Titles and Emblems of the German Emperor after 1873

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The German Emperors after 1873 had a variety of titles and coats of arms, which in various compositions became the officially used titles and coats of arms. The title and coat of arms were last fixed in 1873. But the rulers did not necessarily mean that the area was really dominated, sometimes even several princes bore the same title.

German Emperor Head of state of Germany 1871-1918

The German Emperor was the official title of the head of state and hereditary ruler of the German Empire. A specifically chosen term, it was introduced with the 1 January 1871 constitution and lasted until the official abdication of Wilhelm II on 28 November 1918. The Holy Roman Emperor is sometimes also called "German Emperor" when the historical context is clear, as derived from the Holy Roman Empire's official name of "Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation" from 1512.


In 1817, new titles were introduced for the King of Prussia, the large title, the mid-length title and the short title, parallel to the large, mid-sized and small coats of arms of Prussia .

The state of Prussia developed from the State of the Teutonic Order. The original flag of the Teutonic Knights had been a black cross on a white flag. Emperor Frederick II in 1229 granted them the right to use the black Eagle of the Holy Roman Empire. This "Prussian Eagle" remained the coats of arms of the successive Prussian states until 1947.


All nobles carry a nobility title. In the rulers' titles, all titles which a rule has united are collected. The title is the public self-representation of the person in their political environment, so names in this title may appear, which merely confirm a claim, but do not correspond to any political reality at the time of their application.

The title emancipated very soon from the function that this expressed, and became a sign of belonging to one sex, so that several persons could lead under the same title at the same time. Thus, the King of Prussia introduced the title "Prince of Pyrmont" from 1868 to Prince Georg Viktor. Therefore, for the owner of the function, the title "ruling prince" was later formed in contrast to the pure title holder. But this too gradually faded, as is the case with the last "ruling Prince of Pyrmont", who in addition to church matters, had only the right to pardon.

A pardon is a government decision to allow a person to be absolved of guilt for an alleged crime or other legal offense, as if the act never occurred. The pardon may be granted before or after conviction for the crime, depending on the laws of the jurisdiction.

Only in the case of the Emperor, King and Grand Duke, the loss of office also entailed the loss of title. The remaining titles were and are linked to the person in the course of the development so that they did not necessarily fail with the loss of the function.

The Kind had more titles when he was king. In 1864, the king ordered that the number of a little over 50 in the title and in the coat of arms should not be exceeded. The two are therefore a selection, with only the most important ones being mentioned.

In the great title of the German Emperors as Kings of Prussia, the history of the Hohenzollerns and the Prussian rulers were reflected. All German emperors after 1873 had the same title "German Emperor and King of Prussia". The great title of German Emperors after 1873 was the complete list of the individual titles which they ruled as King of Prussia.

House of Hohenzollern dynasty of former princes, electors, kings, and emperors of Hohenzollern, Brandenburg, Prussia, the German Empire, and Romania

The House of Hohenzollern[ˈhoːəntsɔlɐn] is a German dynasty of former princes, electors, kings and emperors of Hohenzollern, Brandenburg, Prussia, the German Empire, and Romania. The family arose in the area around the town of Hechingen in Swabia during the 11th century and took their name from Hohenzollern Castle. The first ancestors of the Hohenzollerns were mentioned in 1061.

The title of the King of Prussia was applied to the issuing of instruments in which titles were applied. The title "German Emperor", along with the great title as King of Prussia, was only used by third parties (e.g.g in textbooks). It was the transformation and renaming of the North German Confederation. The king was the owner of the Federal Presidency. As such, he received the title of Emperor (Kaisertitel) in 1871.

North German Confederation Federal state in Northern Germany in 1867–1870

The North German Confederation was the German federal state which existed from July 1867 to December 1870. Some historians also use the name for the alliance of 22 German states formed on 18 August 1866. In 1870–1871, the south German states of Baden, Hesse-Darmstadt, Württemberg and Bavaria joined the country. On 1 January 1871, the country adopted a new constitution, which was written under the title of a new "German Confederation" but already gave it the name "German Empire" in the preamble and article 11. As the state system largely remained the same in the German Empire, the North German Confederation continues as the German nation state which still exists.

The last decree concerning the amendment of the great and middle royal title, as established on 9 January 1817, and the amendment of the Great and Middle Royal Coat of Arms, as amended by the "Most High Decree of 11 January 1864" originated from 16 August 1863 and is spelt today as:

"After the Kingdom of Hanover, the Electorate of Hesse, the Duchy of Nassau and the Free City of Frankfurt, and the Duchies of Holstein and Schleswig, with the Prussian monarchy, by law of 24 December 1866, were united, the patents on possession of the imagined lands of 3 October 1866 and of 12 January 1867, reserved for me to add the corresponding titles to My Royal Title is a modification of the great and middle royal title, as governed by the decree of 9 January 1817, and at the same time a modification of the great and middle royal coat of arms rectified by the decree of 11 January 1864. I therefore determine that the great and middle royal title will in the future be carried, in the wording to be read from Attachment A and the great and middle royal coat of arms, in a form as described in the field division in Attachment B and the description in Attachment C. The great title and the great coat of arms are to be applied to the documents, which are to be executed in solemn form, especially in matters of my hour, and for the purpose of elevations. For the rest, both because of the short royal title and the little royal coat of arms, as for the use of the various types of title and coat of arms under the provisions of the decree of 9 January 1817, the service seals of the authorities are to remain unchanged for the time being; Only when they become useless they will be replaced by new seals corresponding to My present regulations. I commission the Ministry of State to make this remission of the law compulsory for all authorities".

Wildbad Gastein, 16 August 1873

The titles of Prussian kings during the German Empire

Great Coat of Arms belonging to Wilhelm II as King of Prussia Coat of Arms of the Kingdom of Prussia 1873-1918.svg
Great Coat of Arms belonging to Wilhelm II as King of Prussia

The titles were complete (represented by Wilhelm) after the enactment of 1873:

The great title

German VersionEnglish Translation
Wir Wilhelm, von Gottes Gnaden König von Preußen,
Markgraf zu Brandenburg, Burggraf zu Nürnberg, Graf zu Hohenzollern,
Souveräner und oberster Herzog von Schlesien wie auch der Grafschaft Glatz,
Großherzog vom Niederrhein und Posen,
Herzog zu Sachsen, Westfalen und Engern, zu Pommern, Lüneburg, Holstein und Schleswig, zu Magdeburg, Bremen, Geldern, Cleve, Jülich und Berg, sowie auch der Wenden und Kaschuben, zu Krossen, Lauenburg, Mecklenburg,
Landgraf zu Hessen und Thüringen,
Markgraf der Ober- und Niederlausitz,
Prinz von Oranien,
Fürst zu Rügen, zu Ostfriesland, zu Paderborn und Pyrmont, zu Halberstadt, Münster, Minden, Osnabrück, Hildesheim, zu Verden, Kammin, Fulda, Nassau und Mörs,
gefürsteter Graf zu Henneberg,
Graf der Mark und zu Ravensberg, zu Hohenstein, Tecklenburg und Lingen, zu Mansfeld, Sigmaringen und Veringen,
Herr von Frankfurt.
We Wilhelm, by the Grace of God, King of Prussia,
Margrave of Brandenburg, Burgrave of Nuremberg, Count of Hohenzollern,
Sovereign and Supreme Duke of Silesia, as well as the County of Glatz,
Grand Duke of the Lower Rhine and Posen,
Duke of Saxony, of Westphalia and Engers, of Pomerania, Lüneburg, Holstein and Schlewsig, of Magdeburg, Bremen, Geldern, Cleves, Jülich and Berg, as well as of the Wends and Kashubians, of Crossen, Lauenburg, Mecklenburg
Landgrave of Hesse and Thuringia,
Margrave of Upper and Lower Lusatia,
Prince of Orange,
Prince of Rügen, of East Frisia, of Paderborn and Pyrmont, of Halberstadt, Münster, Minden, Osnabrück, Hildesheim, of Verden, Kammin, Fulda, Nassau and Mörs,
Princely Count of Henneberg,
Count of the Mark and of Ravensberg, of Hohenstein, Tecklenburg and Lingen, of Mansfield, Sigmaringen and Veringen,
Lord of Frankfurt.

The mid-sized title

German VersionEnglish Translation
Wir Wilhelm, von Gottes Gnaden König von Preußen,
Markgraf zu Brandenburg,
souveräner und oberster Herzog von Schlesien,
Großherzog vom Niederrhein und Posen,
Herzog zu Sachsen, Westfalen und Pommern,
zu Lüneburg und Bremen,
zu Holstein, Schleswig und Lauenburg,
Burggraf zu Nürnberg,
Landgraf zu Hessen,
Fürst zu Ostfriesland, Osnabrück und Hildesheim,
zu Nassau und Fulda,
Graf zu Hohenzollern,
Herr von Frankfurt.
We Wilhelm, by the Grace of God, King of Prussia,
Margrave of Brandenburg,
Sovereign and Supreme Duke of Silesia,
Grand Duke of the Lower Rhine and Posen,
Duke of Saxony, Westphalia and Pomerania,
of Lüneburg and Bremen,
of Holstein, Schleswig and Lauenburg,
Burgrave of Nuremberg,
Landgrave of Hesse,
Prince of East Frisia, Osnabrück and Hildesheim,
of Nassau and Fulda,
Count of Hohenzollern,
Lord of Frankfurt.

The short title

German VersionEnglish Translation
Wilhelm, von Gottes Gnaden König von Preußen etc. etc. etc.
Wilhelm, by the Grace of God, King of Prussia etc. etc. etc.

Further titles

The decree of 16 August 1873 included a selection from the Emperors' titles. He also had other titles, such as

Explanation of the individual titles listed in the great title in their order

King of Prussia

Under its last master Albert in 1525, the State of the Teutonic Order was transformed into the secular Duchy of Prussia under Polish armament. After the death of his successor, the Duke Albert Frederick in 1618, the Duchy of Prussia became a part of the Brandenburg Hohenzollern, who now ruled it in personal union. In the Treaties of Wehlau in 1637 and Oliva in 1660, the Elector Frederick William, the "Great Elector", succeeded in gaining full sovereignty over the Duchy of Prussia, whereby he himself became a European sovereign. His successor, Frederick III of Brandenburg was crowned King Frederick I of Prussia on 18 January 1701, after the Emperor had contractually secured him to recognise him as King of the Holy Roman Empire and in Europe. The name and coat of arms of the Prussian monarch then passed as a result of the new designation of sovereignty and authority könglich-preußisch (royal Prussian) to the entire Prussian state of Hohenzollern, which lay within and outside the empire and for which the name of Prussia prevailed in the eighteenth century.

The restricted in in the King's title recalled that the West of Prussia, Royal Prussia (Warmia and West Prussia) remained under the Polish crown. This terminological refinement was, however, only observed in the German version. In Latin, he called himself "Nos Fridericu, Dei greatia Rex Borussiae,..." [2] and in the French version "Frederic par la grace de Dieu Roi de Prusse...". [3]

After the first Polish partition of 1772 under Frederick II, Warmia, the Netzedistrikt and West Prussia fell to Prussia, so that Frederick II could now be called King of Prussia. This title was passed onto his successors. The last of these successors was Wilhelm II.

Margrave of Brandenburg

As a result of the King's crowning of 1701, the title of Margrave of Brandenburg came as being the second placed title.

King Sigismund (1368-1437) was Margrave of Brandenburg until 1415. This included Altmark, Mittelmark, Prignitz, the land of Sternberg to the east of the Oder and a part of the Uckermark. The Office of the Archbishop of the Holy Roman Empire, and thus the Prince Elector, was awarded to the Margrave of Brandenburg by the Golden Bull in 1356. A delegation of the Mark came to King Sigismund in Ofen in 1411 in order to demand a governor for the Mark in support of the robber knights. The King ordered Frederick IV, Burgrave of Nuremberg from the House of Hohenzollern to be the Supreme Master and Administrator in the Mark. He led the title Wir Friedrich von Gotes Gnaden Margraf zu Brandenburg, des Heiligen Romischen Reiches Ertzkamerer und Burggraf zu Nuremberg (We, Frederick by grace of God, Margrave of Brandenburg, Imperial Holy Roman Archbishop and Burgrave of Nuremberg). On 18 April 1417, King Sigismund solemnly granted the burgraviate by handing over the banner with the Margraviate of Brandenburg,

Since then, the Hohenzollerns ruled as margraves in Brandenburg. The institutions of the archbishop and electorate expired in 1806 together with their titles, when the Holy Roman Empire ceased to exist. Therefore, only the margrave remained as a title. The ordinance of 30 April 1815 divided the Prussian state into ten provinces, so that the Margraviate of Brandenburg became the province of Brandenburg with three provincial governments.

Burgrave of Nuremberg

Frederick III, Burgrave of Nuremberg, married the daughter of the last Burgrave of Nuremberg, Sophie von Raabs, in 1191. The male line of the Raabs had died out. He was given the Office of Burgrave of Nuremberg in 1192 by Emperor Henry VI. He then called himself "Frederick the First Burgrave of Nuremberg". In the 13th century, a separate branch of the house in Franconia had established itself through the loan with the Burgraviate of Nuremberg. The Franconian margraves, along with the margraves and electors of Brandenburg descended from this burgurgical line of Zollerns.

When the city was governed by the Nuremberg patriciate, the castle remained a real estate, and the formal head of state was the Emperor until 1806. In 1806, the city and the castle were annexed by the House of Wittelsbach [4] and were now a country town in the new Kingdom of Bavaria. Nevertheless, the title of the Hohenzollerns was preserved. The Hohenzollers still held that dignity. This title had new political relevance since 1866. During the peace negotiations of 1866 (end of the war between Prussia and the German Confederation led by the imperial monarchy of Austria, on which Bavaria had fought), Wilhelm I, interested in history, had desired the transfer of the Murembrg Kaiserburg and a vague promise of his nephew, Louis II, because the castle could only be ceded with the consent of the state's parliament for a genuine transfer of state property. The Prussian representative, Savigny, commented on the King's wish that, according to his wish, it was not a question of property acquisition, but merely the fact that he did not have to be a stranger on occasional visits to the castle of his fathers may live their as locals. Bismarck also placed the greatest value on the fact that King Wilhelm was not disappointed in this matter, in the case of a legitimate wish, while he considered the legal form of concession in this pure sentiment of feeling as indifferent. The Bavarian Flag, alongside the Prussian flag also flew as a reference to the right to be the King of Prussia.

Count of Hohenzollern

The Hohenzollerns were counts as reported throughout history. Adalbert (1125) was Count of Zollern. Since the 14th century, the House of Hohenzollern was named after the Hohenzollern mountain, which is located upstream from the Swabian Alb. In 1685, Emperor Leopold I granted the Brandenburgers the title "Count of Hohenzollern". The Prussian kings came from the Frankish line, from which the Brandenburg line developed. The Principalities of Hohenzollern-Hechingen and Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen are ceded by their princes to Prussia on 7 December 1849, and were accepted by Prussian law on 12 March 1850.

Sovereign and Supreme Duke of Silesia as well as the County of Glatz

Since Poland's King Casimir III, who had recognised Bohemian feudality for Silesia in 1335, Silesia belonged to the Holy Roman Empire. Emperor Charles IV then integrated Silesia into the Reich. Under the rule of the Silesian Piasts, Silesia was divided into 17 principalities. The majority of Silesia was conquered by King Frederick II of Prussia during the Three Silesian Wars (1740-1763) from Austria. At the end of the First Silesian War, the peace of Wroclaw and the Treaty of Berlin from 1742 stood. In accordance with the treaty, the Duchy of Lower Silesia and the County of Kladsko passed "from the crown of Bohemia" to Frederick in full sovereignty and independence.He received Silesia, with the exception of the Duchy of Teschen, the city of Troppau, and the part beyond the Oppa and the high mountains, the Hennersdorf domination, and the Moravian enclaves in Silesia as well as the southern part of the Duchy of Nysa near Austria and the Duchy of Krnov. The Moravian Enclave Kietrz and the former Bohemian County of Kladsko went to Prussia. In the Treaty of Dresden, which ended the Second Silesian War in 1745, the provisions remained intact. The Empire guaranteed this peace in 1751. [5] In his capacity as King of Bohemia, the Austrian Emperor also retained the title of Duke of Upper and Lower Silesia, as can be gathered from the grand title of Emperor Franz Joseph I.

Grand Duke of the Lower Rhine and Posen

The King of Prussia had this title since 1815.

As a result of the Congress of Vienna, Prussia received the western, small part of its profit from the second partition of Poland under the designation Grand Duchy of Posen . Prussia kept nothing from the third partition. To compensate for this, the territories to the West of Germany were passed over. A decree issued in Vienna on 30 April 1815 created the Prussian province of Jülich-Cleves-Berg and the Grand Duchy of the Lower Rhine. In 1822, the Rhine Province was established from both, with the title of Grand Duke of the Lower Rhine being kept. Over long periods of his history, the Rhineland had not fixed political boundaries. Thus, the name was little more than a geographical concept or a landscape that conceived a multitude of spiritual and secular principalities, counties, imperial abbeys, small dominions and imperial cities.

Duke of Saxony

In contrast to most of the other states of the Confederation of the Rhine, Saxony had remained loyal to Napoleon during the German Campaign of 1813. Now Prussia wanted to incorporate the state as a part of Prussia. The complete removal of the Saxon state was prevented at the Congress of Vienna by Austrian state Chancellor Metternich, but Prussia was able to annex three-fifths of Saxony territory. Saxony lost, among other things, the Wittenberg district, the former Duchy of Saxony, next to Torgau, tLower Lusatia, half of Upper Lusatia and all the regions in Thuriniga. The King of Prussia therefore called himself Duke of Saxony.

Duke of Westphalia

The historical region of Westphalia, which has never been a political entity and has been distributed since 1810 to the French Empire, the Kingdom of Westphalia, the Grand Duchy of Berg and the Grand Duchy of Hesse. It was renamed after the Congress of Vienna on the basis of the establishment of provincial authorities between Prussia, Hanover and Oldenburg on 30 April 1815. The Principality of Lippe was the only one of the old Westphalian territories to retain its independence. Prussia received the largest part and also included the non-Westphalian territories of Wittgenstein and the sub-principality of Siegen. On top of that, the Siegerland, which was first occupied by the province of the Lower Rhine. After 1850, the city of Lippstadt, which had previously belong to the Prussian-Lippish condominium, was still located in the province of Westphalia. Since the core area was the former Duchy of Westphalia, King Frederick William assumed the title of Duke of Westphalia, whilst also keeping his position of Emperor, i.e. Emperor Wilhelm II.

Duke of Engers

According to Widukind of Corvey, before the Frankish conquest, the tribal Duchy of Saxony had already existed from parts of Westphalia, Engers and Eastphalia. During the government of Gelnhausen, after the imperial ban of Henry the Lion by Emperor Frederick I Barbarossa on the grounds of a refusal of the army, the Duchy of Saxony was divided in 1180. The part which lay in the area of the archdiocese of Cologne and the bishopric of Paderborn, were combined into the new Duchy of Westpahlia and Engers, which at first belonged to the Archbishop of Cologne, Philipp von Heinsberg. The eastern part went to the Ascanian Bernhard as a "younger" Duchy of Saxony. Since the 12th century, the name of Engers has been out of use. Only the term "Engers" has only been used continuously in the titles. For example, the ruler of the younger Duchy of Saxony ("Duke of Saxony, Engers and Westphalia"). With the takeover of Westphalia in 1815, the title "Westphalia and Engers" went to the Prussian King Frederick William III.

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  1. Horst Gründer: Geschichte der deutschen Kolonien. Stuttgart 2004, ISBN   3-8252-1332-3, S. 183.
  2. Christian Otto Mylius, Corpus Constitutionum Marchicarum (1737–1755) für Juli 1703.
  3. Georg Friedrich von Martens, Recueil des Principaux Traités (1791–1807) vol. 6; part „Anhang“; S. 679 für November 1705.
  4. Art. 17 der Rheinbundakte vom 12. Juli 1806
  5. Fraglich ist, ob Schlesien damit aus dem Reich ausgeschieden war. Dazu Heinrich Ritter von Srbik: Deutsche Einheit. Idee und Wirklichkeit vom Heiligen Reich bis Königgrätz. Band 1., Bruckmann, München 1935, S. 101.