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Wahrig Deutsches Wörterbuch:

Kür stammt aus Althochdeutsch (kuri): Überlegung, prüfende Wahl
küren = wählen
kiesen stammt aus Althochdeutsch (kiosan) //in English: choose: wählen

-- Ruhrjung 08:53 24 May 2003 (UTC)

cure in English is from the Old French cure meaning care, in its turn from the Latin cura, meaning care.
procure in English is from the Old French procurer, in its turn from the Latin procurare, again to care for. Nothing to do with choice. choose is indeed related to Old High German and Old Saxon kuri, but "care" and "procure" are not. -- Someone else 09:19 24 May 2003 (UTC)

I'm not sure that "Duke/Herzog" is necessarily a higher title than "Fürst". Certainly, in the nineteenth century, a reigning Duke, with style of Highness (Hoheit), was higher than a reigning Fürst, with style of Serene Highness (Durlaucht). But this is not universally the case. Certainly a reigning Fürst, or even a mediatized Fürst was/is higher than a British Duke. And higher than some German Dukes, even. The Fürst of Schwarzburg-Sondershausen, for instance, surely outranked the Duke of Arenberg, no?
john 07:48 25 May 2003 (UTC)

You're of course perfectly correct. That's what I hoped to express by the clause "exceptions are seen (...) or other aspects of the particular title's history". The wording of a "class" of "Fürsts" was what I wondered if you would barf over. My main reason of using the world "class" was to avoid the awful hybrid Fürsts and the non-English plural Fürsten.

To compare reigning Princes with British Dukes lacking a duchy to rule isn't fair, but on the other hand is it neccessary to concentrate on the most important and the most generally valid information at the start of a text.

An alternative wording might be:

Thus the Fürsten (Prince-class¹) include Könige (kings) and Herzöge (dukes), having higher feudal rank than an unqualified Fürst, although exceptions are seen due to loss of sovereignty or other aspects of the particular title's history.
(1) Possibly, one might find "the Princes" to be a better wording than "the Prince-class".

-- Ruhrjung 09:36 25 May 2003 (UTC)

You see, I'm not certain that in traditional feudal ranking "Fürst" was necessarily lower than "Herzog".

Gilbert von Studnitz says in a.t.royalty FAQ: The German Nobility:
Landgraf (Landgrave), Markgraf (Margrave), and Pfalzgraf (Palsgrave or Count Palatine) ranked somewhat with a Duke and are usually considered higher than a Fürst.
Well, you see, there floats around plenty of opinions. It's almost to pick what one likes. ;-<<
-- Ruhrjung 22:26 25 May 2003 (UTC)

In the Holy Roman Empire, for instance, both would have been considered Princes of the Empire, and I'm not sure what style they would have held. But, one thing to note: lesser members of fürstlich families held the title of Prinz, while lesser members of Herzoglich families only got to be Dukes. Generally, prince is a higher title than duke. So I'm not sure exactly what the theoretical levels are here. Certainly, in the 19th century, an actual ruling Duke was higher than a ruling Fürst, but a non-ruling Fürst from a mediatized family (the Fürst of Hohenlohe-Langenburg, say) would have been higher than any non-ruling Duke of any country.

Of course it's possible to list the exceptions, and be more precise:
The offspring of a Fürst is, as a rule, titled Prinz (male) or Prinzessin (female). The heir of a Fürst is an Erbprinz (Hereditary Prince), Erbherzog ("Hereditary Duke"), or Erbgroßherzog ("Hereditary Grand duke"), although exceptionally there exists families where all or some members are titled Fürst/Fürstin (Wrede) or Herzog/Herzogin (Anhalt, Bavaria, Mecklenburg, Oldenburg, Saxony & Württemberg)[1].
But I'm not particular fond of this kind of prose. There is no flow.
-- Ruhrjung 22:26 25 May 2003 (UTC)

A further thought: I'm not sure I like the "royal prinz" vs. ducal prinz idea here. Especially not "most times in English we use the word Prince we mean (royal) prince" I don't know that that's true. In the nineteenth century, the German "prinz" was used for - junior members of royal families (except the Dukes in Bavaria and the Dukes of Württemberg, the junior branches of those royal families); junior members of grand ducal families (except Mecklenburg-Schwerin, Mecklenburg-Strelitz, and Oldenburg, whose junior members were Dukes); junior members of ducal families (the Saxonies, the Anhalts, Brunswick, and, outside Germany, Bourbon-Parma); junior members of fürstlich families, whether sovereign or mediatized; others given the title of Prinz, such as the prinzen von Battenberg, or the prinzen von Hohenberg, etc. That is to say, the word "prinz" is used any time you mean prince, except when you mean "the head of a fürstlich family" or "the ruler of a principality". Royal princes would only be on subset of this. Prince Louis of Battenberg was not a royal prince, but his German title was nevertheless "Prinz".
john 10:16 25 May 2003 (UTC)

We most certainly agree that both a Herzog and a Fürst were considered Princes of the Empire, and when we come to style, I have absolutely no grip at all. For me Durchlaucht is the "short title" of a Fürst (most of them), and Durchlauchtigste Prinzessin is an example of what is used as an address.

We are above, according to my understanding, touching at a matter which we haven't mentioned yet: I believe (without any examples in my mind) that a Herzog could be, at least theoretically, vasall of a German king. Since the 12th century, when the usage of the Fürst-title was distinguished/codified, a Fürst was by definition Reichsunmittelbar (i.e. having the Emperor as his nearest feudal lord). In other words: it wouldn't be correct to compare a Herzog having his fief from a king in the Empire (or outside, for that matter) with a Reichsunmittelbar Fürst.

Not sure what you mean here. There were no kings in the Holy Roman Empire, except Bohemia, which was a special case (and there were Dukes of Silesia under the Bohemian crown). Most Dukes within the Holy Roman Empire, as far as I can tell, would count as "Princes" of the Holy Roman Empire in exactly the same manner as a Fürst would. This in distinction to Dukes from other countries, and possibly the Dukes of Silesia, although I'm not sure how those worked, exactly.
Prussia, 1701.
My point, if I would try to express it more precise, is that the difference in rank between holders of different titles exists within each ranking system, but not neccessarily between them. To boil it down: The compared title-holders must be dependent of the same Crown and have equal status with regard to mediatization if the comparison shall be useful to support or falsify a theory of ranking order between holders of different titles.
-- Ruhrjung 00:22 26 May 2003 (UTC)

These distinctions are:

  1. The fief should be defined as a principal fief, and thereby per definition Reichsunmittelbar. (Since the late 12th century.)
  2. The Fürst should be acknoledged/recognized by his peers in order to aquire the political power of a Fürst at the Reichstag - otherwise he remained a titulary. (Since sometimes around 1648 I believe.)

This actualizes a number of intriguing questions:

  1. Do we know of any non-mediatized Herzog or Großherzog being ranked below any non-mediatized Fürst?
There have never been any mediatized Grand Dukes. I'm not precisely sure of this, though. The information you quoted in "Ranks of nobility and peerage" suggests that Reichsherzoge always ranked above Reichsfürsten...
  1. Do we know of any mediatized Herzog or Großherzog being ranked below any mediatized Fürst?
I don't think so. The Duke of Arenberg (the only mediatized Duke) ranked higher than the mediatized Fürsten. Of course, mediatized Fürsten ranked above any non-reigning, non-mediatized Duke.
  1. Do we know of any reigning Herzog or Großherzog being ranked below any reigning Fürst?
I don't think any reigning Dukes ever ranked below any reigning Fürsten, but I think the two were approximately equal in the old Reich. However, one might note that some Fürsten (e.g., the Princes of Anhalt), had seats in the Imperial Diet, while some Dukes (e.g., the Duke of Jülich-Kleve-Berg) did not. As far as I can tell, the ranks were nearly equal. Perhaps Dukes were higher, though.
  1. Is it a good practize to compare a Duke of an Emperor with (for instance) a Duke of the King of the two Sicilies?
Oh, the Two Sicilies - there were so many Dukes there. I don't think so, at least, not exactly. On the other hand, I think the non-mediatized Dukes are, perhaps, comparable, and would be ranked the same.
  1. Is England, or Great Britain, or the United Kingdom, a comparable entity to pre-1806 Germany?
  1. Can any British Duke be considered mediatized or reigning?
No. The 1st Duke of Marlborough was made "Fürst of Mindelheim" in the Holy Roman Empire, but that title was not inherited by his daughters, and so died with him.
  1. De we know of any British Duke ranked below any non-mediatized Herzog?
I would think that a British Duke would be of the same rank as a non-sovereign German Duke

I can't answer affirmatively on any of these questions, but that's mainly out of pure ignorance.
-- Ruhrjung 22:26 25 May 2003 (UTC)

I'm not completely sure of the answers here, either. I could try to post some of these questions on, where there are many people far more knowledgeable about this than me. john 23:05 25 May 2003 (UTC)

You wrote somewhere rather far above, that you were not sure if a (unqualified) Fürst was never ranked higher than a Herzog. I think you now have established, that we, according to our best knowledge, do not know of any case where a Fürst was ranked higher, given that we don't start to compare un-equal entities, as a royal Duke with an imperial Fürst. We can say that there might exist cases where a Fürst was ranked aproximately equal to a Herzog, but in principle it seems as one can say:

Fürsten are rulers. Some Fürsten are Herzöge, Großherzöge or Könige, but they are in principle all rulers. Their children are, with some exceptions, titled Prinz. There is a difference in rank: König > Großherzog > Herzog > (unqualified) Fürst. But they are all Fürsten.
Then, of course, there is a difference in rank below too: Fürst > Marquis > Count > Baron > Knight

You see?
This is of course logically valid also in a country where there exists only one ruler, i.e. the King.
-- Ruhrjung 00:22 26 May 2003 (UTC)

Except that in a country with one ruler, i.e. the King, there may be non-sovereign Dukes who are below their "Fürst", the King. So that doesn't quite work. Also, one oughtn't to forget Princely Counts, Counts who rank as Princes, or Landgraves, Margraves, etc. who rank as Princes. (the Princely Count of Henneberg, the Margrave of Brandenburg, the Landgrave of Hesse, and so forth). These would likely be ranked above non-reigning Dukes, like English, French, or Spanish Dukes. So the real problem, it seems, is not so much with Fürst as with Duke/Herzog... john 00:31 26 May 2003 (UTC)

Are you now, again, comparing between the systems?
A duke is always below the king, given they are comparable!
-- Ruhrjung 01:04 26 May 2003 (UTC)

What about the alternative wording?

Thus the Fürsten (the Princes) in the general sense include Könige (kings) and Herzöge (dukes), having higher feudal rank than an unqualified Fürst, although exceptions are seen due to loss of sovereignty or other aspects of the particular title's history.

-- Ruhrjung 01:09 26 May 2003 (UTC)

I'm not sure about this. Firstly, avoid "feudal rank". This has little to do with feudalism, since we're basically discussing the nineteenth century.

Are we? I thought the concept started its passage down the drain by the French revolution. -- Ruhrjung 10:34 26 May 2003 (UTC)

Secondly, Dukes in England have never been sovereign or of princely rank. Only some Dukes have ever been of princely rank, some have never been so. Again, I think this is more of a problem having to do with Dukes than with Fürst. Perhaps something specifically saying that this only relates to Germany is in order.

The first sentence says something like that, yes. -- Ruhrjung 10:34 26 May 2003 (UTC)

I also think that some version of the stuff I wrote on "Ranks of Nobility and Peerage" or whatever it's called, about the different sovereign statuses, and all that, is in order. In terms of what you're saying, the problem is that Dukes can be a) of princely rank; and b) not at all of princely rank, but simply the highest level of the nobility. Dukes of princely rank are always above a Fürst. Dukes not of princely rank are never so.

It would maybe be important to differentiate between the rank of a title per se, and the rank of the title-holder which, as we've established, is depending on many other factors than only the title? -- Ruhrjung 10:34 26 May 2003 (UTC)

One might note, for instance, that the Fürst of Auersperg was also a Duke of somewhere in Silesia, as was the Fürst of Lobkowicz. Both were referred to by their princely, and not their ducal titles. The same is true of the present-day Fürt von und zu Liechtenstein. He is also "Duke of Jägerndorf and Troppau (two Silesian titles). Liechtenstein itself is not a title that originally referred to the territory which makes up the present state of Liechtenstein (that territory was known as the County of Vaduz). So, if Duke were the higher title, one would imagine that the country would be "Jägerndorf", or some such. But it is not, because the Prince title is higher than the Duke one. john 01:20 26 May 2003 (UTC)

Now, for quite some time (as in "effective hours at the key board"), I feel to have done the constructive proposals. Your critic has been highly valuable and greatly contributed to the development (and hopefully the clarity) of the article, but now I doubt it to be within my reach to contribute to any further improvements. Maybe it would be better if you proposed an alternative text to the article?
-- Ruhrjung 10:34 26 May 2003 (UTC)

Maybe one should make the distinction clearer between 1/Fürst as the used title and 2/Fürst as a general concept. I did a try on that, although I had forgotten to log in. -- == Johan Magnus 16:42 26 May 2003 (UTC)

What's there now looks pretty good. john 18:59 26 May 2003 (UTC)

I've never ever heard that there was a ruler of Serbia, Montenegro or Bulgaria with the title "Fuerst". This could be reference to "Knez" which was maybe translated to German as "Fuerst"? Who wrote that and what rulers did he/she referring to? Nikola 09:07, 16 Aug 2004 (UTC)

Those rulers are referred to as Fürst in German (as they are referred to as vorst in Dutch). A sovereign Fürst is exactly the same as a sovereign prince. Känsterle 22:18, 19 July 2005 (UTC)

The basic issue, I guess, is that in English (and French as well, and probably the other Romance languages, although I'm not certain of that) we use the word "Prince" as a translation for two German words which are quite distinct Fürst and Prinz. Although neither of them is referred to as such in their native language, the current Prince of Monaco is a Fürst, while Prince Michael of Kent is a Prinz. I would imagine that the Prince of Wales is also a Fürst, although I'm not sure. Basically - Prinz is a courtesy title for a member of a royal family, while Fürst is a substantive title. john k 22:27, 19 July 2005 (UTC)

I think Nikola was talking about the referrence to Slavic languages having only one term (like the only one "prince" in English), which I'm not sure others understood. Similarly, in Czech, there are also two terms - "princ" for the son of a king and "kníže" for a ruler, roughly equivalent to the German Fürst. (talk) 13:01, 4 September 2013 (UTC)

Overall revision of the text to improve the standard of the article[edit]

I've heavily restructured the article, rewriting quite a bit of it, and have as a result removed the tag requesting a cleanup. However, there were a couple of parts where it wasn't terribly clear what was meant by the writer; it should be fairly obvious which parts they were, as I've pretty much left the relevant text as it was. Not being fully familiar with the subject, it's also possible of course that I've inadvertently introduced errors into the article... (Silverhelm 01:29, 19 August 2005 (UTC))

Derived titles section[edit]

This section is so impossibly garbled with clauses and parentheses that I have no idea what it's actually talking about. Can someone who can make sense of it please clean it up?

I removed a lot of irrelevant stuff that is covered in the HRE article, but am contemplating removing a lot of the non-fuerst titles. Charles 18:53, 28 April 2006 (UTC)

A question[edit]

According to the following section in the article :

A Reichsfürst could be, in order of descending rank, the King, a Grand Duke, a Duke, a Margrave, a Count, a Landgrave, a Count of the Empire, a nominal Prince (Fürst), a Burgrave, a Freiherr, a nominal 'Lord' (German: Herr), an Imperial Knight, or a Prince of the Church.

How can a Count(Graf) outrank a Landgrave ?

Does anyone have any source back up this order of descending rank ?

Siyac 18:53, 28 May 2008 (UTC)

Russian term[edit]

Slavic-based (Russian, Polish, Serbian, etc.) languages also employ a single term

russian language employs for this term the word knyaz. as well as the word knyaz used as translation of daimyo (Idot (talk) 18:06, 28 January 2013 (UTC))

NB: russian royal family members in russian language called as knyaz too, but for foreign family members used word prince (Idot (talk) 18:12, 28 January 2013 (UTC))

I confirm what is stated here above: It is wrong to say "... Slavic-based (Russian[citation needed], Polish, Serbian, etc.) languages also employ a single term, ... ." At least Russian distinguishes Prinz from Fürst. Prinz (if referred to a Western aristrocratic house) is usually translated as prints (принц), Fürst as knyaz (князь); Prinz (as the "function" being the son of the tsar) if referred to the Russian aristocracy as tsarevich (царевич) - however, tsarevich is usually translated into German as Zarensohn. Best, Ulrich — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 10:20, 9 June 2013 (UTC)

Good point, but more clarification is needed so that we get it right in the article. Prinz is the German word for a cadet of a dynasty, but Knyaz is used for all nobles of princely rank, while cadets of the Russian Imperial family who are great-grandchildren or more remote descendants of an emperor, and the female equivalents for their wives and daughters. Also Romanov cadets who were younger children or grandchildren of an emperor were Veliky Knyaz, not Veliky Prints. So it is more accurate to say that Russian distinguishes Fürst from Prinz for German royalty (and nobility?), but not for Russian. I don't know whether Russian newspapers translate, for example, Charles, Prince of Wales and Prince Harry of Wales using Knyaz or Prints? I do agree, however, that Russian and Serbian did use as many as 3 different terms for different types of princes (although Tsarevich had officially become obsolete before the 1800s in Russia and only the heir apparent was properly styled as Tsesarevich)-- yet not in Serbia. English and Latin languages (French, Italian, Spanish) always use one term, German uses two different terms, and all of them now translate Tsarevich as "prince" or Prinz when referring to a cadet (rather than to the heir to a throne). Any more distinctions we need to take note of? FactStraight (talk) 22:58, 4 September 2013 (UTC)


@FactStraight: The spelling "honorary" is both the usual US and UK spelling. Please compare honorary and honourary at - all the well-known US and UK dictionaries list "honorary" and don't list "honourary". -- John of Reading (talk) 11:02, 1 September 2015 (UTC)