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The Great Officers of the Crown were the most important officers of state of the royal court in France during the Ancien RĂ©gime and Bourbon Restoration. They were appointed by the King of France, and the appointments were for life (except for Chancellor), and were not transmissible or hereditary. A similar list, called the Great Dignitaries of the Empire, was made by Napoleon with these positions being, usually, an honorific.

In 1224, Louis VIII legislated that the Great Officers participate – alongside the peers of France – in trials of members of the peers.

The military titles – such as the Marshals of France, the Grand Master of Artillery, or the Colonel Generals – were offices granted to individuals and not military ranks.

In the hierarchical order established by Henry III in 1582, the Great Officers of the Crown of France were:

  1. High Constable (connétable), the First Officer of the Crown and commander of the French army. The position was suppressed in 1626.
  2. Lord Chancellor (Chancelier), ran the judicial system. The chancellor was assisted in his tasks by the Keeper of the Seals.
  3. High Steward (Grand maître), head of the King's Household (or "Maison du Roi").
  4. Lord Chamberlain (Grand chambellan), in charge of the king's chamber, with additional duties.
  5. High Admiral (Amiral de France), head of the French Navy.
  6. Great Marshal (Maréchal de France) and later Marshal of the Empire, (1190 - 1967), alternated between being junior to and then senior to the High Constable; after the suppression of the High Constable, the Marshal became the de facto head of the army.
  7. Master of the Horse (Grand Ă©cuyer), in charge of the king's stables.
  8. Great Master of Artillery (Grand maître de l'artillerie), title created a Great Office in 1601 by Henry IV and suppressed by Louis XV in 1755.

In addition to these eight positions, the following offices are generally considered Great Offices:

The following offices from the Medieval court are generally considered, a posteriori, Great Offices, even though the expression, as such, did not exist at the time:

  • Great Seneschal of France, head of the king's armies and of the royal household, position suppressed in 1191.
  • Great Chamberlain, head of the King's chamber, position suppressed in 1545.
  • Grand Bouteiller, master of ceremonies, judgements of nobility, royal table and wine cellars.
  • Great Master Crossbowman (Grand maĂ®tre des arbalĂ©triers) - position subsumed by the Grand Master of Artillery.
  • Grand Panetier of France, 'bread master', also supervises the city bakeries.
  • Grand Queux, the royal cook.

Some positions, while prestigious, are not considered by all specialists as Great Officers of the Crown.

The 17th century genealogist Père Anselme also included the following as Great Officers:

The following positions, while prestigious, are generally not considered Great Officers:

In the 17th and 18th centuries, the Secretaries of State were also included with the Great Offices:

The Great Officers of the Crown of France should not be confused with the similarly named The Great Officers of the Royal Household (Grand office de la Maison du Roi de France) which shares certain members and was headed by the Lord Steward.

See also

Sources and external links



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