Pep Talk - WHRN 2009 - A Look Into Ranks by Shark

Well, this is my first attempt ever at a peptalk. Hopefully it isn't too long, or too boring. :)

General over Captain, King above Duke, but where go the Admirals and Lords?

Rank. It can be good or bad, giving too much power to one person or keeping another in their place. In every culture it can be found, from China to England to America and every place above, below and inbetween. Collectively, rank is the general name for any position, be it a navy admiral or noble duchess. Iím going to explain two different rank systems, Nobility and Army/Navy.

Nobility is commonplace. From ancient Chinese emperors to the current Queen in England, there is royalty, and where royalty is, you can find nobles.

Note: According to my research, ďLordĒ is not actually a rank, just a title. At least it is in this world...

Whenever you have a kingdom (or dukedom, or empire, or...etc...) in a story, rank is a necessary tool that aids in keeping everyone organized. From the highest rank of nobility (Emperor) to the lowest (Knight) there are ten levels: Emperor, King, Grand Duke, Prince, Duke, Marquess, Count, Viscount, Baron, and Knight. Letís take a closer look at each one, from highest rank to lowest.

An Emperor rules a country, generally known as an empire. His wife is known as an empress; female emperors are also called Empresses. They are the highest rank in nobility, even kings are below them. Address them as Your Imperial Majesty, and close relations as Your Imperial Highness.

The rank of King (and Queen) is probably the most well known in the world. They rule kingdoms and are called Majesty, Your Majesty or Your Royal Majesty. Their children also have titles, males are known as princes and females as princesses.

A Grand Duke or Grand Duchess usually rules a grand duchy, though some dukes hold the rank without the land. They can be addressed as Royal Highness; family members usually hold the title Highness.

Princes and their sister Princesses are the children of kings and queens. Prince-Elector or Crown Prince(ss) is a title used to refer to the throneís heir. Your Royal Highness and Your Highness are titles used in speaking to Princes and Princesses.

A Duke (or Duchess) is like a grand duke, but holds a lower rank than prince, rather than a higher one. He or she rules a duchy, also known as a dukedom. They are referred to as Highness. Children are often given the title Lord (Lady if they are female).

Known as The Most Honorable or Lordship/Ladyship, Marquesses and Marchionesses rank below dukes and above counts. As far as Iíve learned, this rank is only a title, with no land or such attached.

Count and Countess are honorary titles usually given by a monarch for services the person has done for said monarch, not always with land. Their children are called counts and countesses. The equivalent title, Earl, is often given to the eldest son of a duke.

Viscounts (females are called Viscountesses) govern a section of land known as a viscountship, viscounty or viscountcy. They are addressed as Lord or Lady or The Viscount(ess). Their children are referred to as The Honorable.

A Baron(ess) may have a barony or simply hold the title. They are addressed with their rank title, Lord/Lady, or My Lord/Lady. Barons are often seen as the lowest rank in nobility. The eldest son of an earl is sometimes called a baron. Children of barons are known as The Honorable.

Note: earls, counts, viscounts and barons and their female counterparts can be addressed as The Right Honorable Or Your Lordship/Ladyship.

While Knight is an non-inheritable title and not necessarily a rank, Iíve included it because, well, knights are everywhere. Knights can be male or female, can own land or not, and fight in armies. Sir Knight and Sir are titles used to address them.

These ten are the most common ranks of nobility, though there are other, less-used ranks, such as archdukes and margraves. More information on nobility ranking can be found here.

There. The ranking system for nobility isnít so difficult. Now itís time for a look at the Army/Navy ranking system.

An army, and often a navy, are used to guard a countryís land. They also fight during wars. Armies fight on land, navies in the water on ships. Of course (just to make it more confusing for us writers) they have different rank titles for each one. For ease of reference, all Navy ranks are in italics.

The ranks are split into Officers and Soldiers/Seamen. Officers can be further separated into commissioned and non-commissioned (they either hold a commission or donít) but Iím not going to be that precise here. Just the basics.

Officers of the Army and Navy are: (from top rank to bottom) Field Marshall/Admiral of the Fleet, General/Admiral, Brigadier/Commodore, Colonel/Captain, Lieutenant Colonel/Commander, Major/Lieutenant Commander, Captain/Lieutenant, Lieutenant/Sub-Lieutenant.

Soldiers/Seamen include: Sergeant Major/Warrant Officer, Sergeant/Petty Officer, Corporal/Leading Rate, Private/Seaman.

Total that makes eight officers and four soldiers/seamen.

Letís start with the Armyís top rank, and proceed downward, then do the same with the Navy.

The rank Field Marshall - when used - is the highest rank of an army, the man or woman carrying this title has control over the entire army (or armies) and is often directly below the monarch in power.

The General, as the most senior rank next to the occasionally used field marshall, runs a field army - the correct term for armies on the ground opposed to those on water. There are sometimes various levels of General.

Brigadiers are in charge of brigades, commanded by the generals and commanding colonels. This rank is not always used in armies.

Colonels are second rank under generals, first if there are no brigadiers. Colonels command regiments, and are directed by either brigadiers or the armyís general.

The Lieutenant Colonel is in charge of a battalion. Commanding him (or her) is a colonel.

Majors lead squadrons under lieutenant colonels. They are the third least rank of officers.

A Captain works under the instruction of a major and commands companies. The army Captain should not be confused with the naval captain, as he or she is three ranks below a naval captain.

The Lieutenant is the lowest of the army officers. Not to be confused with the naval lieutenant, a rank one higher than the army Lieutenant. Army Lieutenants command platoons.

Sergeant Major is the highest rank of enlisted men, and is the senior advisor to the commanding officer of their division.

Sergeants either command squads or are second-in-command for platoons. There are various levels of Sergeant.

A Corporal leads a fireteam or works in combat units, directing other soldiers.

Privates are of the lowest rank in the army, and serve under all other ranks, in any division. They are also make up most of the army.

Now that weíve run through the army, letís see the Navyís equivalent ranks.

Admiral of the Fleet is the highest rank of a navy, but is reserved for war times, when he (or she) commands all the naval forces. The most senior admiral holds this rank. During peace times, the rank is not in use and Admiral is the highest rank. An Admiral of the Fleet is at the same rank as Field Marshall.

The highest naval officer during peace times, and second in rank during wars, an Admiral has top command of his countryís navy. Admirals rank side by side with Generals.

Commodores serve under admirals, and have command of several captains and their ships. Their army counterpart is Brigadier.

A Captain commands one ship - generally a large one - sometimes under a commodore. Not to be confused with an army captain. When on another captainís ship, a Captain is often referred to as Commodore to prevent confusion. Captains rank fourth with Colonels.

Commanders are in charge of small ships, such as frigates or submarines, or serve on the staff of an admiral or other higher rank. Their counterpart in the army is the Lieutenant Colonel.

The Lieutenant Commanders can serve as senior department officer on a large ship, or run their own, smaller ship. They rank with Majors as the third to lowest officer rank.

Not to be confused with an army lieutenant, a Lieutenant in the navy is often second-in-command on board a ship. In the army a (army) Captain is the equivalent of a Lieutenant.

The Sub-Lieutenant is the lowest ranked officer, and works on ships under lieutenants. Their army counterpart is (army) Lieutenant.

A Warrant Officer is a technical leader who runs the ship under a lieutenant or captain. Warrant Officers rank first with Sergeant Majors in the enlisted men.

Petty Officers work on ships under higher ranking officers, are non-commissioned and thus are included in the seamen's ranks. Their army counterpart is Sergeant.

Leading Rate (aka Leading Rating) is second to lowest in rank of enlisted men, equivalent to the Army Corporal.

Seamen are the lowest rank of the navy. They work on ships under all higher ranks. Their counterpart in the army are Privates.

Whew. There you go, the ranking system of the Army and Navy! I think itís confusing, but thatís life...

WAIT!, you say, Donít they fight in the air, too? Yes, but army ranks are (usually) used for the air forces. Thank goodness!

Now that you know the basics of two ranking systems, have fun playing around with them, eliminating ranks and adding new ones. And remember, a cat may look at a king, but unless you are of equal rank or higher, youíd do better bowing!

Footnote: Here is a Wikipedia article on Military Organization, for reference and clarification about the difference between battilions, corps, brigades and such. ^.^ ...And hopefully this wasn't too dry. >.<