18th Century, 19th century, Ancien Regime, Beau Monde, Bon Ton, Georgian, Ghastly Affair, gothic game, Gothic Gaming, Gothic Horror, Gothic Literature, Gothic Romance, Gothick, mannerpunk, Napoleonic, Regency, Romantic Horror, rpg, steampunk
There was technically no nation called “Germany” during the Ghastly Age (1765 – 1820). The area of modern Germany very roughly corresponds to that of the Holy Roman Empire, a feudal patchwork of some 1,800 (!) states nominally subject to an Emperor elected by the most powerful nobility. However, it had already become common by the end of the 18th century to refer to the Holy Roman Empire as Germany, or the German Empire, even though portions of it were neither German-speaking, nor ethnically German. Because there were so many small states (many of which could be walked across in an afternoon or less), the Holy Roman Empire makes a particularly good place to situate fictional countries created by the Presenter. Therefore, the table of Random German Aristocrats includes some sovereign, as well as non-sovereign titles. Because of the unique setup of the Empire, the German system of nobility is especially complicated, with holders of nominally lower titles often outranking holders of seemingly higher titles.
The territories that constituted the German-speaking Kingdom of Prussia were situated both inside and outside the formal borders of the Holy Roman Empire. The great rival to Prussia for leadership of the German-speaking states was the House of Habsburg (later Habsburg-Lorraine), who ruled a vast network of territories including the Archduchy of Austria. The Archdukes of Austria had also been elected Emperors since the 15th Century, and it was the Habsburg Emperor Francis II who formally dissolved the Holy Roman Empire as a political entity in 1806. Prussia eventually became the state that would impress its culture and values upon the future nation of Germany.
The 18th century Kingdom of Hungary was a multi-ethnic and multi-lingual state that includes the area corresponding to the modern Magyar-speaking nation of Hungary, but also Transylvania, and parts of modern Croatia, Slovakia, and Serbia. It was a possession of the Austrian Habsburgs, and the Archduke of Austria was also the King of Hungary (as well as being Holy Roman Emperor). The official language of State was Latin, but German was widely spoken in the towns. The higher titled nobility, like their fellow titled aristocrats elsewhere in Europe, spoke French as their preferred language. The lesser nobility spoke Magyar (Hungarian). The Habsburg royalty (who generally stayed in Vienna) spoke German. While the Archduchy of Austria was a part of the Holy Roman Empire, the Kingdom of Hungary was not. The Kingdom was incorporated as a constituent part of the Austrian Empire in 1804.
Random German Aristocrats, in Ascending Precedence (d100)
1 – 20 | Junker (Otherwise untitled aristocrat)
21 – 30 | Edler (Lowest hereditary title) (Style: “High Well-Born”)
31 – 40 | Ritter (Hereditary Knighthood) (Niederer Adel) (Style: “High Well-Born”)
41 – 45| Reichsritter (Imperial Knight) (Niederer Adel) (Style: “High Well-Born”)
46 | Knight of the Royal Order of Saint George for the Defense of the Immaculate Conception (Conferred by the Elector of Bavaria)
47 | Knight of the Order of the Red Eagle (Conferred by the King of Prussia) [Roll again for additional title, if any]
48 | Knight of the Order of the Black Eagle (Conferred by the King of Prussia)[Roll again for additional title]
49 | Knight of the Order of Saint John (Protestant Bailiwick) [Roll again for additional title]
50 – 51| Teutonic Knight (Order of Brothers of the German House of Saint Mary in Jerusalem)
52 – 53 | Knight of the Golden Spur (Non-hereditary, conferred by the Emperor)[Roll again for additional title]
54 – 56 | Herr (Lord) (Niederer Adel) (Style: “High Well-Born”)
57 – 62 | Freiherr or Freifrau (Baron or Baroness) (Non-sovereign, and/or “Niederer Adel”) (Style: “High Well-Born”)
63 – 64 | Burggraf or Burggräfin (Viscount or Viscountess) (Non-sovereign, and/or “Niederer Adel”) (Style: “High-Born”)
65 – 66 | Graf or Gräfin (Count or Countess) (Non-sovereign, and/or “Niederer Adel”) (Style: “High-Born”)
67 – 68 | Landgraf or Landgräfin (Landgrave or Landgravine) (Non-sovereign, and/or “Niederer Adel”) (Style: “High-Born”)
69 – 70 | Markgraf or Markgräfin (Marquis or Marquise) (Non-sovereign, and/or “Niederer Adel”) (Style: “High-Born”)
71 – 72 | Prinz or Prinzessin (Son or Daughter of a reigning Prince) (Hochedel or “Niederer Adel”) (Style: “High-Born”)
73 – 74 | Fürst or Fürstin (Prince or Princess) (Non-sovereign, and/or “Niederer Adel”) (Style: “Princely Grace”)
75 – 76 | Herzog or Herzogin (Duke or Duchess) (Non-sovereign, and/or “Niederer Adel”) (Style: “Ducal Grace”)
77 – 78 | Herr (Lord) (Lord) (Sovereign “Hochadel”) (Style: “Illustrious Highness”)
79 – 80 | Reichsfreiherr or Reichsfreifrau (Imperial Baron or Imperial Baroness) (Sovereign “Hochadel”) (Style: “Illustrious Highness”)
81 – 82 | Reichsgraf or Reichsgräfin (Imperial Count or Imperial Countess) (Sovereign “Hochadel”) (Style: “Illustrious Highness”)
83 – 84 | Landgraf or Landgräfin (Landgrave or Landgravine) (Sovereign “Hochadel”) (Style: “Illustrious Highness”)
85 – 86 | Markgraf or Markgräfin (Marquis or Marquise) (Sovereign “Hochadel”) (Style: “Illustrious Highness”)
87 – 88 | Pfalzgraf or Pfalzgräfin (Count Palantine or Countess Palantine) (Sovereign “Hochadel”) (Style: “Illustrious Highness”)
89 – 90 | Reichsfürst or Reichsfürstin (Prince or Princess) (Sovereign “Hochadel”) (Style: “Illustrious Highness”)
91 – 92 | Herzog or Herzogin (Duke or Duchess) (Sovereign “Hochadel”) (Style: “Serene Highness”)
93 – 94 | Grossfürst or Grossfürstin (Grand Prince or Grand Princess) (Sovereign “Hochadel”) (Style: “Serene Highness”)
95 – 96 | Grossherzog or Grossherzogin (Grand Duke or Grand Duchess) (Sovereign “Hochadel”) (Style: “Ducal Serene Highness”)
97 – 98 | Erzherzog or Erzherzogin (Archduke or Archduchess) (Sovereign “Hochadel”) (Style: “Most Serene Highness”)
99 – 100 | Kurfürst or Kurfürin (Prince-elector or Princess-elector) (Sovereign “Hochadel”) (Style: “Most Serene Highness”)
Notes about German titles:
- The particles “von” (“of” [a family name]) and “zu” (“at” [a castle or territory possessed by the family]) generally indicate nobility. When the family name is the same as their castle or territory, the form is “von und zu”.
- The term “Hochedel” indicates high nobility that rules a state of the Empire, or that formerly ruled a state subsequently incorporated into another. “Niederer Adel” indicates lesser nobility that never ruled a state in their own right. A Reichsfreiherr (Imperial Baron) who rules a sovereign state of the Empire is Hochedel, and outranks an ordinary Graf (Count) who is Niederer Adel.
- The children of a titled noblemen are both noble and titled. The titles borne by non-reigning members of noble families are always the lesser equivalent titles employed by the Niederer Adel, even if their family is Hochedel. For example, the sons of a Pfalzgraf (Count Palatine) bear the lesser title Graf (Count). The son or daughter of a reigning Fürst or Reichsfürst bears the special title Prinz or Prinzessin.
- Some titles (such as “Graf”) can be either Hochedel or Niederer Adel, depending on whether or not the holder is also sovereign over a state of the Empire.
- Around the time of the French Revolution the German nobility begins to further distinguish between the “Uradel” (families ennobled before the 14th century) and the “Briefadel” (families ennobled by letters-patent after the 14th century). The former naturally look down upon the latter.
- Both the Uradel and Briefedel look down on everyone else. The least-important Junker is considered the social superior of the wealthiest non-noble financier.
- King George III of Great Britain is also the hereditary Prince-Elector of Hanover.
- The Holy Roman Empire is dissolved by Emperor Francis II in 1806, after the western states succeed to form the pro-French “Confederation of the Rhine”.
- The sheer number of German states and titles invites the assumption of false titles by impostors; for all the average person outside the Empire knows, there might actually be a “Fürst of Stierscheisseland”!
Random Hungarian Aristocrats, in Ascending Precedence
1 – 5 | Impoverished, or “Sandalled”nobility
6 – 10 | “Bene Possessionati” (Wealthy, but otherwise untitled nobility)
11 | Knight of the Order of Saint Stephen of Hungary [Roll again for additional title]
12 | Báró or Báróné (Baron or Baroness. German equivalent: Freiherr or Freifrau) (Magnate)
13 | Vicomte or Vicomtessz (Viscount or Viscountess. German equivalent: Vizegraf or Vizegräfin) (Magnate)
14 | Alispán (Viscount; hereditary deputy-administrator of a megye, or County. German equivalent: Vizegespan) (Magnate)
15 | Gróf or Grófnő (Count or Countess. German equivalent: Graf or Gräfin) (Magnate)
16 | Ispán (Count; hereditary administrator of a megye, or County. German equivalent: Gespan) (Magnate)
17 | Marki or Márkiné (Marquis or Marquise. German equivalent: Markgraf or Markgräfin) (Magnate)
18 | Herceg or Hercegnő (Duke or Duchess. German equivalent: Herzog or Herzogin) (Magnate)
19 | Ban (Croatian and Serbian title) (Magnate)
20 | Fürst or Fürstin (Prince or Princess. German title)
Notes about Hungarian titles:
- About 5% of the population of the Kingdom of Hungary is considered noble, a relatively high number. Most of those are untitled and relatively poor, however.
- Theoretically all nobles have the same rights and legal status. In practice, a distinction is made between the poor (or “sandalled”) nobility, the middle nobility (or “Bene Possessionati”), and the Magnates (titled nobility).
- Magnates have seats in the Upper House of the Hungarian Diet. They tend to not be Magyar in origin, and were mostly granted their titles by the reigning Habsburgs. The titles “Ispán” and “Alispán”, however, date from before the Habsburg period.
- Ispán and Alispán are also the titles of government officials responsible for the administration of the various Counties of the Kingdom. The two terms are only noble titles in Counties where the positions are hereditary.
- Many Magnates have German rather than Magyar titles. Since the Magyar word “Herceg” means both Duke and Prince, those who claim the title of “Prince” may bear the German title “Fürst”. Note also that most Magnates are likely to use the French equivalent of their titles at social events.
- The Magyar (Hungarian) language does not employ an “ennobling particle” between the given and family names. The title is is given first, then the family name, and lastly the given name.
- Nobles of German descent (or who have German titles) may give their name in the Western manner, however, with “von”, “zu”, or “von und zu” before their family name. Some Magnates may employ the French ennobling particle “de”.
- The “Bene Possessionati” tend to speak Magyar, wear Hungarian clothing, and otherwise eschew both French and German culture.
- The title “Voivode” (the title born by Vlad Tepes, or Dracula) is no longer used in the Kingdom of Hungary. Nonetheless, it might still be claimed by an individual whose memories seem to stretch over a longer period than seems logically possible…
- The historical “Order of the Dragon” (whose most famous member was Vlad Dracula) is extinct. Nobody should claim to still be a member…
Incest and the House of Habsburg
Much of Europe was once ruled by the House of Habsburg, which maintained a hold in its territories through consanguineous marriages. While the royalty of Europe was inbred in general, the early modern Habsburgs were incest enthusiasts. Marrying your cousin was usual for aristocracy, but the Habsburgs also specialized in such innovations as marrying uncles to nieces. All that breeding from their own stock resulted in the inevitable rise of birth defects and mental retardation. It was easy to discern a pure Habsburg; they tended to have a distinctively long face, and often suffered from a protruding lower jaw that produced the infamous “Habsburg lip”. It’s little wonder that the original male-line Habsburgs died out in the 18th century, victims of their own polluted gene pool. Only the branches of the family that had become amalgamated with other noble houses (such as the House of Habsburg-Lorraine) survived.