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Nobility and Royalty of the Kingdom of Hungary: Wikis


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This article deals with titles of the nobility and royalty in the Kingdom of Hungary.


Earlier usage (till 1526)

Before the accession of the Habsburgs, the nobility was structured according to the offices in the administration of the Kingdom. The highest officials were named barons of the kingdom (lat. barones regni) with the title of a magnificus vir.

In the time of Sigismund of Luxemburg they were:

  • the Palatine (comes palatinus) – hung. nádor
  • the Voivode of Transylvania (woyuoda Transsiluanus) – hung. erdélyi vajda
  • the judge of the royal court (iudex curiae regiae) – hung. országbíró
  • the bans of Croatia, Slavonia, Dalmatia, Macva (hung. Macsó), and Severin (hung. Szörény) (bani) – hung. horvát-dalmát bán, horvát-szlavón bán, macsói bán and szörényi bán
  • the master of the treasury (magister tavernicorum) – hung. tárnokmester
  • the master of janitors (ianitorum regalium magister) – hung. főajtónálló
  • the master of stewards (dapiferorum regalium magister) – hung. főasztalnok
  • the master of cup-bearers (pincernarum regalium magister) – hung. főpohárnok
  • the marshal (agasonum regalium magister) – hung. főlovászmester
  • counts of Bratislava (hung. Pozsony) and Timis (hung. Temes) – hung. pozsonyi ispán and temesi ispán
  • the high treasurer (summus thesaurarius) – hung. főkincstárnok
  • the count of the Szeklers – hung. székelyek ispánja
  • the secret chancellor - hung. titkos kancellár

These officials were usually chosen from among the most powerful landowners.

There was also a class of noblemen that arose from the royal servants called the servientes regis.

Counts (Latin: comes, Hungarian: ispán or gespan) that appear before the 16th century are holder of posts in administration, governing their respective comitatus, not holders of noble titles.

Habsburg period (after 1526)

The usage of such titles as duke or count, although of earlier origin, became widespread only in the Habsburg era.

According to István Werbőczy (a Hungarian jurist and palatine of the 16th century – mostly known for his work Tripartitum, a summary of customary laws) – the rights of noblemen were these:

  • they could not be arrested without legal procedure,
  • they owed obedience only to the king,
  • they were free of taxes and customs,
  • they could be compelled to perform military service only in defense of the country.

Most nobles either inherited the title or were promoted by the king. There were two additional ways to become a noble: either by being adopted into a noble family with special permission from the king, or, for a daughter of a nobleman who had no male heirs, by being granted special privileges by the king (thus the daughter was treated as if she were male, could inherit the title and the estates and could pass the title to her children even if she married below her status).

Noblemen were usually wealthy landowners. There were two kinds of estates: either they were donated by the king (usually together with the title) or they were acquired (bought). While acquired estates could be bought and sold freely, donated estates were inalienable and were always inherited by the eldest son (or sometimes, with the king's permission, the eldest daughter, see above). If the family became extinct, the estate reverted to the king.

Sometimes a nobleman gave noble title and estate to one of his loyal men. Officially this would have required the permission of the king, but often the king's permission was not sought.

Due to great demand of soldiers during the wars against the Turks in the 16th and 17th centuries, sometimes a whole garrison of 80 to 120 soldiers was raised to nobiliary rank, being granted one coat of arms for all of them to share.[1]

The 8th Law of 1886 finally created the category of noble prince (Hungarian: herceg). The law gave the list of princely families mostly nationalized foreign families like Szász-Koburg-Gotha, Liechtenstein, Thurn-Taxis or Schwarzenberg.

All hereditary titles were abolished in 1945. In newly-formed states formerly belonging to the Hungarian crown the situation varies; for instance the Constitution of Czechoslovakia abolishes all indicators of nobility in 1918. This included titles and place origins suggesting noble rank (eg. Forgach de Ghymes).

Some titles

  • Duke (Latin: dux, Hungarian: herceg, Slovak: vojvoda, German: Herzog): The Hungarian word is derived from the German one. Initially, all dukes were from the royal family, so that the title can be (like in some other countries) also translated as royal prince, hereditary prince, crown prince.
  • Prince (Latin: Princeps, Hungarian: herceg, fejedelem, uralkodó, Slovak: Knieža, German: Fürst): The title and rank of Prince was the highest reachable state for a Hungarian nobleman, and was given by the Habsburgs in their capacity as Emperors of the Holy Roman Empire and Austria. Misleadingly, this title of Prince did not mean an attendant autonomous principality, but was 'only' a title, however magnificent.
  • Count and baron (Latin: comes/baro, Hungarian: gróf / báró, Slovak gróf / barón, German: Graf/ Baron ): These titles were mainly used in the Habsburg era, although the title of baron was granted by King Vladislaus II (1490–1516) for the first time. The first known gróf (lat. perpetuus comes) was John Hunyadi.

List of Notable Noble Families of Hungary


  • (Ruling) Prince (Latin: princeps or dux, Hungarian: fejedelem, Slovak: knieža, German: Fürst): Fejedelem was the title of the ruler of the Hungarian principality before the first king, Stephen I was crowned in 1000. In later centuries a fejedelem was the ruler of Transylvania. Francis II Rákóczi was also elected prince of the Estates Confederated for Liberty of the Kingdom of Hungary during a war of independence (1703–1711)
  • King (Latin: rex, Hungarian: király, Slovak: kráľ , German: König): The Magyar word király is derived from the Slavic word kral or kralj, which in turn is derived from the German name Karl. A reigning queen was called királynő, a queen consort was called királyné in Hungarian. The title junior king (lat. rex iunior) designated the crowned son of the monarch who held territorial power and ruled by the grace of God and his father.
  • Emperor (Latin: imperator, Hungarian: császár, Slovak: cisár , German: Kaiser): After the Kingdom of Hungary became part of the Habsburg empire in 1526, the country was ruled by the Holy Roman Emperor who also ruled Austria, although the Kingdom of Hungary itself was not part of the Holy Roman Empire.

See also


  1. ^ Carl-Alexander von Volborth. Heraldry: Customs, Rules, and Styles. (Blandford Press, Dorset: 1981), p. 122.

External links

  • For an example of Hungarian minor nobility, see The Records of the Tötösy de Zepetnek Family [1]
  • For an example of Hungarian noble family, see The History of the Wass de Czege Family [2]


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