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A governor is originally an administrator for a specific region who takes on administrative tasks in his administrative district on behalf of ( instead of a) superior (e.g. king , emperor , president and so on). The compound word (compound word) Statt-halter is a loan translation from the Latin locum tenens "substitute" to locus "place, place, place" and tenere "hold".

The function of former governors corresponds to that of regents or governors .


The main reason for the appointment of governors was the need to effectively administer widely separated territories and to appoint people with far-reaching government powers . A governor can be closely bound by the instructions of his superior as well as (with weak central authority) obtain relative or even complete independence.

Often governors are also referred to as governors . The French term lieutenant ( lieu + tenant ) corresponds literally to the term governor (see lieutenant ). A governor could also be called a regent who was in office in the absence of the monarch , the legally binding sovereign .


The principle of the governor was already present in large ancient territorial states, of which the satraps in the Persian Empire and in the Empire of Alexander the Great are examples.

In the Roman Empire there were officials with governor functions already in the time of the republic. This system became more complex during the imperial era. Names for governors in the Roman Empire were, at different times, proconsul , Legatus Augusti pro praetore , praefectus , procurator , praeses and vicarius (as administrator of a late Roman diocese ).

In the Bible , the terms of office of Roman governors (prefects) are occasionally mentioned as a dating guide. The year of Jesus' birth ( Quirinius governor in Syria ) and year of death ( Pontius Pilatus governor of the province of Judea ) are chronologically arranged in this way.


Holy Roman Empire

The stadtholder was the Saxon Elector Friedrich III. transferred by King Maximilian I on August 8, 1507 at the Diet of Constance and was valid for the time of the king's absence from the Empire. It appears in Saxony for the first time from 1507 on the Locumtenenstalern ( vicariate coins ) of the Saxon elector in the form of "Imperique locumtenens generalis" (Latin for Reich General Governor). After Maximilian returned from his election as Roman emperor in Trento on February 4, 1508 , his office as permanent representative of the king expired. However, he was granted honorary permission to continue to hold the title of Reich Governor General until the death of Emperor Maximilian I (1519).


In May 1470 Johann Cicero , the Bishop of Brandenburg Dietrich IV. , The Bishop of Lebus Friedrich II. And eight other people became governors of the Margrave of Brandenburg after the abdication of Elector Friedrich II in the spring of 1470, and new Electors from October 1470 Albrecht Achilles , who was in shops on the Plassenburg in Kulmbach , Franconia , was appointed as long as he was not in the country.


Seal mark of the imperial governor in Alsace Lorraine

After the formation of the Empire State Alsace-Lorraine , in 1871, there practiced the German Kaiser , the state power from. By the imperial law of July 4, 1879 concerning the administration of Alsace-Lorraine, the emperor transferred the sovereign powers to a governor, whom he appointed and could recall. The imperial governor resided in Strasbourg .


The Landgraves of Hesse each set up a governor in their two parts of the country, the one for Niederhessen in Kassel and the one for the so-called Land an der Lahn in Marburg .

Electoral Saxony

Anton Egon von Fürstenberg-Heiligenberg was the only governor in the Electorate of Saxony under Elector Friedrich August I (1697–1716).


Schleswig-Holstein has been a patchwork of so-called offices since the Middle Ages , some of which were ruled by the Gottorf dukes and some by the Danish royal family. The Danish kings appointed the governors as the highest administrative officials for their shares .

Third Reich

See: Reichsstatthalter


In Vorarlberg is Deputy Governor as a State Governor designated; otherwise the function designation has not been used in the republic since November 20, 1918.

Habsburg Monarchy

The term governor for a representative of the monarch and his government was rarely used in the Habsburg monarchy for a long time. In 1849 she replaced the title of governor . In 1861, Emperor Franz Joseph I issued a constitutional law, which was later called the February Patent , in order to be able to easily distinguish it from other constitutional texts. In the state regulations for the individual crown lands attached to this law, the governor is named as an existing state body with his rights vis-à-vis the state parliament , but not defined with all of his powers.

In 1868 , a precise legal stipulation took place for Cisleithanien , decided by the Reichsrat at the request of the citizen ministry called kk government. It was determined that the representatives of the imperial central power, the state chiefs , are called governors in the majority of the crown lands (so that this title prevailed in public and literature for all crown lands); the governor was head of the governorship.

In the crown lands

the state chief appointed by the emperor held the title of state president and did not head a lieutenancy, but a state government. However, the scope of functions was the same as with governors.

Kk governors were appointed by the emperor for the crown lands until 1918

For the latter three crown lands there was a common (coastal) lieutenancy in Trieste.

The emperor was always free to appoint or dismiss a governor. The respective imperial and royal prime minister could advise the emperor. The appointment of the governor was only subject to parliamentary control insofar as the Prime Minister in the Reichsrat could be questioned about it. Parliament did not have a say, since the governor, like the k. k. Government officiated in the name of the emperor .

The office of governor was abolished in German Austria with the law of November 14, 1918, and came into force on November 20, 1918 (see Landeschef (Austria-Hungary) ). The previous Lieutenancy now became an office under the leadership of the democratically elected governor.


In some cantons of Switzerland , the representatives of the cantonal government in the districts are called Lieutenants or Governors . In the canton of Friborg this function is called Oberamtmann . The responsibilities vary. In the canton of Zurich, for example, they preside over the district councils, enforce criminal offenses and supervise the police, the fire brigade and the fire police; In the canton of Basel-Landschaft , the governor's office is the administrative authority in each district.

In other cantons (such as Aargau , Obwalden , Nidwalden and Schwyz , formerly also in Lucerne ) the governor, governor or governor is the deputy of the regional president (chairman of the cantonal government).

In the canton of Basel-Stadt , the Vice-President of the Grand Council (cantonal parliament) holds the title of governor .

The usual female name is Frau Landstatthalter .


See also the list of governors in the Netherlands

In the Republic of the United Netherlands, Stadthalter (Stadhouder) was the highest civil servant of the individual provinces. This designation was created under the Burgundian and Spanish rule, when the whole of the Netherlands by a supreme governor ( Governor ) and the individual provinces were ruled by governors.

After the end of Spanish rule, the governor was no longer the representative of a monarch, but the assembly of the estates of the individual provinces ( Provinciale Staten) . The use of violence was somewhat different in each of the seven provinces. So there was no federal authority apart from the Estates General in the Netherlands at that time, such as B. a president. However, as the holder of the governorship, significant influence could be gained from the interplay of various factors. For one thing, the wealthiest and most populous province, Holland, had a clear preponderance over the other provinces; and so their representatives (governor or councilor) exercised correspondingly greater influence (e.g. usually the supreme command of the army and fleet). On the other hand, the princes of Orange were mostly able to unite the governorship of several provinces by means of domestic political weight and their supporters, the orangists. This enabled them to have a tremendous influence on the politics of the republic.

The governor appointed the most important officials, including the presidents of the courts, had a limited right to pardon, and elected the members of the town councils ( Vroedschappen ), mostly from the men proposed by these councils themselves. In exceptional cases he could appoint a new council. This enabled him to gain indirect but considerable influence on domestic politics. After the Union of Utrecht in 1579, the governor was also the arbiter of disputes between the provinces. The troops and the navy were also under his command.

When Wilhelm III. In 1672 inheritance was introduced in the male line and their powers significantly expanded. The offices of leaders of the army and navy were still not hereditary, but only the governor could be proposed for election.

Web links

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

Individual evidence

  1. Wolfgang Pfeifer: Etymological Dictionary of German - Lemma Statt
  2. Walther Haupt: Sächsische Münzkunde, Deutscher Verlag der Wissenschaft, Berlin 1974, p. 167
  3. District Office for the Preservation of Monuments and Archeology in Saxony-Anhalt (ed.): Martin Luther, Schätze der Reformation, Sandsteinverlag, p. 62
  4. ^ Mario Müller: Dietrich von Stechow, Bishop of Brandenburg 1459–1472. Regesta on the Vita and the episcopate. Published in: Sascha Bütow, Peter Riedel, Uwe Tersp (eds.): The Middle Ages end yesterday. Contributions to the regional, cultural and religious history of Heinz-Dieter Heimann on his 65th birthday. Lukas Publishing House. ISBN 978-3-86732-188-4 . P. 114 f.
  5. ^ Rauh, Manfred: The parliamentarization of the German Empire . ed. from the Commission for the History of Parliamentarism and Political Parties , Düsseldorf: Droste 1977. Contributions to the History of Parliamentarism and Political Parties, Vol. 60
  6. Example: Section 37 of the state order for the Archduchy of Austria under the Enns , RGBl. No. 20/1861 (= p. 80)
  7. Law of May 19, 1868 on the establishment of political administrative authorities, RGBl. No. 44/1868 (= p. 76)
  8. ↑ Lieutenancy offices and district council offices.
  9. ^ Website of the Grand Council of the Canton of Basel-Stadt