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A viceroy or a viceroy represents the monarch when the monarch is unable to perform his duties. This usually affects the administration of distant areas. The overseas empires of the colonial era are typical for this. This rank was chosen especially if the territory was previously at the rank of a kingdom . To appoint a lower-ranking administrator would have been improper. Character-forming examples are the Spanish viceroys of Portugal at the time of the personal union or the viceroy of Egypt in the Ottoman Empire .
The title does not denote a rank of nobility , but a personal office position , and corresponds to a governor or a governor who is only subordinate to the sovereign ( governor general ).


At the beginning of the 15th century, the system of viceroys (Spanish: Virrey ) was first introduced in Sardinia in the lands of the Crown of Aragón , followed by Aragón itself, Valencia , Catalonia , Navarra , Naples-Sicily and Portugal (through personal union united with Spain between 1580 and 1640). With the discovery of the New World , this system was transferred to the overseas territories ("colonies"); two, and later four, viceroyalty were installed:

The viceroy was the supreme representative of the crown in one of the viceroyalty kingdoms, the first viceroy of the newly discovered countries in " West India " was Christopher Columbus .


Portugal had only two viceroys (port .: Vice-rei ), one in Goa ( viceroy of India ) and also one in Brazil ( viceroy of Brazil ) after the colony was elevated to the viceroyalty in 1714, the remaining colonies were ruled by governors . Not every governor of India was made viceroy.


In 1707 Austria occupied the kingdoms of Naples and Sardinia in the War of the Spanish Succession , whose possession was then confirmed by the peace treaties of 1713/14. Sardines were exchanged by the Kingdom of Sicily as early as 1720 , so that now both kingdoms were once again under one administration. Until 1735/37 the empires were ruled by an Austrian viceroy appointed by the Archduke of Austria .

The Kingdom of Lombardy-Venetia , which was newly founded after the Congress of Vienna , was also administered by a viceroy between 1815 and 1848, since the Emperor of Austria was now also king of the empire.

British empire

In Ireland the highest representative of the British monarch who was Lord Lieutenant of Ireland colloquially as viceroy (ger .: viceroy or deputy king ), respectively.

In the British colonial empire only the Governor General of British India carried the title of Viceroy of India from 1858 to underline the authority of the Crown over the native princes.

Ottoman Empire

In Western literature, the offices of the Ottoman provincial governor ( Wali ) and the Khedive of Egypt were often translated as viceroy .


Between 1936 and 1941, Italian East Africa was no longer administered by a high commissioner, but replaced by a governor general who also held the title of viceroy (Italian: viceré ).


In France, some (general) governors of New France also carried the title of viceroy (fr .: vice-roi ) in addition to the title of lieutenant general (fr .: lieutenant général ): Charles de Bourbon-Condé , Henri II. De Montmorency and Henri de Lévis , François-Christophe, Duke of Damville .

Russian Empire

After the Congress of Vienna in 1815, a Polish kingdom was created again, the so-called Congress Poland , which was united in personal union with the Russian Empire. The Russian tsar was then also King of Poland until the uprising of 1830 . Thereafter, the Polish title of king was abolished, but the Russian governors in Poland retained the title of viceroy ( Namiestnik ) until 1874.

South East Asia

In several Buddhist monarchies on the Southeast Asian mainland (Burma, Thailand, Laos, Cambodia) there was the position of “viceroy” or “second king”, locally called Uparaja or Uparat . As a rule, he was a close relative (brother, son or cousin) of the actual king and had the second highest rank in the state after him. Like the king himself, he was solemnly crowned, often had his own palace, court, guard, lands and serfs and was usually the designated heir to the throne.

See also


  • Daniel Aznar, Guillaume Hanotin, Niels F. May (eds.): À la place du roi. Vice-rois, gouverneurs et ambassadeurs dans les monarchies française et espagnole (XVIe-XVIIIe siècles). Madrid 2014.

Individual evidence

  1. In the constitutional sense, the Spanish overseas territories, unlike in the Dutch or British colonial system, were not colonies, but - like the kingdoms of Aragon, Navarre, etc. - an integral part of Spain; Hans Pohl: The economy of Hispanic America in colonial times . Stuttgart: Steiner 1996, p. 23, note 41.
  2. ^ HG Quaritch Wales : Siamese State Ceremonies - Their History and Function, with Supplementary Notes. 1931/1971. Reprinted by Curzon Press, Richmond (Surrey) 1992, pp. 52-53.
  3. ^ David K. Wyatt : Family Politics in Nineteenth Century Thailand. In: Modern Thai Politics. Schenkman, Cambridge MA 1979, pp. 45-46.