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A viscount (/ˈvaɪkaʊnt/ ( listen) VY-kownt, for male[1]) or viscountess (/ˈvaɪkaʊntɪs/, for female[2]) is a title used in certain European countries for a noble of varying status, but historically deemed to convey a lower-middling rank.[3] In many countries a viscount, and its historical equivalents, was a non-hereditary, administrative or judicial position, and did not develop into a hereditary title until much later.[4] In the case of French viscounts, it is customary to leave the title untranslated as vicomte [vi.kɔ̃t] and vicomtesse.

Contents

1 Etymology 2 History 3 Early modern and contemporary usage

3.1 Belgium 3.2 United Kingdom

3.2.1 Ireland 3.2.2 Use as a courtesy title 3.2.3 Coronet

3.3 Jersey 3.4 Portugal 3.5 Spain

4 Equivalent titles

4.1 Germanic counterparts 4.2 Non-Western counterparts

5 See also 6 References

Etymology[edit] The word viscount comes from Old French
Old French
visconte (modern French: vicomte), itself from Medieval Latin
Medieval Latin
vicecomitem, accusative of vicecomes, from Late Latin
Latin
vice- "deputy" + Latin
Latin
comes (originally "companion"; later Roman imperial courtier or trusted appointee, ultimately count).[5] History[edit] During the Carolingian Empire, the kings appointed counts to administer provinces and other smaller regions, as governors and military commanders. Viscounts were appointed to assist the counts in their running of the province, and often took on judicial responsibility.[4] The kings strictly prevented the offices of their counts and viscounts from becoming hereditary, in order to consolidate their position and limit chance of rebellion.[4] The title was in use in Normandy by at least the early 11th century.[6] Similar to the Carolingian use of the title, the Norman viscounts were local administrators, working on behalf of the Duke.[7] Their role was to administer justice and to collect taxes and revenues, often being castellan of the local castle. Under the Normans, the position developed into a hereditary one, an example of such being the viscounts in Bessin.[7] The viscount was eventually replaced by bailiffs, and provosts.[7] As a rank in British peerage, it was first recorded in 1440, when John Beaumont was created Viscount
Viscount
Beaumont by King
King
Henry VI.[8] The word viscount corresponds in the UK to the Anglo-Saxon shire reeve (root of the non-nobiliary, royal-appointed office of sheriff). Thus early viscounts were originally normally given their titles by the monarch, not hereditarily; but soon they too tended to establish hereditary principalities in the wider sense. They were a relatively late introduction to the British peerage, and on the evening of the Coronation of Queen Victoria
Coronation of Queen Victoria
in 1838, the Prime Minister Lord Melbourne explained to her why (from her journals):

I spoke to Ld M. about the numbers of Peers present at the Coronation, & he said it was quite unprecedented. I observed that there were very few Viscounts, to which he replied "There are very few Viscounts," that they were an old sort of title & not really English; that they came from Vice-Comites; that Dukes & Barons were the only real English titles;—that Marquises were likewise not English, & that people were mere made Marquises, when it was not wished that they should be made Dukes.[9]

Early modern and contemporary usage[edit] Belgium[edit] In Belgium a few families are recognised as Viscounts:

Viscount
Viscount
of Audenaerde Viscount
Viscount
of Hombeke Viscount
Viscount
de Spoelberch Viscount
Viscount
Eyskens Viscount
Viscount
Frimout Viscount
Viscount
Poullet

United Kingdom[edit]

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A viscount is the fourth rank in the British peerage system, standing below an earl and above a baron.[3] There are approximately 270 viscountcies currently extant in the peerages of the British Isles, though most are secondary titles.[10] In British practice, the title of a viscount may be either a place name, a surname, or a combination thereof: examples include, the Viscount
Viscount
Falmouth, the Viscount Hardinge
Viscount Hardinge
and the Viscount
Viscount
Colville of Culross, respectively. An exception exists for Viscounts in the peerage of Scotland, who were traditionally styled "The Viscount
Viscount
of [X]", such as the Viscount
Viscount
of Arbuthnott. In practice, however, very few maintain this style, instead using the more common version "The Viscount
Viscount
[X]" in general parlance, for example Viscount
Viscount
of Falkland who is referred to as Viscount
Viscount
Falkland. A British viscount is addressed in speech as Lord [X], while his wife is Lady
Lady
[X], and he is formally styled "The Viscount
Viscount
[X]". The children of a viscount are known as The Honourable [Forename] [Surname].[11] Ireland[edit] The title of viscount (Irish: bíocunta) was introduced to the Peerage of Ireland in 1478 with the creation of the title of Viscount Gormanston, the senior viscountcy of Britain and Ireland, held today by Jenico Preston, 17th Viscount
Viscount
Gormanston. Other early Irish viscountcies were Viscount Baltinglass (1541), Viscount
Viscount
Clontarf (1541), Viscount Mountgarret (1550) and Viscount Decies (1569). Use as a courtesy title[edit] 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
Earl
Howe is Viscount
Viscount
Curzon, because this is the second most senior title held by the Earl.[12] However, 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
Marquess
of Salisbury is the Earl
Earl
of Salisbury, so his heir uses the lower title of Viscount Cranborne. 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
Marquess
of Londonderry is Viscount Castlereagh, even though the Marquess
Marquess
is also the Earl
Earl
Vane. Coronet[edit]

Coronet
Coronet
of a British viscount.

Coronet
Coronet
of the 6th Viscount
Viscount
Clifden.

A viscount's coronet of rank bears 16 silver balls around the rim. Like all heraldic coronets, it is mostly 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. In this guise, the coronet is shown face-on, featuring 9 silver balls.[13] Jersey[edit] The island of Jersey
Jersey
still retains an officer whose function is purely to administer orders of the island's judiciary, and whose position remains non-hereditary. The role of the Viscount
Viscount
of Jersey
Jersey
(French: Vicomte de Jersey) involves managing fines, bail monies, seizures, confiscations, evictions, service of process, arrests for non-appearance in court and other enforcement procedures, as well acting as coroner for sudden or unexpected deaths and managing jury selection.[14] Portugal[edit] In the former kingdom of Portugal
Portugal
a visconde ranks above a barão (baron) and below a conde (count). 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, were awarded in Portugal
Portugal
between 1848 and 1880. Spain[edit] The Spanish title of vizconde is ranked between the title conde (count/earl) and the relatively rare title of barón. In Spain, nobles are classified as either Grandee of Spain (Grandes de España), as titled nobles, or as untitled nobles. A grandee of any rank outranks a non-grandee, even if that non-grandee's title is of a higher degree, thus, a viscount-grandee enjoys higher precedence than a marquis who is not a grandee. In the kingdom of Spain the title was awarded from the reign of Felipe IV (1621–65; Habsburg dynasty) until 1846. Equivalent titles[edit] Germanic counterparts[edit] There are non-etymological equivalents to the title of viscount (i.e., 'vice-count') in several languages including German. However, in such case titles of the etymological Burgrave
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. Consequently, a Freiherr (or Baron) ranks not immediately below a Graf, but below a Burggraf. 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 the other official languages are Burggraf in German and vicomte in French). In Welsh the title is rendered as Isiarll. Non-Western counterparts[edit] 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 considered 'equivalent' in relative rank, they are as a rule historically unrelated and thus hard to compare. The Japanese cognate shishaku (shi) (Japanese: 子爵) was the fourth of the five peerage ranks established in the Meiji era. The Japanese system of nobility, Kazoku, which existed between 1884 and 1947 was based heavily on the British peerage. At the creation of the system, viscounts were the most numerous of all the ranks, with 324 being created compared to 11 non-imperial princes or dukes, 24 marquesses, 76 counts and 74 barons, for a total of 509 peers.[15] Other equivalent titles existed, such as:

the Chinese tzu-chueh (tzu) or zijue (zi) (Chinese: 子爵), hereditary title of nobility first established in the Zhou dynasty the Korean cognate jajak or Pansŏ the Vietnamese cognate Tử the Manchu jingkini hafan

See also[edit]

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

References[edit]

^ Viscount. Collins Dictionary. n.d. Retrieved 22 September 2014.  ^ Viscountess. Collins Dictionary. n.d. Retrieved 22 September 2014.  ^ a b "Ranks and Privileges of the Peerage". Debretts. n.d. Retrieved 18 June 2014.  ^ a b c Upshur, Jiu-Hwa; Terry, Janice; Holoka, Jim; Goff, Richard; Cassar, George H. (2011). Cengage Advantage Books: World History. I. California: Wadsworth Publishing Co Inc. p. 329. ISBN 9781111345167.  ^ " Viscount
Viscount
(n.)". Online Etymology Dictionary. n.d. Retrieved 18 June 2014.  ^ Loud, G. A. (1999). Conquerors and churchmen in Norman Italy. Surrey, UK: Ashgate Publishing Co. p. 4. ISBN 9780860788034.  ^ a b c Petit-Dutaillis, C. (1936). The Feudal Monarchy in France and England. Oxford, UK: Routledge. p. 162. ISBN 9781136203503.  ^ "Journals of the House of Lords". cii. 1870: 512. Retrieved 16 June 2014.  ^ "28 June 1838". Queen Victoria's Journals. 4. Buckingham Palace, Princess
Princess
Beatrice's copies. 1 June – 1 October 1838. p. 84. Retrieved 25 May 2013.  ^ Denyer, Ian; Bavister, Grant (2014) [2004]. "The Roll of the Peerage" (PDF). College of Arms. Retrieved 18 June 2014.  ^ " Viscount
Viscount
and Viscountess". Debretts. n.d. Retrieved 18 June 2014.  ^ "Courtesy Titles". Debretts. n.d. Retrieved 18 June 2014.  ^ "Ceremonial Robes". Debretts. n.d. Retrieved 18 June 2014.  ^ "Functions of the Viscount's Department". States of Jersey. n.d. Retrieved 17 June 2014.  ^ Jansen, The Making of Modern Japan, p. 391.

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Designations for types of administrative territorial entities

English terms

Common English terms1

Area

Insular area Local government area Protected area Special
Special
area Statistical area

Combined statistical area Metropolitan statistical area Micropolitan statistical area

Urban area

Canton

Half-canton

Borough

County
County
borough Metropolitan borough

Capital

Federal capital Imperial capital

City

City
City
state Autonomous city Charter city Independent city Incorporated city Imperial city Free imperial city Royal free city

Community

Autonomous community Residential community

County

Administrative county Autonomous county Consolidated city-county Metropolitan county

Non-metropolitan

Viscountcy

Country

Overseas country

Department

Overseas department

District

Capital district City
City
district Congressional district Electoral district Federal district Indian government district Land district Metropolitan district

Non-metropolitan district

Military district Municipal district Police district Regional district Rural district Sanitary district Subdistrict Urban district Special
Special
district

Division

Census division Police division Subdivision

Municipality

City
City
municipality County
County
municipality

Norway Nova Scotia Regional county municipality

Direct-controlled municipality District
District
municipality Mountain resort municipality Neutral municipality Regional municipality Resort municipality Rural municipality Specialized municipality

Prefecture

Autonomous prefecture Subprefecture Super-prefecture Praetorian prefecture

Province

Autonomous province Overseas province Roman province

Region

Administrative region Autonomous region Capital region Development region Economic region Mesoregion Microregion Overseas region Planning region Special
Special
administrative region Statistical region Subregion

Reserve

Biosphere reserve Ecological reserve Game reserve Indian reserve Nature reserve

State

Federal state Free state Sovereign state

Territory

Capital territory

Federal capital territory

Dependent territory Federal territory Military territory Organized incorporated territory Overseas territory Union territory Unorganized territory

Town

Census town Market town

Township

Charter township Civil township Paper township Survey township Urban township

Unit

Autonomous territorial unit Local administrative unit Municipal unit Regional unit

Zone

Economic zone

Exclusive economic zone Free economic zone Special
Special
economic zone

Free-trade zone Neutral zone Self-administered zone

Other English terms

Current

Alpine resort Bailiwick Banner

Autonomous

Block Cadastre Circle Circuit Colony Commune Condominium Constituency Duchy Eldership Emirate Federal dependency Governorate Hamlet Ilkhanate Indian reservation Manor

Royal

Muftiate Neighbourhood Parish Periphery Precinct Principality Protectorate Quarter Regency Autonomous republic Riding Sector

Autonomous

Shire Sultanate Suzerainty Townland Village

Administrative Summer

Ward

Historical

Agency Barony Burgh Exarchate Hide Hundred Imperial Circle March Monthon Presidency Residency Roman diocese Seat Tenth Tithing

Non-English or loanwords

Current

Amt Bakhsh Barangay Bezirk Regierungsbezirk Comune Frazione Fu Gemeinde Județ Kunta / kommun

Finland Sweden

Län Località Megye Muban Oblast

Autonomous

Okrug Ostān Poblacion Purok Shahrestān Sum Sýsla Tehsil Vingtaine

Historical

Commote Gau Heerlijkheid Köping Maalaiskunta Nome

Egypt Greece

Pagus Pargana Plasă Satrapy Socken Subah Syssel Zhou

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Arabic
Arabic
terms for country subdivisions

First-level

Muhafazah (محافظة governorate) Wilayah (ولاية province) Mintaqah (منطقة region) Mudiriyah (مديرية directorate) Imarah (إمارة emirate) Baladiyah (بلدية municipality) Shabiyah (شعبية "popularate")

Second / third-level

Mintaqah (منطقة region) Qadaa (قضاء district) Nahiyah (ناحية subdistrict) Markaz (مركز district) Mutamadiyah (معتمدية "delegation") Daerah/Daïra (دائرة circle) Liwa (لواء banner / sanjak)

City / township-level

Amanah (أمانة municipality) Baladiyah (بلدية municipality) Ḥai (حي neighborhood / quarter) Mahallah (محلة) Qarya (قرية) Sheyakhah (شياخة "neighborhood subdivision")

English translations given are those most commonly used.

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French terms for country subdivisions

arrondissement département préfecture subprefectures

v t e

Greek terms for country subdivisions

Modern

apokentromenes dioikiseis / geniki dioikisis§ / diamerisma§ / periphereia nomos§ / periphereiaki enotita demos / eparchia§ / koinotita§

Historical

archontia/archontaton bandon demos despotaton dioikesis doukaton droungos eparchia exarchaton katepanikion kephalatikion kleisoura meris naukrareia satrapeia strategis thema toparchia tourma

§ signifies a defunct institution

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Portuguese terms for country subdivisions

Regional subdivisions

Estado Distrito federal Província Região Distrito Comarca Capitania

Local subdivisions

Município Concelho Freguesia Comuna Circunscrição

Settlements

Cidade Vila Aldeia Bairro Lugar

Historical subdivisions in italics.

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Slavic terms for country subdivisions

Current

dzielnica gmina krai kraj krajina / pokrajina městys obec oblast / oblast' / oblasti / oblys / obwód / voblast' okręg okres okrug opština / općina / občina / obshtina osiedle powiat / povit raion selsoviet / silrada sołectwo voivodeship / vojvodina županija

Historical

darugha gromada guberniya / gubernia jurydyka khutor obshchina okolia opole pogost prowincja sorok srez starostwo / starostva uyezd volost ziemia župa

v t e

Spanish terms for country subdivisions

National, Federal

Comunidad autónoma Departamento Distrito federal Estado Provincia Región

Regional, Metropolitan

Cantón Comarca Comuna Corregimiento Delegación Distrito Mancomunidad Merindad Municipalidad Municipio Parroquia

Ecuador Spain

Urban, Rural

Aldea Alquería Anteiglesia Asentamiento

Asentamiento informal Pueblos jóvenes

Barrio Campamento Caserío Ciudad

Ciudad autónoma

Colonia Lugar Masía Pedanía Población Ranchería Sitio Vereda Villa Village
Village
(Pueblito/Pueblo)

Historical subdivisions in italics.

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Turkish terms for country subdivisions

Modern

il (province) ilçe (district) şehir (city) kasaba (town) belediye (municipality) belde (community) köy (village) mahalle (neighbourhood/quarter)

Historical

ağalık (feudal district) bucak (subdistrict) beylerbeylik (province) kadılık (subprovince) kaza (sub-province) hidivlik (viceroyalty) mutasarrıflık (subprovince) nahiye (nahiyah) paşalık (province) reya (Romanian principalities) sancak (prefecture) vilayet (province) voyvodalık (Romanian provinces)

1 Used by ten or more countries or having derived terms. Historical derivations in italics. See also: Census division, Electoral district, Political division, and List of administrative di

.