Archduke (feminine: Archduchess; German: Erzherzog, feminine form:
Erzherzogin) was the title borne from 1358 by the
Habsburg rulers of
the Archduchy of Austria, and later by all senior members of that
dynasty. It denotes a rank within the former Holy Roman Empire
(962–1806), which was below that of
King and above that
of (debatably) a Grand Duke,
Duke and Prince.
The territory ruled by an
Archduke or Archduchess was called an
Archduchy. All remaining Archduchies ceased to exist in 1918.
5 See also
6 References and notes
The English word is first recorded in 1530, derived from Middle, via
Old, French archeduc, from
Merovingian Latin archidux, from Greek
arch(i)-, ἀρχι- meaning "authority" or "primary" (see arch-) and
dux "duke" (literally "leader")
"Archduke" (German: Erzherzog; Dutch: Aartshertog) is a title distinct
from "Grand Duke" (French: Grand-Duc; Luxembourgish: Groussherzog;
German: Großherzog), a later monarchic title borne by the rulers of
other European countries (for instance, Luxembourg).
The first known claim to the title of
Archduke was by the rulers of
Austrasia (c. 750), one of the
Merovingian (Frankish) realms resulting
from the complex successions in the house of Clovis, roughly
Switzerland and the Low Countries.
Carolingian Empire, the title
Archduke was awarded not as rank
of nobility, but as a unique honorary title to the
Duke of Lotharingia
(who held a substantially larger territory than the post-medieval
Duchy of Lorraine). The Lotharingian (Arch)Duchy could be seen as the
successor to the former
Carolingian Kingdom of Lotharingia, a realm
which had been of approximately equal stature with West Francia
(modern France) in the dynastic divisions under the early heirs of
Lotharingia was eventually absorbed by East Francia
(Greater Germany), becoming part of the
Holy Roman Empire
Holy Roman Empire rather than
a fully independent Kingdom.
Archduke Leopold Wilhelm of Austria
After the split of the (Arch)Duchy of
Lotharingia in 959 into the
Duchies of Upper
Lotharingia in the south (German: Oberlothringen,
which included modern Lorraine) and Lower
Lotharingia in the north
(German: Niederlothringen, capital city:
Cologne on the Rhine river),
Archduke disappeared officially for almost 400 years. The
later extended fragmentation of both territories created two
"succeeding" Duchies in the Low Countries, Brabant (mainly in
modern-day Belgium) and
Geldre (now in the Netherlands, giving its
name to the province of Gelderland). Both claimed archducal status but
were never officially recognised as such by the Holy Roman Emperor.
Archduke of Austria, the only archducal title to re-emerge, was
invented in the
Privilegium Maius in the 14th century by
IV of Austria. Originally, it was meant to emphasize the claimed
precedence (thus "Arch-") of the Duchy of Austria, in an effort to put
the Habsburgs on an even level with the Prince-Electors of the Holy
Roman Empire, as Austria had been passed over when the Golden Bull of
1356 assigned that dignity to the four highest-ranking secular
Imperial princes and three Archbishops. Holy Roman
Emperor Charles IV
refused to recognise the title, as did all the other ruling dynasties
of the member countries of the Empire. But
Duke Ernest the Iron and
his descendants unilaterally assumed the title of Archduke.
The archducal title was only officially recognized in 1453 by Emperor
Frederick III, when the Habsburgs had solidified their grip on the
throne of the de jure elected Holy Roman Emperor, making it de facto
hereditary. Despite that imperial authorization of the title, which
showed a Holy Roman
Emperor from the
Habsburg dynasty deciding over a
title claim of the
Habsburg dynasty, many ruling dynasties of the
countries which formed the Empire refused to recognize the title
"Archduke". Ladislaus the Posthumous,
Duke of Austria, who died in
1457, did never get in his lifetime the imperial authorization to use
it, and accordingly, neither he nor anyone in his branch of the
dynasty ever used the title.
Emperor Frederick III himself simply used
the title "
Duke of Austria", never Archduke, until his death in 1493.
The title was first granted to Frederick's younger brother, Albert VI
of Austria (d. 1463), who used it at least from 1458.
In 1477, Frederick III also granted the title of
Archduke to his first
cousin, Sigismund of Austria, ruler of
Further Austria (German:
Vorderösterreich). Frederick's son and heir, the future Emperor
Maximilian I, started to use the title, but apparently only after the
death of his wife
Mary of Burgundy
Mary of Burgundy (d. 1482), as
appears in documents issued jointly by Maximilian and Mary as rulers
Low Countries (where Maximilian is still titled "
Austria"). The title appears first in documents issued under the joint
rule of Maximilian and his son Philip in the Low Countries.
Archduke was initially borne by those dynasts who ruled a Habsburg
territory—i.e., only by males and their consorts, appanages being
commonly distributed to cadets. But these "junior" archdukes did not
thereby become sovereign hereditary rulers, since all territories
remained vested in the Austrian crown. Occasionally a territory might
be combined with a separate gubernatorial mandate ruled by an
The heir to the Austro-Hungarian throne,
Archduke Franz Ferdinand
(right) with his family. Ferdinand, along with his wife, was
assassinated at Sarajevo in 1914, which sparked World War I
From the 16th century onward, "Archduke" and its female form,
"Archduchess", came to be used by all the members of the House of
Habsburg (e.g. Queen
Marie Antoinette of France was born Archduchess
Maria Antonia of Austria). Upon extinction of the male line of the
Habsburgs and the marriage of their heiress, the Holy Roman
Empress-consort Maria Theresa, Queen of Hungary and Archduchess of
Austria, to Francis Stephen,
Duke of Lorraine who was elected Holy
Roman Emperor, their descendants formed the House of
Habsburg-Lorraine. After the dissolution of the
Holy Roman Empire
Holy Roman Empire this
usage was retained in the
Austrian Empire (1804–1867) and the
Austro-Hungarian Empire (1867–1918).
The official use of titles of nobility and of all other hereditary
titles, including Archduke, has been illegal in the Republic of
Austria for Austrian citizens since the Law on the Abolition of
Nobility (Gesetz vom 3. April 1919 über die Aufhebung des Adels, der
weltlichen Ritter- und Damenorden und gewisser Titel und Würden).
Thus those members of the
Habsburg family who are residents of the
Republic of Austria
Republic of Austria are simply known by their first name(s) and their
surname Habsburg-Lothringen. However, members of the family who reside
in other countries may or may not use the title, in accordance with
laws and customs in those nations.
For example, Otto Habsburg-Lothringen (1912–2011), the eldest son of
Habsburg Emperor, was an Austrian, Hungarian and German
citizen. As he lived in Germany, where it is permitted to use
hereditary titles as part of the civil surname (including indications
of origin, such as von or zu), his official civil name was Otto von
Habsburg (literally: Otto of Habsburg), whereas in Austria he was
registered as Otto Habsburg.
King of Spain also bears the nominal title of
Archduke of Austria
as part of his full list of titles, as the Bourbon dynasty adopted all
the titles previously held by the Spanish Habsburgs when they took
over the Spanish throne. However, "Archduke" was never considered by
the Spanish Bourbons as a substantial dignity of their own dynasty,
but rather as a traditional supplementary title of the Spanish Kings
since the days of the
Habsburg dynasty on the royal throne
(1516–1700). Hence, no member of the royal family other than the
King bears the (additional) title of "Archduke".
The insignia of the
Archduke of Lower and Upper Austria was the
archducal hat, a coronet which is kept in Klosterneuburg Monastery.
Wikimedia Commons has media related to Archducal hats.
Look up archduke in Wiktionary, the free dictionary.
List of rulers of Austria
List of Austrian consorts
References and notes
^ Meyers Taschenlexikon Geschichte 1982, vol 1, p22 & vol 2 pp106
^ a b c Genealogisches Hanbduch des Adels, Furstliche Hauser Band XIV.
Limburg ad der Lahn, Germany: C. A. Starke Verlag. 1991.
pp. 91–93. ISBN 3-