/vuy"kownt'/, n.1. a nobleman next below an earl or count and next above a baron.2. Hist. a deputy of a count or earl.3. (in England) a sheriff.[1350-1400; ME viscounte < AF; OF visconte (F vicomte), equiv. to vis VICE3 + counte COUNT2, trans. ML vicecomes]
* * *IEuropean title of nobility, ranking immediately below a count, or earl.The wife of a viscount is a viscountess. In the Carolingian period, the vicecomes were deputies or lieutenants of the counts (comes), whose official powers they exercised by delegation. In the 11th century most of Normandy was divided into vicomtés, but the viscountcy was not introduced into the English peerage until nearly 400 years after the Norman conquest.II(as used in expressions)Bacon Francis Viscount St. AlbansBarras Paul François Jean Nicolas viscount deBeauharnais Alexandre viscount deBolingbroke Henry Saint John 1st ViscountCanning Stratford Viscount Stratford of RedcliffeCastelo Branco Camilo viscount of Correia BotelhoCastlereagh Robert Stewart ViscountChateaubriand François Auguste René viscount ofCooper Alfred Duff 1st Viscount Norwich of AldwickHaldane of Cloane Richard Burdon 1st ViscountHowe William Howe 5th ViscountLesseps Ferdinand Marie viscount deMelbourne of Kilmore William Lamb 2nd ViscountMontgomery of Alamein Bernard Law Montgomery 1st ViscountMorley of Blackburn John Morley ViscountNelson Horatio Nelson ViscountSnowden of Ickornshaw Philip Snowden ViscountTownshend of Rainham Charles Townshend 2nd ViscountAlanbrooke of Brookeborough Alan Francis Brooke 1st ViscountAllenby of Megiddo and of Felixstowe Edmund Henry Hynman Allenby 1st ViscountCecil of Chelwood Edgar Algernon Robert Gascoyne Cecil 1st ViscountChelmsford of Chelmsford Frederic John Napier Thesiger 1st ViscountViscount Templewood of ChelseaPhilippe Marie viscount de HauteclocqueMaurice Harold Macmillan 1st earl of Stockton Viscount Macmillan of OvendenNorthcliffe of Saint Peter Alfred Charles William Harmsworth ViscountPalmerston of Palmerston Henry John Temple 3rd ViscountSamuel of Mount Carmel and of Toxeth Herbert Louis Samuel 1st ViscountSimon of Stackpole Elidor John Allsebrook Simon 1st ViscountSlim William Joseph 1st Viscount Slim of Yarralumla and BishopstonTurenne Henri de La Tour d'Auvergne viscount de
* * *▪ titleIntroductiona European title of nobility, ranking immediately below a count, or earl.In the Carolingian (Carolingian dynasty) period of European history, the vicecomites, or missi comitis, were deputies, vicars, or lieutenants of the counts, whose official powers they exercised by delegation. As the countships eventually became hereditary, the lieutenancies did as well: for instance, in France the viscounts in Narbonne, in Nîmes, and in Albi appear to have made their office hereditary by the beginning of the 10th century. Even so, viscounts remained for some time with no other status than that of the count's officers, either styling themselves simply vicecomites or qualifying their title with the name of the countship whence they derived their powers.FranceBy the end of the 11th century, the universal tendency of feudalism to associate status with the possession of land caused the French viscounts to qualify their title with the name of their own most important fief. In Aquitaine, of which the counts of Poitiers were dukes, and in the county of Toulouse the viscounts were great barons often able to assert themselves against their suzerain. In the Île-de-France, in Champagne, and in part of Burgundy, on the other hand, the viscounts by the end of the 12th century were surviving only as minor feudatories, having lost their special administrative functions to the prévôts.In Normandy, however, the judicial functions of the viscounts as deputies of the duke remained important for some time longer. By the middle of the 11th century most of the country was administratively divided into vicecomtés (this explains the Norman use of the Latin term vicecomes for the sheriff in England); under Henry I of England the hereditary holders of the vicomtés in his Norman possessions were to a large extent replaced by ducal officials.British Isles (England)In England the viscountcy was not introduced into the peerage until four centuries after the Norman Conquest: John, Lord Beaumont, who had been created Count of Boulogne in 1436, was in 1440 created Viscount Beaumont in the peerage of England, with precedence over all barons. The oldest English viscountcy surviving today is that of Hereford, created in 1550; the premier Irish one, however, that of Gormanston, is somewhat older, having been created in 1478. The premier viscount in the peerage of Scotland is the Viscount of Falkland, whose peerage title was created in 1620.SpainViscounts had been created in Catalonia by Charlemagne in the 8th century, whence the title had spread, with diminishing functions and increasingly significant noble rank, to Aragon and to Castile. Philip IV of Spain introduced the system of vizcondados previos (regulations of 1631 and of 1664); under this, no one could proceed to the rank of conde (count) or marqués (marquess) unless he had previously been vizconde. A fee of 750 ducats had to be paid for this habilitating title (except in the case of counts' sons), and a further fee of 750 ducats was required for the obligatory cancellation of the vizcondado when the time came to confer the higher rank. The removal of the obligation to cancel, in 1846, led only to confusion, as numerous families began petitioning to have their already cancelled titles revived; in 1858 it was declared that the vizcondado previo was no longer necessary for accession to the higher titles.
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