Talk:German nobility

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Message to the helpdesk email list:

Your article on this subject has lifted a large group of entire sentences from my copyrighted material. (see:
While I do not mind the material being used, it must be properly credited with my copyright information. This comes up quite often, with some persons trying to pass off my work as theirs.
Gilbert von Studnitz

Please investigate. -- Jeandré, 2006-02-04t12:18z

The Article was started by me, based on various sources. I rewrote everything and did not copy any texts. The source given above was not used (I guess I must have missed it, since it is quite good). Later, another anon (talk · contribs) added more material (diff), which seems to be copied with only minor variations from the source above. I have removed this material as copyrighted. I also added the link to the source stated above. Hope this solves the problem, and my apologies to Mr. Gilbert von Studnitz -- Chris 73 | Talk 15:47, 4 February 2006 (UTC)

The article referenced which was taken from Gilbert von Studnitz in "Der Blumenbaum", a publication of the Sacramento German Genealogy Society, Vol. 9, number 4, April-June 1992, is very good. It would make a great starting place to put into this article. Gilbert von Studnitz should place the whole article with some minor editing (taking out personal stuff) into this. I hope he does as when one compares this article with the Austrian Nobility article, one sees that the German Nobility needs additional material to be added. --CSvBibra 16:44, 26 October 2006 (UTC)

Try posting on and see if you can draw his attention to it if you really feel that it is important. I doubt that he actively watches this page nor do I believe he would be interested in editing it for sure, but it's worth a try if you so desire. Regards, Charles von H. 19:09, 26 October 2006 (UTC)
You are probably correct about whether he would be willing to have it placed in Wikipedia and be edited up by others. He might accept it if a statement was inserted stating that the basis of much of the initial enlargement article was his article.--CSvBibra 16:47, 27 October 2006 (UTC)

What about German "Landadel" (rural nobility)? -- 02:16, 23 July 2007 (UTC)


On the page Royal and noble ranks, grand duke is listed as higher than archduke yet this page has it the other way around. Which is more important? Which article is wrong? Also, the same page says that prince is above grand duke yet this article says prince is lower than duke. Could someone please correct whichever article is wrong or tell me so I can do it. Emperor001 17:46, 24 October 2007 (UTC)

The lists do not reflect rank, even though they roughly are ordered that way. Please note that the systems of rank vary from country to country and not all nobilities contain all titles. Charles 17:49, 24 October 2007 (UTC)

nobody is able to determine whether archduke or grand duke is higher. and it's not that relevant anyway.

prince is practically always lower than grand duke.

it really depends on the culture in each case whether a prince os higher or lower than a duke. if that's relevant. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 13:32, 21 January 2010 (UTC)

Title translations[edit]

This page translates the English term Lord in German as "Herr". I understand this is technically correct, however wouldn't "Edler Herr" be a more accurate translation?

I understand that Germany didn't have a gentry like the United Kingdom - but instead an untitled nobility in its place. However English speakers think of Herr as meaning Mister. While historically they refer to the same class of people, in English we would never address a commoner as Lord, no matter how high and lofty they are.

Do people agree with my analysis? (talk) 09:12, 26 June 2008 (UTC)

Originally "Herr" was a form of adress that corresponded to "Milord" or "Your Grace". In the 17-18th century it changed to a phrase of civility, similar to "Sir" in English, which doesn't neccessary mean, that the adressed was ennobled. Today, "Herr" simply means "Mister", as Germany has no "Sirs" anymore. "Der Herr" still means "the lord" (i.e. god), though.-- (talk) 17:37, 29 April 2011 (UTC)

Transmission of titles and noble status[edit]

I would be interested to know how noble status and titles were transmitted. My understanding is that at least large parts of the empire outside the Salic Law and primogeniture, and thus inheritance of titles and status, if not land, was partibly inherited. Can someone clarify? If someone had, say, a Lombardic or Swabian count in their family tree in the 13th century, does that make everyone of their descendants counts? (talk) 20:15, 2 April 2009 (UTC)

partible inheritance and the rank (title, honorific) belonging to all descendants (as opposed to only the primogeniture) were very much correlated.

Originally, everything in Germanies was in principle inherited in partible by agnatic descendants, i.e shared between kinsmen. In 1600s and 1700s, much of noble lands were however made primogeniture by the families themselves. A sort of move toewards fideicommisses.

Salic law was the usual thing, but as to allodial lands, women had right to inherite often, already in middle ages.

the saying 'all the descendants have that title' is stupid, it comes from such stupids who did not realize women also left descendants. The usual rule was and is that all agnatic descendants inherit the title. Only rarely, a german title is limited to primogeniture. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 13:29, 21 January 2010 (UTC)

Russian nobility?[edit]

Could someone please explain why nobility in the Russian Empire held Holy Roman Imperial titles of nobility? -- Petri Krohn (talk) 23:38, 2 May 2009 (UTC)

because many of them were granted that by a number of holy roman emperors. not all russian nobility, though. It really depends on whether it was granted or not, in each family's case.

in (much of) the 1700s, it was not regarded seemly for Tsars to create princes - that in Russia was reserved for agnatic descendants of past rulers, ie rurikids, gediminids and such. So, when a russian tsar desired a favorite to become princely, it depended on whether holy roman emperor of the time agreed to help. As soon as such received reichsfürst rank from hre, he then got incorporated into high russian nobility. funny mechanism. Menshikov was the first such creation.

although tsars regarded themselves fully capable of creating counts, still plenty of counts in russia became counts by a creation of hre. it generally was some sort of token of friemdship from the holy roman emperor, towards the tsar and the newly-made count. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 13:23, 21 January 2010 (UTC)

Kasimir von der Recke[edit]


I am courious where you got your example "Kasimir Count von der Recke" from. In my family the firstname Kasimir was never used Kind regards (talk) 10:26, 11 March 2011 (UTC)Andreas Freiherr von der Recke


Is the title "Herr" a noble title ? Since noble title can't be sold or purchased, only granted by sovereigns and transmitted to the descendants.

Siyac 17:04, 08 May 2011 (UTC) —Preceding unsigned comment added by Siyac (talkcontribs)

I do not believe Herr is a noble title. From what I have found, it is the German translation of "Mr." or "Mister" and not a sign of nobility. For instance, my ancestor Peter Schuetz, originally from Germany, was referred to in America as Herr Peter Schütz in a German newspaper. Since nobility had no power in America during the early 1900's, it does not mean he was noble.

However, I have my own question. Is Burgher a noble title? Most of the Schütz family were Burghers in at least my line, which means it was likely inherited. It was also hinted that my ancestor Johann Schütz traveled until meeting a nobleman; he learned from this man the trade of blacksmithing and married the nobleman's daughter. Johann's son, Henrich Schütz, was also a Burgher and smith in addition to working as a member of the justice court. From what little I can find, it means that burghers were citizens of high class in which officials could be drawn, which makes sense since Henrich worked in a court. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 22:09, 11 July 2011 (UTC)

Herr is a (rare) title of reigning (!) nobility; the only examples I can think of are subsidiary titles of higher nobility, such as the Emperor of Austria who was, amongst other things, "Lord of Triest, Cattaro and on the Windic Mark". (Or, for that matter, the English Queen as Lady of Mann.) Then, Freiherr is the same translated into non-reigning nobility; it's the title "baron" which, however - though an Old High German word - is in German always unofficial if not conferred by (for instance) the Russian czar. Then, Herr is a respectable form of address, and was until very recent times followed by a title if existed, e. g. Herr Doktor, Herr Oberleutnant, Herr Direktor, Herr Studienrat, Herr Professor (I would not call that outdated) or even a name of profession which is not a title (now that, I think, is rather outdated outside courtrooms) such as Herr Schriftsteller (Mr. Author), Herr Löwendompteur (I guess), etc.; Herr Angeklagter, Verteidiger, Zeuge (Mr. Defendant, Mr. Defender, Mr. Witness, in courtrooms). Indeed if you are a doctor or senator or priest etc. and speak with a German, you can take bets when the first time he'll address you as "Mr. Doctor, Mr. Senator" and "Mr. Father" (if he remembers that; if not, he might even say "Mr. Parishpriest, Mr. Chaplain or, not knowing the word "parson" and because parishpriest sounds odd, "Mr. Priest").
And then, "Herr" was accompanied by familynames of course, and as such is translated to English "Mr", similar but not parallel to the address of Englishmen as "sirs" and "gentlemen" who are not sirs nor, which is the original meaning of "gentleman", noblemen. [Not to mention that who addresses someone as "gentlemen" not always wants to indicate that he is even a gentleman in the newer, moral sense.]-- (talk) 11:23, 28 February 2012 (UTC)

Herr (Frau) was the unspecified way to adress a person of higher standing (like the use of Sir in english nowadays). It referred to the personal freedom of its bearer and to a certain rank, which could be added (Herr Graf). Due to the possibility of a personal nobility it is fair to say, that Herr stands for the lowest of all ranks. If it was bound to a certain place (house, mill, market) it could be seen as equal to the expression "lord" (the landlord = der Grundherr).-- (talk) 03:38, 4 March 2015 (UTC)

Proposals: Uradel and Briefadel[edit]

User Robertgreer has suggested that Uradel is merged into this article's section Divisions of nobility.

I disagree, because (1) the term is found in several languages, (2) the term is used for and within several noble estates, and (3) there is enough information for an independent article.

I suggest that German nobility#Divisions of nobility follows the same solution that Norwegian_nobility#Nobility as a term does: A brief explanation of a term together with a link to its main article.

Of the same reasons I suggest the move of Briefadel from this article's section Divisions of nobility and to Briefadel. I desire the opportunity to describe this word's history and usage in Danish, Norwegian, and Swedish. This is not possible today.

Breadbasket 02:19, 2 February 2013 (UTC)

There is no common agreement on the term "Uradel" in german historiography. Most historians avoid that term and use "Geschlechtsadel" (gentil nobility) instead, which applies lastly to the line of emperors until the early 12ths century (the franconian "Salier" were connected with the saxon-based "Ottonen", who were more noble than the new emerging "Capetinger" in todays central france). There is an interesting tractatus de nobilitas by Bartolo de Sassoferrato from the late 14ths century about that matter.-- (talk) 03:49, 4 March 2015 (UTC)

I concur that the term Uradel, while deserving mention, is over-emphasized and of relatively recent usage, that it needs no more than to be part of Germany's nobility and that the attempts to generalize its usage to other nobilities (especially Norway's) is undue weight and substantially original research. FactStraight (talk) 18:06, 4 March 2015 (UTC)

What were the privileges?[edit]

The article says several times that nobility enjoyed "certain privileges" that commoners did not but never identifies any of those privileges except for some inter-marriage circumstance. What were these privileges? Surely there must be some substance to it other than a title.

"Certain" is a weasel word that attempts to assert the existence of something without revealing it. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 22:27, 24 April 2014 (UTC)

I believe the institution of the family fidei-commissum was restricted to nobility up to 1918. Then it was briefly opened for everyone, before it was abolished.--2001:A60:1534:9401:A8D9:60F2:390F:EC8 (talk) 02:14, 27 February 2015 (UTC)

Privileges were not always the same! When a new choosen emperor made his ride around the Reich he usually was confronted with old privileges, which he/his chancellor/seal-holder was to renew for a fee. Sometimes he granted completely new ones, sometimes little changes were made, most of the time the privileges were orientaed to the "Liber feudorum" and local laws or custom. There are many examples of extraordinary kinds of privilege (maybe the usage of a place, a shared right with ones fiends, a title a.s.o.). This led over the centuries to some crude accumulations of privileges, which could be heired, sold, given up or even acquiered. Personal nobility f.e. could be granted to every free man, freeing someone was another privilege.-- (talk) 04:38, 7 March 2015 (UTC)

Institutions that "conferred or recognized titles"[edit]

This seems a bit misleading. The Holy Roman Empire both conferred and recognized titles. The German Confederation, as far as I understand it, simply recognized titles granted by the member states. The title of "Prince of Battenberg," for instance, was conferred by the Grand Duke of Hesse, not by the German Confederation. I'm not sure about the German Empire, but my feeling is that any conferrals of noble titles were by the King of Prussia, not the German Emperor as such. My understanding is that throughout the life of the Empire, you had an old Imperial nobility and separate Prussian, Bavaria, Württemberg, Saxon, Hessian, etc., nobilities, but no German nobility as such. john k (talk) 14:44, 18 August 2015 (UTC)


Most German titles of nobility were also inherited by all male-line descendants, although some descended by male primogeniture, especially in 19th and 20th century Prussia (e.g., Otto von Bismarck, although born a baronial Junker (not a title) and elevated twice, first to the hereditary title of count (Graf), and then to the—in this case only personal—title of prince (Fürst) in 1871, his children and future cadets of his family were counts).

So how is Bismarck's title an example of primogeniture?? —Tamfang (talk) 23:07, 22 January 2017 (UTC)