A duchy is a medieval 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.
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.
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.
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.
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 (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:
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".
A duke (male) can either be a monarch ranked below the emperor, king, and grand duke ruling over a duchy or a member of royalty or nobility, historically of highest rank, below princes of nobility and grand dukes. 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. In most countries, the word duchess is the female equivalent. However, in some countries, the term duke is used even for females, and the word duchess is reserved for those who marry dukes.
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, king or archduke and above that of sovereign prince or sovereign duke. It is used in some current and former independent monarchies in Europe, particularly:
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.
Lotharingia was a medieval successor kingdom of the Carolingian Empire and a later duchy of the Ottonian Empire, comprising the present-day Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg, North Rhine-Westphalia (Germany), Rhineland-Palatinate (Germany), Saarland (Germany), and Lorraine (France). It was named after King Lothair II who received this territory after the kingdom of Middle Francia of his father Lothair I was divided among his sons in 855.
The Duchy of Saxony was originally the area settled by the Saxons in the late Early Middle Ages, when they were subdued by Charlemagne during the Saxon Wars from 772 and incorporated into the Carolingian Empire (Francia) by 804. Upon the 843 Treaty of Verdun, Saxony was one of the five German stem duchies of East Francia; Duke Henry the Fowler was elected German king in 919.
The County of Bar was a principality of the Holy Roman Empire encompassing the pays de Barrois and centred on the city of Bar-le-Duc. It was held by the House of Montbéliard from the 11th century. Part of the county, the so-called Barrois mouvant, became a fief of the Kingdom of France in 1301 and was elevated to the Duchy of Bar in 1354. The Barrois non-mouvant remained a part of the Empire. From 1480, it was united to the imperial Duchy of Lorraine.
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.
In history and heraldry, a cadet branch consists of the male-line descendants of a monarch or patriarch's younger sons (cadets). In the ruling dynasties and noble families of much of Europe and Asia, the family's major assets—realm, titles, fiefs, property and income—have historically been passed from a father to his firstborn son in what is known as primogeniture; younger sons—cadets—inherited less wealth and authority to pass to future generations of descendants.
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.
The German Empire consisted originally of 26, and later 25 constituent states and an Imperial Territory, the largest of which was Prussia. These states, or Staaten each had votes in the Bundesrat, which gave them representation at a federal level.
|Look up duchy in Wiktionary, the free dictionary.|