A duchy, or dukedom, is a country, territory, fief, or domain ruled by a duke or duchess, a high-ranking nobleman hierarchically second to the king or queen in European tradition. The term is used almost exclusively in Europe, where in the present day there is no sovereign duchy (i.e. with the status of a nation state) left.
A country is a region that is identified as a distinct entity in political geography.
A duke (male) or duchess (female) can either be a monarch ruling over a duchy or a member of royalty or nobility, historically of highest rank below the monarch. The title comes from French duc, itself from the Latin dux, 'leader', a term used in republican Rome to refer to a military commander without an official rank, and later coming to mean the leading military commander of a province.
King, or king regnant, is the title given to a male monarch in a variety of contexts. The female equivalent is queen regnant, while the title of queen on its own usually refers to the consort of a king.
The term "duke" (like the corresponding "duchy") should not be confused with the title Grand Duke (or Grand Duchy , such as the present-day Grand Duchy of Luxembourg), as there exists a significant difference of rank between the two.
In common European cultural heritage, a grand duke is the third highest monarchic rank, after emperor and king. Its synonym in many Slavic and Baltic European languages (Russian, Lithuanian, etc.) is translated as Grand Prince, whereas most Germanic and Romance European languages (English, French, Spanish, Italian etc.) use expressions corresponding to Grand Duke.Unlike a duke, the sovereign grand duke is considered royalty (or in German, 'royal nobility', Königsadel). The proper form of address for a grand duke is His Royal Highness (HRH), whereas for a non-royal duke in the United Kingdom it is His Grace.
Royal Highness is a style used to address or refer to some members of royal families, usually princes or princesses. Monarchs and their consorts are usually styled Majesty. When used as a direct form of address, spoken or written, it takes the form "Your Royal Highness". When used as a third-person reference, it is gender-specific and, in plural, Their Royal Highnesses (TRH).
His Grace or Her Grace is an English style used for various high-ranking personages. It was the style used to address Kings of England until Henry VIII and the King or Queen of Scots up to the Act of Union of 1707, which united the Kingdom of Scotland and the Kingdom of England. Today, the style is used when referring to archbishops and non-royal dukes and duchesses in the United Kingdom.
In contrast to this, the rank of a duke differs from one country to the next. In Germany, for example, a duke is listed in the aristocratic hierarchy below an emperor (Kaiser), king (König), grand duke (Großherzog), and elector (Kurfürst)– in that order – whereas in Britain the duke comes third after king/queen and prince (there are no British grand dukes or electors).
In all countries, there existed an important difference between "sovereign dukes" and dukes subordinate to a king or emperor. Some historic duchies were sovereign in areas that would become part of nation-states only during the modern era, such as Germany (a federal empire) and Italy (a unified kingdom). In contrast, others were subordinate districts of those kingdoms that had unified either partially or completely during the medieval era, such as France, Spain, Sicily, Naples, and the Papal States. In England, the term is used in respect of non-territorial entities.
Currently, there are two duchies in England; the royal Duchy of Lancaster and the royal Duchy of Cornwall. Unlike historic duchies in England, these are no longer coextensive with a distinct geographic area, though they originated in the counties palatine of Lancaster and Cornwall. Rather, they are "Crown bodies", regulated by Acts of Parliament, that have some of the powers of a corporation or trust. The administration of the duchies is regulated by the Duchies of Lancaster and Cornwall (Accounts) Act 1838. The duchies invest primarily in land, and their income is payable either to the monarch or the monarch's eldest heir.
Traditionally, a grand duchy, such as Luxembourg or Tuscany (1569–1860), was generally independent and sovereign. There were also many sovereign or semi-sovereign duchies in the de facto confederate Holy Roman Empire (961–1806) and German-speaking areas.
A grand duchy is a country or territory whose official head of state or ruler is a monarch bearing the title of grand duke or grand duchess.
Luxembourg, officially the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg, is a small landlocked country in western Europe. It is bordered by Belgium to the west and north, Germany to the east, and France to the south. Its capital, Luxembourg City, is one of the four official capitals of the European Union and the seat of the European Court of Justice, the highest judicial authority in the EU. Its culture, people, and languages are highly intertwined with its neighbours, making it essentially a mixture of French and German cultures, as evident by the nation's three official languages: French, German, and the national language of Luxembourgish. The repeated invasions by Germany, especially in World War II, resulted in the country's strong will for mediation between France and Germany and, among other things, led to the foundation of the European Union.
The Grand Duchy of Tuscany was a central Italian monarchy that existed, with interruptions, from 1569 to 1859, replacing the Duchy of Florence. The grand duchy's capital was Florence. Tuscany was nominally a state of the Holy Roman Empire until the Treaty of Campo Formio in 1797.
In France, a number of duchies existed in the medieval period including Normandy, Burgundy, Brittany, and Aquitaine.
The medieval German stem duchies (German : Stammesherzogtum, literally "tribal duchy", the official title of its ruler being Herzog or "duke") were associated with the Frankish Kingdom and corresponded with the areas of settlement of the major Germanic tribes. They formed the nuclei of the major feudal states that comprised the early era of the Holy Roman Empire of the German nation (961-1806; in German: Heiliges Römisches Reich Deutscher Nation). These were Schwaben (Swabia, mainly the present-day German state of Baden-Württemberg), Bayern (Bavaria), and Sachsen (Saxony) in pre-Carolingian times, to which Franken (Franconia, at present the northern part of the German state of Bavaria) and Lothringen (Lorraine, nowadays mostly part of France) were added in post-Carolingian times. As mentioned above, such a duke was styled Herzog (literally "the one who is leading [the troops]").
In medieval England, duchies associated with the territories of Lancashire and Cornwall were created, with certain powers and estates of land accruing to their dukes. The Duchy of Lancaster was created in 1351 but became merged with the Crown when, in 1399, Henry Bolingbroke, Duke of Lancaster, ascended the throne of England as Henry IV. Nowadays the Duchy of Lancaster always belongs to the sovereign and its revenue is the Privy Purse. The Duchy of Cornwall was created in 1337 and held successively by the Dukes of Cornwall, who were also heirs to the throne. Nowadays, the Duchy of Cornwall belongs to the sovereign's heir apparent, if there is one: it reverts to the Crown in the absence of an heir apparent, and is automatically conferred to the heir apparent upon birth. These duchies today have mostly lost any non-ceremonial political role, but generate their holders' private income. During the Wars of the Roses, the Duke of York made a successful entry into the City of York, by merely claiming no harm and that it was his right to possess "his duchy of York".Any and all feudal duchies that made up the patchwork of England have since been absorbed within the Royal Family. Other than Cornwall and Lancaster, British royal dukedoms are titular and do not include land holdings. Non-royal dukedoms are associated with ducal property, but this is meant as the duke's private property, with no other feudal privileges attached.
In more recent times, territorial duchies have become rare; most dukedoms conferred in the last few centuries have been of a purely ceremonial or honorific character (see Duke). At present all independent (i.e., sovereign) duchies have disappeared.
Luxembourg, an independent and sovereign nation with a history dating back as far as the 8th century,is the only remaining independent grand duchy, with the Grand Duke Henri I (dynasty of Luxembourg-Nassau) as its head of state since the year 2000.
In the middle east the concept of beylik can be seen as equivalent to duchy ("bey" being a Turkish title for the head of a house, and similar to "duke" when that person is the highest representative of the state in a principality). For example, the Ottoman Empire, first just the nomadic Kayı tribe among the Ghuzz (Oghuz Turks), settled in Bithynia on the border to the Byzantine Empire, evolved under the Sultanate of Rûm (Seljuks in Anatolia) into a border principality (Uç beyliği /margraviate). It became an independent principality after the Anatolian Seljuk state was shattered by the Mongols. Later it grew further into its own empire by conquering the nearby Anatolian beyliks, also remnants of the Sultanate of Rûm.
The following duchies were part of the medieval Kingdom of Italy (not to be confused with the modern Kingdom of Italy (1860-1945)), which itself was part of the Holy Roman Empire:
All provinces of Sweden have the right to have a ducal coronet in their arms.The king gives princes and princesses ducal titles of them. The current such royal duchies are:
Mecklenburg is a historical region in northern Germany comprising the western and larger part of the federal-state Mecklenburg-Vorpommern. The largest cities of the region are Rostock, Schwerin, Neubrandenburg, Wismar and Güstrow.
A prince is a male ruler or member of a monarch's or former monarch's family. Prince is also a title of nobility, often hereditary, in some European states. The feminine equivalent is a princess. The English word derives, via the French word prince, from the Latin noun princeps, from primus (first) and capio, meaning "the chief, most distinguished, ruler, prince".
Grand duke is a European hereditary title for either certain monarchs or members of certain monarchs' families. It is traditionally ranked in order of precedence below the title of emperor or king and above that of sovereign prince or sovereign duke. It is used in some current and former independent monarchies in Europe, particularly:
A principality can either be a monarchical feudatory or a sovereign state, ruled or reigned over by a monarch with the title of prince or by a monarch with another title considered to fall under the generic meaning of the term prince.
Duke of Cornwall is a title in the Peerage of England, traditionally held by the eldest son of the reigning British monarch, previously the English monarch. The Duchy of Cornwall was the first duchy created in England and was established by a royal charter in 1337. The present duke is the Prince of Wales, the eldest son of Queen Elizabeth II. His wife, Camilla, is the current Duchess of Cornwall.
The House of Glücksburg, shortened from House of Schleswig-Holstein-Sonderburg-Glücksburg, is a Dano-German branch of the House of Oldenburg, members of which have reigned at various times in Denmark, Norway, Greece and several northern German states.
Holstein-Gottorp or Schleswig-Holstein-Gottorp is the historiographical name, as well as contemporary shorthand name, for the parts of the duchies of Schleswig and Holstein, also known as Ducal Holstein, that were ruled by the dukes of Schleswig-Holstein-Gottorp. Other parts of the duchies were ruled by the kings of Denmark.
His or Her Grand Ducal Highness is a style of address used by the non-reigning members of some German ruling families headed by a Grand Duke. No currently reigning family employs the style, although it was used most recently by the younger sisters of the late Grand Duchess Charlotte of Luxembourg. Since Grand Duchess Charlotte's marriage to Prince Felix of Bourbon-Parma, all of their male-line descendants have used the style Royal Highness, which he bore.
The House of Mecklenburg, also known as Nikloting, is a North German dynasty that ruled until 1918 in the Mecklenburg region, being among the longest-ruling families of Europe. Queen Juliana of the Netherlands (1909-2004), former Queen of the Netherlands (1948-1980), was an agnatic member of this house.
The Grand Duchy of Mecklenburg-Strelitz was a territory in Northern Germany, held by the younger line of the House of Mecklenburg residing in Neustrelitz. Like the neighbouring Grand Duchy of Mecklenburg-Schwerin, it was a sovereign member state of the German Confederation and became a federated state of the North German Confederation and finally of the German Empire upon the unification of 1871. After World War I and the German Revolution of 1918–19 it was succeeded by the Free State of Mecklenburg-Strelitz.
In the British peerage, a royal duke is a member of the British royal family, entitled to the titular dignity of prince and the style of His Royal Highness, who holds a dukedom. Dukedoms are the highest titles in the British roll of peerage, and the holders of these particular dukedoms are Princes of the Blood Royal. The holders of the dukedoms are royal, not the titles themselves. They are titles created and bestowed on legitimate sons and male-line grandsons of the British monarch, usually upon reaching their majority or marriage. The titles can be inherited but cease to be called "royal" once they pass beyond the grandsons of a monarch. As with any peerage, once the title becomes extinct, it may subsequently be recreated by the reigning monarch at any time.
Duke, in the United Kingdom, is the highest-ranking hereditary title in all four peerages of the British Isles. A duke thus outranks all other holders of titles of nobility.
The style of the Dutch sovereign has changed many times since the establishment of the Kingdom of the Netherlands due to formations and dissolutions of personal unions, as well as due to marriages of female sovereigns and cognatic successions.
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