Herzog is a German hereditary title held by one who rules a
territorial duchy, exercises feudal authority over an estate called a
duchy, or possesses a right by law or tradition to be referred to by
the ducal title. The word is usually translated by the English duke
and the Latin dux. Generally, a
Herzog ranks below a king and above a
count. Whether the title is deemed higher or lower than titles
translated into English as "prince" (Fürst) has depended upon the
language, country and era in which the titles co-existed.
2 Current usage
3 See also
Image of a Herzogshut, the ducal hat of a Herzog
Herzog is not related to Herz ('heart'), but is derived from
German(ic) He(e)r (English: 'army') and zog (ziehen) (English: 'to
move', also: in die Schlacht ziehen – "to go into battle"), a
military leader (compare to Slavic voivode). It may have originated
Proto-Germanic title of Harjatugô, who were elected by their
tribes to lead them into battle. Thus,
Herzog was a title borne by
Germanic warriors who exercised military authority over a tribe by
general acclaim among its members or warriors, especially in the
During the medieval era, some of the most powerful vassals whose
territories lay within the boundaries of the
Holy Roman Empire
Holy Roman Empire took or
were granted the title of
Herzog by the Emperor. Several dynasties,
such as the Habsburgs of Austria, Hohenzollerns of Prussia, Welfs of
Hanover, Wettins of Saxony, Wittelsbachs of Bavaria and the House of
Württemberg, held the Herzogswürde (dukedom) before becoming kings.
Herzog ranked below a
Prince Elector within the Empire, he
also belonged by hereditary right to the Fürstenbank (Chamber of
Princes) within the Reichstag, exercised Landeshoheit within his
Imperial state and enjoyed Reichsunmittelbarkeit within the Empire.
Therefore, Herzöge were regarded as members of the Hoher Adel
(reigning nobility) whose families inter-married with sovereign
dynasties outside as well as within the Empire. They ranked as
royalty, distinct from nobles who were subject to a lesser suzerain
than the Emperor.
Occasionally, the Emperor conferred the title of
Herzog on a nobleman
who was not necessarily a Prince of the
Holy Roman Empire
Holy Roman Empire and did not
rule a duchy. Such a person ranked only as a Titularherzog
(duke-by-title) in Germany's non-reigning nobility.
Herzog was borrowed into many other languages, with the chief meaning
of the word being "duke", such as Russian gertsog, Belarusian hertsag,
Croatian, Serbian and Bosnian herceg (e.g., Herzegovina), Bulgarian
hertsog, Latvian hercogs, Lithuanian hercogas, Estonian hertsog,
Finnish herttua, Hungarian herceg, Georgian herts’ogi, and
Herzog also translated into other languages as the equivalent of
"duke", e.g. Italian duca, Danish hertug, Afrikaans hertog, Dutch
hertog, Icelandic hertogi, Luxemburgish Herzog, Norwegian hertug,
Swedish hertig, Spanish and Portuguese duque, Cyrillic герцог,
Russian воевода. The Slavic semantic equivalent of
example in Polish) is voivode, where voi- (army) and -vode (to lead,
Some historical territories of the former
Yugoslavia have both names
Herzegovina and Vojvodina.
Herzog is not uncommon as a surname in German-speaking countries. The
surname does not indicate an aristocratic origin (as the family name
"King" in English does not indicate a royal ancestry).
Standartenführer (Oberst) Herzog, the leader of an undead SS
Einsatzgruppe division, is the main antagonist in the Norwegian
Dead Snow horror-comedy films.
Herzog in Wiktionary, the free dictionary.
Dukes in Italy, Germany and Austria
^ a b Pine, L.G.. Titles: How the
King became His Majesty. Titles in
Western Europe.Barnes & Noble, Inc. 1992, pp. 70-73.