The House Law of 1890 (amended 1907) defines the Imperial Family to be the Emperor, Grand Empress Dowager, the Empress Dowager, the Empress, the Kotaishi (= Heir-Apparent) and consort, the Kotaison (=eldest son of Kotaishi) and consort, Imperial Princes and consorts, Imperial Princesses, Princes and consorts, and Princesses. Imperial male descendants to the 4th generation included are Imperial Princes, the female descendants (in male line, presumably) are Imperial Princesses. From the 5th generation on, they are Princes and Princesses. If a collateral succeeds to the throne his siblings become Imperial Princes/ses if they weren't already. Marriages in the IF are subject to the sanction of the Emperor, they are restricted to Imperial family members or certain noble families, and females who marry a subject are excluded from the IF although they may retain their title if the Emperor so wishes. A Supplement of 1907 allowed princes of the blood (Wo) to be granted a family name and placed among peers, or to become heir to the house of a peer by marrying an heiress or being adopted as heir. In such cases they become subjects. A Law of 1884 abolished the titles of court noble (Kuge) and Feudal Lord (Shoko) and created a peerage. There are 5 titles of nobility, ranked as prince > marquis > count > viscount > baron. Succession is among males only. Each house can define its House Laws subject to Imperial approval. In matters of precedence, 16 ranks were defined, with default equivalence for peerages (that is, a prince was 4, a marquis 5, a count 6, a viscount 7 or 8 and a baron 9 or 10); high offices at the court also conferred ranks, and a peer with a higher rank than his default rank would use the higher one. As of 1912, there were 14 Imperial Princes, 17 princes, 37 marquesses, 101 counts, lots of viscounts and lots and lots of barons.

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François Velde

Last modified: Oct 15, 1997