Spanish nobles are persons who possess the legal status of hereditary nobility according to the laws and traditions of the Spanish monarchy and those who hold personal nobility as bestowed by one of the three highest orders of knighthood of the Kingdom, namely the Order of the Golden Fleece, the Order of Charles III and the Order of Isabella the Catholic. A system of titles and honours of Spain and of the former kingdoms that constitute it comprise the Spanish nobility. Some nobles possess various titles that may be inherited, but the creation and recognition of titles is legally a prerogative of the King of Spain.
Some noble titles and families still exist which have transmitted that status since time immemorial. Some aristocratic families use the nobiliary particle de before their family name, although this was more prominent before the 20th century. During the rule of Generalísimo Francisco Franco, some new hereditary titles were conceded to individuals, and the titles granted by the Carlist pretenders were officially recognized.
Despite accession to Spain's throne of Juan Carlos I in 1975, the court of nobles holding positions and offices attached to the Royal Household was not restored. Noble titleholders are subjected to taxation, whereas under Spain's ancien régime (until 1923) they were exempt. King Juan Carlos resumed conferral of titles to recognize those whose public service, artistic endeavour, personal achievement, philanthropy, etc., are deemed to have benefitted the Spanish nation.
In Spain today, the possession of a title of nobility does not imply any legal or fiscal privilege; On the contrary, the possession of titles of nobility is subject to the payment of their corresponding tax. It is a distinction of merely honorary and symbolic character, accompanied by the treatment of the most excellent gentlemen for those titles that possess the dignity of grandees of Spain and of illustrious lords for others. The last privilege, suppressed in 1984, was the right to a diplomatic passport by the grandees of Spain. This privilege disappeared by Royal Decree 1023/1984. The titles without the rank of grandee of Spain never enjoyed this privilege.
With the establishment of the Second Spanish Republic in 1931, the use of noble titles was abolished by way of Decree of 1 June 1931, ratified by Law of 30 December of the same year. In 1948, legal recognition of the usage of noble titles was provided for by Law of 4 May 1948 restoring the rules as they were before 14 April 1931.
At present, titles of nobility find their legal basis in article 62, section f, of the 1978 constitution, which grants the prerogative of the king to grant honors and distinctions in accordance with the laws.
Spanish legislation recognizes titles of nobility and protects their legal owners against third parties. The Spanish nobility titles are in no case susceptible of purchase or sale, since their succession is strictly reserved for blood relatives of better right of the first holder of the title. The successions are processed by the Ministry of Justice and their use is subject to their respective tax .
|Titles of Spain|
The crown of the Spanish monarch
The crown of the Prince or Princess of Asturias (heir apparent)
The coronet of an infante (prince)
|Titles of nobility|
A coronet of a grandee
A Spanish coronet of a duke
A Spanish coronet of a marquess
A Spanish coronet of a count
A Spanish coronet of a viscount
A Spanish coronet of a baron
A Spanish coronet of a señor (lord)
Spanish nobles are classified as either grandees, as titled nobles, or as untitled nobles.
In the past, grandees were divided into first, second, and third classes, but this division has ceased to be relevant in practice while remaining a titular distinction; legally all grandees enjoy the same privileges in modern times. At one time however, each class held special privileges such as:
Additionally, all grandees were addressed by the king as mi Primo (my Cousin), whereas ordinary nobles were only qualified as mi Pariente (my Kinsman).
An individual may hold a grandeeship, whether in possession of a title of nobility or not. Normally, however, each grandeeship is attached to a title. A grandeeship is always attached to the grant of a ducal title. The grant of a grandeeship with any other rank of nobility has always been at the will of the sovereign. Excepting dukes and some very ancient titles of marquises and counts, most Spanish titles of nobility are not attached to grandeeships.
A grandee of any rank outranks a non-grandee, even if that non-grandee's title is of a higher degree, with the exception of official members of the Spanish Royal Family who may in fact hold no title at all. Thus, a baron-grandee enjoys higher precedence than a marquis who is not a grandee.
Since 1987, the children of Spanish infantes, traditionally considered part of the royal family, have been entitled to the rank and style of a grandee but do not hold the legal dignity of grandee unless a grandeza is officially conferred by the sovereign; once the dignity has been officially bestowed, it becomes hereditary.
Some notable titles, which are attached to grandeeships, are: Duke of Alba, Duke of Medinaceli, Duke of Osuna, Duke of Infantado, Duke of Albuquerque, Duke of Nájera, Duke of Frías and Duke of Medina Sidonia, Marquis of Aguilar de Campoo, Marquis of Astorga, Marquis of Santillana, Marquis of Los Vélez, Count of Benavente, Count of Lerín, Count of Olivares, Count of Oñate, and Count of Lemos.
Titled nobles without a grandee, their spouses and heirs, and grandee's younger sons/daughter use the style of The Most Illustrious Lord/Lady.
The ordinary Spanish nobility is divided into six ranks. From highest to lowest, these are: Duque (Duke), Marqués (Marquis), Conde (Count), Vizconde (Viscount), Barón (Baron), and Señor (Lord) (as well as the feminine forms of these titles).
Nobility descends from the first man of a family who was raised to the nobility (or recognized as belonging to the hereditary nobility) to all his legitimate descendants, male and female, in the male line. Thus, most persons who are legally noble, hold no noble title. Hereditary titles formerly descended by male-preference primogeniture, a woman being eligible to inherit only if she had no brother or if her brothers also inherited titles. However, by Spanish law, all hereditary titles descend by absolute primogeniture, gender no longer being a criterion for preference in inheritance, since 2005.
The often overlooked title of 'prince' (príncipe/princesa) has historically been borne by those who have been granted or have inherited that title. It is often not included in lists of the Spanish nobility because it is rare. Prince/Princess are English translations of Infante/Infanta, referring to the son or daughter of a king; such titles are reserved for members of the royal family (the heir to the throne or the consort of the Queen regnant). Historically, infante or infanta could refer to offspring, siblings, uncles and aunts of a king. The heir's princely titles derive from the ancient kingdoms which united to form Spain.
Three titles of prince are held by the heir to the Spanish throne.
Other titles of 'prince' were frequently granted by the kings of Spain, but usually in their capacity as kings of Naples or of Sicily. Such nobles often sojourned at the Spanish court where their titles were acknowledged, but rarely were Spanish nobles the recipients of a title of prince in Spain. The most notable exceptions were the title "Prince of the Peace" conferred in 1795 on Manuel Godoy, a favourite of the Spanish king and the title "Prince of Vergara" conferred to Baldomero Espartero, Napoleons brother Joseph Bonaparte conferred the title to be hereditary on his children and grandchildren, Although legislation of the twentieth century ended official recognition of the title of prince outside the royal bloodline family, it did allow the holder of a princedom to have the dignity converted to a ducal title of the same name.
All dukedoms are attached to a grandeeship. A partial list includes:
Baronies did not exist in the Kingdom of Castile nor the Kingdom of Navarre, and the subsequent kings of Spain did not confer any baronies attached to Castilian or Navarrese estates. However, they did exist in the Kingdom of Aragon, such as:
The title of Señor is, together with that of Conde, the oldest in seniority of the Spanish realms. Many of these lordships are among the oldest titles of nobility in Spain, and the Señor usually exercised military and administrative powers over the lordship. Although some lordships were created by the kings of Spain, others existed before them and have not been created by any known king. For example, the Señor of Biscay held a great degree of independence from the king of Castile, to whom he could pledge or not pledge feudal allegiance, but of whom he was not automatically a vassal: each new lord of Biscay had to renew his oath to the king. Ultimately however, the kings of Castile inherited the lordship.
Besides those held by the King, in Spain remain seven lordships that maintain the official consideration of Titles of the Kingdom according to the Official Guide of the Titles and Grandees of the Kingdom published by the Ministry of Justice: the Lordship of Solar de Tejada,the Lordship of Solar de Mandayona y Villaseca, the Lordship of Alconchel, the Lordship of Lazcano (with Grandee of Spain), the Lordship of Rubianes (with Grandee of Spain), the Lordship of Higuera de Vargas (with Grandee of Spain), the Lordship of Meirás (with Grandee of Spain) and the Lordship of Sonseca. Other lordships that were considered as Titles of the Kingdom in the past, have not been rehabilitated.
Lower nobility held ranks, without individual titles, such as infanzon (in Aragon, e.g. Latas Family), hidalgo or escudero. These did not, however, correspond to the status of a baron, a title unknown to Spanish nobility except in Catalonia.
Hidalgo was the most common of these: Originally all the nobles in the Western Peninsular Christian Realms were hidalgos and, as cristianos viejos, held nearly exclusive right to privileged status (although there were some Jews and Muslims recognized as hidalgos, who shared their privilege to bear arms as knights in the mesnada real). The first of the kings of Pamplona and Asturias were originally elected and lifted up on a shield to assume Princeps inter Pares status, by these otherwise untitled nobles. For approximately three hundred years the hidalgos retained this privilege, only a few of them eventually being granted the non-heritable title of Comes#Medieval usages. Unlike Spain's later titled nobles, the early hidalgo did not necessarily possess or receive any fief or land grant. Many were as poor as commoners, although they were tax-exempt and could join the civil service or the army.
During the Middle Ages hidalgo became a title granted by the kings of Castile as a reward for service done to the crown (or, as in Biscay, as a way of recognizing prior rights). In the same way escudero was granted for military achievement when the Reconquista ended. Being the most obvious proof of noble descent, hidalgo came to be the only lesser title to remain among the modern ranks of Spanish nobility. From this ancient estate of the realm emerged Spain's nobility. All titled and untitled nobles are considered hidalgos, but many of the modern titled nobility do not descend from the original hidalguía.
The term Hidalgo de Sangre indicated membership in a family whose noble status was recognized in the earliest records of its existence; thus its immemorial nobility was acknowledged but not created by any monarch.
The 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 must hold both a grandeeship and a hereditary title unattached to a grandeeship.
Succession to Spanish noble titles is hereditary, but not automatic. The original letters patent which created the title determine the order of succession. Payment of substantial fees is required whenever a title is inherited.
While noble titles historically have followed the rule of male-preference primogeniture, a Spanish law came into effect on October 30, 2006, after approval by both houses of the Cortes, establishing the inheritance of hereditary noble titles by the firstborn regardless of gender. The law is retroactive to July 27, 2005.
Following the death of a noble, the senior heir may petition the sovereign through the Spanish Ministry of Justice for permission to use the title. If the senior heir does not make a petition within two years, then other potential heirs may do so on their own behalf. There is a limit of forty years from the vacancy by death or relinquishment of a title within which that title may be claimed and revived by an heir.
The petitioner must demonstrate that he or she is a child, grandchild or direct male line descendant of a noble (whether a grandee or not), or that he or she belongs to certain bodies or orders of chivalry deemed noble, or that the father's family is recognized as noble. The amount of fees due depend on whether the title is attached to a grandeeship or not, and on whether the heir is a direct descendant or a collateral kinsman of 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 senior heir, during the lifetime of the main titleholder. Normally, this process is used to allow younger children to succeed to lesser 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.
The late Cayetana Fitz-James Stuart, 18th Duchess of Alba (1926–2014) holds the Guinness World Record for number of titles with over 50 titles. Before her death, she ceded some of her titles to each of her six children; otherwise, all but the eldest would have been excluded from succession.
From the beginning of his reign in November 1975, King Juan Carlos created new titles for about 51 people (as of April 2011), among others recognizing the merits of politicians and artists. Some of these dignities have been hereditary. Examples include:
King Juan Carlos also exceptionally confirmed the title of Count of Barcelona, a title historically attached to the Crown, but used as a title of pretence by his father, Infante Juan, during the dynasty's 20th century exile and the subsequent reign of his son.
Alfonso II (1180 – February 1209) was the second son of Alfonso II of Aragon and Sancha of Castile. His father transferred the County of Provence from his uncle Sancho to him in 1185. Alfonso II was born in Barcelona.
In 1193, Alfonso married Gersenda II of Sabran, daughter of Rainou, Count of Forcalquier and Gersend of Forcalquier. They had a child who became Ramon Berenguer IV as count of Provence.According to explanations in the manuscripts of Gaucelm Faidit's poems, Alfonso was a rival of the troubadour for the love of Jourdaine d'Embrun.Alfonso II died in Palermo, Sicily, Italy.Beltrán Alfonso Osorio, 18th duke of Alburquerque
Beltrán Alfonso Osorio y Díez de Rivera, 18th Duke of Alburquerque (15 December 1918 – 8 February 1994), was a Grandee of Spain and an amateur jockey. As a Spanish aristocrat, he was known as the "Iron Duke" of Alburquerque.
He was also Duke of Algete, Marquis of Alcañices, los Balbases, Cadreita, Cuéllar, Cullera, and Montaos, Count of Fuensaldaña, Grajal, Huelma, Ledesma, la Torre, Villanueva de Cañedo, and Villaumbrosa.
His son, Juan Miguel Osorio y Bertrán de Lis (b. 1958), is the current Duke of Alburquerque and Duke of Algete.Comillas
Comillas is a small township and municipality in the northern reaches of Spain, in the autonomous community of Cantabria. The Marquessate of Comillas, a fiefdom of Spanish nobility, holds ceremonial office in the seat of power at a small castle which overlooks the town. The Comillas Pontifical University was housed here before it moved to Madrid, and the old university buildings are among the finest examples of architecture in the town. Besides this, there are many notable medieval and baroque buildings.
From the second half of the 19th century, the Spanish royal family started spending their summers in Comillas, and so did large part of the Spanish nobility, whose many descendants still frequent the town every summer. As a result, Comillas left an imprint of architectural relics such as palaces or monuments designed by renowned Catalan artists in particular, i.e. Gaudí or Doménech i Montaner. From the second half of the 20th century however, southern Spain and the islands became more popular due to an increasing inclination towards sunny destinations, and so places like Marbella, Sotogrande or Mallorca became attractive prospects for the rich and famous. Although the town has seen an upsurge in the last years, it still maintains its character as "the haven for the decadent and discreet aristocracy".Comillas was the capital of Spain for a day, the 6th of August 1881, following an agreement between king Alfonso XII and the Minister's Council to gather at a formal meeting in town.Counts of Roussillon
This is a list of the counts of Roussillon (Catalan: Comtes de Rosselló).Diego Columbus
Diego Columbus (Portuguese: Diogo Colombo; Spanish: Diego Colón; also, in Italian: Diego Colombo) (1479/1480-1526) was a Portuguese navigator and explorer under the Kings of Castile and Aragón. He served as the 2nd Admiral of the Indies, 2nd Viceroy of the Indies and 4th Governor of the Indies as a vassal to the Kings of Castile and Aragón. He was the elder son of Christopher Columbus and his wife Filipa Moniz Perestrelo.He was born in Portugal, either in Porto Santo in 1479/1480, or in Lisbon in 1474. He spent most of his adult life trying to regain the titles and privileges granted to his father for his explorations and then denied him in 1500. He was greatly aided in this goal by his marriage to María de Toledo y Rojas, niece of the 2nd Duke of Alba, who was the cousin of King Ferdinand.Duke of Alba
Duke of Alba de Tormes (Spanish: Duque de Alba de Tormes), commonly known as Duke of Alba, is a title of Spanish nobility that is accompanied by the dignity of Grandee of Spain. In 1472, the title of Count of Alba de Tormes, inherited by García Álvarez de Toledo, was elevated to the title of Duke of Alba de Tormes by King Henry IV of Castile.Eugénie de Montijo
Doña María Eugenia Ignacia Augustina de Palafox y KirkPatrick, 16th Countess of Teba, 15th Marchioness of Ardales (5 May 1826 – 11 July 1920), known as Eugénie de Montijo (French: [øʒeni də montiχo]), was the last Empress Consort of the French (1853–70) as the wife of Napoleon III, Emperor of the French.Hidalgo
Hidalgo may refer to:
Hidalgo (nobility), members of the Spanish nobilityHidalgo (nobility)
An hidalgo (, Spanish: [iˈðalɣo]) or a fidalgo (Portuguese: [fiˈðaɫɣu], Galician: [fiˈðalɣʊ]) is a member of the Spanish or Portuguese nobility; the feminine forms of the terms are hidalga, in Spanish, and fidalga, in Portuguese and Galician. In popular usage, the term hidalgo identifies a nobleman without a hereditary title. In practice, hidalgos were exempted from paying taxes, yet owned little real property.House of Lara
The House of Lara (Spanish: Casa de Lara) is a noble family from the medieval Kingdom of Castile. Two of its branches, those from the Duke of Nájera and from the Marquess of Aguilar de Campoo were considered Grandees of Spain. The Lara family gained numerous territories in Castile, León, Andalucía, and Galicia and members of the family moved throughout the former Spanish colonies, establishing branches as far away as the Philippines and Argentina. The House of Lara were most prominent in the history of Castile and León from the 11th to the 14th century. For example, Álvaro Núñez de Lara served as regent for Henry I of Castile. They were dispossessed of much of their land by Peter the Cruel, but most was returned by Henry II.Juana Enríquez
Juana Enriquez de Córdoba, 5th Lady of Casarrubios del Monte (1425 – 13 February 1468, Tarragona), a Castilian noblewoman, was Queen of Navarre from her marriage in April 1444 to King John II and Queen of Aragon from John II's accession in 1458 until her death. She married John three years after the death of his first wife, Queen Blanche I of Navarre.List of Spanish monarchs
This is a list of Spanish monarchs, that is, rulers of the country of Spain in the modern sense of the word. The forerunners of the monarchs of the Spanish throne were the following:
Kings of the Visigoths
Kings of Asturias
Kings of Navarre
Kings of León
Kings of Galicia
Kings of Aragon
Kings of CastileThese seven lineages were eventually united by the marriage of the Catholic Monarchs, Ferdinand II of Aragon (king of the Crown of Aragon) and Isabella I of Castile (queen of the Crown of Castile). Although their kingdoms continued to be separate, with their personal union they ruled them together as one dominion. Ferdinand also conquered the southern part of Navarre and annexed it to what was to become Spain. Isabella left her kingdom to her daughter Joanna of Castile. Ferdinand served as her regent during her insanity; though rebuffed by the Castilian nobility and replaced by Joanna's husband Philip the Handsome, he resumed his regency after Philip's death. In 1516, after Ferdinand II's death, his daughter Joanna inherited the kingdom of Aragon, but was kept prisoner at Tordesillas as insane. As Joanna's son, the future Holy Roman Emperor Charles V, did not want to be merely a regent, he was proclaimed king of Castile and Aragon jointly with his mother in Brussels. Subsequently, Castilian and Aragonese Cortes alleged oath to him as co-king with his mother. Upon her death, he became sole King of Castile and Aragon, and the thrones were thereafter united permanently.Magnate
A magnate, from the late Latin magnas, a great man, itself from Latin magnus, "great", is a noble or a man in a high social position, by birth, wealth or other qualities. In reference to the Middle Ages, the term is often used to distinguish higher territorial landowners and warlords such as counts, earls, dukes, and territorial-princes from the baronage, and in Poland for the richest Szlachta.Mariana Fernández de Córdoba y Ayala
Mariana Fernández de Córdoba y Ayala (c. 1394 – 1431), also known as Mariana de Ayala Córdoba y Toledo, was the fourth Lady of Casarrubios del Monte in the province of Toledo. She was the daughter of Diego Fernández de Córdoba y Carrillo, first Lord of Baena, and Inés Ayala y Toledo, third Lady of Casarrubios del Monte.María Teresa de Borbón, 15th Countess of Chinchón
María Teresa de Borbón y Vallabriga, 15th Countess of Chinchón (María Teresa Carolina; 6 March 1779 – 23 November 1828), was a Spanish noblewoman and grandee. She was a patrilineal granddaughter of Philip V of Spain.Mauregatus of Asturias
Mauregatus the Usurper (Spanish: Mauregato) was the king of Asturias from 783 to 788 or 789. He was an illegitimate son of Alfonso I, supposedly by a Moorish serf. He usurped the throne on the death of Silo, his brother-in-law (the husband of his half sister Adosinda). The nobility had elected Alfonso II at Adosinda's insistence, but Mauregatus assembled a large army of supporters and forced Alfonso into Álava.
Nothing is known in detail of his reign. The adoptionist dispute was raging between Elipandus, Archbishop of Toledo, and Beatus of Liébana and even occasioned the intervention of Charlemagne. Mauregatus also sent back an invading Muslim force.
During his reign a hymn to Saint James was composed with an acrostic mentioning the king's name. This is considered to presage the legend of the saint's burial at Santiago de Compostela.Pedro González de Mendoza
Pedro VI redirects here. There was also a Pedro VI of Kongo.Pedro González de Mendoza (May 3, 1428 – January 11, 1495) was a Spanish cardinal and statesman who served as Archbishop of Toledo (1482–1495), Archbishop of Sevilla (1474–1482), Bishop of Sigüenza (1467–1474), and Bishop of Calahorra y La Calzada (1453–1467).Spanish nobility in Cuba
Cuban nobility encompasses all the individuals and families recognized in Cuba as members of the aristocratic class, hence possessing inheritance privileges.Succession to the Spanish throne
Spain uses the system of male-preference cognatic primogeniture. Dynasts who marry against the express prohibition of the monarch and the Cortes are excluded from the succession together with their descendants. A prohibition expressed only by the monarch or only by the Cortes will have no consequences to the succession. Disputes about the succession are to be settled by legislation.
Upon his succeeding to the throne, the monarch is required by article 61(1) of the 1978 constitution to take an oath on the occasion of his being proclaimed before the Cortes Generales.
Nobility by nation
(*) : state where monarchy still exists