This article may be expanded with text translated from the corresponding article in the German Wikipedia. (January 2013)
Click [show] on the right to read important instructions before translating.
View a machine-translated version of the German article.
Google's machine translation is a useful starting point for translations, but translators must revise errors as necessary and confirm that the translation is accurate, rather than simply copy-pasting machine-translated text into the English Wikipedia.
Do not translate text that appears unreliable or low-quality. If possible, verify the text with references provided in the foreign-language article.
As with most titles and designations within the nobility in German-speaking areas, the rank was normally hereditary and would generally be used together with the nobiliary particle of von or zu before a family name.
In the Austrian Empire the title of "Ritter von" would be bestowed upon citizens who deserved more than the plain "von" but were not considered deserving enough as to be given a barony as "Freiherr". In addition to the described system, some states like Württemberg and Bavaria introduced orders of merit beginning in the late 18th century which also conferred nobility as "Ritter von" but kept the title limited to the recipient's lifetime (see Military Order of Max Joseph).
In heraldry, from the late 18th century a Ritter would often be indicated by the use of a coronet with five points, although not everyone who was a Ritter and displayed arms actually made use of such a coronet.