A victory title is an honorific title adopted by a successful military commander to commemorate his defeat of an enemy nation. This practice was first used by Ancient Rome and is still most commonly associated with the Romans, but it has also been adopted as a practice by many later empires, especially the Napoleonic, British and Russian.
Roman victory titles
Victory titles were treated as Latin cognomina and were usually the name of the enemy defeated by the commander. Hence, names like Africanus ("the African"), Numidicus ("the Numidian"), Isauricus ("the Isaurian"), Creticus ("the Cretan"), Gothicus ("the Goth"), Germanicus ("the German") and Parthicus ("the Parthian"), seemingly out of place for ardently patriotic Romans, are in fact expressions of Roman superiority over these peoples. Literally, this would be akin to calling generals Erwin Rommel "Rommel the African", George S. Patton, Jr. "Patton the German" and H. Norman Schwarzkopf "Schwarzkopf the Iraqi"; however, the real intended meaning would be better expressed as "Rommel of African fame", "Patton of German fame", "Schwarzkopf of Iraqi fame" and so forth. Some victory titles were treated as hereditary, while others were not passed on.
The practice of awarding victory titles was well established within the Roman Republic. The most famous grantee of Republican victory title was Publius Cornelius Scipio, who for his great victories in the Second Punic War, specifically the Battle of Zama was awarded by the Roman Senate the title "Africanus" and is thus known to history as "Scipio Africanus" (his adopted grandson Scipio Aemilianus Africanus was awarded the same title after the Third Punic War and is known as "Scipio Africanus the Younger"). Other notable holders of such victory titles include Quintus Caecilius Metellus Numidicus, who was replaced by Gaius Marius in command-in-chief of the Jugurthine War; Publius Servilius Vatia Isauricus, who commanded Roman anti-pirate operations in the eastern Mediterranean (and was father of Julius Caesar's colleague in his second consulate, Publius Servilius Vatia Isauricus in 48 BC), and Marcus Antonius Creticus, another anti-piratical commander (and father of Caesar's master of the horse, Mark Antony of Egyptian fame).
The practice continued in the Roman Empire, although it was subsequently amended by some Roman Emperors who desired to emphasise the totality of their victories by adding Maximus ("the Greatest") to the victory title (e.g., Parthicus Maximus, "the Greatest Parthian"). This taste grew to be rather vulgar by modern standards, with increasingly grandiose accumulations of partially fictitious victory titles.
See also: List of Imperial Victory Titles
- In a broader sense, the term victory title is sometimes used to describe the repeatable awarding of the invariable style of Imperator (Greek equivalent Autokrator; see those articles), which is the highest military qualification (as modern states have awarded a non-operational highest rank, sometimes instituted for a particular general), but even when it marks the recipient out for one or more memorable victories (and the other use, as a permanent military command for the ruler, became in fact the more significant one), it does not actually specify one.
Medieval victory titles
After the fall of Rome, the practice continued in modified form. Notable examples:
- Charlemagne, the first Carolingian emperor of the Franks, styled himself Dominator Saxonorum ("Dominator of the Saxons") after subduing by force the last major pagan people in the empire, thenceforward transformed into a stem duchy (under its own ducal dynasty, but vassal to the Holy Roman Emperor).
- In a similar manner, Edward I of England was styled "Hammer of the Scots".
- Prince Alexander Yaroslavich of Novgorod was called Alexander Nevsky for his victory in the Battle of Neva (for which existence there is no support other than in Russian sources).
- Prince Dmitry of Moscow was styled Dmitry Donskoy for his victory over Mamai Khan at Kulikovo on the Don.
Modern victory titles
Later, the term would again be applied to titles awarded in commemoration of a major military victory, but now in the guise of a feudal aristocratic title, often hereditary, but only in appearance: an actual fief was not required, indeed they often were granted in chief of a battlefield where the awarding Monarch simply had no constitutional authority to grant anything validly under local law.
This new form also was even more specific than the Roman practice. Instead of naming the enemy — which could well need to be repeated — it linked the name of a battle, which was almost always unique. A further level of protection was available by naming a nearby place, such as 'Austerlitz' which Napoleon declared sounded better than the alternative.
In the Russian Empire, many victory titles originated in the period between the accession of Catherine the Great (1762) and the death of Nicholas I of Russia (1855). But as early as 1707, after Alexander Menshikov occupied Swedish Ingria (Izhora) during the Great Northern War, Peter I of Russia officially designated him Prince Izhorsky. Other Russian victory titles (sometimes for whole campaigns rather than specific battles) include:
Furthermore, similar titles were awarded for comparable non-military services to the empire, e.g. in 1858 — Amursky for another Nicholas Muravyov, who had negotiated a new border between Russian and China along the Amur River under the Treaty of Aigun.
General Wrangel awarded the last victory-title in Russia (Krymsky - "Crimean") unofficially after the abolition of the monarchy: to the White Lieutenant-General Yakov Aleksandrovich Slashchyov (Яков Слащёв) in August 1920 for his defence of the Crimea in 1919-1920.
As Napoleon I, the founder of the Bonaparte dynasty and only head of the First French Empire, owed his success – both his personal rise and the growth of his empire – above all to his military excellence, it is hardly surprising that he bestowed most elaborate honours on his generals, especially those raised to the supreme army rank of maréchal (marshal).
The revival of the original victory title, created for a specific victory, was an ideal form, and many incumbents were victorious marshals (or posthumously, in chief of the widow).
The highest of these titles were four nominal principalities, in most cases awarded as a 'promotion' to holders of ducal victory titles:
Next in rank were ten dukedoms:
- Marshal Ney, duc de Elchingen – 1808 (extinct 1969) – also Prince de la Moskowa
- Marshal Lefebvre, duc de Dantzig – 28 May 1807 (extinct 1820) – Dantzig was then still a city republic, which became part of Prussia after Napoleon's defeat, and is now Gdańsk in Poland
- General Junot, duc d'Abrantès – 1808 (extinct 1859 but extended in female line in 1869, again extinct 1985)
- Marshal Davout, duc d'Auerstaedt – 1808 (extinct 1853, extended to collaterals) – also prince d'Eckmühl
- Marshal Augereau, duc de Castiglione – 1808 (extinct 1915)
- Marshal Lannes, duc de Montebello – 1808
- Marshal Marmont, duc de Raguse – 1808 (extinct 1852) – present-day Dubrovnik, on the Croatian coast; conquered as part of Napoleon's own Italian kingdom, soon part of France's imperial enclave the Illyrian province
- Marshal Masséna, duc de Rivoli – 1808 – also Prince d'Essling
- Marshal Kellermann, duc de Valmy – 1808 (extinct 1868)
- Marshal Suchet, duc d'Albufera – 1813.
Although Napoleon III never came close to his predecessor's military genius (is even rather remembered for defeats), he loved tying in to numerous aspects of the First Empire, so he not only revived many of its institutions and reestablished titles Napoleon I had awarded, but also made some new ones.
Many victory titles have been created in the Peerages of England, Great Britain and the United Kingdom. Examples include:
- Godert de Ginkell, victor at the Battle of Aughrim, was created Baron of Aughrim as a subsidiary title of the Earldom of Athlone in 1692.
- Admiral Edward Russell, 1st Earl of Orford, victor of the Battle of Barfleur, was created Viscount Barfleur as a subsidiary title of the Earldom of Orford in 1697.
- James Stanhope, who captured Port Mahon during the War of the Spanish Succession, was created Viscount Stanhope of Mahon in 1717.
- Sir George Augustus Eliott, victor of the Great Siege of Gibraltar, was created Lord Heathfield, Baron Heathfield of Gibraltar in 1787.
- Admiral Sir Adam Duncan, victor of the Battle of Camperdown, was created Viscount Duncan of Camperdown in 1797. (His son was later created Earl of Camperdown.)
- Admiral Sir John Jervis, victor of the Battle of Cape St Vincent, was created Earl of St Vincent in 1797, and was further created Viscount St Vincent in 1801.
- Lieutenant-General Sir Arthur Wellesley (later the 1st Duke of Wellington), victor of the Battle of Douro, was in 1809 created Baron Douro as the subsidiary title granted to him with the Viscountcy of Wellington (see below). He was later, in 1814, created Marquess Douro as the subsidiary title granted to him with the Dukedom of Wellington.
- General Sir Robert Napier, who commanded the Abyssinian Expedition of 1868 and captured the fortress of Magdàla, was created Baron Napier of Magdala in 1868.
- The Earl of Dufferin, Governor-General of India during the Third Anglo-Burmese War that resulted in the annexation of Upper Burma including its former capital Ava, was created Marquess of Dufferin and Ava, in the County of Down and the Province of Burma, and Earl of Ava, in the Province of Burma in 1888.
- Field Marshal Sir Julian Byng, who played an important role in the Battle of Vimy Ridge, was created Baron Byng of Vimy in 1919 and was later promoted to a viscountcy.
- Field Marshal Sir John French, the first commander of the British Expeditionary Force in the First World War, was created Earl of Ypres in 1922.
- Field Marshal Sir Bernard Montgomery, in honour of his 1942 victory in the Egyptian town of El Alamein against Rommel's Afrikakorps, was created Viscount Montgomery of Alamein in 1946.
- Admiral Sir Bruce Fraser, victor of the Battle of North Cape, was created Baron Fraser of North Cape in 1946.
- Admiral Lord Louis Mountbatten, who oversaw the recapture of Burma from the Japanese, was created Viscount Mountbatten of Burma in 1946 and Earl Mountbatten of Burma in 1947.
Often the victory is commemorated in the territorial designation rather than the peerage itself. Examples include:
- Robert Clive, victor of the Battle of Plassey, was created Baron Clive, of Plassey in the County of Clare in 1767.
- The Lord Amherst, who captured Montreal during the French and Indian War, was created Baron Amherst, of Montreal in the County of Kent in 1788. Though the designation refers to Montreal Park in Kent, the estate had been named after the victory.
- Rear-Admiral Sir Horatio Nelson, victor of the Battle of the Nile, was created Baron Nelson, of the Nile and of Burnham Thorpe in the County of Norfolk, in 1798, and (by this time a Vice-Admiral) was further created Viscount Nelson, of the Nile and of Burnham Thorpe in the County of Norfolk. He was created Baron Nelson, of the Nile and of Hilborough in the County of Norfolk in August 1801. After his victory and death at the Battle of Trafalgar, his brother was created Earl Nelson, of Trafalgar and of Merton in the County of Surrey, and Viscount Merton, of Trafalgar and of Merton in the County of Surrey, in 1805, in his honour.
- Lady Abercromby, widow of Sir Ralph Abercromby, victor of the Battle of Aboukir, who had died of wounds received in that battle, was created Baroness Abercromby, of Aboukir and of Tullibody in the County of Clackmannan, in 1801, in honour of her late husband.
- John Hely-Hutchinson, victor of the Siege of Alexandria, was created Baron Hutchinson, of Alexandria and Knocklofty in the County of Tipperary, in 1801.
- Gerard Lake, victor of the Battle of Delhi and the Battle of Laswari, was created Baron Lake, of Delhi and Laswary and of Aston Clinton in the County of Buckingham in 1804 and Viscount Lake with the same designation in 1807.
- Lieutenant-General Sir Arthur Wellesley (later the 1st Duke of Wellington), victor of the Battle of Talavera, was created Viscount Wellington, of Talavera and of Wellington in the County of Somerset, in 1809.
- William Carr Beresford, victor of the Battle of Albuera, was created Baron Beresford, of Albuera and Dungarvan in the County of Waterford in 1814.
- Rowland Hill, victor of the Battle of Almaraz, was created Baron Hill, of Almaraz and of Hawkestone in the County of Shropshire in 1814 and Baron Hill, of Almaraz and of Hardwicke in the County of Shropshire in 1816.
- George Harris, victor of the Siege of Seringapatam against the Kingdom of Mysore, was created Baron Harris, of Seringapatam and Mysore in the East Indies and of Belmont in the County of Kent in 1815.
- William Amherst, 2nd Baron Amherst, Governor-General of India during the First Anglo-Burmese War that resulted in the annexation of Arakan, was created Earl Amherst, of Arracan in the East Indies in 1826.
- The Lord Combermere, who captured the fort at Bharatpur while serving as Commander-in-Chief, India, was created Viscount Combermere, of Bhurtpore in the East Indies and Combermere in the County Palatine of Chester in 1827.
- Sir John Keane, commander at the Battle of Ghazni, was created Baron Keane, of Ghuznee in Affghanistan and of Cappoquin in the County of Waterford in 1839.
- Sir Hugh Gough, victor at the Battle of Chinkiang, in the Gwalior Campaign and in the First Anglo-Sikh War, was created Baron Gough, of ChingKangFoo in China and of Maharajpore and the Sutlej in the East Indies in 1846, and following the Battle of Gujrat was further created Viscount Gough, of Goojerat in the Punjab and of the City of Limerick in 1849.
- Sir Henry Hardinge, who concluded the Treaty of Lahore that ended the First Anglo-Sikh War, was created Viscount Hardinge, of Lahore and of King's Newton in the County of Derby in 1846.
- The Earl of Dalhousie, who was Governor-General of India during the Second Anglo-Sikh War that resulted in the annexation of the Punjab, was created Marquess of Dalhousie, of Dalhousie Castle in the County of Edinburgh, and of the Punjab in 1849.
- Hugh Henry Rose, who captured Jhansi during the Indian Mutiny, was created Baron Strathnairn, of Strathnairn in the County of Nairn and of Jhansi in the East Indies in 1866.
- Sir John Lawrence, who served as Chief Commissioner of the Punjab during the Indian Mutiny, was created Baron Lawrence, of the Punjab and of Grateley in the County of Southampton in 1869.
- Sir Garnet Wolseley, who captured Cairo after the Battle of Tel el-Kebir, was created Baron Wolseley, of Cairo and of Wolseley in the County of Stafford, in 1882.
- Sir Frederick Sleigh Roberts, victor of the Battle of Kandahar, was created Baron Roberts, of Kandahar in Afghanistan and of the City of Waterford in 1892. Following the Battle of Diamond Hill near Pretoria, he was further created Earl Roberts, of Kandahar in Afghanistan and of Pretoria in the Transvaal Colony and of the City of Waterford in 1901.
- Major-General Sir Herbert Kitchener, in recognition of his victory in the Battle of Omdurman, was created Baron Kitchener, of Khartoum and of Aspall in the County of Suffolk (Khartoum being the less obscure but relatively near capital of the Anglo-Egyptian Sudan), in 1898, and (by this time a full General) was further created Viscount Kitchener of Khartoum, of Khartoum and of the Vaal in the Colony of Transvaal and of Aspall in the County of Suffolk (having been Administrator of Transvaal and of the Orange River Colony in 1901), in 1902, and (by this time a Field Marshal) was further still created Earl Kitchener of Khartoum and of Broome, of Khartoum and of Broome in the County of Kent, in 1914.
- Field Marshal Sir John French, the first commander of the British Expeditionary Force in the First World War, was created Viscount French, of Ypres and of High Lake in the County of Roscommon, in 1916.
- Admiral of the Fleet Sir David Beatty, the First Sea Lord and formerly Commander-in-Chief of the Grand Fleet during the last years of the First World War, was, as one of the subsidiary titles granted to him with the Earldom of Beatty, created Baron Beatty, of the North Sea and of Brooksby in the County of Leicester, in 1919.
- Field Marshal Sir Edmund Allenby, victor of the Battle of Megiddo, was created Viscount Allenby, of Megiddo and of Felixstowe in the County of Suffolk, in 1919.
- Field Marshal Sir William Birdwood, best known as the commander of the ANZAC in the First World War, was created Baron Birdwood, of Anzac and of Totnes in the County of Devon, in 1938.
- Field Marshal Sir Edmund Ironside, who commanded the British forces around Arkhangelsk in the North Russia Campaign, was created Baron Ironside, of Archangel and Ironside in the County of Aberdeen, in 1941.
- Field Marshal Sir Henry Wilson, a senior British general in the Second World War, was created Baron Wilson, of Libya and of Stowlangtoft in the County of Suffolk, in 1946.
In the Austrian empire titles of nobility could be amended with territorial designations, the so-called predicates. These were usually named after the estates of the family in question, but sometimes the Habsburg rulers of Austria also granted victory titles. This was particularly common during World War I. Examples include:
Kingdom of Hungary
The system used in the Kingdom of Hungary by the Habsburgs was much like the one employed in Austria. Titles of nobility could be amended with territorial designations, also called predicates. These were usually named after the estates of the family in question, but sometimes also specific victory titles were granted. Examples include:
During the Regency of Hungary after World War I, the Regent Miklós Horthy was not authorized to grant titles of nobility, but conferred the Order of Vitéz which sometimes but necessarily also carried noble predicates. Initially membership was restricted to men who had served with special distinction in the war. Examples commemorating military action include:
Kingdom of Italy
Many victory titles have been created in the Kingdom of Italy (1861–1946) under the Savoy House of Piemonte-Sardinia. The practice of bestowing such titles was especially common after the unification of Italy and again after World War I, when a number of nominations was made by the Mussolini government. Examples include:
- General Enrico Cialdini, created Duca di Gaeta for his role during the Siege of Gaeta (1860). This was the concluding event of the war between the Kingdom of Sardinia and the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies, through which Cialdini's Piemonte-Sardinian forces secured victory over King Francis II of the Two Sicilies. The choice of this title was somewhat ironic as it had been the name of a Napoleonic duché grand-fief but only the withdrawal of the French fleet made the bombardment of Gaeta from the sea by Cialdini's forces possible.
- General Armando Diaz, created 1st Duca della Vittoria ("Duke of the Victory") in 1922. He had been the Commander-in-Chief of the Italian Army during World War I.
- Admiral Paolo Thaon di Revel, created 1st Duca del Mare ("Duke of the Sea") in 1922. He had been the Chief of the Italian Naval Staff during World War I.
- Commodore Luigi Rizzo, created 1st Conte di Grado e di Premuda for his services as naval commander in World War I during which he also sank the Austrian battleship SMS Szent István.
- Costanzo Ciano, created 1st Conte di Cortellazzo i Buccari, a naval commander in World War I and President of the Italian Chamber of Deputies between 1934 and 1939.
- Cesare Maria de Vecchi, created 1st Conte di Val Cismon in memory of the battles fought by his arditi on Monte Grappa in 1918. Later served as colonial administrator and Fascist politician.
- Gabriele d'Annunzio, created 1st Principe di Montenevoso in 1924 for his services as poet, journalist, novelist, dramatist and aviator during World War I.
- Marshal Pietro Badoglio, created 1st Marchese del Sabotino and later 1st Duca di Addis Abeba after the invasion of Abyssinia in 1935.
- General Rodolfo Graziani, created 1st Marchese di Neghelli for his services as leader of military expeditions in Africa before and during World War II.
- Prince Maurizio Ferrante Gonzaga di Vescovato, created 1st Marchese del Vodice in 1932. Also received the Gold Medal of Military Valor. (Full Titles and decorations, in Italian)
- The Spanish crown has awarded similar titles, such as Duque de Ciudad Rodrigo (hereditary) for the English Viscount Wellington (later Duke of Wellington). Manuel de Godoy was created Principe de la Paz (Prince of the Peace) in 1795 after negotiating the Peace of Basel. José Malcampo, 3rd Marquis of San Rafael, Prime Minister of Spain in 1871, during the reign of King Amadeo I, was granted the titles of Count of Jolo and Viscount of Mindanao after he victoriously took the City of Jolo from the Sultanate of Sulu during his governorship general of the Philippines.
- So did the Portuguese kingdom, as Duque da Vitória (Duke of Victory), Marquês de Torres Vedras (from the Lines of Torres Vedras) and Conde de Vimeiro (from the Battle of Vimeiro) for the same Duke of Wellington.
- The Kingdom of Naples awarded the title of Conte di Maida (Count of Maida) to British general John Stuart, commemorating the Battle of Maida in 1806.
- The Dutch royal house of Orange, then of the United Kingdom of the Netherlands, created the first Duke of Wellington Prince of Waterloo (in Belgium) in 1815.
Sources and references
François R. Velde. Napoleonic Titles and Heraldry: Victory Titles