Austrian nobility

Austrian nobility

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Historically, the Austrian nobility was a privileged social class
Social class
Social classes are economic or cultural arrangements of groups in society. Class is an essential object of analysis for sociologists, political scientists, economists, anthropologists and social historians. In the social sciences, social class is often discussed in terms of 'social stratification'...

 in Austria
Austria
Austria , officially the Republic of Austria , is a landlocked country of roughly 8.4 million people in Central Europe. It is bordered by the Czech Republic and Germany to the north, Slovakia and Hungary to the east, Slovenia and Italy to the south, and Switzerland and Liechtenstein to the...

. The nobility was officially abolished in 1919 after the fall of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Former noble families and their descendants are still a part of Austrian society today, but they no longer retain any specific privileges. Austria's system of nobility
Nobility
Nobility is a social class which possesses more acknowledged privileges or eminence than members of most other classes in a society, membership therein typically being hereditary. The privileges associated with nobility may constitute substantial advantages over or relative to non-nobles, or may be...

 is very similar to Germany
Germany
Germany , officially the Federal Republic of Germany , is a federal parliamentary republic in Europe. The country consists of 16 states while the capital and largest city is Berlin. Germany covers an area of 357,021 km2 and has a largely temperate seasonal climate...

's system, as both countries were previously part of the Holy Roman Empire
Holy Roman Empire
The Holy Roman Empire was a realm that existed from 962 to 1806 in Central Europe.It was ruled by the Holy Roman Emperor. Its character changed during the Middle Ages and the Early Modern period, when the power of the emperor gradually weakened in favour of the princes...

.

Any noble living in the Habsburg
Habsburg
The House of Habsburg , also found as Hapsburg, and also known as House of Austria is one of the most important royal houses of Europe and is best known for being an origin of all of the formally elected Holy Roman Emperors between 1438 and 1740, as well as rulers of the Austrian Empire and...

-ruled lands, and who owed their allegiance to the dynasty and the Emperor of Austria
Emperor of Austria
The Emperor of Austria was a hereditary imperial title and position proclaimed in 1804 by the Holy Roman Emperor Francis II, a member of the House of Habsburg-Lorraine, and continually held by him and his heirs until the last emperor relinquished power in 1918. The emperors retained the title of...

, were also considered part of the Austrian aristocracy. This applied to any member of the Bohemian
Bohemian nobility
Bohemian or Czech nobility refers to the noble families of the Czech state , also known as "Bohemian Crown", "The Lands of the Bohemian Crown" or "The Lands of the Crown of Saint Wenceslaus".Aristocracy was abolished by law in December 1918 at the occasion of birth of the independent...

, Hungarian, Polish, Croatian
Croatian nobility
Croatian nobility refers to the noble families of Croatia, Slavonia, Dalmatia, Istria, Bosnia and Republic of Ragusa.-General history of Croatian nobility:Croatian nobility titles mostly were granted by the kings of Croatia, later kings of Hungary-Croatia...

, Dalmatian and other nobilities in the Habsburg dominion
Dominion
A dominion, often Dominion, refers to one of a group of autonomous polities that were nominally under British sovereignty, constituting the British Empire and British Commonwealth, beginning in the latter part of the 19th century. They have included Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Newfoundland,...

. Attempting to differentiate between ethnicities
Ethnic group
An ethnic group is a group of people whose members identify with each other, through a common heritage, often consisting of a common language, a common culture and/or an ideology that stresses common ancestry or endogamy...

 can be quite confusing, especially for nobles during the time of the Austro-Hungarian Empire
Austria-Hungary
Austria-Hungary , more formally known as the Kingdoms and Lands Represented in the Imperial Council and the Lands of the Holy Hungarian Crown of Saint Stephen, was a constitutional monarchic union between the crowns of the Austrian Empire and the Kingdom of Hungary in...

. A noble from Galicia
Kingdom of Galicia and Lodomeria
The Kingdom of Galicia and Lodomeria was a crownland of the Habsburg Monarchy, the Austrian Empire, and Austria–Hungary from 1772 to 1918 .This historical region in eastern Central Europe is currently divided between Poland and Ukraine...

, for example, could call himself a Polish noble, but he also rightfully belonged to the Austrian nobility.

Religion, just like ethnicity, was also not used for any categorisation purpose. Austrian nobility could belong to any of the religions within the Habsburg empire, such as Roman Catholic nobles in Austria, Hungary, Croatia, Dalmatia, Slovenia and Poland, Protestants in Bohemia and Transylvania
Transylvania
Transylvania is a historical region in the central part of Romania. Bounded on the east and south by the Carpathian mountain range, historical Transylvania extended in the west to the Apuseni Mountains; however, the term sometimes encompasses not only Transylvania proper, but also the historical...

, Greek Catholics in eastern Galicia, Orthodox
Serbian Orthodox Church
The Serbian Orthodox Church is one of the autocephalous Orthodox Christian churches, ranking sixth in order of seniority after Constantinople, Alexandria, Antioch, Jerusalem, and Russia...

 Serbs in Vojvodina
Vojvodina
Vojvodina, officially called Autonomous Province of Vojvodina is an autonomous province of Serbia. Its capital and largest city is Novi Sad...

, as well as nobles of Jewish faith.

When speaking of "Austrian nobility", two categories can be made:
1) the historic nobility that lived in the territories of the Habsburg empire and who swore allegiance to the dynasty, which included everyone until 1918;
2) the present, post-1918 Austrian nobility, specifically those who today retain Austrian citizenship, whose family originally come from Austria proper, South Tyrol
South Tyrol
South Tyrol , also known by its Italian name Alto Adige, is an autonomous province in northern Italy. It is one of the two autonomous provinces that make up the autonomous region of Trentino-Alto Adige/Südtirol. The province has an area of and a total population of more than 500,000 inhabitants...

 (Italy
Italy
Italy , officially the Italian Republic languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Italy's official name is as follows:;;;;;;;;), is a unitary parliamentary republic in South-Central Europe. To the north it borders France, Switzerland, Austria and...

) and Burgenland
Burgenland
Burgenland is the easternmost and least populous state or Land of Austria. It consists of two Statutarstädte and seven districts with in total 171 municipalities. It is 166 km long from north to south but much narrower from west to east...

, or who were ennobled at any point under Austrian rule and identify themselves as belonging to that class.

History


From 1453 onwards, the Archduke
Archduke
The title of Archduke denotes a noble rank above Duke and below King, used only by princes of the Houses of Habsburg and Habsburg-Lorraine....

 of Austria had the right to grant nobility to non-nobles, as did the Archbishop of Salzburg, as Salzburg
Salzburg
-Population development:In 1935, the population significantly increased when Salzburg absorbed adjacent municipalities. After World War II, numerous refugees found a new home in the city. New residential space was created for American soldiers of the postwar Occupation, and could be used for...

 remained an independent territory. Besides the Holy Roman Emperor (an office which was almost uninterruptedly held by the Archduke of Austria from 1438 to 1806 anyway), only a few territorial rulers within the Empire had this right. In an era of Absolutism
Absolutism (European history)
Absolutism or The Age of Absolutism is a historiographical term used to describe a form of monarchical power that is unrestrained by all other institutions, such as churches, legislatures, or social elites...

, the nobility residing in the cities slowly turned itself into the court-nobility (Hofadel). Service at the court
Noble court
The court of a monarch, or at some periods an important nobleman, is a term for the extended household and all those who regularly attended on the ruler or central figure...

 became the primary goal of the nobility. This in turn initiated an interest in education and the interests of the court. Within the court, a close inner circle, called the 100 Familien (100 families), possessed enormous riches and lands. They also had great influence at the court and thus played an important role in politics
Politics
Politics is a process by which groups of people make collective decisions. The term is generally applied to the art or science of running governmental or state affairs, including behavior within civil governments, but also applies to institutions, fields, and special interest groups such as the...

 and diplomacy
Diplomacy
Diplomacy is the art and practice of conducting negotiations between representatives of groups or states...

.

After the end of the Holy Roman Empire in 1806, the Habsburg rulers, who were Austrian Emperors
Austrian Empire
The Austrian Empire was a modern era successor empire, which was centered on what is today's Austria and which officially lasted from 1804 to 1867. It was followed by the Empire of Austria-Hungary, whose proclamation was a diplomatic move that elevated Hungary's status within the Austrian Empire...

 from 1804 onwards, continued to elevate deserving individuals to nobility until the end of the monarchy in 1918. Some of the noble families even earned themselves the right to be hereditary peers in the House of Lords
House of Lords
The House of Lords is the upper house of the Parliament of the United Kingdom. Like the House of Commons, it meets in the Palace of Westminster....

 (Herrenhaus) in the Imperial Council (Reichsrat
Reichsrat (Austria)
The Imperial Council of Austria from 1867 to 1918 was the parliament of the Cisleithanian part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. It was a bicameral legislature, consisting of the Herrenhaus and the Abgeordnetenhaus...

) of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Nobles from previously sovereign states such as those in northern Italy (Venice, Mantua, Milan) also had their noble rights confirmed and were allowed to keep their titles.

Jewish nobility


Because of the Toleranzpatent
1782 Edict of Tolerance
The 1782 Edict of Tolerance was a religious reform of Joseph II during the time he was emperor of the Habsburg Monarchy as part of his policy of Josephinism, a series of drastic reforms to remodel Austria in the form of the ideal Enlightened state. Joseph II's enlightened despotism included the...

, which was decreed in 1782 by Emperor Joseph II
Joseph II, Holy Roman Emperor
Joseph II was Holy Roman Emperor from 1765 to 1790 and ruler of the Habsburg lands from 1780 to 1790. He was the eldest son of Empress Maria Theresa and her husband, Francis I...

, Jewish bankers and later entrepreneur
Entrepreneur
An entrepreneur is an owner or manager of a business enterprise who makes money through risk and initiative.The term was originally a loanword from French and was first defined by the Irish-French economist Richard Cantillon. Entrepreneur in English is a term applied to a person who is willing to...

s and industrialists could also be ennobled for their services and loyalty. Jews who were elevated into the aristocracy were allowed to keep their religion. Although the elevation into the aristocracy meant recognition for the work and services and a rise in social status, it could not hide the fact that Jews were for the most part still only being "tolerated". Jews could not freely choose the place and duration of their stay and had to regularly ask for permission from the authorities. This placed a huge burden on Jewish families. If the head of the family died, all his relatives had to leave the city. The right to purchase real estate
Real estate
In general use, esp. North American, 'real estate' is taken to mean "Property consisting of land and the buildings on it, along with its natural resources such as crops, minerals, or water; immovable property of this nature; an interest vested in this; an item of real property; buildings or...

 was forbidden to Jews, even if they belonged to the nobility. This regulation stayed in place until 1860, when it was abolished by Emperor Franz Joseph I
Franz Joseph I of Austria
Franz Joseph I or Francis Joseph I was Emperor of Austria, King of Bohemia, King of Croatia, Apostolic King of Hungary, King of Galicia and Lodomeria and Grand Duke of Cracow from 1848 until his death in 1916.In the December of 1848, Emperor Ferdinand I of Austria abdicated the throne as part of...

 and Jewish citizens were given equal rights. But almost a century before, the banker and protector of arts, Karl Wetzler [or Wetzlar] von Plankenstern was created a Freiherr by Empress Maria Theresia, he converted to Catholicism.

Despite these difficulties, by 1821 there were at least nine ennobled Jewish families living in Vienna alone. Their elevation was due to their industrial and economic contributions. Some of the very wealthy included the Rothschilds
Rothschild banking family of Austria
The Rothschild banking family of Austria was founded by Salomon Mayer von Rothschild in 1820 in Vienna in what was then the Austrian Empire.-History:...

, Arnstein
Arnstein
Arnstein is a town in the Main-Spessart district in the Regierungsbezirk of Lower Franconia in Bavaria, Germany.- Location :...

, Eskeles, Gomperz, Kuffner, Lieben, Auspitz, Schey von Koromla, Todesco and Wertheimstein, von Wiernes families. For example, in the case of the Rothschilds and Todescos, the secret of their personal economic success was their quick ability to adjust and innovate to the changing global economic situation. They founded bank
Bank
A bank is a financial institution that serves as a financial intermediary. The term "bank" may refer to one of several related types of entities:...

s that financed companies and infrastructure projects in a time of great economic and industrial growth in the late 19th century. Their contributions made it possible for Austria-Hungary to keep up with the international economic developments.

The elevation into nobility also hastened the process of assimilation
Jewish assimilation
Jewish assimilation refers to the cultural assimilation and social integration of Jews in their surrounding culture. Assimilation became legally possible in Europe during the Age of Enlightenment.-Background:Judaism forbids the worship of other gods...

 of Jewish families into the higher society. Some converted to Christianity in order to become fully accepted, but many kept their Jewish religion.

Burgenland


On the former status of nobility in Burgenland
Burgenland
Burgenland is the easternmost and least populous state or Land of Austria. It consists of two Statutarstädte and seven districts with in total 171 municipalities. It is 166 km long from north to south but much narrower from west to east...

, which was part of the Kingdom of Hungary
Hungary
Hungary , officially the Republic of Hungary , is a landlocked country in Central Europe. It is situated in the Carpathian Basin and is bordered by Slovakia to the north, Ukraine and Romania to the east, Serbia and Croatia to the south, Slovenia to the southwest and Austria to the west. The...

 until 1921, see Hungarian nobility.

Abolition of nobility in 1919


The Adelsaufhebungsgesetz of 1919 (Law on the Abolition of Nobility) abolished nobility as well as all noble privileges and, other than those in Germany, noble titles and names. Thus, no citizen of Austria can have any noble titles or even particles such as von
Von
In German, von is a preposition which approximately means of or from.When it is used as a part of a German family name, it is usually a nobiliary particle, like the French, Spanish and Portuguese "de". At certain times and places, it has been illegal for anyone who was not a member of the nobility...

 and zu in his or her name. For example, the name of the grandson of the last Austrian emperor is simply Karl Habsburg. Similarly, Friedrich von Hayek became Friedrich Hayek
Friedrich Hayek
Friedrich August Hayek CH , born in Austria-Hungary as Friedrich August von Hayek, was an economist and philosopher best known for his defense of classical liberalism and free-market capitalism against socialist and collectivist thought...

 and Kurt von Schuschnigg became Kurt Schuschnigg
Kurt Schuschnigg
Kurt Alois Josef Johann Schuschnigg was Chancellor of the First Austrian Republic, following the assassination of his predecessor, Dr. Engelbert Dollfuss, in July 1934, until Germany’s invasion of Austria, , in March 1938...

.

This may sometimes be confusing, as descendants of nobles are sometimes referred to with noble names abroad, even though this is not legally accurate with respect to Austrian citizens. Also, different members of noble families often hold different citizenships, such as in the case of Otto von Habsburg
Otto von Habsburg
Otto von Habsburg , also known by his royal name as Archduke Otto of Austria, was the last Crown Prince of Austria-Hungary from 1916 until the dissolution of the empire in 1918, a realm which comprised modern-day Austria, Hungary, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Slovakia,...

 (the son of the last Austrian emperor and father of the Karl Habsburg mentioned above), who is also a citizen of Germany, where this Austrian law does not apply to him. The law does not apply to artistic, performer's, or "stage names," where the von is sometimes used, as in the case of conductor Herbert von Karajan
Herbert von Karajan
Herbert von Karajan was an Austrian orchestra and opera conductor. To the wider world he was perhaps most famously associated with the Berlin Philharmonic, of which he was principal conductor for 35 years...

 or the musician Hubert von Goisern. However, stage names are never recognized for official purposes.

Members of the lower nobility especially (such as the civil servants) found this radical step of abolition degrading and humiliating, since working towards and finally earning a nobility title was a way for them and their families to rise within society. Members of the higher nobility were able to absorb the formal abolition more easily. They lost their titles and their privileges, but they still kept their social manners and standing and were allowed to keep their riches. Federal President
President of Austria
The President of Austria is the federal head of state of Austria. Though theoretically entrusted with great power by the constitution, in practice the President acts, for the most part, merely as a ceremonial figurehead...

 Michael Hainisch
Michael Hainisch
Michael Hainisch was an Austrian politician, and the second President of Austria, after the fall of the monarchy at the end of World War I. He did not belong to any party and was an independent candidate...

 called the official abolition
The law was never repealed, even during the period of Austrofascism
Austrofascism
Austrofascism is a term which is frequently used by historians to describe the authoritarian rule installed in Austria with the May Constitution of 1934, which ceased with the forcible incorporation of the newly-founded Federal State of Austria into Nazi Germany in 1938...

 (1934–1938). Following the Anschluss
Anschluss
The Anschluss , also known as the ', was the occupation and annexation of Austria into Nazi Germany in 1938....

 to Nazi Germany
Nazi Germany
Nazi Germany , also known as the Third Reich , but officially called German Reich from 1933 to 1943 and Greater German Reich from 26 June 1943 onward, is the name commonly used to refer to the state of Germany from 1933 to 1945, when it was a totalitarian dictatorship ruled by...

 (1938–1945), this law remained active, although it was not enforced, allowing Austrian nobles to use titles freely again.

Although the noble titles and the particles von and zu are not officially kept any more, some persons are still referred to with their titles in a private function. For example, Karl Schwarzenberg
Karel Schwarzenberg
Karel Schwarzenberg or Karel, Prince of Schwarzenberg , 7...

 will occasionally still be referred to as Fürst
Fürst
Fürst is a German title of nobility, usually translated into English as Prince.The term refers to the head of a principality and is distinguished from the son of a monarch, who is referred to as Prinz...

 Schwarzenberg
House of Schwarzenberg
-History:The family was first mentioned in 1172. A branch of the Seinsheim family was created when Erkinger I of Seinsheim acquired the Franconian barony of Schwarzenberg, the castle Schwarzenberg and the title Baron of Schwarzenberg, in 1405–21. At this time, they also possessed some fiefdoms in...

 (Prince Schwarzenberg) in the media; he holds Czech and Swiss citizenship, not Austrian. As opposed to nobility in Bohemia, Poland, Russia, or the former Prussian territories, the Austrian nobility never had its lands and riches confiscated. Social
Social
The term social refers to a characteristic of living organisms...

 measures were introduced by the republican government in order to create more equality amongst the citizens and finance public projects, which put a strain on the traditional land-holding gentry
Gentry
Gentry denotes "well-born and well-bred people" of high social class, especially in the past....

 and aristocracy
Aristocracy
Aristocracy , is a form of government in which a few elite citizens rule. The term derives from the Greek aristokratia, meaning "rule of the best". In origin in Ancient Greece, it was conceived of as rule by the best qualified citizens, and contrasted with monarchy...

, resulting in the forced sale of many palaces and lands, due to the expense of their upkeep. However, there was no measure by the government specifically to target nobility and take away their possessions.

To many Austrians, the abolition of nobility, its privileges and titles was and still is an important element of a democratic
Democracy
Democracy is generally defined as a form of government in which all adult citizens have an equal say in the decisions that affect their lives. Ideally, this includes equal participation in the proposal, development and passage of legislation into law...

 and republic
Republic
A republic is a form of government in which the people, or some significant portion of them, have supreme control over the government and where offices of state are elected or chosen by elected people. In modern times, a common simplified definition of a republic is a government where the head of...

an state, where individuals are treated equally and thus should hold any titles of honour solely by their individual merit. Noble titles have been replaced with an almost obsessive usage of and fascination with academic titles and titles of office
Office
An office is generally a room or other area in which people work, but may also denote a position within an organization with specific duties attached to it ; the latter is in fact an earlier usage, office as place originally referring to the location of one's duty. When used as an adjective, the...

. Regardless, the nobility today are sometimes still treated slightly differently from ordinary citizens. Austrian nobility still plays a large part in movies made after World War II (for example Sissi
Sissi (film)
Sissi is a 1955 film directed by Ernst Marischka and starring Romy Schneider, Karlheinz Böhm, Magda Schneider, Uta Franz, Gustav Knuth, Vilma Degischer and Josef Meinrad. It is the first of a trilogy of romantic films about the Empress of Austria, Elisabeth of Bavaria, who was known to her family...

 and Sound of Music), and is still featured regularly in the media and literature. The social events of nobles are still spread far and wide in tabloids
Tabloid journalism
Tabloid journalism tends to emphasize topics such as sensational crime stories, astrology, gossip columns about the personal lives of celebrities and sports stars, and junk food news...

. Besides, the law is gladly broken on many occasions when members of the nobility are addressed at various events. Especially at the annual birthday celebration of Emperor Francis Joseph in Bad Ischl, present members of the Habsburg family are addressed as "Imperial and Royal Highnesses".

Apart from the loss of their titles, which hit the lower nobility harder than the higher nobility, most have fared remarkably well in modern Austria and still make up some of the richest families, such as the Esterházy, Mayr-Melnhof
Mayr-Melnhof
Mayr-Melnhof Karton AG is a manufacturer in the paper and packaging industry, based in Vienna, Austria.Owner: 65 % family owned, rest free-float, listed on the Vienna Stock Exchange .-Countries:...

 and Mautner-Markhof. Many members of the Austrian nobility today work in the traditional fields of diplomacy
Diplomacy
Diplomacy is the art and practice of conducting negotiations between representatives of groups or states...

, politics
Politics
Politics is a process by which groups of people make collective decisions. The term is generally applied to the art or science of running governmental or state affairs, including behavior within civil governments, but also applies to institutions, fields, and special interest groups such as the...

, have business
Business
A business is an organization engaged in the trade of goods, services, or both to consumers. Businesses are predominant in capitalist economies, where most of them are privately owned and administered to earn profit to increase the wealth of their owners. Businesses may also be not-for-profit...

 and financial
FINANCIAL
FINANCIAL is the weekly English-language newspaper with offices in Tbilisi, Georgia and Kiev, Ukraine. Published by Intelligence Group LLC, FINANCIAL is focused on opinion leaders and top business decision-makers; It's about world’s largest companies, investing, careers, and small business. It is...

 interests, or are philanthropist
Philanthropist
A philanthropist is someone who engages in philanthropy; that is, someone who donates his or her time, money, and/or reputation to charitable causes...

s or socialite
Socialite
A socialite is a person who participates in social activities and spends a significant amount of time entertaining and being entertained at fashionable upper-class events....

s.

It was estimated that there were about 20,000 Austrian nobles in 2005. That year, an association was founded, the Vereinigung der Edelleute in Österreich (Association of Austrian Nobles, or V.E.Ö.). It sees itself as the successor of the Vereinigung katholischer Edelleute in Österreich, which was founded in 1922 and banned under the Nazis
Nazism
Nazism, the common short form name of National Socialism was the ideology and practice of the Nazi Party and of Nazi Germany...

 in 1938. Until recently, all of the various attempts at revival were blocked by Austrian authorities.

Noble titles


The Austrian nobility was divided up into two categories, the higher nobility (hoher Adel), and the lower nobility (niederer Adel). To the higher nobility belonged the princes and counts, the lower nobility was made up of the rest:

Non-ruling member of the Imperial family


Non-ruling members of the imperial family were given the title of:
  • The wife of the emperor bore the title of Empress (Kaiserin) and was styled Her Imperial Majesty.
  • Archduke/Archduchess (Erzherzog/Erzherzogin) and styled
    Style (manner of address)
    A style of office, or honorific, is a legal, official, or recognized title. A style, by tradition or law, precedes a reference to a person who holds a post or political office, and is sometimes used to refer to the office itself. An honorific can also be awarded to an individual in a personal...

      Imperial and Royal Highness
    Imperial and Royal Highness
    Imperial and Royal Highness is a style possessed by someone who either through birth or marriage holds two individual styles, Imperial Highness and Royal Highness....

     (Kaiserliche und königliche Hoheit).

Agnates of the imperial family, who were excluded from the line of succession, were created dukes and duchesses or princes and princess and addressed as Highness (Hoheit) or Serene Highness (Durchlaucht).
  • Duke/Duchess (Herzog/Herzogin)

Higher Nobility Titles


(English titles with German equivalents)
  • Prince/Princess (Fürst
    Fürst
    Fürst is a German title of nobility, usually translated into English as Prince.The term refers to the head of a principality and is distinguished from the son of a monarch, who is referred to as Prinz...

    /Fürstin)
  • Count/Countess (Graf
    Graf
    Graf is a historical German noble title equal in rank to a count or a British earl...

    /Gräfin)
For a Countess not being married, the title Komtesse was used, borrowed from the French language
French language
French is a Romance language spoken as a first language in France, the Romandy region in Switzerland, Wallonia and Brussels in Belgium, Monaco, the regions of Quebec and Acadia in Canada, and by various communities elsewhere. Second-language speakers of French are distributed throughout many parts...

 Comtesse.

Lower Nobility Titles


(English titles with German equivalents)
  • Baron/Baroness (Freiherr
    Freiherr
    The German titles Freiherr and Freifrau and Freiin are titles of nobility, used preceding a person's given name or, after 1919, before the surname...

    /Freifrau and Freiin)
  • Knight (Ritter
    Ritter
    Ritter is a designation used as a title of nobility in German-speaking areas. Traditionally it denotes the second lowest rank within the nobility, standing above "Edler" and below "Freiherr"...

    ) (no female version existed)
  • Edler
    Edler
    Edler was until 1919 the lowest title of nobility in Austria-Hungary and Germany, just beneath a Ritter, but above nobles without title who used only the preposition von before their surname. It was mostly given to civil servants and military officers, as well as those upon whom the second rank of...

    /Edle (roughly equivalent in meaning to "Sir" or "Dame", but not a common translation)
In German, a distinction between baronesses exists, a Freifrau being a baroness by marriage and Freiin being a baroness by birth.


Below is an incomplete list of Austrian noble families, listed by rank of title. Note that some members of a family were sometimes given higher titles by the emperor
Emperor
An emperor is a monarch, usually the sovereign ruler of an empire or another type of imperial realm. Empress, the female equivalent, may indicate an emperor's wife or a woman who rules in her own right...

 because of merit. Title
Title
A title is a prefix or suffix added to someone's name to signify either veneration, an official position or a professional or academic qualification. In some languages, titles may even be inserted between a first and last name...

s, styles, and rights
Rights
Rights are legal, social, or ethical principles of freedom or entitlement; that is, rights are the fundamental normative rules about what is allowed of people or owed to people, according to some legal system, social convention, or ethical theory...

 could only be conferred by the monarch. In some cases, they could even be revoked because of fall from favour.

Erzherzog/Erzherzogin (Archduke/Archduchess)

  • of Austria
    Austria
    Austria , officially the Republic of Austria , is a landlocked country of roughly 8.4 million people in Central Europe. It is bordered by the Czech Republic and Germany to the north, Slovakia and Hungary to the east, Slovenia and Italy to the south, and Switzerland and Liechtenstein to the...

     (House of Habsburg-Lorraine)
  • of Austria-Este
    Austria-Este
    Archduke of Austria-Este and Habsburg-Este are a title and a surname which have been used by several cadet branches of the House of Habsburg-Lorraine to denote a connection with the extinct Italian princely and feudal family of Este and the Duchy of Modena ruled by them...

     (House of Habsburg-Lorraine, dukes of Modena & Este)

Großherzog/Großherzogin (Grand Duke/Grand Duchess)

  • of Tuscany
    Tuscany
    Tuscany is a region in Italy. It has an area of about 23,000 square kilometres and a population of about 3.75 million inhabitants. The regional capital is Florence ....

     (House of Habsburg-Lothringen, archdukes of Austria)

Herzog/Herzogin (Duke/Duchess)

  • of Babenberg
    Babenberg
    Originally from Bamberg in Franconia, now northern Bavaria, an apparent branch of the Babenbergs or Babenberger went on to rule Austria as counts of the march and dukes from 976–1248, before the rise of the house of Habsburg.-One or two families:...

     extinct 1246
  • of Hohenberg
    House of Hohenberg
    The Ducal House of Hohenberg is an Austrian noble family, descended from Countess Sophie Chotek who in 1900 married Archduke Francis Ferdinand of Austria-Este , the heir presumptive to the throne of the Austro-Hungarian Empire...

     (Wife and children of Successor to the Throne Archduke Franz Ferdinand)
  • of Modena
    Modena
    Modena is a city and comune on the south side of the Po Valley, in the Province of Modena in the Emilia-Romagna region of Italy....

     & Este
    Este
    The House of Este is a European princely dynasty. It is split into two branches; the elder is known as the House of Welf-Este or House of Welf historically rendered in English, Guelf or Guelph...

     (House of Habsburg-Lothringen, archdukes of Austria-Este)
  • of Reichstadt (see Napoleon II)
  • of Teschen (House of Habsburg-Lothringen, archdukes of Austria)

The Nobility


Because of the abolition of the prepositions, many families were forced to reinvent their family names completely. This brought in many complications. The following list of the non-Habsburg nobles shows the pre-1919 family names or preposition in brackets, followed by the standard appearance today. Noble families could have the preposition "von", "zu" or a combination of it ("von und zu"). Non-German-speaking nobility, however, preferred to use "de", such as those in Bohemia
Bohemia
Bohemia is a historical region in central Europe, occupying the western two-thirds of the traditional Czech Lands. It is located in the contemporary Czech Republic with its capital in Prague...

, Hungary
Hungary
Hungary , officially the Republic of Hungary , is a landlocked country in Central Europe. It is situated in the Carpathian Basin and is bordered by Slovakia to the north, Ukraine and Romania to the east, Serbia and Croatia to the south, Slovenia to the southwest and Austria to the west. The...

, and Galicia
Kingdom of Galicia and Lodomeria
The Kingdom of Galicia and Lodomeria was a crownland of the Habsburg Monarchy, the Austrian Empire, and Austria–Hungary from 1772 to 1918 .This historical region in eastern Central Europe is currently divided between Poland and Ukraine...

, as they felt that it was less Germanic-sounding. Since Austria-Hungary was a multiethnic empire, both versions could be officially used and were recognised by the government.

Conversely, family names using prepositions like "de" and "de la" could not replace the preposition with the Germanic "von". For example, the family "Sanchez de la Cerda" originally came from Spain, therefore the preposition remained as in the original. The same exception applies to other families such as "Schönburg-de Laserna" and "de la Fontaine und d´Harnoncourt-Unverzagt". The latter is an interesting combination of French- and German-language prepositions, which again is a reflection of the colourful multiethnic history of the Austrian Empire.

Often, family names with a predicate were written "von X-Y", even though the correct form is "X von Y".

Graf/Gräfin (Count/Countess)



The style of address is, in most cases, Erlaucht (Illustrious Highness). Also used was Gräfliche Gnaden
(Comital Grace).

Freiherr/Freifrau/Freiin (Baron/Baroness)


There was no official style, but "Gnädiger Herr", "Gnädige Frau", or "Gnädiges Fräulein" were common forms of address. Although strictly speaking the title was "Freiherr", the usage of "Baron" in written and verbal communication was very common, even if incorrect. The title "Freiin" was also often replaced for "geborene (née
NEE
NEE is a political protest group whose goal was to provide an alternative for voters who are unhappy with all political parties at hand in Belgium, where voting is compulsory.The NEE party was founded in 2005 in Antwerp...

) Baronin", which was strictly speaking also incorrect since a "Baronin" would have been wed already.

Ritter (Knight)


There was no official style, but "Gnädiger Herr" was a common form of address. The title was for males only; no female version exists. Female members of a family with the title Ritter however were often addressed as "Edle von", which was totally incorrect, unless the family already carried the "Edle" honour before being raised as into the "Ritter" class.

Edler/Edle


The rank of Edler
Edler
Edler was until 1919 the lowest title of nobility in Austria-Hungary and Germany, just beneath a Ritter, but above nobles without title who used only the preposition von before their surname. It was mostly given to civil servants and military officers, as well as those upon whom the second rank of...

 carried no official style, but "Gnädiger Herr" or "Gnädige Frau" were common forms of address.

Erbsälzer


This title belonged to the patricians of the free city of Werl
Werl
Werl is a town located in the district of Soest in North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany.-Geography:Werl is easily accessible because it is located between the Sauerland, Münsterland, and the Ruhr Area...

, in Germany, who had the hereditary (erb-) right to exploit the nearby salt mines (salz). Thus this title was not granted in Austria, but merely recognized there.
  • (von) Lilien
  • (von) Papen

Untitled noble families or status unknown



Literature

  • Binder-Krieglstein, Reinhard. Österreichisches Adelsrecht 1868-1918/19. Peter Lang, Vienna 2000, ISBN 978-3-631-34833-8
  • Coudenhove-Kalergi, Richard. Adel. Vienna. 1923.
  • Frank-Döfering, Peter. Adelslexikon des österreichischen Kaisertums 1804–1918. Herder
    Herder
    A herder is a worker who lives a possibly semi-nomadic life, caring for various domestic animals, in places where these animals wander pasture lands....

    , Vienna 1989. ISBN 3-210-24925-3
  • Lieven, Dominic
    Dominic Lieven
    Dominic Lieven is Professor of Russian Government at the London School of Economics and Political Science and Fellow of the British Academyand of Trinity College, Cambridge...

    . The aristocracy in Europe. London 1992.
  • Siegert, Heinz. Adel in Österreich. Vienna 1971.
  • Stekl, Hannes. Adel und Bürgertum in der Habsburgermonarchie 18. bis 20. Jahrhundert. Oldenbourg, Vienna 2004. ISBN 3-486-56846-9
  • Walterskirchen, Gudula. Blaues Blut für Österreich. Amalthea, Vienna 2000. ISBN 3-85002-452-0
  • Walterskirchen, Gudula. Der verborgene Stand. Adel in Österreich heute. Amalthea, Vienna 2007. ISBN 3-85002-428-8
  • Der Gotha. Supplement. Der "Österreich-Gotha". Mit Ergänzungswerken zum deutschen Adel. Saur
    K. G. Saur Verlag
    K. G. Saur Verlag is a German publisher that specializes in reference information for libraries. The publishing house is owned by Walter de Gruyter and is based in Munich....

    , Munich 1997. ISBN 3-598-30359-9

External links