch-version’ of that title. This applies both to the proper titleholder who abdicates as well as a titleholders spouse who passes on the rulership to their mutual heir.

Prince / Princess
Everyone in the immediate line of succession for a title of the High Nobility (everything that addresses with ‘Highness’) and does not hold a title of his own, can claim the title of Prince. This is primarily meant to include the children of a titleholder, but can include other brethren and their children. It is safe to assume that #1 to #10 of any line of succession could insist on being called a Prince.
The heads of the Royal Houses also style themselves Prince as a reminder that they are potentially in line to inherit the Imperial throne.

Basically, a Squire is a Knight in training and always pledged to a Knight. It is theoretically possible for a higher-ranking Noble to have a Squire attached to him, but that would look like selling himself low.
A Squire is NOT a title exclusive to the nobility, so there could theoretically be a slave squire to a noble Knight.

Addressing a Noble

The full style is only used when being first introduced.

After that, your Highness, Lord or Lady for all sovereign titles is always a safe bet, with Sir or Lady for a Knight.

It is important to note that Milord, Milady and Sire are only appropriate if addressing the noble one is actually the subject of.

Alternate Names of Titles

Due to the deep reaching cultural differences, each House and planet can have alternate names for a title, but they are just stylistic differences, not political ones. A Dracon Baronet, a Habichtswald Freiherr and a Jehanni Sharif are basically the same.

Following is a list of alternates; if the alternate carries a cultural distinction, its root is given in brackets. List will be updated if new alternate titles appear.

Marquis (Shirazan Habichtswald), Emir (the Medina), Herzog (Habichtswald), Thain (Coron)

Earl (added on 2013-01-06: Habichtswald, Cournicova), Jarl (Coron), Graf (Habichtswald)

Viscount, Land- or Markgrave (Habichtswald)

Freiherr (Habichtswald), Sharif (the Medina)


Lord / Lady / Sir
Don / Donna (Andragor, Castella)

Prince / Princess
Dauphin (Shirazan Habichtswald, for use of first in line), Infanta (Andragor, for use of first in line)

Spousal titles

A sovereign noble marrying extends his title to his spouse. Marrying a Duke makes you a Duchess, and theoretically both titles are equal. Derived titles are not conferred through marriage directly.

As the old heteronormative marriages more and more become a thing of the past, a same-sex spouse can take either the same or opposing title of his partner (See: The First Phoenix Empress). It remains to be seem which version will prevail.

With both titles in a marriage theoretically equal, it is vital for a stranger to be able to figure out who is the real power on the throne.
Usually, each noble house has a standard way of sorting this out – Jehanni men and Cournicowa women always hold the higher title (even if they are the ones marrying up), Castella confer the higher title to the one literally wearing the pants and with Dracon and van der Meer, it’s safe to assume that the one speaking is the boss, at least for now.

Multiple titles

Of course, a Noble can hold multiple titles, though it can only be one title per domain at any time.

Assuming Princess Esme Eder of Waldeck marries Count Eduardo Castella of Zargoza, she will be Countess Esme Castella of Zargoza, Princess of Waldeck. She is not Princess of Zargoza even though she is first in line to inherit the title, because Countess is a title in her own right and tops the one of Princess.
Neither does she become Countess of Waldeck, as the titles are anchored to their domains and Waldeck does not become a county just because the Lord’s daughter marries a Count. Nor does Eduardo become a Prince (he already holds a sovereign title) or can attach anything ‘of Waldeck’ to his name as he was not born there and his wife only held a derived title.

It’s that simple.^^

Meridaemeridae on November 26th, 2012 04:45 am (UTC)
So Robert would be "Robert, Supreme Ruler of Thombert"

::runs away laughing::
osirisbrackhausosirisbrackhaus on November 26th, 2012 07:56 am (UTC)
Something like that indeed. :D
triptyxtriptyx on November 27th, 2012 06:17 pm (UTC)
Sorry to get into your comments, but I had to grin so much at this! :) :D
talomor on January 5th, 2013 10:40 pm (UTC)
It's me nagging again, but take it as a sign how much I care: According to this it should be Graf Christopher Habichtswald in the first story, shouldn't it?
osirisbrackhausosirisbrackhaus on January 6th, 2013 10:11 am (UTC)
How often do we have to tell you we LOVE questions? It something we are happy about, even and especially if you catch a mistake that slipped us.

And to answer your question - yes and no. ^^

Yes, Graf is the proper Habichtswald equivalent for Count.
No, because alternate titles are basically translations, not different titles.

So addressing Cristopher as Count Christopher would be correct Imperial, with Graf Christopher being a slightly old-fashioned, polite alternative.

It's a bit like addressing a French with 'Monsieur' in an English conversation, if that makes sense.
talomor on January 6th, 2013 01:14 pm (UTC)
Yeah, that makes sense. But why call him Earl, then? To stay with the example, wouldn't that be like calling the French man "Herr" in an English conversation?
osirisbrackhausosirisbrackhaus on January 6th, 2013 05:55 pm (UTC)
Hurm. There you've caught us, never realized that. Thanks for spotting this!

I'll talk to Beryll about how to change that.

osirisbrackhausosirisbrackhaus on January 6th, 2013 06:07 pm (UTC)

Okay, how about this fix: Earl was a former Habichtswald and Cournicova title, which has fallen out of use in Imperial as it bears too much similarities to the Coron 'Jarl'.

Addressing Christopher as an Earl thus becomes a subtle insult, pointing out both his antiquated ways and his closeness to the barbarous Coron.

Sounds totally plausible to me, doesn't it?

(Text fixed above)
talomor on January 6th, 2013 08:31 pm (UTC)
Very clever ;-)