Spanish nobility

From Academic Kids

The Spanish nobility is the system of titles and honours of Spain and of the former kingdoms that constitute it. The nobility includes various titles that may be inherited, but the inheritance and creation of titles is entirely at the grace of the King of Spain.


The Spanish nobility is divided into six ranks (both the masculine and feminine forms are given):

  • Duke / Duchess (Duque / Duquesa)
  • Marquess / Marchioness (Marqués / Marquesa)
  • Count / Countess (Conde / Condesa)
  • Viscount / Viscountess (Vizconde / Vizcondesa)
  • Baron / Baroness (Barón / Baronesa)
  • Lord / Lady (Señor / Señora)

Furthermore, Spanish nobles are classified either as Grandees (also called Peers) or as Titled Nobles. Formerly, Grandees were divided into the first, second and third classes, but now, all Grandees are of the first class. An individual is a Grandee if he or she holds a Grandeeship, regardless of possession of a title of Nobility. Normally, however, each Grandeeship is granted along with a title, though this was not always the case. Furthermore, a Grandeeship is normally awarded along with every ducal title. A peer of any rank outranks a non-peer, even if that non-peer is of a higher grade. Thus, a Baron-Peer would outrank a Marquess who is not a peer.

Grandees are entitled to the style of Most Excellent Lord / Lady or His / Her Excellency. Titled Nobles who are of the rank of Marquess or Count use the style Most Illustrious Lord / Lady, while those of the rank of Viscount, Baron or Lord use simply Lord / Lady. Furthermore, the son of a Count, Marquess or Duke may use the style of a Viscount.


All evidence supporting one's claim to a title may be reviewed by the Deputation of Grandees and Titled Nobles of the Kingdom (Diputación de Grandes y Títulos del Reino). The body includes eight Grandees, eight Nobles who are not Grandees, and a President who both is a Grandee and holds a title without Grandeeship.

Succession to Spanish noble titles is hereditary, but not automatic. The original letters patent created the title determine the course of succession.

The title of King of Spain however currently follows male-preference cognatic primogeniture. Following the death of a Noble, the heir may petition the King through the Spanish Ministry of Justice for permission to use the title. If the heir apparent does not make a petition within two years, then other heirs may themselves do so. Furthermore, there is an overall limit of forty years within which one may claim a title.

The petitioner must demonstrate that he or she is a son, grandson or direct male line descendant of a Noble (whether a Grandee or not), or that he or she belongs to certain bodies or Orders deemed noble, or that the father's family is recognized as noble (if succeeding to a Grandeeship, the mother's family also). Furthermore, a fee must be paid; the fees depend on whether the title is attached to a Grandeeship or not, and on whether the heir is a direct or collateral descendant to the previous holder. The petition is normally granted, except if the petitioner is a criminal.

Titles may also be ceded to heirs other than the heir apparent during the lifetime of the main titleholder. Normally, the process is used to allow younger children to succeed to the titles, while the highest or principal title goes to the senior heir. Only subsidiary titles may be ceded; the principal title must be reserved for the senior heir. The cession of titles may only be done with the approval of the Monarch.



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