Fürst

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Fursten
crown used in heraldry, borne above the coat of arms to indicate a principality ruled. The Fursten
crown, sometimes placed together with a mantle, is not always found on a Furstenhaus
(princely house) coat of arms; these adornments were not part of formal armorial protocols, but simply heraldic grace. T12 Furst.svg
Fürsten crown used in heraldry, borne above the coat of arms to indicate a principality ruled. The Fürsten crown, sometimes placed together with a mantle, is not always found on a Fürstenhaus (princely house) coat of arms; these adornments were not part of formal armorial protocols, but simply heraldic grace.
Mediatised Fursten
headpiece used in heraldry. Princely Hat.svg
Mediatised Fürsten headpiece used in heraldry.

Fürst (German pronunciation: [ˈfʏʁst] ( Loudspeaker.svg listen ), female form Fürstin, plural Fürsten; from Old High German furisto, "the first", a translation of the Latin princeps ) is a German word for a ruler and is also a princely title. Fürsten were, since the Middle Ages, members of the highest nobility who ruled over states of the Holy Roman Empire and later its former territories, below the ruling Kaiser (emperor) or König (king). [2]

Old High German is the earliest stage of the German language, conventionally covering the period from around 750 to 1050. There is no standardised or supra-regional form of German at this period, and Old High German is an umbrella term for the group of continental West Germanic dialects which underwent the set of consonantal changes called the Second Sound Shift.

Latin Indo-European language of the Italic family

Latin is a classical language belonging to the Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. The Latin alphabet is derived from the Etruscan and Greek alphabets and ultimately from the Phoenician alphabet.

Princeps is a Latin word meaning "first in time or order; the first, foremost, chief, the most eminent, distinguished, or noble; the first man, first person". As a title, "princeps" originated in the Roman Republic wherein the leading member of the Senate was designated princeps senatus. It is primarily associated with the Roman emperors as an unofficial title first adopted by Augustus in 23 BC. Its use in this context continued until the reign of Diocletian at the end of the third century. He preferred the title of dominus, meaning "lord" or "master". As a result, the Roman Empire from Augustus to Diocletian is termed the "principate" (principatus) and from Diocletian onwards as the "dominate" (dominatus). Other historians define the reign of Augustus to Severus Alexander as the Principate, and the period afterwards as the "Autocracy".

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A Prince of the Holy Roman Empire was the reigning sovereign ruler of an Imperial State that held imperial immediacy in the boundaries of the Holy Roman Empire. [2] The territory ruled is referred to in German as a Fürstentum (principality), [3] the family dynasty referred to as a Fürstenhaus (princely house), and the (non-reigning) descendants of a Fürst are titled and referred to in German as Prinz (prince) or Prinzessin (princess). [4]

Princes of the Holy Roman Empire

Prince of the Holy Roman Empire was a title attributed to a hereditary ruler, nobleman or prelate recognised as such by the Holy Roman Emperor.

A reign is the period of a person's or dynasty's occupation of the office of monarch of a nation, of a people or of a spiritual community. In most hereditary monarchies and some elective monarchies there have been no limits on the duration of a sovereign's reign or incumbency, nor is there a term of office. Thus, a reign usually lasts until the monarch dies, unless the monarchy itself is abolished or the monarch abdicates or is deposed.

Imperial immediacy was a privileged constitutional and political status rooted in German feudal law under which the Imperial estates of the Holy Roman Empire such as Imperial cities, prince-bishoprics and secular principalities, and individuals such as the Imperial knights, were declared free from the authority of any local lord and placed under the direct authority of the Emperor, and later of the institutions of the Empire such as the Diet, the Imperial Chamber of Justice and the Aulic Council.

The English language uses the term prince for both concepts. Latin-based languages (French, Italian, Romanian, Spanish, Portuguese) also employ a single term, whereas Dutch as well as the Scandinavian and Slavic languages (Russian, Polish, Ukrainian, Serbian, Croatian, etc.) use separate terms similar to those used in German (see knyaz for the latter).

Romance languages all the related languages derived from Vulgar Latin

The Romance languages are the modern languages that evolved from Vulgar Latin between the third and eighth centuries and that form a subgroup of the Italic languages within the Indo-European language family.

Dutch language West Germanic language

Dutch(Nederlands ) is a West Germanic language spoken by around 23 million people as a first language and 5 million people as a second language, constituting the majority of people in the Netherlands and Belgium. It is the third most widely spoken Germanic language, after its close relatives English and German.

North Germanic languages Branch of Germanic languages spoken predominantly in the Nordic countries

The North Germanic languages make up one of the three branches of the Germanic languages, a sub-family of the Indo-European languages, along with the West Germanic languages and the extinct East Germanic languages. The language group is sometimes referred to as the "Nordic languages", a direct translation of the most common term used among Danish, Faroese, Icelandic, Norwegian, and Swedish scholars and laypeople.

Since the Middle Ages, the German designation and title of Fürst refers to:

Middle Ages Period of European history from the 5th through the 15th centuries

In the history of Europe, the Middle Ages lasted from the 5th to the 15th century. It began with the fall of the Western Roman Empire and merged into the Renaissance and the Age of Discovery. The Middle Ages is the middle period of the three traditional divisions of Western history: classical antiquity, the medieval period, and the modern period. The medieval period is itself subdivided into the Early, High, and Late Middle Ages.

Holy Roman Empire varying complex of lands that existed from 962 to 1806 in Central Europe

The Holy Roman Empire was a multi-ethnic complex of territories in Western and Central Europe that developed during the Early Middle Ages and continued until its dissolution in 1806 during the Napoleonic Wars. The largest territory of the empire after 962 was the Kingdom of Germany, though it also came to include the neighboring Kingdom of Bohemia, the Kingdom of Burgundy, the Kingdom of Italy, and numerous other territories.

<i>Kaiser</i> title of authority

Kaiser is the German word for "emperor". Like the Bulgarian, Serbian and Russian word Tsar, it is directly derived from the Roman emperors' title of Caesar, which in turn is derived from the personal name of a branch of the gens (clan) Julia, to which Gaius Julius Caesar, the forebear of the first imperial family, belonged. Although the British monarchs styled "Emperor of India" were also called Kaisar-i-Hind in Hindi and Urdu, this word, although ultimately sharing the same Latin origin, is derived from the Greek: Καῖσαρ (kaisar), not the German Kaiser.

An emperor is a monarch, and usually the sovereign ruler of an empire or another type of imperial realm. Empress, the female equivalent, may indicate an emperor's wife, mother, or a woman who rules in her own right. Emperors are generally recognized to be of a higher honour and rank than kings. In Europe, the title of Emperor has been used since the Middle Ages, considered in those times equal or almost equal in dignity to that of Pope due to the latter's position as visible head of the Church and spiritual leader of the Catholic part of Western Europe. The Emperor of Japan is the only currently reigning monarch whose title is translated into English as Emperor.

Use of the title in German

Furst von Putbus
, arms with a mantle and Fursten
crown. Wappen Fuerst Putbus.jpg
Fürst von Putbus , arms with a mantle and Fürsten crown.
Furst von Liechtenstein
, arms with a mediatised Fursten
headpiece. Staatswappen-Liechtensteins.svg
Fürst von Liechtenstein , arms with a mediatised Fürsten headpiece.
Furst von Schwarzburg
, arms with a Fursten
crown. Schwarzburg-Solms-Wildenfels Coat of arms 1.png
Fürst von Schwarzburg , arms with a Fürsten crown.

The title Fürst (female form Fürstin, female plural Fürstinnen) is used for the heads of princely houses of German origin (in German a Fürstenhaus). From the Late Middle Ages, it referred to any vassal of the Holy Roman Emperor ruling over an immediate estate. Unless he also holds a higher title, such as grand duke or king, he will be known either by the formula "Fürst von + [geographic origin of the dynasty]", or by the formula "Fürst zu + [name of the ruled territory]". These forms can be combined, as in "...von und zu Liechtenstein".

The rank of the title-holder is not determined by the title itself, but by his degree of sovereignty, the rank of his suzerain, or the age of the princely family (note the terms Uradel, Briefadel, altfürstliche, neufürstliche; and see German nobility). The Fürst (Prince) ranked below the Herzog (Duke) in the Holy Roman Empire's hierarchy, but princes did not necessarily rank below dukes in non-German parts of Europe. Likewise, the style usually associated with the title of Fürst in post-medieval Europe, Durchlaucht (translated as "Serene Highness"), was considered inferior to Hoheit ("Highness") in Germany, though not in France.

The present-day rulers of the sovereign principality of Liechtenstein bear the title of Fürst, and the title is also used in German when referring to the ruling princes of Monaco. The hereditary rulers of the one-time principalities of Bulgaria, Serbia, Montenegro, and Albania were also all referred to in German as Fürsten before they eventually assumed the title of "king" (König).

Other uses in German

Fürst is used more generally in German to refer to any ruler, such as a king, a reigning duke, or a prince in the broad sense (compare Niccolò Machiavelli's Il Principe ). Before the 12th century, counts were also included in this group, in accordance with its usage in the Holy Roman Empire, and in some historical or ceremonial contexts, the term Fürst can extend to any lord.

The descendants of a Fürst, when that title has not been restricted by patent or custom to male primogeniture, is distinguished in title from the head of the family by use of the prefix Prinz (prince, from Latin : princeps; female: Prinzessin).

A nobleman whose family is non-dynastic, i.e. has never reigned or been mediatised, may also be made a Fürst by a sovereign, in which case the grantee and his heirs are deemed titular or nominal princes, enjoying only honorary princely title without commensurate rank. In families thus elevated to princely title (usually as a reward for military or political services) in or after the 18th century, the cadets often hold only the title of Graf (Count), such as in the families of the princes of Bismarck , Eulenberg and Hardenberg . However, in a few cases, the title of Fürst was shared equally by all male-line descendants of the original grantee (for example, the families of Hohenberg , Urach and Wrede ).

Derived titles

Several titles were derived from the term Fürst:

Origins and cognates

The word Fürst designates the head (the "first") of a ruling house, or the head of a branch of such a house. The "first" originates from ancient Germanic times, when the "first" was the leader in battle.

Various cognates of the word Fürst exist in other European languages (see extensive list under Prince), sometimes only used for a princely ruler. A derivative of the Latin princeps (a Republican title in Roman law, which never formally recognized a monarchic style for the executive head of state but nominally maintained the Consuls as collegial Chief magistrates) is used for a genealogical prince in some languages (e.g., Dutch and West Frisian, where a ruler is usually called vorst, West Frisian: foarst), but a prince of the blood is always styled prins; and Icelandic where fursti is a ruler, and a prince of the blood royal is prins (in these languages no capital letters are used in writing titles, unless, of course, they occur as the first word of a sentence), while in other languages only a princeps-derived word is used for both irrespectively (e.g., English uses prince for both). In any case the original (German or other) term may also be used.

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References

  1. 1 2 Siebmacher, Johann; Weber, Hilmar Hermann (1890). Siebmacher's Grosses und allgemeines Wappenbuch: in einer neuen. Einleitungsband. Abt. A, B. [Siebmacher's Coat of Arms Volumn: in a new introductory version ... Section A, B, Otto Titan von Hefner] (in German). Nuremberg: Otto Titan von Hefner.
  2. 1 2 3 4 5 "Definition of the German title Fürst". Duden (in German).
  3. "Definition of Fürstentum". Duden (in German).
  4. "Definition of the German title Prinz". Duden (in German).

Further reading