Count definition title with history requirements and Characteristics


The term count has several acceptances, as a noble title , such as Governor or region in the feudal system . In the high Middle Ages it was the monarch who conferred this dignity for them to carry out military or civil missions. However, this was not the only job involved in being an earl. In this article we will let you aware about Count definition title.

Find out how this title was awarded and everything about it below.

What is a count?

By referring to a count, it is indicating that he is the holder of one of the European titles with which the monarchs showed how grateful they were to certain people . Formerly, the noble title of Count was granted and with it many privileges were added to the person. For example , he received extensions of land or was exempt from taxes, among other privileges.

The feminine way of referring to a woman with this noble title is “Countess” and in the manor it is “County “. The spouse of the person who holds the title is known as Count or Countess. The origin is derived from the ancient Roman Empire , from the  emperor’s companions , the “committees “.

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History of the Count title

The word count comes from a Latin expression that means companion. In the ancient Roman Empire, this title was used to designate those who were always accompanying the emperors on their travels.

Although many believe that this title was known before, in the time of the republic, the title count began to be considered as a dignity after the empire of Constantine. It was from that moment, when counts were appointed to provide land and sea services in matters of war, peace and religion.

In Spain there were titles of counts in the time of the Goths and in the first centuries of the Legion monarchy. At that time, the title of count was considered an administrative position and not one of honor as it is currently considered. There were palatine counts and provincial counts .

Palatine Counts

His responsibility was to take care of , manage all the offices of the court and the servants of the king in his palace: 

  • Count cubicle : He had a position of greater responsibility in the palace as a waiter .
  • Count of Pincerna : He served as the Chief Butler .
  • Count of the cup : He was responsible for the food of the royal palace , especially what would be served at the royal table.
  • Count of notaries : In his work as chancellor , he served as treasurer of the royal income.

Counts of Provinces

The counts of provinces brought together the political, civil and military jurisdictions of all the districts that were entrusted to their power and received the name of “County “. In this case, the use of these privileges or tasks were not for life and were not hereditary. They were temporary jobs that were granted depending on the merits, skills and services of said ruler or magistrates.

Hierarchy of an Earl

In the nobility scale, the title of count corresponds to the third position of dignities, and it is the oldest of the titles, since it has been used since the 7th century . The count owns a county, under the mandate of Charlemagne the counts acted as governors of complete provinces and the title was designated for life, but never hereditary. It was after the eleventh century that the title of count was accepted as transmittable from father to son. 

Characteristics of a count

  • LIFETIME : It means that whoever holds this title is the owner of it until his death.
  • PERPETUAL : It is a privilege to hold the title of count until death and to be able to pass them on to his heirs .
  • GRANT : The title is awarded to people who are considered worthy of this title of nobility. For this you must demonstrate your skills in organization and administration . In this way he shows that on his merits he can be a count.
  • INHERITANCE : The title of count can be obtained by succession .
  • MARRIAGE : When a marriage takes place, the consorts of the persons who hold the title, automatically, are granted the title of count or countess .

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Competences of an Earl

The position of the count in the noble hierarchy is in a lower category than the Marquis, these being his competence . However, the counts are in a higher category than the viscount. In the Spanish system, the order of importance is as follows:

  1. Duke
  2. Marquis
  3. Count
  4. Viscount
  5. Baron

In other countries there are other titles such as the following: Knight, Archduke, Lord and Princes.

Requirements to be a count

To be able to hold the title of count, the person can obtain it in different ways and each with different requirements:

  • The title must be granted by a Patent Letter of concession , it is an “ex novo” title.
  • renewal of the title can be made , when they are claimed by the people who consider themselves deserving of the title. Generally, this occurs when the succession of the title is extinguished due to lack of heirs or because the title is owned by someone undeserving .
  • Recognition of the title , when the title is granted in a foreign country, the procedures must be done so that it is recognized in the country in which you want to use it. This recognition is similar to the confirmation or authentication of the title.
  • At first these titles of count and duke were granted to people who performed some military task .

The titles of nobility are granted by the Kings of the European nations . It is only awarded to people who are citizens of the country or, in the case of foreigners, it is awarded in recognition of their outstanding career .

The title of count is one of the highest recognitions granted by monarchs . Currently, the person who is the bearer of the noble title of count or countess, does not have any special privilege for being count, today it is only a symbolic title.

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