A person of Quality...?
Nobility; the Meaning of the Word
From the Wikipedia Article.
Nobility is a traditional hereditary status that exists today in many countries (mainly present or former monarchies). The term originally referred to those who were "known" or "notable" and was applied to the highest social class in pre-modern societies. In the feudal system (in Europe and elsewhere), the nobility were generally those who held a fief, often land and/or office, under vassalage, i.e. in exchange for allegiance and various, mainly military, services to the Monarch and at lower levels to another nobleman. It rapidly came to be seen as a hereditary caste, sometimes associated with a right to bear a hereditary title and, for example in pre-revolutionary France, enjoying fiscal and other privileges. Today, in most countries, "noble status" is a purely honorary dignity that confers no legal privileges; an important exception is the United Kingdom, where certain titles (titles of the peerage, until recently guaranteeing a seat in the Upper House of Westminster Parliament, hence its name House of Lords), still confer some residual privileges.
Nobility is a historical, social and often legal notion, which should not be confused with socio-economic status which is mainly statistical based on income and possessions. Being wealthy or influential does not automatically make one a noble, nor are all nobles wealthy and influential (aristocratic families have lost their fortunes in various ways, and the concept of the 'poor nobleman' is almost as old as nobility itself).
Countries without a feudal tradition do not have a nobility as such; various republics, including the United States and Italy have expressly abolished titles of nobility. Although many such societies have a privileged 'upper class' with great wealth and power, this does not entail a separate legal status, or different forms of address.
Nobility in Amtgard
Titles are awarded to individuals for various deeds, service and accomplishments in Amtgard. They are awarded to the individual, e.g., the player, not the character, though in common use they are placed in front of the player's character name. In common usage, most people who have been awarded multiple titles only use their highest title, or in some cases the one they like the best if they so choose. Some people do like to list them all, but this rapidly becomes a losing proposition, kind of a pointless bravado. There is always someone who has more titles out there, such as Michael Hammer of God.
In some kingdoms, titles can only be awarded by a Kingdom Monarch, though smaller chapters often get authority from the Kingdom to award titles on their behalf. Other kingdoms allow titles to be awarded by chapter monarchs to certain levels.
Titles are explained in detail in the Corpora. Typically titles are given for excellent service in office upon stepping down, or for other service deemed appropriate by the Monarch. Certain titles typically go with certain types of accomplishments.
There is an order of precedence, ranking the Titles. Titles should not be confused with offices|, many of which have the same names. For example, the Monarch of a Barony is called a Baron, but the person might only have the title of Lord. Thus, they might known as "Lord Bellosh, Baron of Darkshore". Offices are only for time while in office, titles remain with the individual (though in some circumstances they can be removed).
In addition to their most common forms, there are a number of accepted equivalents, usually to allow a person to reflect a certain cultural heritage. For example an amtgarder with a Scottish persona might prefer the title Thane which is equivalent to Baron.
Holding a title grants you the right to wear a coronet befitting your station. A duke for instance would be allowed to wear a coronet bearing strawberry leaves, a medieval symbol of plenty. Check the individual title pages for more information.
Listing of Common Titles
Note:Some places place marquis just above duke, but this is not common practice. Iron Mountains, and the Northern Empire place Count above Marquis.