FüRST (German pronunciation: ( 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 ).
Prince of the
Holy Roman Empire was the reigning sovereign ruler of
Imperial State that held imperial immediacy in the boundaries of
the Holy Roman Empire. The territory ruled is referred to in German
as a Fürstentum (principality ), 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
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
Slavic languages (Russian, Polish, Ukrainian, Serbo-Croatian,
etc.) use separate terms similar to those used in German (see knyaz
for the latter).
Middle Ages , the German designation and title of Fürst
* the highest members of the nobility who ruled over the Holy Roman
Empire , below the ruling
Emperor ) or König (
* members of the nobility above the rank of
Graf (Count) but below
* a ruler or monarch (in general).
* 1 Use of the title in German
* 2 Other uses in German
* 3 Derived titles
* 4 Origins and cognates
* 5 References
* 6 Further reading
USE OF THE TITLE IN GERMAN
Fürst von Putbus , arms with a mantle and Fürsten crown.
Liechtenstein , arms with a mediatised Fürsten headpiece.
Fürst von Schwarzburg , arms with a Fürsten crown.
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 + ", or by the formula
Fürst zu + ". These forms can be combined, as in "...von und zu
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
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
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 ).
Several titles were derived from the term Fürst:
* REICHSFüRST (
Prince of the Empire ) was a ruling
territory was part of the
Holy Roman Empire . He was entitled to a
vote, either individually (Virilstimmen) or as a member of a voting
unit (Curiatstimmen), in the Imperial Diet (Reichstag). Reichsfürst
was also used generically for any ruler who cast his vote in either of
the Reichstag's two upper chambers, the Electoral College
(Kurfürstenrat) or the College of Princes (Fürstenrat): Their
specific title might be king , grand duke , duke , margrave ,
landgrave , count palatine (Pfalzgraf), burgrave , Imperial prince
(Reichsfürst) or Imperial count (Reichsgraf). Usually included in
this group were the reichsständisch Personalisten, Imperial princes
and counts whose small territories did not meet the Fürstenrat's
criteria for voting membership as an Imperial estate (Reichsständ),
but whose family's right to vote therein was recognised by the
Emperor. Officially, a
Prince of the Church (Kirchenfürst) who voted
in the Electoral or Princely College, along with a handful of titular
princes (nobles granted an honorary but hereditary title of prince by
Emperor who, however, were not reichsständisch , lacking a vote in
the Fürstenrat) might also be referred to as Reichsfürsten.
* KIRCHENFüRST (
Prince of the Church ) was a hierarch who held an
ecclesiastic fief and Imperial princely rank, such as prince-bishops ,
prince-abbots , or Grand Masters of a Christian military order.
* LANDESFüRST (
Prince of the Land) is a princely head of state ,
i.e. not just a titular prince. A Land was a geopolitical entity with
(feudal) statehood, whether fully independent or not. The term is
sometimes translated as in states bound together only in a personal
union (e.g., the Electorate of Hanover and the United Kingdom of Great
Britain and Ireland ) their joint ruler reigns as a Landesfürst in
each of the realms under different titles and constitutions, thus,
e.g., the Habsburg emperors held a different regnal style in each of
their Kronland ('crown land') realms.
* KURFüRST (Prince-Elector ) was a
Prince of the Holy Roman Empire
with a vote in the election of the Holy Roman
Emperor , as designated
Golden Bull of 1356 or elevated to that status subsequently.
Originally, only seven princes possessed that right, of whom four were
secular and three ecclesiastic. This prerogative conferred on its
holders rank inferior only to that of the Emperor, regardless of the
specific title attached to each Elector's principality. Kur (earlier
spelled Chur) is derived from kur / küren, "to choose". Properly an
office of the Empire rather than a hereditary title, during the long
de facto tenure of the Imperial throne held by the House of Habsburg
, the Electorates were less distinguished from other Imperial princes
by their right to choose an emperor than by the right to transmit the
fief associated with the office to a single heir by primogeniture ,
originally unknown in Germany, rather than to divide lands among
descendants in multiple appanages , allowing preservation of each
Elector's territorial integrity and power.
* GROßFüRST (Grand
Prince ) was a rare title in German-speaking
lands, and was used primarily to translate titles borne by rulers
Holy Roman Empire (e.g., Russia, Tuscany). In 1765 Empress
Maria Theresa proclaimed the Hungarian province of
Transylvania to be
a "Grand Principality" (Großfürstentum Siebenbürgen), whereafter it
became one of the titles of the
Austria in 1804.
* FüRSTPRIMAS (
Prince primate ) referred to the head of the member
states of the Napoleonic
Confederation of the Rhine established in
1806, then held by the Archbishop-
Elector of Mainz
Elector of Mainz , Karl Theodor
Anton Maria von Dalberg . Today it is a rarely used episcopal title:
Upon the elevation of the Esztergom (Gran) archbishop, Christian
August of Saxe-Zeitz , to a
Prince of the
Holy Roman Empire in 1714,
his successors bear the title of a
Prince primate (Hungarian :
hercegprímás) up to today. The Archbishops of Salzburg still hold
the title of Primas Germaniae though their diocese is located in
ORIGINS AND COGNATES
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 (ironically, 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.
* ^ A B Siebmacher, Johann ; Weber, Hilmar Hermann (1890).
Siebmacher\'s Grosses und allgemeines Wappenbuch: in einer neuen.
Einleitungsband. Abt. A, B. (in German).
Nuremberg : Otto Titan von
* ^ A B C D E "Definition of the German title Fürst".
* ^ "Definition of Fürstentum".
Duden (in German).
* ^ "Definition of the German title Prinz".
Duden (in German).
Look up FüRST in Wiktionary, the free dictionary.
* German Empire (in German – use the English and French translated
versions only with due caution)
* Danubian Monarchy Austria-Hungary (in German – use the English
and French translated versions only with due caution)
* Westermann, Großer Atlas zur Weltgeschichte (in German)
* WorldStatesmen – here Germany (with specifics on the HREmpire);
see also other present countries
* Etymology Online
Fürst additional terms
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