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A castellan is the title used in
Medieval Europe In the history of Europe The history of Europe concerns itself with the discovery and collection, the study, organization and presentation and the interpretation of past events and affairs of the people of Europe since the beginning of ...
for an appointed official, a
governor A governor is, in most cases, a public official with the power to govern the Executive (government), executive branch of a non-sovereign or sub-national level of government, ranking under the head of state. In federations, ''governor'' may be t ...

governor
of a
castle A castle is a type of fortification, fortified structure built during the Middle Ages predominantly by the nobility or royalty and by Military order (monastic society), military orders. Scholars debate the scope of the word ''castle'', but u ...

castle
and its surrounding territory referred to as the castellany. The title of ''governor'' is retained in the English
prison system A prison (also known as a jail or gaol (dated, British English, British, Australian English, Australian, and to a lesser extent Huron Historic Gaol, Canadian English), penitentiary (American English), detention center (or centre if outside t ...
, as a remnant of the medieval idea of the castellan as head of the local prison. The word stems from the Latin ''Castellanus'', derived from ''castellum'' "castle". Sometimes also known as a ''constable'' of the castle district, the
Constable of the Tower The Constable of the Tower is the most senior appointment at the Tower of London The Tower of London, officially Her Majesty's Royal Palace and Fortress of the Tower of London, is a historic castle on the north bank of the River Thames in cen ...
of
London London is the capital Capital most commonly refers to: * Capital letter Letter case (or just case) is the distinction between the letters that are in larger uppercase or capitals (or more formally ''majuscule'') and smaller lowerc ...

London
is, in fact, a form of castellan, with representative powers in the local or national assembly. A castellan was almost always male, but could occasionally be female, as when, in 1194, inherited her father's castellany of
Bourbourg Bourbourg () is a commune A commune is an intentional community of people sharing living spaces, interests, values, beliefs, and often property Property (''latin: Res Privata'') in the Abstract and concrete, abstract is what belongs to ...

Bourbourg
upon the death of her brother, Roger. Similarly, Agnes became the castellan of
Harlech Castle Harlech Castle ( cy, Castell Harlech; ) in Harlech, Gwynedd, Wales, is a Grade I-listed England in the Middle Ages, medieval fortification built onto a hill castle, rocky knoll close to the Irish Sea. It was built by Edward I during his Conques ...

Harlech Castle
upon the death of her husband
John de Bonvillars Sir John de Bonvillars (c. ?–1287) was a medieval Savoyard knight in the service of Edward I. He was the brother in law of Otto de Grandson, and like William de Cicon, had been introduced to English service by Otto. From Bonvillars in Savoy, ...
in 1287.


Initial functions

After the fall of the
Western Roman Empire The Western Roman Empire comprises the western provinces of the Roman Empire The Roman Empire ( la, Imperium Rōmānum ; grc-gre, Βασιλεία τῶν Ῥωμαίων, Basileía tôn Rhōmaíōn) was the post-Republican Republican ...

Western Roman Empire
, foreign tribes migrated into western Europe, causing strife. The answer to recurrent invasion was to create fortified areas which evolved into
castles in East Sussex East Sussex is a county in South East England on the English Channel The English Channel,, "The Sleeve"; nrf, la Maunche, "The Sleeve" ( Cotentinais) or (Jèrriais), (Guernésiais), "The Channel"; br, Mor Breizh, ...
. Some military leaders gained control of several areas, each with a castle. The problem lay in exerting control and authority in each area when a leader could only be in one place at a time. To overcome this, they appointed castellans as their trusted
vassal A vassal or liege subject is a person regarded as having a mutual obligation to a lord Lord is an appellation for a person or deity who has authority, control, or power (social and political), power over others, acting as a master, a chief ...
s to manage a castle in exchange for obligations to the landlord, often a noble. In the ninth century, as fortifications improved and kings had difficulty making their subordinates pay their taxes or send the military aid they demanded, castellans grew in power, holding their
fiefdom A fief (; la, feudum) was the central element of feudalism Feudalism, also known as the feudal system, was the combination of the legal, economic, military, and cultural customs that flourished in Medieval Europe In the histor ...
s without much concern for their overlord's demands. This changed as kings grew in power and as the
Holy Roman Emperor The Holy Roman Emperor, originally and officially the Emperor of the Romans ( la, Imperator The Latin word "imperator" derives from the stem of the verb la, imperare, label=none, meaning 'to order, to command'. It was originally employed as ...
s replaced recalcitrant
vassals A vassal or liege subject is a person regarded as having a mutual obligation to a lord Lord is an appellation for a person or deity who has authority, control, or power (social and political), power over others, acting as a master, a chief ...
with rival
ministerial Minister may refer to: * Minister (Christianity), a Christian cleric * Minister (government), a member of government who heads a ministry (government department) ** Minister without portfolio, a member of government with the rank of a normal minist ...
appointments.


Duties

Usually the duties of a castellan consisted of military responsibility for the castle's
garrison Garrison (from the French ''garnison'', itself from the verb ''garnir'', "to equip") is the collective term for any body of troop A troop is a military sub-subunit Sub-subunit or sub-sub-unit is a subordinated element below platoon lev ...

garrison
, maintaining defences and protecting the castle's lands, combined with the legal administration of local lands and workers including the castle's domestic staff. The responsibility applied even where there was no resident castellan at the castle, or if he was frequently absent. A castellan could exercise the power of the "ban" – that is, to hear court cases and collect fines, taxes from residents, and muster local men for the defence of the area or the realm. There are similarities with a
Lord of the Manor Lord of the manor is a title that, in Anglo-Saxon England Anglo-Saxon England or Early Medieval England, existing from the 5th to the 11th centuries from the end of until the in 1066, consisted of various kingdoms until 927, when it was ...
. Castellans had the power to administer all local justice, including sentencing and punishments up to and including the death penalty, as when, in 1111, the
Salzburg Salzburg (, ; literally "Salt Castle"; bar, Soizbuag, label=Bavarian language, Austro-Bavarian) is the List of cities and towns in Austria, fourth-largest city in Austria. In 2020, it had a population of 156,872. The town is on the site of the ...

Salzburg
castellan caught the ''minister'' fomenting armed rebellion and had the offender blinded, "as one would a serf". (also available to subscribers a
University of Michigan
)
Later the castellan came to serve as the representative of the people of his castellany. So happened in the case of the castellan of
Bruges Bruges ( , nl, Brugge ; ; german: Brügge ) is the capital and largest city of the Provinces of Belgium, province of West Flanders in the Flemish Region of Belgium, in the northwest of the country, and the seventh-largest city of the country b ...

Bruges
, when the burghers stood up for more privileges and liberties from the counts of
Flanders Flanders (, ; Dutch Dutch commonly refers to: * Something of, from, or related to the Netherlands * Dutch people () * Dutch language () *Dutch language , spoken in Belgium (also referred as ''flemish'') Dutch may also refer to:" Castle * ...
.


Castellans and Jews

A particular responsibility in western Europe concerned jurisdiction over the resident Jewish communities bordering the
English Channel The English Channel,, "The Sleeve"; nrf, la Maunche, "The Sleeve" (Cotentinais Cotentinais is the dialect The term dialect (from Latin , , from the Ancient Greek word , , "discourse", from , , "through" and , , "I speak") is used in two ...

English Channel
. The
Constable of the Tower The Constable of the Tower is the most senior appointment at the Tower of London The Tower of London, officially Her Majesty's Royal Palace and Fortress of the Tower of London, is a historic castle on the north bank of the River Thames in cen ...
of London and those castellans subordinate to the dukes of
Normandy Normandy (; french: link=no, Normandie ; nrf, Normaundie; from Old French Old French (, , ; Modern French French ( or ) is a Romance language of the Indo-European family. It descended from the Vulgar Latin of the Roman Empire, ...

Normandy
were responsible for their administration. Vivian Lipman posits four reasons for this: the castles provided defence, they were centres of administration, their dungeons were used as prisons, and castellans could turn to the Jewish community to borrow money as
usury Usury () is the practice of making unethical or immoral monetary loan In finance Finance is the study of financial institutions, financial markets and how they operate within the financial system. It is concerned with the creation and ...
was forbidden to Catholics.


Castellany

A castellany, or castellania, is a term denoting a
district A district is a type of administrative division that, in some countries, is managed by the local government. Across the world, areas known as "districts" vary greatly in size, spanning regions or County, counties, several Municipality, municipal ...

district
administered by a castellan. Castellanies appeared during the
Middle Ages In the history of Europe The history of Europe concerns itself with the discovery and collection, the study, organization and presentation and the interpretation of past events and affairs of the people of Europe since the beginning of ...
and in most current
states State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine published by the U.S. Department of State * The State (newspaper), ''The State'' (newspaper), a daily newspaper in Columbia, South Carolina, Un ...
are now replaced by a more modern type of county subdivision. The word is derived from
castle A castle is a type of fortification, fortified structure built during the Middle Ages predominantly by the nobility or royalty and by Military order (monastic society), military orders. Scholars debate the scope of the word ''castle'', but u ...

castle
and literally means the extent of
land Land is the solid surface of Earth that is not permanently submerged in water. Most but not all land is situated at elevations above sea level (variable over geologic time frames) and consists mainly of Earth's crust, crustal components such a ...
and
jurisdiction Jurisdiction (from Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language A classical language is a language A language is a structured system of communication Communication (from Latin ''communicare'', meaning "to share" or "to be i ...
attached to a given castle. There are equivalent, often cognate, terms in other languages. Examples of French ''châtelainies'' include the castellanies of
Ivry-la-Bataille Ivry-la-Bataille () is a commune A commune is an intentional community of people sharing living spaces, interests, values, beliefs, and often property Property (''latin: Res Privata'') in the Abstract and concrete, abstract is what belo ...
,
Nonancourt Nonancourt () is a commune A commune is an intentional community of people sharing living spaces, interests, values, beliefs, and often property Property (''latin: Res Privata'') in the Abstract and concrete, abstract is what belongs to ...
,
Pacy-sur-Eure Pacy-sur-Eure is a commune A commune is an intentional community of people sharing living spaces, interests, values, beliefs, and often property Property (''latin: Res Privata'') in the Abstract and concrete, abstract is what belongs to ...
, Vernon and
Gaillon Gaillon is a commune A commune is an intentional community of people sharing living spaces, interests, values, beliefs, and often property Property (''latin: Res Privata'') in the Abstract and concrete, abstract is what belongs to or wi ...
, all in Normandy, which under in the treaty of
Issoudun Issoudun () is a commune A commune is an intentional community of people sharing living spaces, interests, values, beliefs, and often property Property (''latin: Res Privata'') in the Abstract and concrete, abstract is what belongs t ...
of 1195, after a war with king
Richard I of England Richard I (8 September 1157 – 6 April 1199) was King of England This list of kings and queens of the begins with , who initially ruled , one of the which later made up modern England. Alfred styled himself King of the from abo ...

Richard I of England
, were acquired for the French crown by
Philip Augustus Philip II (21 August 1165 – 14 July 1223), byname Philip Augustus (french: Philippe Auguste), was King of France The monarchs of the Kingdom of France The Kingdom of France ( fro, Reaume de France, frm, Royaulme de France, french: lin ...
. Examples of castellanies in Poland include: Łęczyca and
Sieradz Sieradz ( la, Syradia, yi, שעראַדז, שערעדז, שעריץ, german: 1941-45 Schieratz) is a town on the Warta river in central Poland Poland ( pl, Polska ), officially the Republic of Poland ( pl, Rzeczpospolita Polska, links ...
(both
duchies A duchy is a medieval In the history of Europe The history of Europe concerns itself with the discovery and collection, the study, organization and presentation and the interpretation of past events and affairs of the people of Europe s ...
at one time),
Spycimierz Spycimierz is a village in the administrative district of Gmina Uniejów, within Poddębice County, Łódź Voivodeship, in central Poland. It lies approximately south-west of Uniejów, west of Poddębice, and west of the regional capital Łód ...
, Rozprza,
Wolbórz
Wolbórz
now in the Lodz Voivodeship, and
Wojnicz Wojnicz () is an ancient historic town in Tarnów County, Lesser Poland Voivodeship. In the early medieval period of the Polish state, it became one of the most important centres in the province of Lesser Poland, as part of the system of Dunajec riv ...

Wojnicz
now in the
Lesser Poland Voivodeship Lesser Poland Voivodeship or Lesser Poland Province (in pl, województwo małopolskie ), also known as Małopolska, is a voivodeships of Poland, voivodeship (province), in southern Poland. It has an area of , and a population of 3,404,863 (2019 ...
or Otmuchów in
Silesia Silesia (, also , ) is a historical region of Central Europe Central Europe is the central region of Europe. Central Europe includes contiguous territories that are sometimes also considered parts of Western Europe, Southern Europe and East ...
.


National differences


France

In France, castellans (known in
French
French
as
châtelain Châtelain (from la, castellanus, derived from ''castellum''; pertaining to a castle, fortress. Middle English: ''castellan'' from Anglo-Norman language, Anglo-Norman: ''castellain'' and Old French: ''castelain'') was originally the French title f ...
s) who governed castellanies without a resident
count Count (feminine: countess) is a historical title of nobility Nobility is a social class normally ranked immediately below Royal family, royalty and found in some societies that have a formal aristocracy (class), aristocracy. Nobility ...
, acquired considerable powers such that the position became hereditary. By the tenth century, the fragmentation of power had become so widespread that in
Mâcon Mâcon (), historically anglicised Linguistic anglicisation (or anglicization, occasionally anglification, anglifying, or Englishing) is the practice of modifying foreign words, names, and phrases to make them easier to spell, pronounce, or un ...
, for instance, where the castellany was the basic unit of governance, there was no effective administrative level above it, so that the counts of Mâcon were largely ignored by their subordinate castellans from about 980 to 1030. In the 12th century ''châtelains'' had become "lords" in their own right and were able to expand their territories to include weaker castellanies. Thus the castellan of Beaujeu was able to take over lands in
Lyons Lyon or Lyons (, , ; frp, Liyon, ) is the List of communes in France with over 20,000 inhabitants, third-largest city and Urban area (France), second-largest urban area of France. It is located at the confluence of the rivers Rhône and Saône ...

Lyons
, or the castellan of
Uxelles Uxelles () is a Communes of France, commune in the Jura (department), Jura Departments of France, department in the Bourgogne-Franche-Comté Regions of France, region in eastern France. Population See also * Communes of the Jura department ...
annexed first
Briançon Briançon ( is a commune A commune is an intentional community of people sharing living spaces, interests, values, beliefs, and often property Property (''latin: Res Privata'') in the Abstract and concrete, abstract is what belongs to ...

Briançon
, then
Sennecey-le-Grand
Sennecey-le-Grand
and finally l'Épervière. In other areas, castellans did not manage to rise to noble status and remained the local officer of a noble. During the
Ancien Régime The '' Storming of the Bastille'' on 14 July 1789, later taken to mark the end of the ''Ancien Régime''; watercolour by Jean-Pierre Houël The Ancien Régime (; ; literally "old rule"), also known as the Old Regime, was the political and soc ...
, castellans were heads of local royal administration, and their power was further delegated to their lieutenants. All remaining lordships and local royal administrators were suppressed during the
French Revolution The French Revolution ( ) was a period of radical political and societal change in France France (), officially the French Republic (french: link=no, République française), is a spanning and in the and the , and s. Its ...

French Revolution
. During the 19th and 20th centuries, ''châtelain'' was used to describe the owner of a castle or manor house, in many cases a figure of authority in his parish, akin to the English
squire Starting in the Middle Ages In the history of Europe The history of Europe concerns itself with the discovery and collection, the study, organization and presentation and the interpretation of past events and affairs of the peop ...
.


German Lands

In Germany the castellan was known as a ''
Burgmann From the 12th century in central Europe, a ''Burgmann'' (plural: ''Burgmannen'' or modern term ''Burgmänner'', Latin: ''oppidanus'', ''castrensus'') was a knight ministeriales or member of the nobility who was obliged to guard and defend castles. T ...
'', or sometimes ''Hauptmann'' ("captain"), who reported to the lord of the castle, or ''Burgherr'', also often known as the
burgrave Burgrave also rendered as Burggrave (from german: Burggraf, la, burgravius, burggravius, burcgravius, burgicomes, also praefectus Prefect (from the Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic bran ...
(''Burggraf''). The ''burgmann'' may have been either a free noble or a ''
ministerialis The ''ministeriales'' (singular: ''ministerialis'') were a class of people raised up from serf Serfdom was the status of many peasant A peasant is a pre-industrial agricultural laborer or a farmer with limited land-ownership, especiall ...
'', but either way, he administered the castle as a
vassal A vassal or liege subject is a person regarded as having a mutual obligation to a lord Lord is an appellation for a person or deity who has authority, control, or power (social and political), power over others, acting as a master, a chief ...
. A ''ministerialis'', was wholly subordinate to a lord and was under his control. ''Ministeriales'' replaced free nobles as castellans of
Hohensalzburg
Hohensalzburg
under Conrad I of Abensberg’s tenure as Archbishop of Salzburg from 1106 to 1147, beginning with Henry of Seekirchen in the 1130s.


Hungary

In the Medieval
Kingdom of Hungary The Kingdom of Hungary was a monarchy A monarchy is a form of government A government is the system or group of people governing an organized community, generally a state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, an ...

Kingdom of Hungary
the castellan was called "várnagy", and in the Latin chronicles he appeared as "castellanus". The lord of the castle had very similar functions to those in German lands. In Hungary the King initially designated castellans from among his court for the administration of castles and estates. Later designation of castellans devolved to the most powerful noblemen.


Jerusalem

At one time there was a castellan nominated from among the
Officers of the Kingdom of Jerusalem There were six major officers of the kingdom of Jerusalem: the constable A constable is a person holding a particular office, most commonly in criminal Police, law enforcement. The office of constable can vary significantly in different jurisdi ...
. Anselm was the first such castellan, c. 1110.


Malta

A castellan was established in
Valletta Valletta (, mt, il-Belt Valletta, ) is the capital city of Malta. Located in the South Eastern Region of the Malta (island), main island, between Marsamxett Harbour to the west and the Grand Harbour to the east, its population in 2014 was 6,444, ...

Valletta
on the island of Malta.


Poland

In the
Kingdom of Poland Historical political entities *Kingdom of Poland "Kingdom of Poland" ( Polish: ''Królestwo Polskie'', Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was orig ...
and later the
Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth The Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth, formally known as the Kingdom of Poland and the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, and, after 1791, the Commonwealth of Poland, was a country and bi-federation A federation (also known as a federal state) is ...
, castellans () were the lowest rung of the territorial administration of the country and deferred to
voivode Voivode (, also spelled Voievod, Voivoda, Vojvoda or Wojewoda) is a title denoting a "military-leader" or "warlord A warlord is a strong leader able to exercise military, economic, and political control over a subnational territory within a s ...
s (with the exception of the
Burgrave Burgrave also rendered as Burggrave (from german: Burggraf, la, burgravius, burggravius, burcgravius, burgicomes, also praefectus Prefect (from the Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic bran ...
of
Kraków Kraków (), also written in English as Krakow and traditionally known as Cracow, is the second-largest and one of the oldest cities in Poland. Situated on the Vistula River The Vistula (; pl, Wisła, , german: Weichsel) is the longest ri ...

Kraków
(Polish ''Burgrabia krakowski'') who had precedence over the
Voivode Voivode (, also spelled Voievod, Voivoda, Vojvoda or Wojewoda) is a title denoting a "military-leader" or "warlord A warlord is a strong leader able to exercise military, economic, and political control over a subnational territory within a s ...
of
Kraków Kraków (), also written in English as Krakow and traditionally known as Cracow, is the second-largest and one of the oldest cities in Poland. Situated on the Vistula River The Vistula (; pl, Wisła, , german: Weichsel) is the longest ri ...

Kraków
). Castellans were in charge of a subdivision of a
voivodeship A voivodeship is the area administered by a voivode (Governor) in several countries of central and eastern Europe. Voivodeships have existed since medieval times and the area of extent of voivodeship resembles that of a duchy in western medieva ...
called the ''castellany'' (Polish ''Kasztelania'') until the 15th-century. From then on castellanies, depending on their size, either became
province A province is almost always an administrative division Administrative division, administrative unitArticle 3(1). , country subdivision, administrative region, subnational entity, first-level subdivision, as well as many similar terms, are g ...

province
s, or in the case of smaller domains were replaced by
powiat A ''powiat'' (pronounced ; Polish plural: ''powiaty'') is the second-level unit of local government and administration in Poland, equivalent to a county, district or prefecture (Local administrative unit, LAU-1, formerly Nomenclature of Terri ...
s and the castellan role became honorific and was replaced ''in situ'' by a
Starosta The starost or starosta (Cyrillic The Cyrillic script ( ) is a writing system used for various languages across Eurasia and is used as the national script in various Slavic languages, Slavic, Turkic languages, Turkic, Mongolic languages, Mongoli ...

Starosta
. Castellans in the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth were of
senator A senate is a deliberative assembly, often the upper house or Debating chamber, chamber of a bicameral legislature. The name comes from the Ancient Rome, ancient Roman Senate (Latin: ''Senatus''), so-called as an assembly of the senior (Lat ...

senator
ial rank and were often appointed from the nobility, but not exclusively so.


Portugal

In Portugal, a castellan was known as an ''
Alcaide Qaid ( ar , قائد ', "commander"; pl. '), also spelled kaid or caïd, is a word meaning "commander" or "leader." It was a title in the Norman kingdom of Sicily The Kingdom of Sicily ( la, Regnum Siciliae, it, Regno di Sicilia, scn, Reg ...
''. Later, the role of the ''alcaide'' became an honorary title awarded by the
King of Portugal This is a list of Portuguese monarchs who ruled from the establishment of the Kingdom of Portugal, in 1139, to the deposition of the Portuguese monarchy and creation of the Portugal, Portuguese Republic with the 5 October 1910 revolution. Throug ...
to certain nobles. As the honorary holder of the office of ''alcaide'' did not often live near the castle, a delegate started to be appointed to effectively govern it in his place. An honorary holder of the office became known as ''alcaide-mor'' (major ''alcaide'') and the delegate became known as the ''alcaide pequeno'' (little ''alcaide'') or the ''alcaide-menor'' (minor ''alcaide).


See also

*
KiladarKiladar was a title for the governor of a fort or large town in medieval India India (Hindi: ), officially the Republic of India (Hindi: ), is a country in South Asia. It is the List of countries and dependencies by population, second-most pop ...
*
Kotwal Kotwals also spelled as Cotwal, was a title used in medieval India India (Hindi: ), officially the Republic of India (Hindi: ), is a country in South Asia. It is the List of countries and dependencies by population, second-most populous cou ...
*
Argbed Argbed (Middle Persian Middle Persian or Pahlavi, also known by its endonym Pārsīk or Pārsīg (𐭯𐭠𐭫𐭮𐭩𐭪) in its later form, is a Western Middle Iranian language which became the literary language of the Sasanian Empire. For s ...
* Kleisourarches


References

{{Authority control
Noble titles This category works on a broad definition of nobility, including ruling houses of true monarchies, peerage or equivalents and lower aristocracy or gentry. Please note that this page is unlikely ever to list ''all'' 'noble' titles discussed in Wikipe ...
Military command staff occupations Domestic work Medieval titles Feudalism Social classes Types of administrative division Medieval military leaders