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 Duc or Comte? 
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Post Duc or Comte?
Something that has always confused me about the Bourbons is the assignment/acquisition of titles especially among the royal family. For example, Louis XVI was the Duc de Berry yet his brothers were the Comte de Provence and the Comte d'Artois. At first I thought that perhaps a Comte became a Duc the closer he got to the throne but that can't be correct because in the prior generation, we have the Duc de Bourgogne next in line for the throne, and the Duc de Berry and the Duc d'Orleans being 'Ducs' from birth with almost no chance of becoming King.

Any ideas?

Thanks.


Mon Mar 09, 2009 4:27 am
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Post Re: Duc or Comte?
that is an interesting question. I always thought it was up to the current King on which title he gave to his sons. I don't know if etiquette dictated if they received a Duc or Comte title.


Mon Mar 09, 2009 2:40 pm
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Post Re: Duc or Comte?
I researched this topic; what a mess! To break it down to basics: a 'duc' is one who has duchies (pieces of land from which income is derived). A 'comte' is one without duchies but has their title granted by the king. Should a comte acquire duchies, he remains a comte for the rest of his life. His son(s) may use the title of 'duc' after the comte's death.


Wed Mar 11, 2009 9:38 pm
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Post Re: Duc or Comte?
I did some additional research on this topic and came up with the following:

These are the titles of nobility, and the order of their importance:

1) Duc
2) Comte
3) Marquis
4) Vicomte
5) Baron

These titles as well as the names of the family were derived from the properties they were attached to, and only one person at a time could carry each of these titles. However, the presence or absence of a title was not in itself a test of nobility, because there were generally more family members than there were titles to go around.

One you have reached the threshold of nobility, there are still more degrees of nobility: How long has your family been noble? How many of your paternal and maternal grandparents’ lineages were noble? The oldest nobility was traced to the “Mists of Time,” back in the early recorded history of France.

Even more important than title was rank. Rank in regards to the Court of France can be understood as a degree of eminence within the class of nobility. It was measured from the king on down, so the highest ranks were filled by the individuals most closely related to the king, and the higher the rank, the greater the precedence. Within the royal family, the rank and precedence of said persons was: 1) King and Queen 2) Dauphin and Dauphine (as first in line for the throne)3) Sons of the current king 4) Daughters of the current king 5) Sons of the former king 6) Daughters of the former king After the immediate relatives, there were the Princes du Sang, or “of the blood,” who were related to the royal blood in a lesser concentration than the immediate family. The framework of rank and precedence were pretty firmly fixed. There might be wiggle room in certain situations, but being that everyone was fiercely protective of their rights of precedence, any concession a person finagled for their self would usually be nullified at the next occasion, and they would be put back in their place. The prestige attached to a name was a valuable commodity for those trying to advance themselves or their connections at court. In everyone's eyes, the most important factors in determining a family's prestige were: · how long had a given family been noble (l'ancienneté), · into what other families did it marry (les alliances), · what positions its members achieved and what offices they held (les dignités), · what actions they performed (les illustrations) This hierarchy was played out through etiquette. Life at Versailles was centered on conversational skill and interpersonal interactions, just as much of which was non-verbal in its expression. The way courtiers moved through the day at court could be summed up with the housekeeping maxim: “A place for everything, and everything in its place.” While these distinctions seem unimportant today, in the 17th century knowledge and use of proper etiquette was vital because it was the foundation of the social order and political system of the ancien regime.

Using one of the most often cited subjects of this code of etiquette are the rules of seating arrangements. The king and queen always had a fauteuil, an armchair to sit upon. Within their presence, no one else was allowed an armchair, excepting another monarch. A chair with a back but no arms was allowed for those closest in rank to the king, such as his brother or children. The tabouret, a padded, drum-shaped stool was awarded to those holding the rank of duchess. Lesser ranking nobility would be expected to stand.Rank and precedence were the glue holding the structure of the ancien regime together. To ignore and disparage this meant that the whole system would come into question as it did during the reign of Louis XVI. Obviously there were more factors involved in contributing to the great social upheaval that was the French Revolution than etiquette being marginalized, but it is a way to compare and contrast why society changed; why it happened in 1789 and not before as there had been government insolvency and peasant uprisings during the reigns of Louis XIV and Louis XV. Marie Antoinette played a role in the marginization of etiquette: she did not want to dispatch the role of queen in the prescribed manner and chose instead to retreat from the endless rules into an environment of informality, thus depriving the court of opportunities for acting out their duties which were considered not to be chores but honors and therefore made her position seem unnecessary at worst and meaningless at best.

Source: Martin, Candy "Life At Versailles"


Wed Mar 18, 2009 1:37 am
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Post Re: Duc or Comte?
Artois wrote:
Marie Antoinette played a role in the marginization of etiquette: she did not want to dispatch the role of queen in the prescribed manner and chose instead to retreat from the endless rules into an environment of informality, thus depriving the court of opportunities for acting out their duties which were considered not to be chores but honors and therefore made her position seem unnecessary at worst and meaningless at best.



It is a very good observation, Artois. Did you express this inference in your own words or did you find this in "Life at Versailles" as well? However, I like it :) thank you.
Termination of etiquette and formality was equal with the end of the monarchy, as we know. Sure thing, it was not that evident way towards collapse, more, it was a very multiple procession. It was only a bit of the perceptible droop. But it was clear to see and to feel that it indirectly helped the ruin of the Ancien Régime... poor royale couple, they didn't know what they really did when they extinguished old, traditional rules of the court, all the way up the line.


For me, it was never clear how to use these noble titles, so reading this post was great! The mention the use of seats is very exciting. Ancien Régime was one of the wonderful ages of history :wink:

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Wed Mar 18, 2009 10:52 am
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Post Re: Duc or Comte?
Anouk wrote:
For me, it was never clear how to use these noble titles, so reading this post was great! The mention the use of seats is very exciting. Ancien Régime was one of the wonderful ages of history :wink:

Couldnt agree more!

I like this order.
Artois wrote:
These are the titles of nobility, and the order of their importance:

1) Duc
2) Comte
3) Marquis
4) Vicomte
5) Baron

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Wed Mar 18, 2009 11:52 am
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Post Re: Duc or Comte?
Yes! You're right, this order is perfect, making clear everything we haven't known so far about court titles. I have supposed that, for example, a comtesse is above a baronesse or a duc is more acclaimed than a marquis, but this description was necessary for having more accurate informations.

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Wed Mar 18, 2009 2:02 pm
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Post Re: Duc or Comte?
I'm glad that you found the post useful, Anouk. Thank you for your kind words. Speaking of words, the portion of the post pertaining to Marie Antoinette's effect on etiquette are Ms. Martin's. She said it better than I ever could.


Wed Mar 18, 2009 6:01 pm
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