Nobility, and with it the Feudal System, had largely died out on Terra by the start of the 21st century, replaced in most cases by more equitable forms of government. As humanity expanded out into the stars though, the slow pace and sheer expense of space travel and communication made it increasingly impractical for these systems of governments to function on an interstellar scale. In the middle of the 24th century, Michael Cameron, first elected ruler of the Terran Hegemony, revived the system of nobility as a means of exerting authority over and ensuring the loyalty of even the most far-flung regions of the Hegemony. Director-General Cameron was able to overcome resistance to this medieval revival by making the initial distribution of titles impartial - rewarding gifted artists and scientists as much as industrialists and military leaders - as well as non-discriminatory and non-hereditary. Many so ennobled went on to accomplish great works for the Hegemony, helping justify the system's revitalization.[1][2][3]

After its success within the Terran Hegemony, nobility spread across the Inner Sphere, resulting in the creation of the six (later five) Great Houses and many minor houses of nobility. Many titles of nobility eventually became hereditary, by custom if not by law, and within each of the Successor States variations on the initial hierarchy of nobles developed along cultural lines. By the 31st century nobility had become a fact of life for the Inner Sphere, providing a sense of identity and political stability over the centuries of warfare.[2][3]

Terran Hegemony[edit]

Knight (former title)
Earl (former title)
Duke [4]

Federated Suns[edit]

Nobility in the Federated Suns grew out of the realization that, with the size of their interstellar nation, traditional democratic principles were too slow in reacting to changing situations. Reasoning that local leaders needed greater discretionary powers to act on their own initiative, Simon Davion divided the realm into five Principalities, each headed by a Prince who in turn appointed nobles beneath them. Most titles of nobility went to individuals who had already been elected to positions of leadership by the populace, and the titles were only temporary at first; it would not be until much later that many became hereditary, often owing to the good qualities of a particular noble and the hope their offspring would be equally capable. Although the Davion Civil War ended the Era of the Five Princes, the nobility they created remained to continue governing the Federate Suns.[5][6]

While nobles could and did abuse their position, the populace had means by which to redress grievances. In a Public Appeal, the people petition the target noble's superiors to have them removed and either replaced by the next in line or, if the entire noble family was seen as unworthy, strip them all of their rank. A noble also had the right to remove a subordinate on their own volition as well, although in both cases they needed the approval of their superior (or of the First Prince when dealing with removing an entire family) and it could take years before a final decision was rendered. To guarantee the right of the public to a Public Appeal, the Laws of Noble Conduct and Review were signed in 2634 which allowed the state to take action against nobles who attempted to squash such criticism, up to and including military action if necessary.[5][6]

Direct action was another method the people took when abused by the nobility, particularly local nobility, ranging from non-violent demonstrations to armed insurrection. Labor strikes in particular were most effective against planetary nobles, as the economic disruption often caused their fellows and superiors to apply pressure in favor of resolving the situation as quickly as possible. Violence was an extreme measure of last resort for a planet's population, and in such cases liable to a response under the Planetary War Powers Act. With the authority of this Act, the First Prince could occupy a planet in revolt with military forces and replace the planetary government with a Military Governor. Whilst the military and DMI dealt with the insurrectionists, federal judges examined the actions of the relevant nobility and punished them harshly if found guilty of crimes against the people, all the while a new government was set up to take over once the crisis was resolved.[5][6]

Knight was the lowest class of nobility within the Federated Suns. Knighthood could be bestowed on anyone by any noble ruler; likewise it could be revoked just as easily, though only by one of equal or greater stature (i.e. a knighthood created by a Duke could only be undone by another Duke or the First Prince). As such, knighthood was a popular reward to bestow upon a citizen who went about and beyond the call of duty. Along with their title, Knights were given ownership of a land grant, although they did not have any other powers associated with the nobility.[5][6]
Baron/Baroness was the next highest class of nobility and the lowest one with actual political authority. Barons typically ruled over a city, a large area of land, or a particular industrial center; in rare cases they might instead control a particularly important company rather than a tract of land, although such Barons were derisively known as "Lyran Lords" or "second-rate Barons." Appointed by a Count, Barons were either the elected head of a local government or worked alongside it, collecting taxes and controlling access to natural resources. Barons and Baronesses were the nobles most responsible to the people over whom they ruled, and the ones most subject to dismissal in the case of public anger.[5][6]
Count/Countess was the title of nobility given to rulers of particularly important cities, planetary continents, moons, or even sparsely-populated worlds. Appointed by a Duke (with the approval of the federal government), a Count had immense power within their area of responsibility: how local governments operated, the regulation of business transactions, allocation of resources, and the enactment of policies created by their Duke and First Prince. Except on certain planets with specific legal limitations, Counts were not answerable to local government authority and could override the actions of civil governments and nobles below them, with military force if necessary.[5][6]
Marquess/Marquesas was a title recently revived at the beginning of the 31st century, technically above the rank of Count but below Duke, and used one of two ways. Originally the title was used for rulers of frontier worlds with little economic development or otherwise not worthy of a ducal designation. Given to lesser nobility or even commoners as a reward, the title was only temporary, usually for a period of ten to fifteen years. If the ruler proved competent and helped develop the planet their position was made permanent. First Prince Ian Davion and his brother Hanse were instrumental in reviving the title to develop worlds along the Periphery border. Alternatively, in duchies with multiple planets, a Duke or Duchess may use the title to bestow control of one of their worlds to a son or daughter, particularly if they are not in line to succeed them.[5][6]
Duke/Duchess was the highest level of nobility, directly beneath the First Prince. A Duke's authority ranged from a single world or several worlds within a solar system to multiple solar systems spread out over several light-years. A Duke or Duchess had great authority over the administration of their duchy and their decisions could have immediate and lasting impact. In addition to their political power, ducal families also tended to be the wealthiest in the Federated Suns. Not all Dukes were equal though: traditionally the three most senior ducal families each exerted control over one of the three Marches which made up the Federated Suns, with lesser duchies beneath them.[5][6]

Lyran Alliance[edit]


Draconis Combine[edit]

Nobility in the Draconis Combine uses distinct titles roughly analogous to those of House Cameron's Peer List. In general the proper Kurita/Japanese titles are used in most ceremonial and formal occasions, while the Cameron usage is used in more common situations. Some of the Japanese variations only came into vogue following a change enacted by then-Coordinator Theodore Kurita in 3057 to assuage the wounded egos of those nobles who resented his ongoing reforms, by 3067 use Daimyo and Shogun had almost totally supplanted their more common variations.[8]

Lord/Lady (Knight/Lady) - If the title holder is a MechWarrior Samurai is the proper term [9] [8]
Shugo (Baron/Baroness) [9] [8]
Tozama Daimyo (Count/Countess) [9] [8]
Daimyo (Marquis/Marquessa) [9] [8]
Shogun (Duke/Duchess) [9] [8]

Free Worlds League[edit]

As in the other Successor States, titles of nobility came to pass within the Free Worlds League. However, many of these were purely honorary, and as befitted the fractious nature of the League there was little consistency among the different provinces: nominally a planetary ruler was styled Duke while lesser nobles were Barons, but in truth each planet had their own naming traditions to go along with their unique form of government. On Shiloh, the head of the theocratic government was known as the "Blessed Leader" (though much to their annoyance they were typically styled "Lord/Lady" elsewhere in the League), while in the Principality of Gibson a "Principal" ruled for a seven-year term (after which they were known as "Emeritus" and formed an advisory board for the new Principal). The titles varied in their grandiosity as much as their actual scope of power, from "Landholder" and "Exalt" to "Prince" and "Emperor".[10][11]

For the leaders of the major provinces of the League, "Duke" or "Duchess" was the most common title and had preeminence over all other nobles within their territory. Female leaders of the Duchy of Andurien were styled Dame while Grand Duke was used for the ruler of the Duchy of Oriente. Below Duke was Earl and Count, who held power over smaller provinces or individual worlds, such as in the Stewart Commonality or on Tamarind. Even here though there were exceptions: the rulers of the Principality of Regulus, while of the same rank as other major duchies, were traditionally styled "Prince" until the late 27th century, after which they assumed the title "Count of Harmony," only to again use the title "Prince" during the latter half of the 31st century.[10][11]

Capellan Confederation[edit]

Diem [12]

Magistracy of Canopus[edit]

Frones [13]

Taurian Concordat[edit]

Duke [14]

Marian Hegemony[edit]


Outworlds Alliance[edit]

Madcat.gif This section is a stub. You can help BattleTechWiki by expanding it.


  1. Star League Sourcebook, p. 23
  2. 2.0 2.1 Classic BattleTech RPG, p. 171
  3. 3.0 3.1 A Time of War, p. 246
  4. Star League Sourcebook, p.23
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 5.3 5.4 5.5 5.6 5.7 House Davion (The Federated Suns), p. 99-102
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 6.3 6.4 6.5 6.6 6.7 Handbook House Davion, p. 108-109
  7. House Steiner (The Lyran Commonwealth), p.90
  8. 8.0 8.1 8.2 8.3 8.4 8.5 Handbook: House Kurita, p. 117 "Pillar of Gold (Government) - Sociopolitical Structure - Noble Titles"
  9. 9.0 9.1 9.2 9.3 9.4 Classic BattleTech Companion, p.208
  10. 10.0 10.1 House Marik: The Free Worlds League, p. 72-73
  11. 11.0 11.1 Handbook House Marik, p. 88-89
  12. House Liao (The Capellan Confederation), p.60
  13. The Periphery, 2nd Edition (sourcebook), p.32
  14. Periphery
  15. Handbook Major Periphery, p. 153