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:

    All I can say, in answer to this kind queries [of friends] is that I have not the distemper called the Plague; but that I have all the plagues of old age, and of a shattered carcase.
    Philip Dormer Stanhope, 4th Earl Chesterfield (1694–1773)

    A certain degree of ceremony is a necessary outwork of manners, as well as of religion; it keeps the forward and petulant at a proper distance, and is a very small restraint to the sensible and to the well-bred part of the world.
    Philip Dormer Stanhope, 4th Earl Chesterfield (1694–1773)

    Patience, to hear frivolous, impertinent, and unreasonable applications: with address enough to refuse, without offending; or, by your manner of granting, to double the obligation: dexterity enough to conceal a truth, without telling a lie: sagacity enough to read other people’s countenances: and serenity enough not to let them discover anything by yours; a seeming frankness, with a real reserve. These are the rudiments of a politician; the world must be your grammar.
    Philip Dormer Stanhope, 4th Earl Chesterfield (1694–1773)