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'Graf' (from the Latin Grafio 'scribe' from the Greek) is a German noble title equal in rank to a count (derived from the Latin Comes, with a history of its own) or a British earl (an original Anglo-Saxon title).

  • A Graf (Count) rules over a territory known as a grafschaft (also renderded as county).
  • The comital titles awarded in Holy Roman Empire often related to the jurisdiction or domain of responsibility and represented special concessions of authority or rank. Only the more important titles remained in use until modern times. Many counts were titled Graf without any additional qualification.
  • For a list of the titles of the rank of Count etymologically related to Graf (and for other equivalents)

see article Count.


list of nobiliary titles containing the term -graf (at the end)

Some are approximately of comital rank, some higher, some lower. The more important ones are treated in separate articles (follow the links), a few minor, rarer ones only in sections below.

German English Comment/ etymology
Markgraf Margrave and (younger)
Mark: march (border province) + Graf
Pfalzgraf Count Palatine
or Paladin
Palatinate + Graf
Reichsgraf (count of the empire) Reich i.e. (the Holy Roman) Empire + Graf
Landgraf Landgrave Land + Graf
Freigraf (free count) Frei = free (allodial?) + Graf; both a feudal title of comital rank AND a more technical office
Burggraf Burgrave Burg: castle + Graf
Rheingraf Rhinegrave Rhein: Rhine + Graf
Altgraf Altgrave Alt: highlands + Graf
Wildgraf Wildgrave Wild: wilderness + Graf
Raugraf Raugrave Raum: area + Graf
Vizegraf Viscount Vize=vice: substitute + Graf

Count Palatine

A Pfalzgraf or Count Palatine or Palsgrave functioned, especially in medieval times, and particularly during the Holy Roman Empire, as a viceroy, often becoming a more independent ruler of a palatinate. The Count Palatine of the Rhine and junior branches of his family bore this title.


A Landgraf, or Landgrave, was a nobleman of rank or count in Medieval Germany whose jurisdiction stretched over a sometimes quite considerable territory. The title survived from the times of the Holy Roman Empire. The power of a landgrave was often associated with sovereign rights and decision-making much greater than that of a count.

Landgraf occasionally continued in use as the subsidiary title of such nobility as the Grand Duke of Saxe-Weimar, who functioned as the Landgrave of Thuringia in the first decade of the 20th century; but the title fell into disuse after World War I. The jurisdiction of a landgrave was a landgraviate and the wife of a landgrave was a landgravine. Examples: Landgrave of Thuringia, Landgrave of Hesse, Landgrave of Leuchtenberg


A Burggraf, or Burgrave, was a 12th and 13th century military and civil judicial governor of a castle (compare Castellan, Custos, Keeper), of the town it dominated and of its immediate surrounding countryside. His jurisdiction was a burgraviate. Later the title became ennobled and hereditary with its own domain. Examples: Burgrave of Nuremberg.


A Rheingraf, or Rhinegrave, was a nobleman with the status of a count in the 12th and 13th centuries, the governor of one of the many castles or fortresses along the Rhine River in Western Germany, who had the entitlement of levying tolls for passage along the river.


An Altgraf, or altgrave, was a nobleman of the status of a count who had his dominion in mountainous areas of Germany and the Alpine regions, particularly around mountain passes where he had rights and entitlements of establishing garrisons at such points, and of levying tolls for passage. Originally it was a title of veneration rather than the holding of power.


A Wildgraf, Wildgrave, or Waldgrave was originally a nobleman of the status of count who had jurisdiction over uncultivated areas, forests and uninhabited districts. His legal privileges eventually vested in him the power of a chief forester and gamekeeper of a district.


A Raugraf, or Raugrave only held jurisdiction over waste ground and uninhabited districts. The title - since 1667 - was used exclusively by the children of Elector Palatine Karl I's bigamous second marriage and Karl's wife, Marie Louise von Degenfeld.


A Vizegraf or Viscount (Latin Vicecomes), in origin a deputy of a Count, as the burgrave usually in a castle or fortified town. Soon many became heredidatary and almost-a-Count, ranking just below the 'real' Counts, but above a Freiherr (Baron).

It was also often used as a courtesy title, by the heir to a Graf.

Related articles

de:Graf es:Conde fr:Grave (titre) nl:Graaf pl:Graf (tytuł szlachecki)


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