Duke

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Count & Countess

Baronet & Baronetess

A duke is a member of the nobility, historically of highest rank below the monarch, and historically controlling a duchy. The title comes from the Latin Dux, 'leader', a term used in republican Rome to refer to a military commander without an official rank (particularly one of Germanic or Celtic origin), and later coming to mean the leading military commander of a province.

In the Middle Ages the title signified first among the Germanic monarchies. Dukes were the rulers of the provinces and the superiors of the counts in the cities and later, in the feudal monarchies, the highest-ranking peers of the king.

During the 19th century many of the smaller German and Italian states were ruled by Dukes or Grand Dukes. At present however, with the exception of the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg, there are no dukes who rule. Duke remains the highest titular peerage in France, Italy, Portugal, Spain, and the United Kingdom. The Pope, as a temporal sovereign, has also but rarely granted the title of Duke and Duchess to persons for services to the Holy See.

A woman who holds in her own right the title to such duchy or dukedom, or is the wife of a duke, is normally styled duchess. However, Queen Elizabeth II is known as Duke of Normandy in the Channel Islands and Duke of Lancaster in Lancashire.

Duchy vs. Dukedom

A duchy is the territories or geopolitical entity ruled by a duke. The term implies a territorial domain, within which the duke has actual subjects and/or significant land holdings, both of which are ruled by the duke, either directly or as a vassal to a higher (i.e. royal or imperial) authority. A dukedom is the title of duke, a rank of nobility, and is not necessarily attached to a duchy. A few examples exist today: The Grand Duchy of Luxembourg is a fully independent state and its head, the Grand Duke, is a sovereign monarch ruling over his Luxembourgeois subjects. The Duke of Cornwall holds both the dukedom (title) and Duchy (estate holdings), the latter being the source of his personal income; both the Duke and those living in his estates are subjects of the British Sovereign. In Scotland the same person is always the Duke of Rothesay as well, but this is a dukedom (title) without a duchy (territorial ownership). Similarly, the British Sovereign rules and owns the Duchy of Lancaster as both Sovereign and Duke of Lancaster, with the income of the duchy estates providing the Sovereign's Privy Purse. He or she also rules the Channel Islands as Sovereign and Duke of Normandy, but without especial income therefrom.

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