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1. (in the British Isles) a nobleman ranking below a marquess and above a viscount
2. (in Anglo-Saxon England) a royal governor of any of the large divisions of the kingdom, such as Wessex



in early medieval England, a member of the hereditary nobility, as distinguished from an ordinary freeman, or ceorl. The average size of an earl’s holding was 40 hides. As Anglo-Saxon society became feudalized, the earls, in the late seventh century, became part of the general landed aristocracy required to render state service, the thanes. Since the 11th century the term “earl” has designated a noble rank corresponding to that of count.

References in periodicals archive ?
Northumberland, whose earldom was situated closest to Edinburgh, and who was married to Dorothy, one of the two sisters of the lately decapitated Earl of Essex, was also a party to the correspondence.
They might be positions as sought after, as coveted as medieval earldoms.
Following his victory at Hastings, William the Conqueror established a series of buffer territories or marcher earldoms on the borders of Wales and placed them under the control of tough and trusted Norman leaders.
Four chapters assess Edward's role as son of Aethelred, his activities with regard to Normandy, the question of succession, including an analysis of the earldoms of the period, and his sanctity and canonization.
Thus, Richard Neville, who was known as the kingmaker for his involvement in bringing Edward IV to the throne, controlled two great earldoms and owned estates throughout the Midlands.
Fish middens and the economy of the Viking Age and Late Norse earldoms of Orkney and Caithness, northern Scotland.