Earl

An earl is a member of the nobility. The title is Anglo-Saxon, akin to the Scandinavian form jarl, and meant "chieftain", particularly a chieftain set to rule a territory in a king's stead. In Scandinavia, it became obsolete in the Middle Ages and was replaced with duke (hertig/hertug). In later medieval Britain, it became the equivalent of the continental count (in England in the earlier period, it was more akin to duke; in Scotland it assimilated the concept of mormaer). However, earlier in Scandinavia jarl could also mean sovereign prince. For example, the rulers of several of the petty kingdoms of Norway had in fact the title of jarl and in many cases of no lesser power than their neighbours who had the title of king. Alternative names for the "Earl/Count" rank in the nobility structure are used in other countries, such as Hakushaku during the Japanese Imperial era.

In modern Britain, an earl is a member of the peerage, ranking below a marquess and above viscount. There never developed a feminine form of earl; countess is used as the equivalent feminine title.

Read more about Earl:  Etymology

Famous quotes containing the word earl:

    In private life he was good-natured, chearful, social; inelegant in his manners, loose in his morals. He had a coarse, strong wit, which he was too free of for a man in his station, as it is always inconsistent with dignity. He was very able as a minister, but without a certain elevation of mind necessary for great good, or great mischief.
    Philip Dormer Stanhope, 4th Earl Chesterfield (1694–1773)

    Montesquieu well knew, and justly admired, the happy constitution of this country [Great Britain], where fixed and known laws equally restrain monarchy from tyranny and liberty from licentiousness.
    Philip Dormer Stanhope, 4th Earl Chesterfield (1694–1773)

    Give nobly to indigent merit, and do not refuse your charity even to those who have not merit but their misery.
    Philip Dormer Stanhope, 4th Earl Chesterfield (1694–1773)