A viscount (pronounced /ˈvaɪkaʊnt/ vye-count) is a member of the European nobility whose comital title ranks usually, as in the British peerage, above a baron, below an earl (in Britain) or a count (the earl's continental equivalent).
The word viscount, known to be used in English since 1387, comes from Old French visconte (modern French: vicomte), itself from Medieval Latin vicecomitem, accusative of vicecomes, from Late Latin vice- "deputy" + Latin comes (originally "companion; later Roman imperial courtier or trusted appointee, ultimately count).
As a rank in British peerage, it was first recorded in 1440, when John Beaumont, 1st Viscount Beaumont, was made one by King Henry VI. The word viscount corresponds in Britain to the Anglo-Saxon shire reeve (root of the non-nobiliary, royal-appointed office of sheriff). Thus early viscounts were originally normally given their titles by the monarch, not hereditary; but soon they too tended to establish hereditary principalities lato sensu.
A viscount's coronet of rank bears 16 silver balls around the rim. Like all heraldic coronets, it is mostly worn at the coronation of a sovereign, but a viscount has the right to bear his coronet of rank on his coat of arms, above the shield.
Rarely given title, suggested pre-reqs include having held the office of Champion and having earned the title Weaponmaster. Proper form of address for a Viscount is "Your Grace, Viscount Sir Drakknar, Defender of the Celestial Kingdom"
There are non-etymological equivalents to the title of Viscount (i.e., 'Vice-Count') in several languages including German. However, in such case titles of the etymological Burgrave family (not in countries with a viscount-form, such as Italian burgravio alongside visconte) bearers of the title could establish themselves at the same gap, thus at generally the same level. Consequentally a Freiherr (or Baron) ranks not immediately below a Graf, but below a Burggraf.
Thus in Dutch, Burggraaf is the rank above Baron, below Graaf (i.e., Count) in the kingdoms of the Netherlands and of Belgium (by Belgian law, its equivalents in the other official languages are Burggraf in German and vicomte in French). In Welsh the title is rendered as Isiarll.