Titles of Royalty and Nobility within the British Monarchy: Baron

European Royal History

The word baron comes from the Old French baron, from a Late Latin barō “man; servant, soldier, mercenary” (so used in Salic law; Alemannic law has barus in the same sense). The scholar Isidore of Seville in the 7th century thought the word was from Greek βᾰρῠ́ς “heavy” (because of the “heavy work” done by mercenaries), but the word is presumably of Old Frankish origin, cognate with Old English beorn meaning “warrior, nobleman”.

Cornutus in the first century already reports a word barones which he took to be of Gaulish origin. He glosses it as meaning servos militum and explains it as meaning “stupid”, by reference to classical Latin bārō “simpleton, dunce”; because of this early reference, the word has also been suggested to derive from an otherwise unknown Celtic *bar, but the Oxford English Dictionary takes this to be “a figment”.

Britain and Ireland

In the Peerage of England…

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