Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Counts of the Patriarchate

The title of Count is of particular importance to the Patriarchate of St. Stephen. It is an old title dating back to the Roman Empire, and today it comes in many forms. It can be a middle or high level of nobility. When held by a royal person, it usually is among the highest of all titles. Count translates as Comes in Latin, meaning companion and was common to high officials of the imperial court and for provincial rulers as "companions of the Emperor." In the time of the early Holy Roman Empire, it was a common title for many rulers. In Italy, where some of the independent states were ruled by Counts, the last ruler of Tuscany in the ancient Holy Roman Empire was Countess Matilda, Margravine of Tuscany. She was a princess of the houses of Canossa, Lorraine, and Bar. (See also Les Comtes Royales.)

The use of the title of Count by certain princes in the Imperial Patriarchate of St. Stephen follows these ancient customs. Certain princes of the Patriarchate hold comital titles, mostly quite ancient in origin. It is the custom for the personal title of those princes to be Count, used with their forename, surname, or title name -- all are equally correct. The title applies also to their children and heirs. This is similar not only ancient Italian and French usage, but also to the Spanish and Italian use of "Don" for all nobles, including the King, as well as the international ecclesiastical custom of addressing all prelates as "Monsignor," regardless of rank. It is also similar to the British custom of using "Lord" for all peers, regardless of rank (excepting Dukes). The usage within the Patriarchate reflects its ancient, rich, and diverse heritage. 

Today this usage in the Patriarchate is common currently to five heads of houses within the Imperial Patriarchate -- the Counts of Marmande, Sainte Animie, Valais, Römerberg, and Coberly -- as well as to the members of their individual houses.