Baron

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Count & Countess

Baronet & Baronetess

Baron is a title of nobility. The word baron comes from Old French baron, itself from Old High German and Latin (liber) baro meaning "(free) man, (free) warrior"; it merged with cognate Old English beorn meaning "nobleman".[1]



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Barons in the United Kingdom and the Commonwealth

In the British peer system, barons rank below viscounts, and form the lowest rank in the peerage. A female of baronial rank has the honorific title baroness. A baron may hold a barony (plural baronies), if the title relates originally to a feudal barony by tenure, although such tenure is now obsolete in England and any such titles are now held in gross, if they survive at all, as very few do, sometimes along with some vestigial manorial rights, or by grand serjeanty.

William I introduced "baron" as a rank in England to distinguish the men who had pledged their loyalty to him (see Feudalism). Previously, in the Anglo-Saxon kingdom of England, the king's companions held the title of earls and in Scotland, the title of thane. All who held their barony "in chief of the king" (that is, directly from William and his successors) became alike barones regis (barons of the king), bound to perform a stipulated service, and welcome to attend his council. Before long, the greatest of the nobles, especially in the marches, such as the Earls of Chester or the Bishops of Durham, might refer to their own tenants as "barons", where lesser magnates spoke simply of their "men" (homines).

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