Excellence (title)

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Excellence (from the Latin excellere "to stand out " or excellentia "excellence", metonymically "higher position") is the honorary title used to address personalities in an excellent official position.

Previous use

The Langobard kings, the Franconian kings and the German emperors

The title was held first by the Lombard , then the Frankish kings and the German emperors up to the 14th century. This was then accepted by the Italian princes in the 15th century . They replaced the title with Altezza ( Highness ) because the French ambassador to Rome , Duke of Nevers , had accepted the title in 1593 and other emissaries of the first rank had followed his example. With Golo Mann in January 1630, Wallenstein grieved that the nuncio addressed him as Excellenza and not as Altezza .

The right to bestow the title of excellence

The electors were given the right to appoint ambassadors with the title of Excellency in the Peace of Westphalia , the other princes only later. Thereupon the imperial counts , who had also held this title for a while, accepted the predicate exalted or high count's grace .

The custom in France and 18th century Germany

In 1654 the French began to attribute the title of Excellence to their highest civil or military officials . This example was soon followed in Germany, where in the 18th century even academic lecturers and professors (school excellence ) took advantage of this award. Thus excellence in Germany to an official or service titles, while in France the Ducs was reserved and in Italy from every nobleman was performed.

The title of Excellence in the German Empire

In the German Empire the title of Excellence was only ministers , ambassadors , the real secret councils , Provincial President , the first court and military Would (from Lieutenant General and Vice Admiral ) and ambassadors to. In Prussia , the archbishops also held the title of excellence.

The custom in the Russian Empire

In the Russian Empire until 1917 state officials from the Real State Council and officers from major general upwards carried the title .

The Grand Cross bearers of most European orders of knights also had the right to this honorary title.

The Excellency title in the United States

In the United States , the President of the United States and the Governor of Massachusetts held the title Excellency , the President not officially under the Constitution of the United States , but the Governor officially under the Constitution of the State of Massachusetts.

Use in Germany

According to the German convention and the protocol , your Excellencies (salutation + address: His Excellency (abbr. SE) are the ambassadors ...)

According to this convention, speakers of parliament are not addressed as excellence. When the title was given, these played no role in diplomatic relations. The abbreviation SE can also stand for “His Enlightenment”.


Individual evidence

  1. Golo Mann : Night fantasies. Story told . Frankfurt am Main 1982, p. 117, ISBN 3-10-047907-6