Burgrave (from German: Burggraf, Latin: burggravius, burcgravius, burgicomes) was since the medieval period a title for the ruler of a castle, especially a royal or episcopal castle, as well as a castle district (castellany) or fortified settlement or city. The burgrave was a count in rank (German Graf, Latin Comes) equipped with judicial powers. The title became hereditary in certain feudal families and was associated with a territory or domain called a Burgraviate (German Burggrafschaft, Latin Prefectura). The position and office of burgrave could be held either by the king, a nobleman or a bishop, the responsibilities were administrative, military and jurisdictional.
The title is originally equivalent to that of castellan (Latin: castellanus) or French châtelain; meaning keeper or commander of a castle and/or fortified settlement (both can be called Burg in German).
Holy Roman Empire territories
In Germany, owing to the distinct conditions of the Holy Roman Empire, the title, as borne by feudal nobles having the status of Reichsfürst (Prince of the Empire), obtained a quasi-princely significance.
- The Burgraviate of Antwerp (in present-day Belgium): this was a title that was inherited from the Margraviate of Antwerp 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. Subsequently in the Low countries, the rank of burggraaf evolved into the nobiliary synonymous with Viscount. The title "Viscount of Antwerp" is still claimed by the reigning monarch of the Netherlands as one of the subsidiary titles.
- The Burgraviate of Magdeburg,
- The Burgraviate of Friedberg,
- The Burgraviate of Meissen,
- The Burgraviate of Nuremberg: established by King Conrad III of Germany, the first burgraves were from the Austrian Count's Raabs an der Thaya, and then passed to the count's surviving son-in-law from the House of Hohenzollern, which, since Frederick I, Holy Roman Emperor, continued to hold it until 1801.
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 Kingdom of Poland (1385–1569) and the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth (1569–1795), the position and office of burgrave (Polish burgrabia, earlier also murgrabia) was also of senatorial rank (i.e. held a seat in the upper chamber of the Senate of Poland). Their primus was the "Burgrave of Kraków" (Polish Burgrabia krakowski) of the former capital of Poland and Wawel Castle, who was appointed directly by the King of Poland.
- Encyclopædia Britannica; Definition of burgrave (title).
- Duden; Definition of Burggraf (in German).
- Duden; Definition of Burggräfin (in German).
- Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Burgrave". Encyclopædia Britannica. 4 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. p. 820.
- Motley, John Lothrop (1855). The Rise of the Dutch Republic, vol. 2. Harper & Brothers. p. 37.
- Young, Andrew (1886). A Short History of the Netherlands (Holland and Belgium). Netherlands: T. F. Unwin. p. 315.
- Putnam, Ruth (1895). William the Silent, Prince of Orange: the moderate man of the sixteenth century : the story of his life as told from his own letters, from those of his friends and enemies and from official documents, Volume 1. Putnam. p. 211.
- Parker, Geoffrey (2002). The Dutch Revolt. Penguin.
- Rowen, Herbert H. (1990). The Princes of Orange: The Stadholders in the Dutch Republic. Cambridge Univ. Press.
- Koninklijkhuis (2013). "Frequently asked questions re King William-Alexander" (web). Rijksvoorlichtingsdienst (RVD). Retrieved 2013-05-30.
The King's full official titles are King of the Netherlands, Prince of Orange-Nassau, Jonkheer van Amsberg, Count of Katzenelnbogen, Vianden, Diez, Spiegelberg, Buren, Leerdam and Culemborg, Marquis of Veere and Vlissingen, Baron of Breda, Diest, Beilstein, the town of Grave and the lands of Cuyk, IJsselstein, Cranendonk, Eindhoven and Liesveld, Hereditary Lord and Seigneur of Ameland, Lord of Borculo, Bredevoort, Lichtenvoorde, 't Loo, Geertruidenberg, Klundert, Zevenbergen, Hoge and Lage Zwaluwe, Naaldwijk, Polanen, St Maartensdijk, Soest, Baarn and Ter Eem, Willemstad, Steenbergen, Montfort, St Vith, Bütgenbach and Dasburg, Viscount of Antwerp.
- This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain: Chambers, Ephraim, ed. (1728). "article name needed". Cyclopædia, or an Universal Dictionary of Arts and Sciences (first ed.). James and John Knapton, et al.