If you like reading Regency-set historicals, you have probably picked up a lot about titles and heredity. The history behind titles is endlessly fascinating. Some were old by the Regency, some newly created. Some were earned nobly for services to Crown and Country, or in battle, like Wellington's dukedom, others by being in the right place at the right time, being the bastard son or even the mistress of Charles II, currying favour with the monarch of the day, or managing to turn your coat at the right time.
You have probably read about families who 'came over with the Conqueror'. But did you know that only one English family today can show clear descent from a pre-conquest Englishman? It's the Arden Family, whose ancestor was Thorkell of Arden in Warwick, a Saxon Earl.
Thorkell refused to fight with King Harold against the Norman invasion, so William the Conqueror (above) allowed him to keep his lordship and his holdings. He was the only Saxon allowed to remain a lord, while the rest of the incumbent nobility had their titles and lands confiscated. Sadly for Thorkell (dubbed the Traitor Earl), William's son, William Rufus, created the earldom of Warwick for a Norman noble and gave him Thorkell's land. Thus, the betrayer was betrayed. But the title 'Earl of Warwick' survives to this day.