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Wikipedia:Naming conventions (names and titles)

Table of contents
1 Monarchical Titles
2 Other Royals
3 Non Royal Names
4 Clerical Names
5 Footnotes

Wikipedia:Naming conventions (names and titles)

Monarchical Titles

As royalty often use titles rather than surnames, and often change titles, using a clear and agreed nomenclature can sometimes be difficult. The following are a set of conventions that emerged from a detailed discussion on Wikipedia.

Convention: In general, use the most common form of the name used in English and disambiguate the names of monarchs of modern countries in the format [[{Monarch's first name and ordinal} of {Country}]] (example: Edward I of England).

  1. General practice is that where there has only been one holder of a specific monarchical name in a state, the ordinal is not used. For example, Victoria of the United Kingdom, not [[Victoria I of the United Kingdom]], Juan Carlos of Spain not [[Juan Carlos I of Spain]].

  2. Take care to use the correct name of the state at the time when a monarch reigned. So it is monarchs of England only up to 1707 (eg., Henry VIII of England), Great Britain from 1707-1800 (eg. Anne of Great Britain), the United Kingdom since 1801 (eg. Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom), Germany from 1871, Holy Roman Empire until 1806, Austria after then, etc. But if an obscure official name of a state exists alongside a clearly understood one, it is fine to use the more widely known version. For example, Kings of Greece rather than the technically correct [[Kings of the Hellenes]]. In contrast, England, Great Britain and the United Kingdom were all different states covering different geographic areas, and so they do need to be clarified.

  3. Where a monarch has reigned over a number of states, use the most commonly associated ones. For example, Charles II of England not [[Charles II of England and Ireland]]; Wilhelm II of Germany not [[Wilhelm II of Prussia]].

  4. Do not apply an ordinal in an article title to a pretender, ie, someone who has not reigned. For example, use Duke of Anjou[?], not [[Louis XX]] when referring to one of the pretenders to the French throne. A person may however be referred to if they have a title, eg, Victor Emmanuel, Prince of Naples for the last Italian Crown Prince. But he should not be referred to as [[Victor Emmanuel IV]] even though Italian royalists call him such. Where someone has a disputed title, eg, 'Henry V' - whom French Legimists believed became the real king of France in 1830 after Charles X's abdication, he could be referred to as such in the article. Alternatively a disambulation page could be created, redirecting enquiries about 'Henry V' to the page where his biography exists, ie, the Comte de Chambord.

  5. Former or deposed monarchs should be referred to by their previous monarchical title; for example, Constantine II of Greece not [[ex-King Constantine II]] or [[Constantine Gluckberg]], Edward VIII of the United Kingdom not the [[Duke of Windsor]], Juliana of the Netherlands not [[ex-Queen Juliana]] or [[Princess Juliana]].

Other Royals

For royalty other than monarchs:

  1. Use 'name, title' if they have one; eg, Charles, Prince of Wales or 'Prince/ss {name} of . . . ] where they have a subsidary title by virtue of their parent's title, eg, Prince William of Wales, Princess Beatrice of York. Prince Arthur of Connaught[?], etc.

  2. Where they have no title, use the form [Prince/ss {name} of {country}], eg. Princess Irene of Greece[?]. Only former royal consorts should not have a title mentioned, eg Anne of Denmark. Using royal titles for more junior royals will enable users to distinguish between royal consorts and others.

  3. When dealing with a Crown Prince/ss of a state, use the form [[{name}, Crown Prince/ss of {state}) unless there is a clear formal title awarded to a prince which defines their status as crown prince (eg, 'Charles, Prince of Wales', 'Felipe, Prince of Asturias', etc)

  4. Do not use styles as part of a title of an article; eg, Princess Irene of Greece[?] not [[HRH Princess Irene of Greece]].

  5. Do not use 'surnames' in article names. Most royal families don't have surnames. Many that do have different personal surnames to the name of their Royal House. For example, different members of the Royal House of Windsor have a range of surnames; Windsor, Mountbatten-Windsor, Linley, Chatto, etc. Prince Charles, for example, is not Charles Windsor but Charles Mountbatten-Windsor, as are his siblings and all their children. But many of his cousins are Windsor or other names. Similarly, the House of Habsburg is different to the surnames of some members of the Habsburg/Hapsburg family.

  6. Incorporate surnames if they are known in the opening line of an article, eg, Charles Philip Arthur George Mountbatten-Windsor. But don't automatically presume that a name of a Royal Family is the personal surname of its members. In many cases it isn't. For visual clarity, an article should begin with the form {royal title} {name} {ordinal if appropriate}, full name (+ surname if known) with the former in bold (3 's) and the latter in bold italics (5 's). In practice, this means for example an article on Britain's Queen Elizabeth should begin Queen Elizabeth II, Elizabeth Alexandra Mary Windsor - with the royal title and name in bold and the personal name in bold italics. Using this format makes sure all the naming information is instantly visible with the distinction highlighted through italics. Other information on royal titles should be listed where appropriate in chronological order.

  7. Past Royal Consorts are referred to by their pre-marital name or pre-marital title, not by their consort name, as without an ordinal (which they lack) it is difficult to distinguish various consorts; eg, as there have been many queen consorts called Elizabeth and Catherine, use Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon instead of Queen Elizabeth (the Consort of George VI), Catherine of Aragon not Queen Catherine.

  8. Existing Royal Consorts may be referred to by their consort name, eg. Sofia of Spain. But when her husband dies, she will revert to her pre-marital title, ie, [Sofia of Greece] with the new Queen of Spain being referred to by the consort designation. The same rule applies to male royal consorts.

  9. Use the most senior title received by a royal personage. For example, George V of the United Kingdom is referred to as such, not [[George, Duke of York]] or [[George, Prince of Wales]], his earlier titles.

Non Royal Names

There are several conventions for the names of historical people.

  1. Members of the hereditary nobility (ie, people who inherit their title), such as a marquess, viscount, count, duke. earl, etc., as with royals have two names. For example Henry John Temple was also the 3rd Viscount Palmerston, hence typically referred to as "Lord Palmerston". Naming the article Henry John Temple, 3rd Viscount Palmerston, with redirect Lord Palmerston allows both of his names to be included. The sequence number is included since personal names are often duplicated (see Earl of Aberdeen.)

  2. An honorific such as Lord Normanby may refer to any of the holders of the associated title, so can redirect to a page about the title itself.

  3. (This is another view, inconsistent with above).
    1. For other members of the nobility, counts, dukes, etc., "First name, (ordinal), title of place" like "Stephen, Count of Blois" or "Albert III, Duke of Saxony". English-speakers do not put family names as part of the title; since this is an English-language wiki, please respect that.

  4. Honorary titles such as Sir and Dame don't need to be included in the article title: use personal name instead, e.g., Bob Geldof not [[Sir Bob Geldof]]. The same is true of a hereditary baronet, who also is called 'Sir' but should not be so in the article title, though the article itself should clarify details such as the full title, etc.

  5. Life peers (ie, people who have peerages awarded exclusively for their lifetime but who neither inherit it nor pass it on to anyone else)1 are generally mentioned by their personal name not title, because among other reasons a life peerage is often awarded at the end of a career, while the individual holding them may be far more widely known though their personal name, so use George Robertson, not [[Lord Robertson]].

  6. Courtesy titles (also referred to as an honorific prefix) 2 such as Lord or Lady differ from full titles because unlike full titles they are included as part of the personal name, often from birth. As such, they should be included in the article title if a person if universally recognised with it and their name is unrecognisable without it. For example, the nineteenth century British prime minister Lord John Russell was always known by that form of name, never simply [[John Russell]], Using the latter form would produce a name that would be unrecognisable to anyone searching for a page on Russell. Similarly, Lady Gregory, the Irish playwright, is more recognisable to readers than [[Augusta Gregory]]

  7. In general, use the most commonly recognized English-language form of the name. Create redirections or disambiguations for other plausible links.

  8. Other names and titles, if any, should appear in the first paragraph of the article so they can be searched for.

  9. In East Asian names, look at common English usage to decide whether the western first-name last-name or the eastern last-name first-name order should be used. As a rule of thumb, Japanese names should usually be given in the western, Chinese names in the eastern order. A redirect from whatever order is not used, is almost always a good idea.


  1. If a person is best known by his cognomen, or by a name that doesn't exactly fit the guidelines above (for example, Louis the Pious, Duke of Wellington--the first one), then that's how it should read.

  2. Roman Emperors don't need the "of the Roman Empire" nor would Pericles be "of Athens"--their names already indicate where they're from. Also, with Germanic peoples (and any other leaders of a people, rather than a country or nation), if any description at all is used (and this is something the early mediŠvalists should work on), it should be "of the Goths", etc. Again, this is something that has not been much discussed, so please contribute to a discussion of how to do it before randomly creating pages!

Some discussions on nomenclature are on the wikipedia talk:Naming conventions page. See also Wikipedia:History standards. If there are wikipedians out there who know more about this subject, please add to the discussion.

See also: Wikipedia:History standards , Wikipedia:Naming conventions (chinese), Wikipedia:Naming conventions (japanese)

Clerical Names

While most names are clear, unambiguous and known, some names associated with clergymen and clergywomen of some faiths make this difficult. In those religions which have hierarchies, the higher the level within that hierarchy the greater the likelihood that the person's first name may have ceased to be used publicly, being replaced by a title. Others replace their own name completely with a new one. As with royals, this requires a different set of guidelines, not least in so far as it may be difficult to discover what their first name actually was, particularly when dealing with ancient historical church clergy at the higher level. The following are the agreed conventions for two levels of senior clergymen:

  • When it comes to popes, whether Roman Catholic, Coptic or elsewhere, the format to be used is [[Pope {papal name} {ordinal if more than one}]]. Popes should not be entered as personal name. So Pope John Paul I, not [[Albino Luciani]].

  • For cardinals, use [[{name if known} Cardinal {surname}]]. For example, Giuseppe Cardinal Siri not [[Cardinal Guiseppe Siri]] This format avoids problems associated with historical cardinals whose first names have long since been forgotten; they can be entered as [[Cardinal {surname}]] and adapted later if and when their first name has been unearthed. It also has the benefit of keeping the cardinal surname together for search purposes. This is the format officially used by the Roman Catholic Church to refer to its cardinals. Since Vatican II, an alternative version, placing the word 'Cardinal' before the first name has grown in popularity. However as the great majority of cardinals predate this change, that format would require a complete change in all cardinal titles before 1965 and is impractical.

The issue of other clerical names across various religions is still under discussion on the talk page.

Footnotes 1 Life peers receive the title of Baron. As a rule of thumb when deciding if someone has a life peerage or hereditary peerage, if the title is marquess, viscount, duke, earl or anything but baron the peerage can only be hereditary. Though not all barons are life peers; hereditary baronies also exist.

2 A Courtesy title is an honorific prefix applied to the sons and daughters of hereditary peers. For example, Lady Diana Spencer's courtesy title came via her father's earldom. Lord John Russell was the second son of the Duke of Bedford. In many cases the holder of a courtesy title is known exclusively by its inclusion (which they may have had from birth) and unrecognisable without it, with the title treated as though it was in effect part of their name. That contrasts to full titles, which are not attached to the personal name, but exist separately.

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