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Nobility of the World
Volume VIII - Spain

The Spanish nobility are the persons who possess the legal status of nobility, and the system of titles and honours of Spain and of the former kingdoms that constitute it. Some nobles possess various titles that may be inherited, but the inheritance and creation of titles is entirely at the grace of the King of Spain. Other nobles have transmitted that status since time immemorial. Some aristocratic families use the nobiliary particle de before their family name. During the rule of General Francisco Franco, some new hereditary titles were conceded to individuals, and the titles granted by the Carlist pretenders were officially recognized. Upon the accession to Spain's throne in the person of Juan Carlos of Spain in 1975, the court of nobles holding offices attached to the royal household was not restored. Noble titleholders are subjected to taxation, whereas under Spain's ancien régime they were exempt.


King Juan Carlos has also created new titles to recognize the merits of politicians and artists. Some of these have been hereditary. For example, the daughter of longtime dictator Francisco Franco, Carmen Franco y Polo became Duchess of Franco, Adolfo Suárez became Duke of Suárez, the author Camilo José Cela became Marquis of Iria Flavia (the Roman name of his birth city) and the classical guitarist Andres Segovia became Marquis of Salobreña. Both Cela and Segovia's titles are now borne by their sons. He 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 Juan de Borbón during the dynasty's Twentieth Century exile and the subsequent reign of his son.


The Grandes de España

Spanish nobles are classified either as Grandes de España (also called in English grandees), or as titled nobles. Formerly, grandees were divided into the first, second and third classes, but now, all grandees enjoy the same privileges. 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, though this was not always the case. Furthermore, a grandeeship is always awarded along with every ducal title, just as most dukes in France gradually obtained a peerage under its ancien régime. A grandee of any rank outranks a non-grandee, even if that non-grandee's title is of a higher degree. Thus, a baron-grandee enjoys higher precedence than a marquis who is not a grandee. Except for dukes and some very ancient titles of marquesses and counts, most Spanish titles of nobility are not attached to grandeeships.

Grandees are entitled to the style of Most Excellent Lord / Lady or His / Her Excellency. In the days of the old monarchy, Grandees had the privilege of keeping their hats on in the presence of the sovereign, and of addressing him as "cousin". Titled nobles who are of the rank of marquis or count use the style Most Illustrious Lord / Lady, while those of the rank of viscount, baron or lord use simply Lord / Lady.


The Ranks of Spanish Nobility

The titles of Prince of the Asturias, Prince of Gerona and Prince of Viana are held by the heir apparent of the Spanish crown. The Spanish nobility is divided into six ranks (both the masculine and feminine forms, as well as some extant titles, are given). Some of the titles are the following:


Duke - Duchess - Duque - Duquesa

All the Dukedoms have attached the title of Grande de España

  • Dukedom of Alba
  • Duke of Berducido
  • Duke of Cadiz
  • Duke of Ciudad Rodrigo, held by the British Duke of Wellington
  • Duke of Hernani
  • Duke of Fernández-Miranda
  • Duke of Lugo
  • Dukedom of Medinaceli
  • Dukedom of Medina Sidonia
  • Duke of Moctezuma, held by the descendants of Aztec Emperor Moctezuma II in Spain.
  • Duke of Montblanch
  • Duke of Najera, est. 1482, currently held by Don Juan Traverso y Colon de Carvajal
  •  succeeded on 12.4.2000, his heir apparent is Ignacio Travesedo Julia, Conde de Trevino.
  • Duke of Segovia
  • Duke of Seville
  • Duke of Sotomayor
  • Dukedom of Suárez
  • Dukedom of Palma de Mallorca
  • Duke of Vigo
  • Duke of Victory


The Full List of Spanish Dukedoms

Alba de Tormes
Alcalá de los Gazules
Almodóvar del Río
Almodóvar del Valle
Almenara Alta
Almodóvar del    Campo
Arévalo del Rey
Banos (I)
Banos (II)
Canovas del Castillo
Ciudad Real
Denia y Tarifa
Fernán Núñez
Granada de Ega
Liria y Xérica
Mandas y Villanueva
Medina de Río Seco
Medina Sidonia
Medina de las Torres
Peñaranda del Duero 
San Carlos
San Lorenzo de    Valhermoso
San Ricardo
Sanlúcar la Mayor
Santa Cristina 
Santa Elena
Santisteban del     Puerto
Santo Gemini
Santo Mauro
Talavera de la Reina
Unión de Cuba
Villafranca de los     Caballeros
Vista Alegre


Marquis - Marchioness - Marqués - Marquesa

  • Marquess of Aguilar de Campoo
  • Marquess of Albudeyte
  • Marquess of Ardales
  • Marquess de la Cadena of Nueva Espana/Mexico (extinct).
  • Marquess of Iria Flavia.
  • Marquess of Irujo y los Arcos
  • Marquess of La Algaba
  • Marquess of Figueroa
  • Marquess of Frigiliana
  • Marquis de Vallado
  • Marquis de la Candia
  • Marquess of Chinchilla
  • Marquess of Astorga
  • Marquess of Isla de Arousa
  • Marquess of Ría de Ribadeo
  • Marquess of Villena
  • Marquess of Santa Maria de Silvela
  • Marquess of Salobreña
  • Marquess of Santillana
  • Marquis of Valdecarzana
  • Marquess of Menendez
  • Marquis of Montsalud
  • Marquis of Morella
  • Joaquín Rodrigo Marqués de 
  • los Jardines de Aranjuez.


The Full List of Spanish Marquistates

Aguilar de Campóo
Bondad Real
Bosch de Arés
Castel Moncayo
Castel Rodrigo
Esteva de las Delicias
Puebla de los    Infantes
la Puente
Santa Cristina
San Vicente
San Vicente del    Barco
Santa Cruz de    Mudela
Santa María de    Barberá
Sierra Bullones
los Vélez
Villafranca del Bierzo

Count - Countess - Conde - Condesa

  • County of Barcelona
  • County of Castella de Vigo
  • County of Candia de Valencia
  • County of Cervera
  • County of Covadonga
  • County of Empúries
  • County of Frigiliana
  • County of Guaqui
  • County of Luchana
  • County of Mansilla
  • County of Montealegre
  • County of Olivito
  • County of Ripalda
  • County of Roussillon
  • County of Salvatierra
  • County of Teba
  • County of Toreno
  • County of Urgell
  • County of Vigo
  • County of Fuensaldaña
  • County of Olocau

The Full List of Spanish Countships

Casa Dávalos
Chinchón I
Chinchón II
Glimes de Brabante
Miranda del Castañar 
Palma del Río 
Paredes de Nava
Peñaranda de    Bracamonte
Santa Coloma
Santa Cruz de los    Manueles
Santa Cruz de Mopox
Santa Gadea
Santa Isabel
Torres Cabrera
Torroella de Montgrí
Vallesa de Mandor
Vía Manuel

 Viscount - Viscountess - Vizconde - Vizcondesa

  • Viscounty of la Alborada.
  • Viscounty of Altamira
  • Viscounty of Banderas.
  • Viscounty of Cabrera.
  • Viscounty of la Calzada.
  • Viscounty of Quintanilla de Florez.

Baron - Baroness - Barón - Baronesa

  • Baron of Polop

Title of Lord - Lady - Señor - Señora

The title of Lord is out of the usual ranks of Spanish nobility, meaning that it has no place in the order of precedence and stays alone. Many of the spanish lordships are among the oldest nobility titles in Spain, and they usually granted the holder the political power over their lordship. Although some lordships were created by the kings of Spain, others existed before them, and haven't been created by any known king. For example, the lord of Biscay would be the head of Biscay, holding a great degree of independence from the king of Castile, to whom he could pledge or not pledge suzerainty, but to whom he was not, at least at first, a vassal: each new lord of Biscay had to renew their oath to the king, although in the end the kings of Castile inherited the lordship.

  • Lord of Balaguer: held by the King of Spain
  • Lord of Biscay: since 1378 held by the King of Spain, thus acquiring the hitherto semi-independent lordship of Biscay
  • Lord of Molina de Aragón
  • Lord of Salas


Other Titles of Nobility

  • Infante: currently used by those royal princes who are not the heir apparent to the throne. Previously, it was also a high nobility title, being the most famous holders the Infantes de Carrión that appear in the Lay of the Cid.
  • Prince: as said before, it is a title used by the heir apparent to the throne. Three princedoms exist in Spain, one for each one of the three kingdoms that merged to form Spain:
    • the Prince of Asturias, heir apparent to the throne of the kingdom of Castile and Leon.
    • the Prince of Viana, heir apparent to the throne of the kingdom Navarre.
    • the Prince of Girona, heir apparent to the throne of the kingdom of Aragon.
  • Ricohombre (fem. Ricahembra): used during the Reconquista, it is a roughly equivalent to Baron. By the 17th century, it was a synonym of nobleman.
  • Condestable: cognate with Constable, it is hereditary title used in the Kingdoms of Castile and Leon to refer to the second person in power in the kingdom, after the King. It was a hereditary title within the Velasco family, that gradually lost the powers once attributed to the Condestable of Castile.
  • Caballero: equivalent to Knight, it was very rare in the kingdom of Castile, but common in the kingdom of Aragon, where there were four types of caballeros:
    • Golden-spur caballero: used by those infanzones (look below) who has been enknighted. They hold the greatest prestige among the knights' ranks.
    • Royal-privilege caballero: it was a personal title not to be inherited by his descendents, granted by the king to the Doctors in Law (LL.D. holders). It was rarely used by their holders, since the doctoral rank had bigger privileges.
    • Caballero Mesnadero: to refer to the non first-born sons of a Ricohombre. It disappeared during the 18th century, when the Burbon kings purged the ranks of the nobility.
    • Caballero franco: to refer to those who had previously been hijosdalgo or infanzones, but were commoner-born.
  • Potestad: only in the kingdom of Aragon, its equivalent is the Italian podestà, an administrative-related title. It disappeared with the Nueva Planta decrees in 1713.
  • Doctor: indeed, any holder of a PhD or any other doctoral rank was recognised privileges equal to those of higher nobility. For example, doctors were exempt of uncovering their heads in the presence of the King, a privilege shared only by the grandees.


The Lower Nobility of Spain

Lower nobility held titles such as hidalgo, infanzon (aragonese equivalent to hidalgo), escudero (esquire), but these do not correspond to baron, a title unknown to spanish nobility but in Catalonia. Hidalgo (plural:hijosdalgo) was the most common one, all the people of Biscay having been granted that noble title. All titled and untitled nobles are considered hidalgos. Contrary to the rest of noble titles, the one of hidalgo didn't have attached any fief, grant or land, and, therefore, many were as poor as commoners, although they were tax-exempted and could join the civil service or the army. Hidalgo is usually regarded as a paradigm of Spanish racism: literally it means son of something, meaning that the hidalgo title holder was of pure christian blood, being able to trace his ancestors and prove he was not of Jewish or Moorish descendant; they were usually considered descendants of noblemen who did not inherit the throne.[citation needed]. Indeed, although during the Middle Ages it was a title granted by the King of Castile as a reward for any service done to the crown (or as a way of recognising rights, as in the case of Biscay), in the same way escudero was granted for military achievements, when the Reconquista ended, hidalgo, being the simplest way of proving one's pure blood, came to be the only lesser title to remain among the ranks of spanish nobility.


Right of Succession

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 without grandeeship.

Succession to Spanish noble titles is hereditary, but not automatic. The original letters patent which created the title determines the course of succession. The title of King of Spain however currently follows male-preference cognatic primogeniture, as set in the medievalCastilian law Siete Partidas.

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 parliament, establishing the inheritance of hereditary noble titles by the firstborn regardless of sex. The law is retroactive to July 27, 2005.

Following the death of a noble, the senior heir may petition the King 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 heirs may themselves do so. Furthermore, there is an overall limit of forty years within which one may claim a title.

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 (if succeeding to a grandeeship, the mother's family also). Furthermore, a fee must be paid; the fees depend on whether the title is attached to a grandeeship or not, and on whether the heir is a direct descendant or collateralkinsman to 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, the process is used to allow younger children to succeed to the 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. Cayetana Fitz-James Stuart, 18th Duchess of Alba, holds the Guinness Book of Records for number of titles with over 50 titles.


  1. ^ http://www.boe.es/boe/dias/2006/10/31/pdfs/A37742-37743.pdf
  • Atienza, Julio de. Nobiliario Español: Diccionario Heráldico de Apellidos Españoles y de Títulos Nobiliarios. Madrid: Aguilar, 1948.
  • Figueroa y Melgar, Alfonso de. Estudio Histórico Sobre Algunas Familias Españolas. 6v. in 12 parts. Madrid: Editions Dawson & Fry, 1965.
  • Noble Titles in Spain and Spanish Grandees
  • Nobility & Grandee Titles in Spain (Ministry of Justice)

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