Wednesday, 30 December 2015



The Grandees of Spain are represented by the Deputation of Grandees and Titled Nobles of the Kingdom (Diputación de Grandes y Titulos del Reino), a body incorporated by the Crown and regulated by several laws - most notably a series of statutes in 1927._ This has eight members who are Grandees and eight titled noblemen who are not Grandees, with a President who must be both a Grandee and possess a title without the Grandeeship (presently the Duke of San Carlos). One of the privileges of the Deputation is to be informed directly of any new creations of titles.

The children of Infantes of Spain are styled Sr with the lifetime treatment and honors of Grandee but without the title. Aside from the title of Príncipe de las Asturias, and Príncipe de la Casa Real de España which may be granted personally by the Sovereign, the only titles recognized in Spain are Duke (Duque), Marquess (Marqués), Count (Conde), Viscount (Visconde), Baron (Barón) and Lord (Señor). The titles of Prince granted to Spaniards by the Kings of Spain by virtue of the Sovereignty of a foreign state may be converted to Dukedoms, but this privilege only extends to the direct descendants and not a collateral heir. All new Grandeeships must be united with a title. The creation of a new title must be approved by the Council of Ministers and the announcement published in the Official Bulletin of the State (Boletín Oficial del Estado), formerly the Gaceta de Madrid.

The decree of 1927 stated that all jurisdictional Senores (Lordships, the equivalent of Lords of the Manor, but granted on an hereditary basis), would be considered as Titles of the Kingdom. Lordships in the Kingdom of Castille were to be of equal or greater importance than Baronies in the Kingdom of Aragon, and the holder could petition for their conversion into a Barony with the same place name. Lordships or Baronies that were acquired by purchase, as opposed to royal grant, would not be considered Titles of the Kingdom. The title of Señor must have been held by the descendant of the original grantee without interruption.

The eldest sons of Titled Nobles or Grandees of the Kingdom ranking higher than Count or above who do not have any other title may use the title of Visconde with the place name of his parent’s title until his succession.

Grandees of Spain are entitled to the style of “Most Excellent Lord (or Lady)”, or “His or Her Excellency”; Marquesses and Counts who are not Grandees are “Most Illustrious Lord (or Lady)”. Viscounts, Barons and Señors are styled Lord or Lady (Señor or Señora).

On the death of the holder of a title his or her immediate heir must petition the Ministry of Justice for succession within one year. When two years have passed without such petition being made, the right to petition for succession is open to other heirs after an announcement in the Boletín Oficial of the Province in which the last title holder died. Until the recent reforms (see below) fees payable on succession rose according to the distance of the heir from the previous holder, or the number of generations (three being considered for each century) between the petitioner and the previous holder.

Those petitioning for the succession to a title who are not the children, grandchildren, brothers or sisters of the last holder must provide the necessary documentation proving their succession and proof of the existence of the title. In the case of those petitioning to use a title granted by the Spanish Kings as Sovereigns of other states, the actual letters patent of creation must be produced as well.

The succession to Grandeeships or Titles passes according to the terms of creation in the original patent; failing any specific remainder the succession follows the same system as the succession to the Crown.

The petitioner for succession to a Grandeeships who is not the son, grandson, or direct male line descendant of a Grandee or Titled family, or who does not belong to one of the four Military Orders, the Sovereign Military Order of Malta, to one of the five Maestranzas, or the Real Cuerpo Colegiado de Hijosdalgo de la Nobleza de Madrid, must demonstrate that his paternal and maternal families are recognized as Noble by the Consejo Nobiliario. The petitioner for succession to a Title of the Kingdom must belong to one of those specific categories or must demonstrate nobility in the male line only.

The petitioners must also swear an oath before a Judge of the First Instance, witnessed by at least eight persons of high social standing, that he/she is honorable, dignified, and socially independent without exercising a demeaning profession. A provision for demonstrating a certain minimum income was also included in this regulation.

Grandees and Titled Nobles of the Kingdom can renounce their title but may not prejudice the rights of those eligible to succeed or designate any other person than the immediate heir.

Possessors of Grandeeships or Titles of the Kingdom can distribute their Grandeeships or Titles among their various children provided the principle title is reserved for the immediate heir, being the eldest son or daughter.


By a law of 4 May 1948 the head of State, General Francisco Franco, validated all the titles created by the Carlist titular Kings. The record of most of these titles was maintained in the archives of the Duke of Madrid collated by his nephew the Archduke Carlos (who was the leading Carlist claimant in the 1940s). Unfortunately many of the records had been destroyed by the widow of Carlos VII, Berthe de Rohan so there may have been some titles created of which there is no written record today. Indeed, of the surviving records proof was accepted in several cases with only minimal evidence, in one case a post card on which a title was apparently accorded to the recipient and in several cases the precise date of creation was unknown. These archives did not include record of the titles created by Don Jaime (d. 1931), Don Alfonso Carlos (d. 1936) or Don Xavier de Bourbon-Parma.

The succession of Carlist Kings_ was as follows: Carlos V (1833-abdicated 1845, d. 1855), who used the titles of Duke of Elizondo 1834, and Count of Molina 1834-55; Carlos VI (1845-1861), Prince of the Asturias 1833-1845, Count of Montemolin 1845); Juan III (1861-abdicated 1868, d. 1887), Count of Montizon; Carlos VII (1868-1909), Count of la Alcarria until 1868; Duke of Madrid 1868-1909, Count of Breu in 1887 (while in South America); Jaime III (1909-1931), Prince of the Asturias 1870-1909 or Duke of Chalvet 1868-1909, Duke of Madrid 1909-1931; Alfonso Carlos I (1931-1936), Duke of San Jaime; Carlos VIII (de Absburgo-Lorena y Borbón, 1944-1953), Duke of Madrid; Xavier I (de Borbón-Parma y La Rochefoucauld, 1950-1975, d. 1977), Prince of the Asturias 1957, Count of Molina 1961-._

 Both Carlos V and Carlos VII were briefly de facto Sovereigns of part of Spain during the 1st and 2nd Carlist Wars. Both of them issued coins, paper money, and passports, and passed laws, as well as conferring Orders, granting Arms and creating titles. The Carlist Kings created a total of 171 titles: 4 Dukes, 41 Marquesses, 78 Counts, 15 Viscounts, 32 Barons and one Grandeeship attached to an existing Title of the Kingdom._

General Franco’s law, given legal validity from 14 April 1931, marks a major departure in nobiliary legal history. It was the first regime to accord legitimacy to the nobiliary creations of an exiled claimant and provides an interesting precedent. General Franco in enacting this provision was effectively claiming the mantle of Carlism, as well as that of the Isabeline Monarchy. The Republic had repealed all nobiliary legislation by a Decree of 1 June 1931, ratified by the Cortes in a law of 30 December 1931; the law of 4 May 1948 repealed the Decree and Law of 1931, reinstating all the earlier laws. It also conferred on the Head of State (Franco) the prerogative of creating noble titles, under the same regulations which formerly governed creations by the Crown.

A further law of 4 June 1948 established that titles granted by the Spanish Crown as Sovereigns in territories under their rule would be regulated by the norms established for the Titles of Castille. This meant that titles granted by the Viceroys of the Netherlands which were regulated by male succession, were suddenly transformed into titles passing by mixed succession even though they were also regulated by Belgian law. Thus a single creation could effectively become two separate titles.

The use of titles to which the user had no claim , or of invented titles, was prohibited under section 322 and following of the Penal Code (this provision still stands).

These two laws also conferred on the Head of State the right to deprive an indivudal temporarily or for life of a Title of the Kingdom or Grandeeship, if that individual had acted in a way which demeaned the status of the title (one example being conviction of a felony).

The regulations regarding petitions for use of foreign titles were amended in 1968. Subsequently it has been required of those petitioning for such use that the State (or successor State) under whose legislation the title was originally conferred must state in writing to the Spanish Ministry of Foreign Affairs that the petitioner is indeed the heir of that title. Since the majority of such titles are of Italian origin, and since the Republic of Italy does not recognize a national nobiliary jurisdiction, this imposes a considerable limitation on the number of such petitions.

By a law of 21 March 1980 the right to rehabilitate titles was limited to the following:

Direct descendants, brothers or sister and direct descendants of brothers or sisters of the last legal possessor of the title.

Collaterals to the fourth degree of the last legal holder;

Direct descendants of anyone who can legitimately claim this dignity.

In the case of (1) provided the petition was made within three years of the death of the last holder, the extra fees for rehabilitation would be waived. In the case of (2) and (3) the petitioner was required to demonstrate his or her position and profession and services to the community.

By a further law of 11 March 1988, the requirements for rehabilitation were further restricted. Not only was stricter documentation required, which had to be examined by the Deputation of Grandezas and the Council of State, but any title which had been in abeyance for more than one hundred years or more could be rehabilitated.

Because of a scandal involving several well-known figures accused of responsibility for the provision of questionable documentation, the process of rehabilitation has now been halted, at least temporarily, except for those whose petitions were made before 1993.

By regulations published by the Cortes on 1 October 1996, the scale of fees was revised as follows:

For direct succession to a Grandeeship: 336,000 pesetas;
For transverse succession to a Grandeeship: 837,000 pesetas;
For rehabilitation of Grandeeships or foreign titles of Grandee rank: 2,007,000 pesetas;
For direct succesion to an untitled Grandeeship: 239,000 pesetas;
For transverse succession to an untitled Grandeeship: 598,000 pesetas;
For rehabilitation or recognition of a foreign grant of Grandeeship: 1,433,000 pesetas;
For direct succession to a title without Grandeeship: 95,000 pesetas;
For transverse succession to a title without Grandeeship: 239,000 pesetas;
For rehabilitation or recognition of foreign titles: 574,000 pesetas.

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