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A 17th-century engraving of the robe used by a marquis during this creation ceremony.

A marquess or marquis (UK play /ˈmɑrkwɨs/; French: "marquis", /mɑrˈk/) is a nobleman of hereditary rank in various European peerages and in those of some of their former colonies. The term is also used to translate equivalent oriental styles, as in imperial China, Japan, and Vietnam (Annam). In the British Isles the title ranks below a duke and above an earl (see "Marquesses in the United Kingdom").

The actual distinction of a Marquess and other peerage titles has, in more recent years, faded into obscurity. In times past, the distinction between an earl and a marquess was that a marquess's land, called a march, was on the border of the country, while an earl's land, called a county, often wasn't. Because of this, a marquess was trusted to defend and fortify against potentially hostile neighbors and was thus more important and ranked higher than an earl. The title is ranked below duke which was mostly restricted to the royal family and those that were held in high enough esteem to be granted such a title.

The word "marquess" is unusual in English, ending in "-ess" but referring to a male and not a female. In continental Europe it is usually equivalent where a cognate title exists. A woman with the rank of a marquess, or the wife of a marquess, is a marchioness (play /ˌmɑrʃəˈnɛs/) in England, or a marquise (play /mɑrˈkz/) in Scotland and elsewhere in Europe. The dignity, rank or position of the title is referred to as a marquisate or marquessate.

In the German lands, a Margrave was a ruler of an immediate Imperial territory (examples include Margrave of Brandenburg, Margrave of Baden and Margrave of Bayreuth to name a few) and never a mere noble like Marquesses/Marquises in Western and Southern Europe. German rulers did not confer the title of Marquis and holders of marquisates in Central Europe were mostly of Italian and Spanish origin.



The word enters the English language from Old French marchis ("ruler of a border area") in the late 13th or early 14th century. The French word was derived from marche ("frontier"), itself descended from the Middle Latin marca ("frontier"), from which the modern English words "march" and "mark" also descend. The distinction between governors of frontier territories and interior territories was made as early as the founding of the Roman Empire when some provinces were set aside for administration by the Senate and more unpacified or vulnerable provinces were administered by the Emperor. The titles "Duke" and "Count" were similarly distinguished as ranks in the late empire, with dux (ltierally, "leader") being used for a provincial military governor and the rank of comes (literally "companion," that is, of the Emperor) given the leader of an active army along the frontier.

Marquesal titles in other European languages

The following list may still be incomplete. Feminine forms follow after a slash; many languages have two words, one for the "modern" marquess and one for the original margrave.

In Italy the equivalent modern rank (as opposed to margravio) is that of marchese, the wife of whom is a marchesa, a good example of how several languages adopted a new word derived from marquis for the modern style, thus distinguishing it from the old "military" margraves. Even where neither title was ever used domestically, such duplication to describe foreign titles can exist.

Germanic languages

  • In South Africa and Namibia: *Afrikaans: Markies, Markgraaf / Markiesin, Markgravin
  • In Denmark: *Danish: Markis, Markgreve / Markise, Markgrevinde
  • In Netherlands and Belgium: *Dutch: Markgraaf, Markies / Markgravin, Markiezin
  • In Faroe Islands: *Faroese: Markgreivi / Markgreivakona
  • In Germany: *German: Markgraf, Marquis / Markgräfin, Marquise
  • In Iceland: *Icelandic: Markgreifi / Markgreifynja
  • In Norway: *Norwegian: Markis / Markise
  • In Scotland: *Scots: Marquis / Marchioness
  • In Sweden: *Swedish: Markis, Markgreve / Markisinna, Markgrevinna

Romance languages

  • Catalan: Marquès, Marcgravi / Marquesa
  • French: Marquis, Margrave / Marquise, Margrave
  • Italian: Margravio, Marchese / Marchesa
  • Latin: Marchio
  • Monegasque: Marchise / Marchisa
  • Portuguese: Margrave, Marquês / Marquesa
  • Rhaeto-Romanic: Marchis / Marchesa
  • Romanian: Marchiz / Marchiză
  • Spanish: Marqués / Marquesa

Slavonic and Baltic languages

Other languages

The coronet for a marquess in the British realms.
  • Albanian: Markiz / Markizë
  • Estonian: Markii/Markiis or Markkrahv / Markkrahvinna
  • Finnish: Rajakreivi / Rajakreivitär or simply Markiisi /Markiisitar
  • Georgian: Markizi
  • Greek: Μαρκήσιος, Markēsios or Μαργράβος, Margravos / Μαρκησία, Markēsía
  • Hungarian: Őrgróf (Márki) / Őrgrófnő (Márkinő) / Őrgrófné (consort of an Őrgróf)
  • Maltese: Markiż / Markiża
  • Turkish: Markiz
  • Welsh: Marc / Sivage

Equivalent non-Western titles

Like other major Western noble titles, marquess or marquis is sometimes used to render certain titles in non-Western languages with their own traditions, even though they are, as a rule, historically unrelated and thus hard to compare. However, they are considered "equivalent" in relative rank.

This is the case with:

  • in ancient China, 侯 (hóu) was the second of five noble ranks created by King Wu of Zhou and is generally translated as marquess or marquis.
  • in imperial China, 侯 (hóu) is generally, but not always, a middle-to-high ranking hereditary nobility title. Its exact rank varies greatly from dynasty to dynasty, and even within a dynasty. It is often created with different sub-ranks.
  • in Meiji Japan, Kōshaku (侯爵), a hereditary peerage (Kazoku) rank, was introduced in 1884, granting a hereditary seat in the upper house of the imperial diet just as a British peerage did (until the House of Lords Act 1999), with the ranks usually rendered as baron, viscount, count, marquis and duke. The Japanese rendered these titles in Chinese (though there the titles devalue when a new generation succeeds), though the Western titles were used in translation.
  • in Korea, the title of Hyeonhu (현후, 縣侯), of which the meaning is "marquess of district", existed for the hereditary nobility in the Goryeo dynasty. It was equivalent to the upper fifth rank of nine bureaucratic orders, and was in the third rank of six nobility orders. In the Joseon dynasty, there was no title equivalent to marquess.
  • in Vietnam's Annamite realm / empire, hau (Hán tự: 侯) was a senior title of hereditary nobility, equivalent to marquis, for male members of the imperial clan, ranking under vuong (king), quoc-cong (grand duke), quan-cong (duke) and cong (prince, but here under duke, rather like a German Fürst), and above ba (count), tu (viscount), nam (baron) and vinh phong (no equivalent).
  • in the Thai royal and noble title Phraya (Phaya in dialects that elide /r/) which ranks below Chao Phraya (Duke) and above Phranai (Count or Earl.)

See also


^ Although the vast majority of marquessates are named after places, and hence their holders are known as the "Marquess of X", a very few of them are named after surnames (even if not the bearer's own), and hence their holders are known as the "Marquess X". In either case, he is still informally known as "Lord X", regardless whether there is an of in his title, and it is always safe to style him so.

Sources and references

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Look at other dictionaries:

  • Marquess — Datos generales Origen Hanover …   Wikipedia Español

  • marquess — marquess, marquis Both words are pronounced mah kwis. A marquess is a British nobleman ranking between a duke and an earl, and a marquis is a foreign equivalent ranking between a duke and a count. A marquise, pronounced mah keez, is the wife or… …   Modern English usage

  • Marquess — Mar quess, n. [Cf. Sp. marques. See {Marquis}.] A marquis. [1913 Webster] {Lady marquess}, a marchioness. [Obs.] Shak. [1913 Webster] …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • Marquess — Von links nach rechts: Marco Hegge …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • marquess — ► NOUN ▪ a British nobleman ranking above an earl and below a duke. Compare with MARQUIS(Cf. ↑marquis). ORIGIN variant of MARQUIS(Cf. ↑marquis) …   English terms dictionary

  • marquess — [mär′kwis] n. [var. of MARQUIS] 1. a British nobleman ranking above an earl and below a duke 2. MARQUIS marquessate [mär′kwə zit] n …   English World dictionary

  • marquess — /mahr kwis/, n. Brit. 1. marquee (def. 3). 2. marquis. [sp. var. of MARQUIS] * * * I or marquis European title of nobility, ranking in modern times immediately below a duke and above a count or earl. The wife of a marquess is a marchioness or… …   Universalium

  • Marquess — Mar|quess 〈[ma:kwıs] m.; , ; engl. Bez. für〉 Markgraf * * * Mar|quess [ markvɪs], der; , [engl. marquess < älter engl. marquis < afrz. marchis, ↑ Marquis]: 1. <o. Pl.> englischer …   Universal-Lexikon

  • Marquess — Recorded in variois spellings including Marquess, Marquis, Marquiss, Marquisse, Lemarquis, Marchis, (French, and sometimes English), Marques (Spanish and Catalonian), Marquese, Marchese, Marchesi, Marcheso, Marchiso, Marchiselli (Italian), and… …   Surnames reference

  • marquess — UK [ˈmɑː(r)kwɪs] / US [ˈmɑrkwəs] noun [countable] Word forms marquess : singular marquess plural marquesses a man of middle rank in the British nobility See: marquis …   English dictionary