Etiquette and Terms of Address at the Court of Albion from the time of Her Majesty Queen Elspeth Pendragon with updates to include the current Court of Her Majesty Queen Eloise Hunter
Ranks and Files
The ordinary ranking of Noble Albion with additional notes on The Courts is as follows:
Arch Duke Arch Duchess Member of The Royal Court
Duke Duchess Member of The Royal Court
Earl Countess Member of The Court
Baron Baroness Member of The Court
Knight Lady Member of The Court
Titles and Forms of Address of the Nobility
Sir goes only with a Given name, to address a Knight using only his surname say Master (see examples below).
Lord implies a peerage (Baron or better), not every Knight is a Lord: not every Lord is a Knight. It is best not to say My Lord to anyone not so entitled.
A Territorial or Landed title is one which is attached to a particular area or piece of Albion, such as a county. Landed Peers sign their names and refer to themselves and each other by the territory they govern on behalf of the Crown, such as “Bristol”, “Londinium”1, or “Durham” representing Earl Corvus, Baron Marcellus (although seldom used as his Birth title of Don took precedence) and Countess Cordelia.
Every Woman married to a Knight or better may be addressed as My Lady. For unmarried women see the various examples.
Your Grace belongs properly only to the Royal Blood and Members of The Royal Court: The Queen, Arch Duke, Dukes, Holders of The Great Offices and visiting royalty. It does not apply to an Earl, Countess or Knight.
The children of a Duke or Duchess are styled Lord or Lady until they come into their majority, as are members of The Court and the Knight Commanders. Esquires are the sons of lesser peers, the heirs male of Knights and officials such as Quesitors and Sheriffs. Esquire is not a formal title but may be used after a gentleman’s surname: as, William More, Esquire.
If you are not noble, you may wish to address those above you as, Your Worship, Your Honour, or Your Lordship/Ladyship.
Noble children are taught to address their parents as Sir or Madam, or My Lady and My Lord. They will often refer to them as My Lady Mother and the Lord My Father.
Sir Odinium Hroc can be called
Sir Odinium, or
But not Sir Hroc.
Protector Sir Arthur Nightley can also be called
Sir Arthur, or
Master Nightley, or
But never Sir Nightley.
Sir Thomas of Edwinstowe’s wife, Catherine, may be addressed as,
Catherine, Lady Edwinstowe, or
But not Lady Catherine. 2
Pollyanna Rook, Countess of Warwick, may also be called,
But not Lady Rook
Valen Darkblade, Baron of Kingsfield may also be addressed
But not Lord Darkblade
Pollyanna Rook is the wife of Ninn Rook, Duke of York.
She can be styled Lady York
But never Lady Rook.
Stavros Eranti is the husband of Faith Charenten, Lady Chancellor of Albion, He can be addressed as Lord Stavros, but never Your Grace or Lord Charenten.
Theo D’Arby, the last Lord Regent of Albion could have been respectfully addressed as Master Theo, or
Your Grace, or
My Lord Regent,
But not Lord D’Arby
Terms of Address for Non-Nobles
The Gentry are untitled landholders who come from Noble families. In particular, they are the descendants of younger sons of the Great Houses of Albion.
The term Gentle should be reserved for those who are of gentle birth: Nobles, Knights, and their descendents (with or without title). To address a crowd, say “Good Folk” or “Good People” or some such term: not “Good Gentles”.
Gentility is to do with land holding, not good manners, though manners may be considered a mark of a gentle upbringing. Gentles should address the lower orders as: commoners, rustics, villagers, good folk or sturdy yeomen or similar pleasant terms.
Money has little to do with gentle birth or later nobility. One may be gentle but “land poor”, meaning that one holds estates or property but possesses little money. Although not always true it is often the case that due to the nobility’s aversion to being seen to engage in commerce, many commoners of the mercantile class have far greater cash holdings than their social betters.
The term middle class is almost unknown in Albion. In a society heavily influenced by ones place within it, the common man is highly specific and sensitive to his position, often more so than a noble would be. Say instead: merchant, yeoman, tradesman, craftsman, and so on.
The yeomanry are essentially non gentle (and non peasant) tenant farmers, with a worth from property and income of no less than 16 Silver Albiones a year, according to Bourkes. When Yeomen have saved sufficient money they tend to invest it in land. If a family is provident and continues to acquire and hold the land for at least three generations, they may come to be counted amongst the Gentry.
Craftsmen and certain tradesmen may be considered equivalent to the yeoman class. Townsfolk of any rank consider themselves to be superior to country people of the same rank.
Peasants are tenants who work on someone else’s land in return for wages. They pay rent and tythes mostly in kind or services. They are often in debt. Their employers are often yeomen farmers. Amongst Townspeople, those who perform the tasks of an ordinary or daily labourer would be a close equivalent.
Your liveried retainers are not peasants (even if their parents are), they gain status and position for their loyal service to a Noble Household.
The family of a knight is only noble during the lifetime of the knight. As his peerage is not transferable to his heir, the family will become gentle upon the occasion of his death. A knighthood is essentially a battlefield honour bestowed by the Monarch or occasionally by another of royal blood to mark a feat of immense heroism or service. Knighthood does not necessarily come with a grant of land or income, although it may require additional spending to maintain ones standing and reputation at court.
Precedence, Preferment and Attainder
Precedence refers to your ranking, either above or below (or before or after) other people. An Earl takes precedence over a Baron, who in turn goes before a Knight and so on. Members of The Royal Court always take precedence over Members of The Court, unless a Court member is serving in the stead of a Royal Court member in which case they would take precedence above members of the Court but below full Royal Court Members. That is to say they are announced at court first, go into dine first, or go to the headsman first.
Unmarried or untitled women take precedence from their fathers: married women from their husbands, although as always there are some exceptions. A widowed Countess who remarries a mere Knight is permitted to retain the courtesy title of Countess, though her husband would not be elevated to the position of Earl, unless by Royal Grant.
For those of equal station, precedence depends on the date of creation, date of creation can mean either the year in which a title was granted to an individual, or in a wider term the date in which a Family or House was ennobled.
Precedence can be affected by any Government or Royal Household offices held. For example, during his Regency, William Hulce was only an Earl, but as Lord Protector and Lord Regent of Albion, he took his precedence from his office not his landed title.
Maid of Honour is a Royal Household office and confers precedence (but not nobility). A Maid of Honour takes precedence over a Knights Lady, but not over an Earl’s daughter.
Preferment refers to offices, grants, gifts, monopolies, and other perks of life at court. A major reason that many people attend court is to gain preferment (or advancement).
Preferment does not necessarily convey a gain in precedence, just income.
A loss of preferment does not imply a loss in precedence unless you lose an office that conferred some. An Earl is still an Earl, unless he is attainted.
Attainder refers to a person or family losing a noble title, plus any or all of the rights and privileges attached to it, due to an act of treason. The crown may, by Bill or Writ of Attainder deprive any noble of lands, goods, precedence and title and in extreme cases even the attainted life and the life of their family becomes forfeit to the crown.
The Noble Style
The prime proof of rank and nobility is liberality. Nobles want to be known for their hospitality. The ideal is a substantial manor, plenty of servants, a lavish table and a welcoming reputation.
As further evidence of liberality, the broken meats (table leavings) are customarily dispersed to the poor by household staff after each meal (incidentally this also counts as good works).
As a great compliment by other nobles, it was once said of Corvus, Earl of Bristol: “His house in plenty was ever maintained.” Although the same saying was also used as an insult about Albion’s nobility by the commons during times of famine and hardship in the country’s recent past.
Such largesse has to be tempered by the need to live within ones means to avoid making the upkeep of a noble class overly onerous upon the tenantry in the form of taxes and tythes. In a bid to avoid unrest it was once necessary for the officers of the Chancellery to step in and limit the expenditure of one high profile Earl and Countess to a maximum of 50 Golden Albiones a year.
Income is usually discussed as rentals and does not take into account profits from offices, industry, and land held and farmed directly by the noble himself, profits of Court, bribes and the sale of favours. All of which can vastly inflate the income of an ambitious member of Court. Very few nobles have an accurate notion of their full income, gross or net. That’s what you have servants for.
1 Londinium is no longer ruled by a Baron, but by a Lord Mayor selected by the Crown from amongst the Freemen of the city.
2 In some circles the title Dame may be used with the Given name of a Knight’s wife, or any gentlewoman. This usage however is often viewed as archaic and is more prevelant in the County rather than at Court.