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A burgrave is the ruler of a castle or fortified town. The English form is derived through the French from the German Burggraf and Dutch Burggraaf, a rank above Baron but below Graf (Count), or burch-graeve (Mediaeval Latin language burcgravius or burgicomes).
- The title is originally equivalent to that of castellan (Latin: castellanus) or châtelain, meaning keeper of a castle and/or fortified town (both can be called Burg in German, burg in Dutch).
- In Germany, owing to the peculiar conditions of the Holy Roman Empire, though the office of burgrave had become a sinecure by the end of the 13th century, the title, as borne by feudal nobles having the status of Reichsfürst (Prince of the Empire), obtained a quasi-princely significance.
There were four hereditary burgraviates ranking as principalities within the Holy Roman Empire:
- The Burgraviate of Antwerp (in present Belgium): this was a title that was inherited by the Counts of Nassau, lords of Breda, who later inherited the title of Prince of Orange (see House of Orange-Nassau and Prince of Orange). The most famous holder was William the Silent, who used his influence over the city to control its government and use it a base of the Dutch Revolt. His predecessors in his family were Engelbrect, Henry and Rene. Another form of the title was "viscount of Antwerp".
- The Burgraviate of Magdeburg,
- The Burgraviate of Friedberg,
- The Burgraviate of Nuremberg : this last title was created in 1060 by the Emperor Henri IV for the house of the Vohburg, and then passed to the house of Hohenzollern, which, since Frederick I, Holy Roman Emperor, continued to hold it until 1801.
It was still included among the subsidiary titles of several German (semi-)sovereign princes; and the king of Prussia, whose ancestors were burgraves of Nuremberg for over 200 years, maintained the additional style of Burggraf von Nürnberg. The Grand Duke of Luxembourg maintains as a subsidiary title "Burgrave of Hammerstein".
- In the Low countries, the rank of burggraaf developed into the nobiliary equivalent of a viscount (see that article).
- In the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth (1569–1795), the office was of senatorial rank (i.e. entitled to a seat in the upper chamber of the sejm or diet); with the exception of their primus, the burgrabia of the former capital Kraków, these castellans were deputies of the (equally senatorial) provincial voivode.
- Motley, John Lothrop (1855). The Rise of the Dutch Republic, vol. 2. Harper & Brothers. p. 37.
- Young, Andrew (1886). A Short History of the Netherlands (Holland and Belgium). Netherlands: T. F. Unwin. p. 315.
- Putnam, Ruth (1895). William the Silent, Prince of Orange: the moderate man of the sixteenth century : the story of his life as told from his own letters, from those of his friends and enemies and from official documents, Volume 1. Putnam. p. 211.
- Parker, Geoffrey (2002). The Dutch Revolt. Penguin.
- Rowen, Herbert H. (1990). The Princes of Orange: The Stadholders in the Dutch Republic. Cambridge Univ. Press.
- Koninklijkhuis (2013). "Frequently asked questions re King William-Alexander" (web). Rijksvoorlichtingsdienst (RVD). Retrieved 2013-05-30. " The King's full official titles are King of the Netherlands, Prince of Orange-Nassau, Jonkheer van Amsberg, Count of Katzenelnbogen, Vianden, Diez, Spiegelberg, Buren, Leerdam and Culemborg, Marquis of Veere and Vlissingen, Baron of Breda, Diest, Beilstein, the town of Grave and the lands of Cuyk, IJsselstein, Cranendonk, Eindhoven and Liesveld, Hereditary Lord and Seigneur of Ameland, Lord of Borculo, Bredevoort, Lichtenvoorde, 't Loo, Geertruidenberg, Klundert, Zevenbergen, Hoge and Lage Zwaluwe, Naaldwijk, Polanen, St Maartensdijk, Soest, Baarn and Ter Eem, Willemstad, Steenbergen, Montfort, St Vith, Bütgenbach and Dasburg, VISCOUNT of ANTWERP."
- This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain: Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Burgrave". Encyclopædia Britannica (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press
- This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain: Chambers, Ephraim, ed. (1728). "article name needed". Cyclopaedia, or an Universal Dictionary of Arts and Sciences (first ed.). James and John Knapton, et al.