Friday, December 9, 2011

Codified Nobility

Nyki Blatchley breaks down noble titles for all you fantasy writing folk.

1 comment:

  1. Neat! I can add a fair few things here:

    First we have the issue that most of our ranks work on two levels: we have what people called themselves, and what they're called in latin or greek in official records, and those two sometimes have a fun interplay. What William did is not so much rename "earls" "counts" but replace the latin term "dux" which translated to "earl" under the Saxons with "comes", count. Because as well as King of England, he was Duke of Normandy himself, so you can't have your underlings all having the same title. Earl is from the Danish jarl, but you knew that. The Saxon version is Ealdorman. Language is power! There's scope for introducing a similar sort of situation into invented worlds, especially if we're dealing with empires and conquests and hegemonies.

    In terms of populating courts with ranks, there's tonnes of fun to be had here. Imperial and royal courts have lots and lots of smaller, ceremonial titles and jobs that need filling: so in Rome/Byzantium, say, you get cupbearers, sword bearers, first-swordbearers, notaries, first-notaries, the Keeper of the Inkstand, and so on and such forth. If there's a role at court, there's a title for it.

    Ancient chinese military ranks are particularly colourful. They're all variations on General of Ass-Kicking Qualities or Ceremonial Purpose: So General Protector of the West, General Who Smashes the Caitiffs, General of Firmness (yes!).

    So there's all sorts of room to play around with these things. :)