Baron is a specific title of nobility or a more generic feudal qualification.

For other uses, see Baron (disambiguation).

Western European feudal and modern titles

  • The word baron possible derives from an Old French (?) word baro ('man' in the sense of 'vassal'): Et quant ce virent li baron de l'ost, qui estoient herbergié d'autre part del port... ("And when the barons of the host [of fighting men at ] appeared, who were garrisoned in another part of the harbor...")
  • In the British peerage system, barons rank lowest, coming after viscounts. A female of baronial rank has the honorific baroness. A baron may hold a barony (plural baronies).
    • William the Conqueror introduced "baron" as a rank into 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" (i.e. 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).
    • Initially those who held land direct of the crown by military service, from earls downwards, all alike bore the title of baron, but under Henry II, the Dialogus de Scaccario already distinguishes greater or lesser baronies. Within a century of the Norman Conquest, as in Thomas Becket's case (1164), there arose the practice of sending to each greater baron a special summons to the council that evolved into the House of Lords, while the lesser barons, Magna Carta (1215) stipulated, would receive summons only in general, through the sheriffs. Thus appeared a definite distinction, which eventually had the effect of restricting to the greater barons the rights and privileges of peerage.
    • The King of England could create a new barony in one of two ways: by a writ of summons directing someone to Parliament, or by letters patent. Writs of summons featured in medieval times, but creation by letters patent has become the norm. Baronies thus no longer directly relate to land ownership.

Angela Georgina Burdett-Coutts became the first woman created baroness in her own right in 1871, by Queen Victoria.

    • In Scotland, the rank of baron refers to the holder of a feudal barony, which does relate to the feudal jurisdiction over the territorial entity. But with the end of feudalism in Scotland, after 28 November 2004 the dignity of a Scottish Baron became a purely hereditary title of honour, ranking below all baronets and above all Clan Chiefs (who are not peers of the Realm).The Scots system does not have baronies as in England, but "Lordships of Parliament". Generally, the more modern baronies pass only to male heirs. However, in the cases of Scottish Lordships of Parliament and of English baronies by writ a daughter can inherit provided she has no brothers. In the English case, if there are multiple daughters, they jointly inherit the barony as coheirs, which then falls into abeyance until there is only one heir again. The Scottish equivalent of the English baron is Lord of Parliament.
    • In the late twentieth century Britain introduced the concept of non-hereditary life peers. All appointees to this distinction have taken place at the rank of baron, though in principle nothing prevents the creation of a life peerage of higher rank. Baronies are often subsidiary titles, thus being used as courtesy titles by eldest sons.
    • Non-Scottish barons are styled The Right Honourable The Lord [Barony]. Baron's wives are titled The Right Honourable The Lady [Barony]. Baronesses in their own right are either titled The Right Honourable The Baroness [Barony] or The Right Honourable The Lady [Barony], mainly based on personal preference (for an example of the former, see Margaret Thatcher). Right Honourable is frequently abbreviated to Rt. Hon. When referred to by the Sovereign in public instruments, The Right Honourable is changed to Our right trusty and well-beloved cousin (even if the said baron is not their blood cousin), with and counsellor attached if they are a Privy Counsellor.

Courtesy barons are styled simply Lord [Barony], and their wives are Lady [Barony]. The style of Right Honourable is not used for them.

Normally one refers to or addresses Baron X as Lord X and his wife as Lady X. In the case of women who hold baronies in their own right, they can be referred to as Baroness X as well as Lady X. In direct address, they can also be referred to as My Lord or My Lady. The husband of a Baroness in her own right does not receive a style. Children of Barons and Baronesses in their own right, whether hereditary or for life, have the style The Honourable [Forename] [Surname]. After the death of the father or mother, the child may continue to use the style Honourable.

  • Compare baronet, not a peer but the highest echelon of gentry.
  • In Germany and a few other countries of Germanic languages (or such tradition, as Finland under Swedish rule), the title Freiherr ('free Lord'; See that article) and its various variations occupy the same rank as a Baron, exclusively (as in the Holy Roman Empire) or concurrently.
  • The title was quite common in most European countries, in various languages (weather Germanic, Romance, Slavonic or other), often in a slightly modified form. The following list (originaly based on A. Krischnig on ) includes, after the /, also female forms, and (sometimes) after a second slash the territorial resort. Notice, especially for the 'alternative' Freiherr-type titles (after a comma) that the existence of a word does not always implies the actual use : it is a mere rendering of foreign realities.
    • English Baron /Baroness/ Barony
    • Albanian Baron /Baroneshë
    • Belorussian Baron /Baronesa
    • Bulgarian Baron /Baronesa
    • Catalan Baró /Baronessa
    • Croatian. Serbian Barun /Barunica
    • Czech Baron /Baronka, Baronesa
    • Danish Baron - ?Friherre?//Baronesse
    • Dutch Baron - Vrijheer/ Barones/ Baronie
    • Estonian Parun /Paruniproua
    • Finnish Paroni, Vapaaherra /Paronitar, Vapaaherratar
    • French Baron /Baronnesse/ Baronie
    • German Baron, Freiherr /Baronin, Baronesse, Freifrau, Freiin
    • Greek (New) Baronos /Baroni
    • Hungarian Báró, Főúr /Bárónő
    • Icelandic Barón, Fríherra /Barónessa
    • Irish Barún /Banbharún
    • Italian Barone /Baronessa
    • LATIN (feudal) Baro
    • Latvian Barons /Baroniene
    • Lithuanian Baronas /Baroniene
    • Luxemburgish Baroun /Barounin, Baronesse
    • Macedonian Baron /Baronesa
    • Maltese Baruni /Barunessa
    • Monegasque Barun /Barunessa
    • Norwegian Baron - Friherre/Baronesse
    • Polish Baron /Baronowa, Baronówna
    • Portuguese Barăo /Baronesa
    • Rhaeto-Romanic Barun /Barunessa
    • Romanian Baron /Baroneasă
    • Russian Baron /Baronessa
    • Slovak Barón /Barónka
    • Slovene Baron /Baronica
    • Spanish Barón /Baronesa
    • Swedish Baron, Friherre /Baronessa, Friherrinna
    • Ukrainian Baron /Baronka, Baronesa
  • It was even exported during he crusades, not only in (short-lived) crusader states founded in conquered saracen land, but even as westernized form of the autochtonous naxarar? in the (orthodox Clician)kingdom of Armenia.


  • In some republics of continental Europe, the title of "Baron" retains a purely social prestige, with no particular political privileges; it was even conferred by communist governments, e.g. in Czechoslovakia.
  • In the Polynesian island monarchy of Tonga, as opposed to the situation in Europe, barons are granted this imported title (in English), and continue to hold and exercise some political power.
  • Analogous non-western titles are, more or less conventionally, rendered as Baron - this is rarely a reliable equivalency
    • in Japan

External link

fr:Baron (noblesse) nl:Baron pt:Barão ja:男爵 ru:Барон (титул)


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