I'm of the understanding that nobility tittles in ancient Europe(and maybe nobility in general) entail land claims. However, does the significance of their tittle affect the size of land given to them?

If so, how much land would be typically given to an Archduke, Duke, Marquess, Count, Viscount, Baron, Baronet, Knight, and Esquire?

If not, then how is land divided?

  • 7
    This is too broad to actually answer in any coherent way without limiting it more in time and region. But I think the core misconception is a person is, say, a "Duke" in general. Usually the title of something like "Duke" was attached to the land. It wasn't "A duke" being given "Normandy". It was someone being made "Duke of Normandy". Jul 10 '19 at 23:26
  • Please revise the title to question form
    – MCW
    Jul 11 '19 at 0:27
  • 3
    This varies very widely across Western Europe, with distinct national variations in all of Spain, France, Great Britain (mostly similar across England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland), and the Holy Roman Empire. In the HRE, this varies further amongst the various Stem Duchies and Original Marches. In England, for example, only Earls and Barons existed for nearly 300 years after the conquest, with Royal Dukes, Marquesses, non-Royal Dukes, and Viscounts emerging first in the 14th and 15th centuries. To be answerable, you must specify which one country is of particular interest Jul 11 '19 at 1:34
  • By ancient you mean medieval/ feudal, right?
    – Greg
    Jul 11 '19 at 4:24
  • Titles of nobility have long and complicated histories. Most European noble titles have territories in the name. But many noble titles have been granted without giving any ownership or political authority over the lands mentioned in the title. In fact monarchs often give victory titles mentioning foreign places that the monarch didn't even have the power to give. See my short answer here: history.stackexchange.com/questions/53396/…
    – MAGolding
    Jul 13 '19 at 20:09

That depended very much on many factors:

  • how strong was the king/emperor
  • how important was the noble in question
  • how important was it to reward that noble
  • what time period are we talking about

A higher ranking title didn't automatically bring more benefits. It usually did, but was not the rule. A count is a title lower than duke or archduke. Yet, some counts (the counts of Flanders and of Holland) were pretty powerful. Whereas an Austrian archduke was mostly an honorary title. There were many princes with little power and barons with immense power.

There wasn't a typical land grant for any title. That was the king's privilege. He awarded land and titles as he saw fit. The duchy of Normandy was given away or granted almost as ransom payment or blackmail. The first duke of Normandy was a Norman, he got his duchy to stop him from pillaging other parts of France and protect the kingdom. I doubt very much if the king like that, but he didn't have many alternatives.

Your question is very broad, I give some reasons why it varied so much. Even the titles changed over times. A Roman comes (count) was a higher position than a ducus (duke). Later that changed around. By the way, the titles comes and ducus were, when originally created, positions. Not inheritable titles. That changed as well (and pretty quick at that).

What you infer is a kind of system where a higher ranking noble got more land than a lower ranking noble, based on seniority. As in the civil service today. That definitely was not the case.


Details varied very much over time.

In a feudal system, the overlord grants lands to a vassal in exchange for loyalty and military service. This land grant should be roughly proportional to the services owed, and allow the vassal to live in the style appropriate to his or her rank.

It was the interest of the vassal to turn this "loan" of lands into a permanent, inheritable possession of the family. It was in the interest of the overlord to retain flexibility to assign lands to his or her current supporters.

Over the centuries, the titles of nobility (and some of the rights that came with it) got divorced from the lands that originally went with the title. The title could not be split during an inheritance, the lands could. Lands could become dowry while titles would not. Etc.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.