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European title of nobility, ranking immediately below a count, or earl. The wife of a viscount is a viscountess. In the Carolingian period, the vicecomes were deputies or lieutenants of the counts (comes), whose official powers they exercised by delegation. In the 11th century most of Normandy was divided into vicomtés, but the viscountcy was not introduced into the English peerage until nearly 400 years after the Norman conquest.
This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise. For the full entry on viscount, visit Britannica.com.