This glossary defines certain words and phrases as they relate to the studies presented at this site. This is not intended as an exhaustive or particularly detailed list, but includes many of those words and phrases which are often encountered in these fields, but unlikely to be found in most dictionaries, or whose precise usages are most frequently debated by scholars, and therefore likely to be misinterpreted by a some readers.
accolade - a ceremonial and physical bestowal of knighthood, such as dubbing; the term probably derives from the Provençal acolada (literally embrace), for the sovereign's embrace of the newly dubbed knight in early medieval times, a practice maintained in certain Latin orders, such as the Order of the Annunciation of the House of Savoy.
adel - in German, a nobleman.
armiger - one lawfully entitled to bear a coat of arms recognised by a sovereign state.
armigerous - of or pertaining to an armiger or the heraldic rights associated with being an armiger.
armory - 1) the branch of heraldry pertaining to coats of arms. 2) arms and armour.
armorial heraldry - armory (sense 1).
attainder - the act of divesting a nobleman or knight of his rank, honours or prerogatives; in Britain, such an action undertaken by an Act of Parliament.
baron - 1) the lowest hereditary rank of titled nobility in certain European countries and Japan. 2) in Great Britain, peerage title ranking below that of viscount, usu. hereditary. 3) in the Middle Ages, a feudatory of specified rank holding his rights and title directly from the king. 4) in Norman territories, the feudal rank immediately above that of seigneur.
baronage -1) the rank, title or dignity of a baron; barony. 2) barons collectively. 3) all of the peers or feudatories of a kingdom.
baronet - a British hereditary title of honour, ranking next below a baron, held by commoners and entitling its bearer to be addressed "Sir."
barony - 1) the domain of a baron. 2) the rank, title or dignity of a baron.
caballero - in Spanish, a knight.
cavalheiro - in Portuguese, a knight; sometimes cavaleiro.
cavaliere - in Italian, a knight.
chevalier - in French, a knight.
chief - in Scotland, the hereditary head of a noble family, usu. descriptive exclusively of the head of a Highland clan and its whole name and arms.
Chief Herald - the heraldic executive of the Republic of Ireland.
chieftain - 1) in Ireland, the hereditary head of a sept or noble family, esp. one of Gaelic origin. 2) in Scotland, the head of a cadet branch of a noble family or Highland clan.
chief of name - chieftan (esp. sense 2).
chivalric - of or pertaining to chivalry (esp. sense 3) or to orders of chivalry.
chivalry - 1) the code of behavior associated with medieval knighthood. 2) the qualities idealised by knighthood, such as bravery, courtesy, honour, fidelity, and defence of the weak. 3) the charitable Christian activities of modern orders of chivalry or knighthood based on such traditional principles (See military-religious orders.).
chivalrous - of or pertaining to chivalry (senses 1 and 2); knightly.
coat of arms - hereditary designs and symbols depicted on an escutcheon, sometimes accompanied by other elements of a heraldic achievement, such as a helm, crest, crest coronet, torse, mantling and supporters.
consort - 1) a husband or wife, especially the spouse of a monarch. 2) especially in Latin countries, the wife a nobleman or knight; sometimes the husband of a lady who is a noblewoman in her own right.
count - in most European countries, the title of nobility ranking above that of baron but immediately below that of marquess, from the Latin comes.
countess - 1) wife or widow of a count or earl. 2) woman holding the rank or grade of count or earl in her own right.
courtesy title - title of nobility, such as that of a woman who is a peeress by virtue of her husband's being a peer, by which a nobleman or noblewoman is addressed when the legal or hereditary rights to the title are not vested in that person.
crest - decorative hereditary symbol or device placed upon the helm in a coat of arms.
crusading orders - 1) orders of chivalry present in the Holy Land during the time of the Crusades. 2) sometimes, orders of chivalry founded outside the Holy Land for the defence of Christian countries against Muslims. See also military-religious and monastic-military orders.
czar - See tsar.
czarevitch - See tsarevich.
czarevna - See tsarevna.
czarina - Anglice tsaritza.
czaritsa - See tsaritza.
dama - 1) in Italian, a dame. 2) in Spanish and Portuguese, a dame or noblewoman.
dame - female title equivalent to that of knight.
de - literally of in several Romance languages, hence its ancient use in many early toponyms in Norman territories such as England and Sicily. See particule.
demesnial - 1) in a monarchy, traditional term for property pertaining to the royal demesne rather than to feudatories. 2) in some formerly monarchical states, said of property pertaining to the nation rather than to localities, individuals or corporate bodies.
di - Italian preposition, literally of. See predicato.
divestiture - the act of divesting oneself, or being divested, of a nobiliary or chivalric title or rank; attainder; opposite of investiture.
dom - 1) Portuguese form of address analogous to Spanish and Italian don. 2) title used before the names of monks in certain Roman Catholic orders, such as Benedectines, abbrev. of dominus.
don - in Italian and Spanish, lord, placed before the Christian name, often used loosely in common parlance; sometimes a title of courtesy for a priest.
doña - in Spanish, lady, title of courtesy formerly used exclusively for noblewomen; sometimes employed loosely in common parlance.
donna - in Italian, lady, title used for dames and some noblewomen, sometimes employed loosely in common parlance.
droit de passage - esp. in crusading orders, the offering rendered by a knight upon his investiture, symbolic of the funds spent by crusading knights for sea passage to the Holy Land. Also passage fee.
dubbing - physical ceremonial act of bestowing knighthood, as with a light tap upon the shoulders or other gesture. See accolade, investiture and rite of investiture.
dynast -1) hereditary ruler who reigns by right of being the head of a dynasty. 2) hereditary head of a dynasty, whether regnant or non-regnant. 3) member of a dynasty, esp. one lawfully entitled to succeed to its headship.
dynastic - of or pertaining to a dynast or a dynasty.
dynasty - family that reigns with sovereign authority over a nation or state during a succession of dynasts or for several generations.
earl - in Great Britain, a peerage title of Anglo-Saxon origin, analogous in grade to the Continental title of count.
edelmann - in German, a nobleman.
eques - 1) in Classical Latin, a mounted warrior. 2) usual Latin translation for knight.
equestrian order - an order of chivalry that is military-religious in character and structure but not necessarily of medieval foundation.
esquire - 1) a candidate for knighthood, from esquier, akin to Fr. ecuyer and It. scudiero. 2) in Great Britain, a member of the gentry ranking below a knight; squire. 3) in some English-speaking countries, title of courtesy placed after a man's name. 4) an armigerous gentleman.
feudal barony - esp. in Scotland and Ireland, a baronial rank held by virtue of the possession of feudal property but which does not entitle its holder to a peerage.
fons honorum - 1) Latin for fount of honour. 2) the right to bestow honours.
fount of honour - 1) traditionally, a sovereign as the lawful source of all nobiliary creations and knightly honours in his dominions or jurisdiction. 2) presidency or other national entity empowered to bestow honours on behalf of a sovereign state. 3) any other authority which for juridical reasons is empowered to bestow honours, such as the Pope, the Primate of an Orthodox church, or a non-regnant dynastic head.
Frankish succession - inheritance of property, such as a landed estate, by the eldest son of a vassal or other feudatory.
freiherr - in German, a baron.
gentleman - 1) traditionally, an armigerous member of the British landed gentry ranking immediately below an esquire. 2) a man displaying the qualities of a gentleman.
gentry - 1) in the U.K., a traditionally aristocratic armigerous social class ranking below the peerage. 2) outside the U.K., the untitled armigerous nobility.
giuspatronato - esp. in certain Italian orders of chivalry, term descriptive of a knight's donation of all or part of an estate as a titular commandery to be transmitted to his heirs; Italian for just patronage. See hereditary knight commander.
graf - in German and Russian, a count.
grand magistry - also grand magistery, grand magistracy; the rank, office, and exercise of a grand master.
grand master - head of an order of knighthood, with rights of fons honorum.
heir apparent - in Great Britain, the eldest son of the sovereign, who succeeds to the Throne should he be alive at his parent's death, e.g. the Prince of Wales.
heir presumptive - in Great Britain, the heir second in succession to the Throne (after the heir apparent) but one who would not succeed should a prince with a prior claim, such as a son of the heir apparent, be born.
heraldic - of or pertaining to heraldry.
heraldry - 1) the history, art and study of coats of arms; armory (sense 1). 2) in a general sense, those activities undertaken by heralds, esp. relating to coats of arms, titles of nobility and court ceremonies.
herby - Polish clans, each of which includes numerous noble families that share the same coat of arms.
hereditary knight - a knight by hereditary right, such as the Knight of Glin, the Knight of Kerry, or the various Italian cavalieri ereditari, whose rank does not derive from association with an order of chivalry, but is nonetheless distinguished from the British rank of knight bachelor.
hereditary knight commander - in certain orders of chivalry, rank transmitted by primogeniture to descendants of the founder of a commandery of giuspatronato. See giuspatronato.
hereditary prince - in some European countries, the title given to the heir to the throne.
hidalga - feminine of hidalgo.
hidalgo - in Spanish, an untitled nobleman.
hidalguìa - traits associated with an hidalgo; chivalry (sense 2).
high king - in Ireland, a sovereign who ruled a large territory prior to the Anglo-Norman conquest.
honour - 1) a knighthood (sense 1) or decoration. 2) in general usage, refers to esteem, respect, dignity, good name, great privilege.
infanta - daughter of a Spanish or Portuguese king.
infante - 1) son of a Spanish or Portuguese king other than the heir to the throne. 2) Spanish or Portuguese royal prince who receives this title from the Crown, thus having certain dynastic rights and prerogatives.
investiture - the rite or procedure, which may include dubbing, of bestowing upon an individual a knighthood or, in some countries, a nobiliary rank. See rite of investiture.
knightage - knights collectively, esp. in the same nation or realm, though not necessarily appertaining to the same order.
knight bachelor - chiefly in British usage, a knight who receives the accolade from his sovereign but who is not thereby invested into an order of knighthood.
knight commander - in many orders of knighthood, a rank above that of knight.
knight grand cross - in many orders of knighthood, the highest rank after that of grand master.
knighthood - 1) the rank, profession or dignity of a knight. 2) knightage.
knightly - 1) of or pertaining to knighthood or orders of chivalry and knighthood. 2) descripive of one who displays the personal characteristics associated with a knight; chivalrous.
knyaz - in Russian, a feudatory or other nobleman of high rank, usu. translated prince.
laird - in Scotland, a feudal lord.
landed gentry - armigerous segment of the gentry whose wealth and social position traditionally were based on the ownership of land or the hereditary privileges associated with landholding.
Longobard succession - inheritance of property, such as a landed estate, by all legitimate sons of a vassal or other feudatory.
lord of the manor - See manorial lord.
maestranza - 1) one of the societies instituted in Spain for the training of knights and esquires in equestrian and combat skills. 2) a contemporary Spanish nobiliary society based upon, or continued from, a historical maestranza.
manorial lord - in Saxon England, a minor territorial nobleman in the manorial system (which existed prior to the Normans' introduction of the feudal system) which rank survives today without entitlement to a nobiliary style of address.
marquess - British peerage title ranking immediately below that of duke; also English translation of marquis.
marquis - the title of a nobleman ranking above a count but below a duke, usu. trans. marquess in British English.
mediatized- also mediatised, said of princes in the Holy Roman Empire reduced in rank from immediate vassals to mediate vassals; more recently, the term is descriptive especially of princely dynasties of Germany and the Russian Empire whose dominions were annexed by bilateral agreement to those of larger states without thereby attenuating the dynastic rights and dignities these sovereigns had enjoyed prior to the annexations.
military-religious orders - also equestrian or crusading orders; religious orders of chivalry, such as the Order of the Hospital and the Order of the Temple, founded in the Middle Ages for the defence of pilgrims or the care of the sick.
monastic-military orders - religious orders of chivalry, such as the Order of Alcantara, founded principally for the defence of the various Iberian realms against the Moors.
monseigneur - 1) sometimes mon seigneur, literally my lord, formerly used in France and certain other countries in addressing royals and nobles, still employed formally in the Principality of Monaco. 2) French term used today in addressing certain clerics (See Monsignor).
monsignor - in the Roman Catholic Church, form of address for certain prelates having particular ranks or titles that conferred by the Papal authority.
nia-naisc - aristocratic warrior of pre-Norman Ireland; sometimes niadh-nasc.
nobiliary - of or pertaining to noblemen or the nobility.
nobility - 1) the state of hereditary and lawfully privileged aristocracy recognised in a person by a sovereign nation. 2) the hereditary aristocracy recognised formally as a social class.
noble - 1) a nobleman. 2) pertaining to a nobleman or the nobility.
nobleman - member of the nobility who in most European countries is also an armiger, whether titled or untitled.
oblation - annual financial offering required of knights of certain crusading, equestrian or military-religious orders, akin to scutage.
order of chivalry - 1) a corporate body of knights, each of whom was elevated by, and in former times owed allegiance to, the same grand master; order of knighthood. 2) such a corporate body, esp. one dedicated to chivalric goals based on traditional Christian principles, such as the care of the sick, as distinguished from an order bestowed for merit but not implying such service; a military-religious order.
order of knighthood - a corporate body of knights, each of whom was elevated by, and in former times owed allegiance to, the same grand master; order of chivalry.
page - 1) boy attending a knight as the first stage of training for knighthood, ranking below an esquire. 2) a boy in employment or ceremonial attendance at court. 3) a person employed to run errands and carry messages; footman.
particule - in French, the territorial designation sometimes attached as a suffix to a nobleman's surname, following the preposition de, analogous to the Italian predicato.
passage fee - charitable offering made by a knight of a military-religious or equestrian order upon his investiture, based on the medieval droit de passage.
patriarch - 1) a bishop who is the Primate of an autocephalous Orthodox church. 2) a bishop who holds a high episcopal rank in the Roman Catholic Church.
patrizio - Italian rank of untitled nobility that originated in the medieval city-states but came to be used in cities throughout Italy.
peer - 1) in Great Britain, a duke, marquess, earl, viscount or baron; noblemen having certain hereditary rights and prerogatives, such as a seat in the House of Lords. 2) in common usage in certain countries outside the U.K., a titled nobleman.
peeress - 1) in Great Britain, a duchess, marchioness, countess, viscountess or baroness in her own right, enjoying the rights and prerogatives of a peer (sense 1). 2) the wife of a British peer.
phaleristics - study of the history and design of decorations, medals and orders of knighthood.
predicato - in Italian, the territorial designation sometimes attached as a suffix to a nobleman's surname, following the preposition di, analogous to the French particule.
regnant - reigning.
rite of investiture - traditional religious ceremony, usu. held in a cathedral or basilica, for investing a knight. See investiture.
ritsar - in Russian, a knight.
ritter - in German, a knight.
royal - 1) pertaining to the regnant or non-regnant family of a king or queen. 2) in common usage, any regnant or non-regnant dynasty, even if its head is known by a title other than king or queen, such as that of an emperor, prince, grand duke, etc.
Salic Law - 1) a medieval law, thought to derive from the code of law of the Salian Franks, prohibiting a woman from succeeding to a throne. 2) a modern dynastic statute or practice based on this law.
samurai - 1) a professional warrior belonging to the feudal military aristocracy of Japan. 2) the feudal military aristocracy of Japan.
scutage - from the Fr. ecuage and Latin scutum (shield), in the Middle Ages, payment made by enfeoffed knights and other feudatories to the Crown in lieu of military service; in some realms (such as the Kingdom of Sicily) the use of scutage continued into the nineteenth century as a means of taxing the nobility. See also oblation.
seigneur - a seigneurial lord.
seigneurial lord - a seigniory; especially in Norman territories, the most fundamental rank of a nobleman as a feudatory, similar in many respects to that of manorial lord but entailing greater duties under the feudal system; the title is maintained on the Isle of Sark and elsewhere.
Señor - 1) Spanish title of courtesy placed before a man's name, formerly employed as an address reserved for noblemen. 2) Spanish for Lord.
Signore - 1) Italian title of courtesy placed before a man's name, formerly employed as an address for a nobleman of the rank of this denomination introduced into Italy by the Normans (see seigneur). 2) Italian for Lord.
Sir - 1) title of honour placed before the given name or full name of a British knight or baronet. 2) respectful form of address used instead of a man's name.
stemma - 1) in Latin, a pedigree. 2) in Italian, a coat of arms.
szlachta- the Polish nobility, in which titles and ranks were unknown until their introduction by foreign rulers.
tanist - in Gaelic countries, heir apparent to a chief or chieftain, nominated during the chief's lifetime.
tanistry - the system of designating a tanist, esp. in Gaelic countries.
territorial designation - place name sometimes added as a suffix following the surname of a peer or certain other noblemen, in former times allusive to a feudal territory or familial seat.
toponym - surname, such as Savoie, based on the name of a place which in the case of a noble family may have been their oldest or principal fief.
tsar - in Russia and certain other Slavic countries, a male monarch.
tsarevich - also czarevitch, eldest son of a tsar.
tsarevna - also czarevna, daughter of a tsar or wife of a tsarevich.
tsaritza - also czaritsa, wife of a tsar, Anglice czarina.
von - a German preposition, literally of, often used as an onomastic prefix to a surname or territorial designation to indicate nobility.