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The Vrylandian nobility is the peerage of Vryland, a legal system comprising of both hereditary and lifetime titles, composed of various noble ranks, and forming a constituent part of the Vrylandian honours system. The term peerage can be used both collectively to refer to the entire body of nobles (or a subdivision thereof), and individually to refer to a specific title.
Peerages are created by the Vrylandian monarch, like all Crown honours, being affirmed by letters patent. New peerages can be granted to any citizen of Vryland. Unlike European peerage systems, entire families, instead of individuals, are ennobled.
The Vrylandian peerage system closely follows the British system.
There are five ranks of peers, in descending order of hierarchy:
- Duke comes from the Latin dux, leader. The feminine form is Duchess.
- Marquess comes from the French 'marquis', which is a derivative of 'marche' or march. The feminine form is Marchioness.
- Earl comes from the Old English or Anglo-Saxon 'eorl', a military leader. Since there was no feminine Old English or Old Norse equivalent for the term, 'Countess' is used (an Earl is analogous to the Continental 'count'), from the Latin 'comes'.
- Viscount comes from the Latin 'vicecomes', vice-count. The feminine form is Viscountess.
- Baron comes from the Old Germanic 'baro', freeman. The feminine form is Baroness.
The titles of peers are in the form of '(Rank) (Name of Title)' or '(Rank) of (Name of Title)'. The name of the title can either be a place name or a surname. The precise usage depends on the rank of the peerage and on certain other general considerations.
Types of peers
A hereditary peer is a peer whose dignity may be inherited; those able to inherit it are said to be "in remainder". All hereditary titles can pass through and vest in female heirs.
All hereditary peers have the right to be members of and sit in the House of Lords.
A life peer is a peer whose dignity cannot be inherited after death. These titles are usually issued to people who have made great achievements to the nation, such as important politicians upon their retirement.
Styles and titles
Dukes use His Grace, Marquesses use The Most Honourable and other peers use The Right Honourable. Peeresses (whether they hold peerages in their own right or are wives of peers) use equivalent styles.
Peerage robes are worn by peers on certain ceremonial occasions. Each peerage rank has certain features to identify its rank. The robe of a peer is a full-length garment of scarlet wool with a collar of white miniver fur. Vrylandian peers only have one robe, whereas British peers use two robes, one for parliament and the other for coronations.
Coronets and headgear
A peer must wear his or her coronet for the monarch's coronation, but they may wear it anytime they want.
- The coronet of a duke (a silver-gilt circlet, chased as jewelled but not actually gemmed) has eight strawberry leaves;
- The coronet of a marquess has four strawberry leaves and four silver balls (known as "pearls", but not actually pearls), slightly raised on points above the rim;
- The coronet of a earl has eight strawberry leaves (four visible) and eight "pearls" raised on stalks;
- The coronet of a viscount has sixteen "pearls" touching one another;
- The coronet of a baron or Lord of Parliament in the Scots peerage (a plain silver-gilt circlet) has six "pearls".
Peers are entitled to use certain heraldic devices. Atop the arms, a peer may display a coronet. Generally, only peers may use the coronets corresponding to their ranks. Peers are entitled to the use of supporters in their achievements of arms. They are also permitted to design their escutcheons in any way they choose.