The Stations of the Nobility: Duke

A duke is the social equivalent to a sovereign prince within his duchy, roughly equal to the Venetian Doge, the German Herzog, and the Russian Knez (prince). In his fief, a duke’s reign is almost independent of the Crown, though this is much moreso in the continental feudal system than in the English setting of the game. In England, the rank was introduced for the benefit of the king’s sons, to give them greater social standing and precedence, elevating them above the powerful earls to emphasize the value of their royal blood. A duke’s household might number upwards of 240, from household officers, Knights, gentlemen, yeomen, chamber staff, and his wife’s maids, down to kitchens, stable hands, and groundsmen and other domestic staff, not including the staff resident for castles or manors, attendant groundsmen, huntsmen, and other outdoor staff for the properties at which he does not reside.. A duke’s yearly income could range from £5,000 as high as £15,000.

Historically, the only duke in England was the king, who was also Duke of Normandy and Aquitaine. There were no duchies in England itself until the reign of Edward III (1327-1377). The English dukes were created for the benefit of the royal princes, to reinforce the higher status of the royal blood, that everyone recognize their dignity as greater than that of the earls of the realm. Edward III created his four sons the dukes of Clarence, York, Lancaster, and Gloucester. By 1400, the number of dukes had increased to 10, including Northumberland, Somerset, and Suffolk

Marquess is the title of a Marcher Lord, a lord enfeoffed with border marches or frontier regions, responsible for the security of the border. The names of their feofdoms often include the word “”march”. The wife or widow of a marquess is a “marchioness”, unless she had that rank prior to the marriage, in which case she is a marquess also. If she achieved this rank through marriage alone, she will carry the title for her lifetime only and cannot pass it to the heirs of her body except those born of the marquess, her husband’s, blood. The female born to the rank of marquess is a peer in her own right, equal to her male counterpart, her dignity heritable by all her children, regardless of their sire.