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Burgrave of Nuremberg

The burgrave (lat. Praefectus , castellanus or burggravius ) is an office from the feudal system of the Middle Ages . The territory of a burgrave was called burgraviate (lat. Prefectura ). The burgraves belonging to the local lower nobility sometimes took over the official title as part of their name.


A burgrave ruled over a small territory that he had received as a fief from a sovereign (king, duke, count, prince-bishop, bishop). Its function was to represent the sovereign. His competencies were administrative, military and / or judicial tasks , in some cases even the coin rack ( Donin's bracteates ).

In the first few centuries, the position differed significantly from that of a castle bailiff, who only had the administration and military command of a castle. In later centuries these names sometimes got mixed up.

Since 12./13. In the 19th century, burgrave could only be a title without real powers and a corresponding territory.



The first burgrave in the Holy Roman Empire is mentioned for Regensburg . In the first half of the 11th century, Arnold von St. Emmeram named a certain Burchard as prefectus Ratisbonensis . The burgraviate was founded between 953 and 972, perhaps at the turn of the year 960/61. The burgraves came to Burchard from around 980 from the Babonen family . After they died out shortly before 1200, the burgraviate came to Duke Ludwig the Kelheimer of Bavaria. The character of the burgraviate has long been controversial. New research has shown that the Burgraviate of Regensburg was a city county. The burgraviate was therefore not subordinate to or incorporated into the county in the western Danubeau, but an independent county, whose owners exercised the count's rights (jurisdiction, military administration, administration) on their own. Others, such as the Burgraves of Rheineck , even succeeded in becoming imperial and receiving a position similar to that of the Imperial Count .

In addition, there were numerous burgraves - especially in southern and eastern Germany - in the 11th and 12th centuries - who grew up from the older office of bailiff - who were only the military commanders of an imperial or episcopal castle , a royal or episcopal city and were thus superordinate the castle men .

East Settlement

Since the 11th century, German kings installed burgraves in the colonization areas east of the Elbe and Saale , first in Meißen , then in the 12th century also in the imperial castles of Altenburg , Dohna and Leisnig . These were to protect the possessions and rights of the imperial property in the areas, also against the margraves and the bishops of Meissen . The burgraves received an extensive territory of royal property in the area and were involved in the colonization of the areas. They received the office of judge and exercised sovereign rights (Dohnaic bracteates).

In Brandenburg , too , shortly after the conquest in 1160, a burgrave was appointed who was supposed to protect the royal claims against the Ascanian margraves. However, they were able to get rid of the annoying competition in the middle of the 13th century, similar to the Wettin margraves who acquired the Altenburg burgraviate during this time. After 1402 the Leisnig Burgraviate and in 1456 at least the territory of the Burgraves of Meissen passed into their possession. The Lords of Plauen were able to get at least the title of Burgrave of Meissen until 1572.

Further development

Like the other offices of the feudal state, the burgrave soon became hereditary, then also used for lordly bailiffs, and was sometimes even just a mere title.

The burgraviate could also become the starting point for aristocratic territorial politics, as can be seen particularly clearly with the burgrave of Nuremberg or the burgrave of Friedberg . The (episcopal) burgraves of the diocese of Mainz and the diocese of Magdeburg , the bailiffs of Würzburg , the burgraves of Dohna , the burgraves of Staufeneck Castle as well as the Hohenzollern burgraves of Nuremberg and the Meinheringen burgraves of Meißen , who were administrators and judges, are particularly well known . but only had military command in the castle.

The office issuing the office could be the German Emperor or a clerical principality such as the Hochstift Würzburg , which initially awarded the burgrave office to the Counts of Henneberg , or an institution like the St. Cassius monastery in Bonn , which was the burgrave office for the Drachenfels in Kurköln forgave.

Sometimes the office was hereditary from the start (Drachenfels), mostly it later became hereditary (Nuremberg) or it was also withdrawn (as in the case of the Würzburg diocese, which took over its secular security itself in 1230). An example of the development of the Burgrave Office is the development of the Burgraves of Tyrol , who changed from the bailiffs for the bishops of Trient and Brixen to the Counts of Tyrol , who ruled the entire country , whose core area in South Tyrol at that time is now called Burgrave Office . In Austria the term Burggraf was only used from the end of the Middle Ages. At the same time, the synonymous term Burghauptmann was used, which still exists today.

The only noble family that still has the official title Burggraf in their name today are the Counts of Dohna .

During the reign of the Landgraves of Hesse from 1490 to 1640, the burgrave office at Rheinfels Castle was occupied by both civil and lower-nobility officials. Under the jurisdiction of the burgrave there was, among other things, the armory . Lichtenberg in the Hessian Odenwald also knew bourgeois and low-nobility burgraves. The first burgrave of Lichtenberg in 1315 was also a castle man. The burgrave also managed the armory there. Since 1629, Lichtenberg had also had its own castle court with county law .

"The castle court, [...] the court that is ordered and held by the owner of a castle, and sometimes occurs under the name of the burgrave court."

- Johann Christoph Adelung : Grammatical-critical dictionary of the High German dialect

The Landgraviate of Hessen-Kassel counted the burgraves among the court officials in the 18th century and ran them as members of the court . The tasks with which the burgrave was entrusted included the supervision of the sovereign domiciles. In the Landgraviate of Hessen-Darmstadt , the burgraves were also counted among the court officials and also supervised the landgrave's houses and castles.


Holy Roman Empire


In Poland-Lithuania there were three types of burgraves or castellanias (Kasztellanowie). Three superordinate ones that were not subject to any voivodeship

  • Castellan of Krakow
  • Castellan of Vilnius (Vilnius)
  • Castellan of Troki (Trokai)

36 large castellanias , including in German-speaking cities

  • Burgraves of Gdansk
  • Burgraves of Toruń
  • Burgraves of Elbing (Elbląg)
  • Burgraves of Culm (Chełmno)

and 49 small castellanes


  • Karl August Eckhardt : Prefect and Burgrave. In: Journal of the Savigny Foundation for Legal History . German Department. Vol. 46, 1926, pp. 163-205.
  • Joachim Friedl: The Burggrafschaft Regensburg. Military Command or City County? In: Negotiations of the historical association for Upper Palatinate and Regensburg. Vol. 146, 2006, ISSN  0342-2518 , pp. 7-58.
  • Aloys Meister : Burgrave Office or Burgrave Title? In: Historical yearbook . Vol. 27, 1906, pp. 253-265.
  • Siegfried Rietschel: The burgrave office and the high level of jurisdiction in the German episcopal cities during the early Middle Ages. (= Studies on the history of the German city constitution. Vol. 1). Veit, Leipzig 1905 (reprinted. Scienta-Verlag, Aalen 1965).
  • Hans Schulze: Burgrave, -schaft. In: Lexicon of the Middle Ages . Volume 2: Beggars to the Codex of Valencia. Deutscher Taschenbuch-Verlag, Munich 2002, ISBN 3-423-59057-2 , Sp. 1048-1050.
  • André Thieme : The Burggrafschaft Altenburg. Studies of office and rule in the transition from the high to the late Middle Ages. (= Writings on Saxon regional history. Vol. 2). Leipziger Univ.-Verl , Leipzig 2001, ISBN 3-934565-98-0 (At the same time: Dresden, University, dissertation, 2000).
  • Wilhelm Volkert : Small encyclopedia of the Middle Ages. From the nobility to the guild. (= Beck series. Vol. 1281). 4th edition. CH Beck , Munich 2004, ISBN 3-406-42081-8 , pp. 44-45.

Web links

Wiktionary: Burggraf  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Karl E. Demandt : Rheinfels and other Katzenelnbogen castles as residences, administrative centers and fortresses - 1350–1650 . Publishing house of the Hessian Historical Commission , Darmstadt 1990, ISBN 3-88443-025-4 , p. 44, 157, 206, 473, 527, 532 .
  2. Johannes Feick: Lichtenberg in the Odenwald in the past and present - described according to the sources . tape 2 . Commission publisher Ludwig Saeng, Darmstadt 1903, OCLC 179967333 , p. 106, 110 .
  3. Carl Friedrich Günther: Pictures from the Hessian Prehistory - With 51 plates illustrations . Ed .: CF Günther. Jonghaus, Darmstadt 1853, OCLC 1062102891 , p. 411-412 ( digitized version ).
  4. Dr. Hans H. Weber: The castle freedom Lichtenberg - a contribution to the problem of the late medieval city in the Odenwald . Ed .: Dr. Winfried Wackerfuß on behalf of the Breuberg Federation . Reprint from Volume III - Contributions to the exploration of the Odenwald and its peripheral landscapes. Breuberg-Neustadt 1980, OCLC 888480865 , p. 138 .
  5. Johann Christoph Adelung: Grammatical-critical dictionary of the high German dialect . tape 1 . Leipzig 1793, p. 1266 ( Zeno.org ).
  6. Hessen-Kassel: Hochfürstl. Hessen-Casselischer state and address calendar . Ed .: Verlag Waisen- u. Foundling house. 1774, ZDB -ID 2694849-7 , p. 14 ( digitized version ).
  7. ^ Friedrich Arnold Brockhaus (ed.): General German Real Encyclopedia for the educated classes (Conversations Lexicon) in twelve volumes . tape 2 - Bo to Cz. Leipzig 1833, DNB  4423528-8 , p. 326 ( digitized version ).
  8. ^ Johann Wilhelm Christian Steiner: Georg I, Landgrave of Hessen-Darmstadt, donor of the landgräfl. hessen-darmstädtischen, now grand duke. Hessian regent house after his life and work . Groß-Steinheim 1861, OCLC 162278690 , The official status, various biographical messages from landgrave officials , p. 180-181 ( digitized version ).
  9. ^ Hesse-Darmstadt: Landgrave Hessian state and address calendar . Ed .: Verlag der Invaliden-Anstalt. 1805, ZDB -ID 514538-7 , p. 39 ( digitized version ).