> I think you're right. IIRC, the signers of the Magna Carta were
> referred to as barons. So if the Bloody Baron is British, he
> would have to date from the Norman era or earlier. I'm not aware
> of any British barons in the fifteenth century; they were all
> dukes, earls, and lords (perhaps technically barons but not
> referred to as such).
1. You will not find Barons in any part of Britain prior to the Norman invasion.
2. There have always been barons in Britain. Baron (Baroness) is a specific rank in the British nobility. Duke (Duchess)is another, different specific rank in the British nobility, and a Duke (Duchess) is not a Baron unless he (she) holds a separate title as Baron. Earl (Countess) is another, different specific rank in the British nobility, and an Earl (Countess) is not a Baron unless he (she) holds a separate title of Baron. Viscount (Viscountess) is another, different specific rank in the British nobility, and a Viscount (Viscountess) is not a Baron unless he (she) holds a separate title of Baron. Marquess (Marchioness) is another, different specific rank in the British nobility, and a Marquess (Marchioness) is not a Baron unless he (she) holds a separate title of Baron.
3. There were plenty of Barons in Britain in the 15th century, just as there were in the 13th, 14th, 16th, 17th, 18th, 19th, and 20th centuries,a nd jsut as there are in this century. While commonly all Barons, Viscounts, Earls, and Marquesses are referred to as Lord as a courtesy, that does not mean they are Barons, Viscounts, Earls or Marquesses any less. Moreover it is quite common in the case of hereditary titles to include just what the person is, even when using the style of Lord - as such the present Lord Newton, Richard Thomas Legh, is the 5th Baron Newton, and head of the Legh-family.
4. If the Bloody Baron was anything more than a Baron (i.e. a viscount, an Earl, a Marquess, or a Duke, all of which rank higher than Baron), he would have been referred to as such. If he had been anything less than a Baron (e.g. a Baronet or a manorial lord), he would in all likelihood have been called on it by one nearly headless Sit Nicholas de Mimsy-Porpington, who does seem to take these things rather seriously.
> Now if we knew the Bloody Baron's name or had heard him speak,
> a guess at his nationality would be easier. I still think that
> if he were British, he would be styled as a lord, not a baron.
> He also strikes me as having a kind of Gothic/Durmstrang air
> about him, appropriate to the ghost of Slytherin, whereas Sir
> Nick is what Elizabeth I would call "pure English" and
> undoubtedly graduated from Hogwarts.
It can be argued that Queen Mary I of England, daughter of Henry VIII and nicknamed Bloody Mary, was as English as they come, without seeming to have overly much in common with Nearly Headless Nick's mannerisms.
Moreover, presuming that the Bloody Baron went to Durmstrang would then require an explanation of how he came to Hogwarts as a ghost, and - at least as importantly - how he came to be accepted as the Slytherin House Ghost at Hogwarts. The "old Boys"-system of Hogwarts is likely to be strong, particularly among ghosts, and I find it hard to believe that they at all would allow an outsider to become the head ghost of Slytherin, of all houses.