Note:  Do not rely on this information. It is very old.


Count (from Latin comes, companion) originally meant one associated in government with a superior. Under Constantine, and in the Lower Empire generally, the comites formed a kind of council of state, and the dignity might carry real power or be, as in most cases it was, merely complimentary. The comites of the early German kings are primarily their immediate associates in war, on whom they confer honours, wealth, and special privileges. Under the Frank kings the Count of the Palace ranked next to the Mayor of the Palace, and Counts Palatine had in their own jurisdiction many royal prerogatives till a comparatively late period. We have still a County Palatine in England, and it was not till last century that Durham lost its Bishop Palatine. Though the title of Count never took root in England, the earl's wife is called countess. The German graf is more equivalent to our earl, but there was a higher degree of grafdom which enjoyed many privileges, and whose members later received the title of prince. There are still counts of the Holy Roman Empire, who receive their rank from the Pope.