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Ritter (German for "knight") is a designation used as title of nobility in German-speaking areas. Traditionally it denotes the second lowest rank within the nobility, standing above "Edler" and below "Freiherr". For its historical association with warfare and the gentry in the Middle Ages, it can be considered roughly equal to the titles of "Knight" or "Baronet".

As with most titles and designations within the nobility in German-speaking areas, the rank was normally hereditary and would generally be used together with the designation of von before a family name.

In the Austrian Empire the title of "Ritter von" would be bestowed upon citizens who deserved more than the plain "von" but were not considered deserving enough as to be given a barony as "Freiherr von". In addition to the described system, some states like W├╝rttemberg and Bavaria introduced orders of merit beginning in the late 18th century which also conferred nobility as "Ritter von" but kept the title limited to the recipient's life (see Military Order of Max Joseph).

In heraldry, a Ritter would since the late 18th century often be indicated by the use of a coronet with five points, although not everyone who was a Ritter and displayed arms would actually make use of such a coronet.

See also


Wiktionary

Up to date as of January 15, 2010

Definition from Wiktionary, a free dictionary

Contents

German

Etymology

Middle High German

Pronunciation

Noun

Ritter m. (genitive Ritters, plural Ritter)

  1. knight







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