A burgrave is the ruler of a castle or fortified town. The English form is derived through the French from the German Burggraf and Dutch Burggraaf, a rank above Baron but below Graf (Count), or burch-graeve (Mediaeval Latin language burcgravius or burgicomes).

  • The title is originally equivalent to that of castellan (Latin: castellanus) or châtelain, meaning keeper of a castle and/or fortified town (both can be called Burg in German, burg in Dutch).
  • In Germany, owing to the peculiar conditions of the Holy Roman Empire, though the office of burgrave had become a sinecure by the end of the 13th century, the title, as borne by feudal nobles having the status of Reichsfürst (Prince of the Empire), obtained a quasi-princely significance.

There were four hereditary burgraviates ranking as principalities within the Holy Roman Empire:

  • The Burgraviate of Antwerp (in present Belgium): this was a title that was inherited by the Counts of Nassau, lords of Breda, who later inherited the title of Prince of Orange (see House of Orange-Nassau and Prince of Orange). The most famous holder was William the Silent, who used his influence over the city to control its government and use it a base of the Dutch Revolt. His predecessors in his family were Engelbrect, Henry and Rene. Another form of the title was "viscount of Antwerp".[1][2]

[3] [4] .[5] The title is still claimed by the his descendant, the King or Queen of the Netherlands as one of their subsidiary titles.[6]

It was still included among the subsidiary titles of several German (semi-)sovereign princes; and the king of Prussia, whose ancestors were burgraves of Nuremberg for over 200 years, maintained the additional style of Burggraf von Nürnberg. The Grand Duke of Luxembourg maintains as a subsidiary title "Burgrave of Hammerstein".

  • In the Low countries, the rank of burggraaf developed into the nobiliary equivalent of a viscount (see that article).
  • In the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth (1569–1795), the office was of senatorial rank (i.e. entitled to a seat in the upper chamber of the sejm or diet); with the exception of their primus, the burgrabia of the former capital Kraków, these castellans were deputies of the (equally senatorial) provincial voivode.

See also

  • List of the burgraves of Meissen


  • Template:1911
  • Template:1728nl:Burggraaf
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