This page is about the Western style nobility; for the baseball term, see count (baseball).


A count is a nobleman in most European countries, equivalent in rank to a British earl, whose wife is still a "countess". Originally the title comes denoted the rank of a high courtier or provincial (military or administrative) official in the late Roman Empire: before Anthemius was made emperor in the West in 467, he was military comes strengthening defenses on the Danube frontier [1] ( Military counts in the Late Empire and the Germanic successor kingdoms were often appointed by a dux and later by a king. From the start the count was in military charge of a locality, a county, his main rival for power being the bishop, whose diocese was often coterminous. In many Germanic and Frankish kingdoms in the early Middle Ages, the count might also be a count palatine, whose authority derived directly from the royal household, the "palace". This other kind of count had antecedents in Late Antiquity too: the father of Cassiodorus held positions of trust with Theodoric, as comes rerum privatarum, in charge of the imperial lands, then of comes sacrarum largitionum (concerned with the strictly monetary fiscal matters of the realm) [2] (,

The position of comes was not originally a hereditary one, but by developing a local power base, a count was often able to make it a hereditary title—though not always. For instance, in Piast Poland, the position of komes was not hereditary, resembling the early Merovingian institution. The title had disappeared by the era of the Polish-Lithuanian_Commonwealth, and the office replaced with other institutions. Only after the Partitions_of_Poland did the title of "count" resurface in the German-derived title hrabia.

The title was was often conferred by the monarch as an honorific title for special services rendered. A count or earl is often a courtesy title for the eldest son of a duke. In Italy, all the sons of a count are counts (contini); in the United Kingdom stringent rules apply, often a future heir has a lower ranking courtesy title.

Terminology in different European languages

The following lists are originally based on a Glossary on by Alexander Krischnig. The male form is followed, after a slash, by the female, and sometimes, after a second slash, by the terrirorial cicronscription

  1. etymological derivations from the Latin Comes
  • Albanian Kont /Konthesë
  • Catalan Comte /Comtessa/ Comtat
  • English Count (alongside Earl) /Countess (even were Earl applies) / County (alongside Earldom)
  • French Comte - cfr. the variation ?Comtor /Comtesse/ Comté
  • Greek (New) Κόμης (Komès), Komis / Κόμισσα (Komissa)/ Κομητεία (Komèteia), Komiteia
  • Irish Cuntas /Cuntaois (alongside Iarla : Earl)
  • Italian Conte /Contessa
  • Monegasque Conte /Contessa
  • Portuguese Conde /Condessa
  • Rhaeto-Romanic Cont /Contessa
  • Romanian Conte / Contesă Contesă/ Comitat
  • Spanish Conde /Condesa/ Condado
  1. 2 etymological parallels of the German Graf (some unclear)
  • Belorussian Graf /Grafinya
  • Bulgarian Graf /Grafinya
  • Croatian & Serbian Grof /Grofica/ Grofovija
  • Czech Hrabě /Hraběnka/ hrabství
  • Danish Greve /Grevinde
  • Dutch Graaf /Gravin/ Graafschap
  • Estonian Krahv /Krahvinna
  • Finnish Kreivi /Kreivitär
  • Hungarian Gróf /Grófnő
  • Icelandic Greifi /Greifynja
  • Latvian Grafs /Grafiene
  • Lithuanian Grafas /Grafiene
  • Luxemburgish Grof /Gräfin
  • Macedonian Grof /Grofina
  • Maltese Konti /Kontessa
  • Norwegian Greve /Grevinne
  • Polish Hrabia /Hrabina
  • Russian Graf /Grafinya
  • Slovak Gróf /Grófka
  • Slovene Grof /Grofica
  • Swedish Greve /Grevinna/ Grevskap
  • Ukrainian Graf /Grafinya
Language Male Title Female Title territory
English Earl conferred by a British monarch/ Count applying to all others countries Countess County
Latin (feudal jargon, not classical) Comes Comitessa Comitatus
Catalan Comte Comtessa Comtat
Croatian Grof Grofica Grofovija
Czech hrabě hraběnka hrabství
Dutch Graaf Gravin Graafschap
French Comte - cfr. the variation *Comtor Comtesse Comté
German Graf Gräfin Grafschaft
Greek Κόμης (Komes) Κόμισσα (Komissa) Κομητεία (Kometeia)
Hungarian gróf grófnő ?
Italian Conte Contessa ?
Portuguese Conde Condessa ?
Romanian Conte Contesă Comitat
Serbian Grof Grofica Grofovija
Spanish Conde Condesa Condado
Swedish Greve Grevinna Grevskap
  • Apart from all these, a few unusual titles have been of comital rank, not necessarily to remain there.
    • Dauphin (anglicized Dolphin, possibly an etymological match; Latin Delphinus) was a multiple title in southern France before it became (informally) the title of the heir to the French royal crown
  • In German kingdoms the title Graf was combined with the word for the jurisdiction or domain the nobleman was holding as a fief or conferred or inherited jurisdiction, such as "Landgraf" - landgrave, "Freigraf" ('free count'), "Burggraf" - burgrave (burg = castle).
  • These are not to be confused with various titles also containing the word -graf (in German, -grave in French and English, -graaf in Dutch) rather in its original sense (its medieval Latin original GRAFIO stems from the Greek verb graphein, to draw or to write : a public servant, as the Carolingian counts were before they gradually managed to obtain hereditary succession) in various offices and sinecures which are not intrinsically linked to nobility of feudality, such as the Dutch titles Pluimgraaf (a court sinecure, so usually held by nobles courtiers, may even be rendered hereditary) and Dijkgraaf (to the present, in the Low Countries, a managing official in the local or regional administration of water household trough ditches, controls etcetera).

List of counts

Territory of today's France - A - West- Francia proper

Territory of today's France - B - long within the German kingdoms of the Holy Roman Empire

In other continental European countries

See also

ca:Comte de:Graf es:Conde fr:Comte hu:Gróf it:Conte nl:Graaf no:Greve pt:Conde sv:Greve ja:伯爵 la:Comes


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