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a title of nobility in Germany and Scandinavia, dating from the 12th century, when the kings of Germany attempted to strengthen their position in relation to that of the dukes (Herzoge). The kings set up "provincial counts" (Landgrafen) over whom the dukes would have no control and who would have rank and authority equivalent to those of dukes. Later-and more commonly-the title was given to counts in order to make them directly dependent on the king (or emperor).