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Gubernator (also 'Stadthalter', 'Landeshauptmann') was the name given to the highest representative of a larger administrative unit in various countries in Northern, Central and Eastern Europe. The governor mainly had administrative and organizational functions and few powers of his own.

Origin and meaning

This name comes from Latin. It is a Greek loan word and derived from ο κυβερνήτηϛ (Kubernétes), the ' helmsman ' of a ship, later also used in the figurative political sense for ' governor '. This expression was already used by the Romans as a political office.

At the time of the Hohenstaufen the Holy Roman Empire knew the so-called Reichsgubernator . The last to exercise this office was Otto II the Illustrious , Duke of Bavaria and Count Palatine near the Rhine . He died in 1253. The term was out of use after the end of Staufer rule.

The French word governor or English governor are derived from the Latin term.

In Polish Prussia

In western Prussia (“ Prussian royal share ”) the office of governor (“ governor ”) was created in 1454 after it was subordinated to the Polish king , as a supreme representative chosen by the Prussian estates. The governor provided z. B. important documents with his private seal. For state affairs, his private seal was replaced by an official seal (Sigillum publicum) . The first governor was Hans von Baysen . As agreed, he was appointed by the Polish king on March 9, 1454.

After he died in 1459, his brother Stibor von Baysen took over the office. The office of governor was limited to West Prussia as early as 1466 by the provisions of the Second Peace of Thorn . Finally, the largely autonomous office was abolished by royal decree in 1467, against which the Prussian estates protested unsuccessfully and Stibor von Baysen continued to be called the Prussian governor.

In 1472 the king created the office of 'general captain ' (capitanus generalis) as compensation , which roughly corresponded to the general starost in Greater and Lesser Poland, but this function was not accepted by Haysen and the estates either.

Only in 1480 after Stibor von Haysen's death was the office officially abolished and replaced by the 'captain'.

Kingdom of Sweden

At least since the 16th century there were in Sweden the office of Gubernators (Provinciae) (Swedish Landshösding ) as governor of a province, for example Finland.

Kingdom of Hungary

In Hungary there had been a governor for Transylvania since 1690 , as the governor of this previously independent principality.

Russian Empire

Tsar Peter I created the first eight gubernias in 1708 , which were headed by a gubernator . After changes by Catherine II, the division into Gubernien remained in place until 1917 and was re-established in 1992.

In the Danube Monarchy

In the 18th century the Austrian Empire was divided into gubernia. The governor of each province was the so-called gubernator. He was in charge of the central provincial government, the gubernium .

Individual evidence

  1. For the different official titles see Peter Baumgart, Jürgen Schmädeke: Ständestaat und Staatsbildung in Brandenburg-Prußen. Walter de Gruyter Berlin, New York 1983, p. 136, and Gottfried Lengnich : History of the Prussian Lands of Royal Polish Antheils. Danzig 1729, p. 7.
  2. ^ Vilhelm Fredrik Palmblad, Karl Fredrik Werner: Biographiskt lexicon öfver namnkunnige svenska men . Volume 5. Palmblad och Sebell, Upsala 1839, p. 140.
  3. ^ Johann Georg Peter Möller: Swedish-German dictionary. Volume 3. Leipzig 1808, p. 895.