A Gespan [ ɡəˈʃpaːn ] (Slavic Župan ) is a borrowing from the Latin sursum or old French. suzerain ("suzerainty, suzerainty, feudal lord, suzerän") and comes from the late Roman legal system. The title was adapted from the Frankish Empire and mostly given in the 8th century to local medieval tribal leaders in the West and South Slavic area with the intention of establishing defensive buffer states between the expanding Bulgarian Empire and the Franks. It thus represents an elevation to the nobility ( comes as Graf einer Grenzmark ). Their territory was accordingly designated as a county .
As Župan , it was assimilated into Slavic languages and thus served to legitimize rule with the blessing of the Catholic Church. It therefore corresponds to the Latin comes in the sense of a duchy in the process of nation-building Slavic countries .
Later the Gespane to local authorities with certain powers in administration, military affairs and jurisdiction (sometimes translated as " princes ", actually: judges ). In Croatia the office existed until 1918 and it was reintroduced in 1991 for the head of a Croatian county .
The heads of the Serbs, who resided in Ras in the 8th century , carried the title Archižupan (in the sense of a Byzantine Catholic suzerainty) or Großžupan (in the sense of a duchy). In Serbia , the term župan is mainly found in sources from the 11th to 13th centuries.
In Germany, after the conquest of the Slavic territories, the districts - for example Daleminzi ( Meißner area), Nisani ( Dresden area) - were subdivided into Supania (Serbian and Croatian: županija , German: County ). The kingdom of Samo is said to have had this title as early as the 6th century.
In Hungarian , the corresponding expression is ispán or zsupán; In modern times, the position was renamed főispán (German Obergespan). Known is the pig farmer Kálmán Zsupán from the operetta The Gypsy Baron .
In today's Slovakia , the old term župan is sometimes used as an alternative name for the head of the Samosprávne kraje (self-governing landscape associations; see administrative structure of Slovakia ).