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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

A palatine or palatinus (in Latin; plural palatini; cf. derivative spellings below) was a high-level official attached to imperial or royal courts in Europe since Roman times.[1] The term palatinus was first used in Ancient Rome for chamberlains of the Emperor due to their association with the Palatine Hill,[2] the imperial palace guard after the rise of Constantine I were also called the Scholae Palatinae for the same reason. In the Early Middle Ages the title became attached to courts beyond the imperial one; the highest level of officials in the Roman Catholic Church were called the judices palatini. Later the Merovingian and Carolingian dynasties had counts palatine, as did the Holy Roman Empire. Related titles were used in Hungary, Poland, Lithuania, the German Empire, and the Duchy of Burgundy, while England, Ireland, and parts of British North America referred to rulers of counties palatine as palatines.[1]


Derivative terms

The different spellings originate from the different languages that used the title throughout the ages (a phenomenon called lenition). The word "palatine" evolved from the Latin word palatinus, asserting a connection to the Palatine Hill, where the house of the Roman emperor was situated since Augustus (hence "palace").[3] The meaning of the term hardly changed, since Latin was the dominant language in medieval writing. But its spelling slightly changed in European languages: Latin palatinus, plural palatini was still an office in Merovingian times, today referred to as the Count Palatine. The word became in French palaisin, and with the Norman dynasty entered the English language as palatine. The word paladin, referring to one of the legendary Twelve Peers of Charlemagne in the Matter of France, is also related.[4]

The word palatinus and its derivatives also translate the titles of certain great functionaries in eastern Europe, such as the Slavic voivode, a military governor of a province. In Poland the title of Palatyn (Comes Palatinus) has merged with that of Wojewoda (Dux Exercituum).


Ancient Rome: palatinus

Official and ceremonial hat of the Salii, later adopted by the Catholic Church

The members of the Imperial Guard were named after Palatine Hill, the mythical founding place of Rome. On the same hill lived the members of the older of two schools of the ancient Salii brotherhood of God of War Mars, which had some symbolism in common with that of the imperial palace.[5] Military training schools were the scholae, and the Imperial Guard was called Scholae Palatinae. It was a personal army that the emperor was allowed to use personally on campaigns.[6]

Holy Roman Empire: comes palatinus

From the Middle Ages on, the term palatine was applied to various different officials across Europe. The most important of these was the comes palatinus, the count palatine, who in Merovingian and Carolingian times (5th through 10th century) was an official of the sovereign's household, in particular of his court of law in the imperial palaces (see kaiserpfalz).[7] The count palatine was the official representative at proceedings of the court such as oath takings or judicial sentences and was in charge of the records of those developments. At first he examined cases in the king's court and was authorized to carry out the decisions, in time, these rights extended to having his own judicial rights. In addition to those responsibilities, the count palatine had administrative functions, especially concerning the king's household.

In the 9th-century Carolingian rule came to an end and the title of Holy Roman emperor with it. About a century later the title was resurrected by Otto I though the new empire was now centered in Germany rather than France. Under the German kings of the Saxon and Salian dynasties (10th to 12th century), the function of the counts palatine corresponded to those of the missi dominici at the Carolingian Court. They had various tasks: representatives of the king in the provinces, they were responsible for the administration of the royal domain and for the protecting and guiding the legal system in certain duchies, such as Saxony and Bavaria, and, in particular, Lotharingia. Later other palatine rights were absorbed by ducal dynasties, by local families, or, in Italy, by bishops. Increasingly, the count palatine of Lotharingia, whose office had been attached to the royal palace at Aachen from the 10th century onward, became the real successor to the Carolingian count palatine. From his office grew the Countship Palatine of the Rhine, or simply the Palatinate, which became a great territorial power from the time of the emperor Frederick I (Barbarossa) (d. 1190) on. The term palatine reoccurs under Charles IV, but they had only voluntary jurisdiction and some honorific functions.

Catholic Church: judices palatini

In the Middle Ages, the judices palatini (papal palace judges) were the highest administrative officers of the pope's household.

Modern era

In Early Modern Britain, the term palatinate, or county palatine, was also applied to counties of lords who could exercise powers normally reserved to the crown.[8] Likewise, there were palatine provinces among the English colonies in North America: Cecilius Calvert, 2nd Baron Baltimore, was granted palatine rights in Maryland in 1632, as were the proprietors of the Carolinas in 1663.[9] And although with tongue in cheek, legal historian John Phillip Reid once asked if the Hudson's Bay Company jurisdiction of "Rupert's Land can be analogized to a county palatine".[10] His question is yet to receive serious scholarly attention.

In 19th-century Germany, Paladin was an official rank and considered an honorary title for a man in the service of his emperor. It was a knight with additional honors, they were entitled to exercise powers normally reserved to the crown.[11] In Nazi Germany, Hermann Göring was also given the title "Paladin", referring to the tradition of a title that made the carrier second to the monarch.[12][13]


  1. ^ a b "Palatine". From the Oxford English Dictionary. Retrieved November 19, 2008.
  2. ^ "palatine." Encyclopædia Britannica. Ultimate Reference Suite. Chicago: Encyclopædia Britannica, 2008.
  3. ^ Brockhaus Encyclopedia, Mannheim 2004, paladin
  4. ^ "Paladin". From the Oxford English Dictionary. Retrieved November 19, 2008.
  5. ^ Frank, R.I., Scholae Palatinae. The Palace Guards of the Later Roman Empire Rome, 1969
  6. ^ Bleicken, Dahlheim etc, Roman History, ISBN 3506739271
  7. ^ "palatine." Encyclopædia Britannica. Ultimate Reference Suite. Chicago: Encyclopædia Britannica, 2008.
  8. ^ Palatine, Encyclopædia Britannica. Ultimate Reference Suite. Chicago: Encyclopædia Britannica, 2008.
  9. ^ John Krugler, English and Catholic, the Lords Baltimore in the seventeenth century, Baltimore 2004.
  10. ^ JP Reid, "The Layers of Western Legal History", in McLaren, Foster and Ortloff, Law for the Elephant, Law for the Beaver, 1992.
  11. ^ Brockhaus, ibidem.
  12. ^ Stefan Marthens, Erster Paladin des Führers und Zweiter Mann im Reich, Paderborn 1985, ISBN 3-506-77474-3.
  13. ^ Wolfgang Paul, Hermann Goering: Hitler's Paladin or Puppet?, London 1998, ISBN 1-85409-429-7.

1911 encyclopedia

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From LoveToKnow 1911

PALATINE (from Lat. palatium, a palace,) pertaining to the palace and therefore to the emperor, king or other sovereign ruler. In the later Roman Empire certain officials attending on the emperor, or discharging other duties at his court, were called palatini; from the time of Constantine the Great the term was also applied to the soldiers stationed in or around the capital to distinguish them from those stationed on the frontier of the empire. In the East Roman Empire the word was used to designate officials concerned with the administration of the finances and the imperial lands.

This use of the word palatine was adopted by the Frankish kings of the Merovingian dynasty. They employed a high official, the comes palatinus, who at first assisted the king in his judicial duties and at a later date discharged many of these himself. Other counts palatine were employed on military and administrative work, and the system was maintained by the Carolingian sovereigns. The word paladin, used to describe the followers of Charlemagne, is a variant of palatine. A Frankish capitulary of 882 and Hincmar, archbishop of Reims, writing about the same time, testify to the extent to which the judicial work of the Frankish Empire had passed into their hands, and one grant of power was followed by another. Instead of remaining near the person of the king, some of the counts palatine were sent to various parts of his empire to act as judges and governors, the districts ruled by them being called palatinates. Being in a special sense the representatives of the sovereign they were entrusted with more extended power than the ordinary counts. Thus comes the later and more general use of the word palatine, its application as an adjective to persons entrusted with special powers and also to the districts over which these powers were exercised. By Henry the Fowler and especially by Otto the Great, they were sent into all parts of the country to support the royal authority by checking the independent tendencies of the great tribal dukes. We hear of a count palatine in Saxony, and of others in Lorraine, in Bavaria and in Swabia, their duties being to administer the royal estates in these duchies. The count palatine in Bavaria, an office held by the family of Wittelsbach, became duke of this land, the lower title being then merged in the higher one; and with one other exception the German counts palatine soon became insignificant, although, the office having become hereditary, Pfalzgrafen were in existence until the dissolution of the Holy Roman Empire in 1806. The exception was the count palatine of the Rhine, who became one of the four lay electors and the most important lay official of the empire. In the empire the word count palatine was also used to designate the officials who assisted the emperor to exercise the rights which were reserved for his personal consideration. They were called comites palatini caesarii, or comites sacri palatii; in German, Hof pf alzgraf en. From Germany the term palatine passed into England and Scotland, into Hungary and Poland. It appears in England about the end of the 11th century, being applied by Ordericus Vitalis, to Odo, bishop of Bayeux and earl of Kent. The word palatine came in England to be applied to the earls, or rulers, of certain counties, men who enjoyed exceptional powers. Their exceptional position is thus described by Stubbs (Const. Hist. vol. i.): They were "earldoms in which the earls were endowed with the superiority of whole counties, so that all the landholders held feudally of them, in which they received the whole profits of the courts and exercised all the regalia or royal rights, nominated the sheriffs, held their own councils and acted as independent princes except in the owing of homage and fealty to the king." The most important of the counties palatine were Durham and Chester, the bishop of the one and the earl of the other receiving special privileges from William I. Chester had its own parliament, consisting of barons of the county, and was not represented in the national assembly until 1541, while it retained some of its special privileges until 1830. The bishop of Durham retained temporal jurisdiction over the county until 1836. Lancashire was made a county, or duchy, palatine in 1351, and kept some of its special judicial privileges until 1873. Thus for several centuries the king's writs did not run in these three palatine counties, and at the present day Lancashire and Durham have their own courts of chancery. Owing to the ambiguous application of the word palatine to Odo of Bayeux, it is doubtful whether Kent was ever a palatine county; if so, it was one only for a few years during the i ith century. Other palatine counties, which only retained their exceptional position for a short time, were Shropshire, the Isle of Ely, Hexhamshire in Northumbria, and Pembrokeshire in Wales. In Ireland there were palatine districts, the seven original earldoms of Scotland occupied positions somewhat analogous to that of the English palatine counties.

In Hungary the important office of palatine (Magyar Nddor) owes its inception to St Stephen. At first the head of the judicial system, the palatine undertook other duties, and became after the king the most important person in the realm. At one time he was chosen by the king from among four candidates named by the Diet. Under the later Habsburg rulers of Hungary the office was several times held by a member of this family, one of the palatines being the archduke Joseph. The office was abolished after the revolution of 1848.

In Poland the governors of the provinces of the kingdom were called palatines, and the provinces were sometimes called palatinates.

In America certain districts colonized by English settlers were treated as palatine provinces. In 1632 Cecilius Calvert, 2nd Lord Baltimore, received a charter from Charles I. giving him palatine rights in Maryland. In 1639 Sir Ferdinando Gorges, the lord of Maine, obtained one granting him as large and ample prerogatives as were enjoyed by the bishop of Durham. Carolina was another instance of a palatine province.

In addition to the authorities mentioned, see R. Schroder, Lehrbuch der deutschen Rechtsgeschichte (Leipzig, 1902); C. Pfaff, Geschichte des Pfalzgrafenamtes (Halle, 1847); G. T. Lapsley, The County Palatine of Durham (New York, 1900), and D. J. Medley, English Constitutional History (1907). (A. W. H.*)

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Up to date as of January 15, 2010

Definition from Wiktionary, a free dictionary

See also palatine




From Latin Palatinus < pãlus (stake) or from Etruscan.

Proper noun




  1. One of the seven hills of Rome; the site of the earliest settlement.

Derived terms


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