Highness (salutation)

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Highness is a salutation to a princely personality who was in the simple form of ruling German dukes and - enriched with the addition of imperial or royal  - is used for members of correspondingly ruling (or previously ruling ) houses .

The salutation "Highness"

Late Middle High German there was hôchheit (medium German hôcheit ) "sovereignty, grandeur," Frühneuhochdeutsch until well into the 17th century, highly integrated before it took on its present form.

The use of the word as a salutation is the Germanization of the French salutation "Altesse"; this was common - in various degrees ("Royale", "Sérénissime") - for members of ruling houses when the French language became the lingua franca of the European nobility and diplomacy in the second half of the 17th century . Previously, forms of address such as Hochgeboren or Your Highness were common in the German language for princely persons , while Majesty has always been the address for emperors and kings.

In the German version, the Informal limited sovereignty initially to prince and princesses of royal houses. Since 1844, the ruling dukes in the German Confederation and from 1871 in the German Empire called themselves that. Equivalents in other languages ​​are Highness ( English ), Altezza ( Italian ), and Alteza ( Spanish ).

In the German-speaking area, the following levels had to be distinguished:

On the other hand, morganatic spouses of kings, royal princes, grand dukes or dukes were not entitled to appropriate salutations; instead, they received lower-ranking morganate titles with appropriate salutations. The same also applied to the other agnates of such houses, provided that they did not marry in accordance with house laws or came from such connections ( mesalliances ).

Usage today

After the abolition of the privileges of the nobility in 1919 , "Highness" is no longer an official address in Germany, but is still used in some circles for the members of the corresponding houses of the nobility , either as an oral or written address , out of courtesy or respect . On letterheads , it is customary to add the salutations in the line above the name in an abbreviated version, e.g. HRH (for His Royal Highness ) for male addressees or IKH for female addressees. In the case of married couples, doubling the letters of the female variant is used to mark the plural, for example the abbreviation IIKKHH for "Your Royal Highnesses".

For the Austrian nobility the Nobility Repeal Act of 1919 applies , which even deleted the previous nobility titles as part of their names; the same applies to the Bohemian or Italian nobility ; private use remained unaffected. In the existing monarchies, however , the salutations are still mandatory or at least generally customary and mostly also entered in the passports of the members of the royal houses.

Web links

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

Individual evidence

  1. hôch-heit . Lexer, Middle High German Concise Dictionary
  2. ↑ Your Highness. In: Jacob Grimm , Wilhelm Grimm (Hrsg.): German dictionary . tape 10 : H, I, J - (IV, 2nd division). S. Hirzel, Leipzig 1877 ( woerterbuchnetz.de ).