1902 Encyclopedia > Prince

Prince




PRINCE. " Prince" and " princess " are names or de-scriptions implying either political authority- or social rank in the persons to whom they relate or are accorded. We have in " prince " the English and French form of the Latin prin,ceps, which with more or less modification has been adopted into nearly every langua.ge of modern Europe, and of which the original and common use was to indicate priority or pre-eminence of any sort. In an honorary sense it was, to begin with, applied by the Romans to the first or most distinguished members of the senate and the equestrian order respectively, and their appellations of i».inceps senatus and prineeps juventutis were afterwards appropriated to the emperors themselves and to their adopted heirs and successors in the empire. Hence the attribute princeps became definitely associated with the notions of sovereignty and dominion, and its derivatives have been always and everywhere employed as titles of dignity and expressions of awe or respect, In English the word " prince" may be used in certain connexions in the original wide sense of the Latin word. More definitely it is applicable to supreme rulers of both sexes and almost all kinds. Thus the emperor of Russia, the queen of England, and the king of the Belgians are equally princes or monarchs, and the consorts of emperors and kings are princesses. But the presidents of republics are neither princes nor monarchs. Prince, however, unlike monarch, applies to rulers who are subordinate a,s well as to rulers who are supreme, to such minor potentates as the electors of the old German empire or the feudal peers of France once were, and the reigning grand-dukes or dukes of Germany now are. Again, all the children and many of the descendants 8,nd other relations of monarchs and princes of every class and grade are theinselves princes or princesses, although it often happens that they have also some special name or personal dignity by which they are ordinarily- known. The eldest son of' the emperor of Russia, for instance, is called the " cesarewich," as the eldest son and next brother of the king of France under the ancieri regime were called the " dauphin " and "monsieur." In England for several centuries the younger sous of the sovereign have had dukedoms conferred on them, as in the cases of the dukes of Edinburgh, Connaught, and Albany, and from the reign of Edward IV. until the reign of Victoria the dukedom of York was always, given to the second son and the dukedom of Gloucester to the third, unless it was already appropriated. The princes and princesses of Russia are "grand-dukes " and " grand-duchesses," of Austria " archdukes" and "archduchesses," and of Spain " infants " and "infantas." Some of the eldest sons of kings are " dukes," as the duke of Brabant in P,elgium and the duke of Sparta in Greece. I3ut, when they are not dukes, or princes with a territorial title, as the prince of Wales or the princes of Naples in Italy and Orange in Holland, they are described as " princes" with the additions of " imperial," " crown," "royal," or " here-ditary," as the case may be, and the name of the dominions to which they are the heirs-apparent. The eldest sons of reigning grand-dukes or dukes, however, are. called " hereditary grand-dukes" or "hereditary dukes," their younger brothers and their sisters being all the same princes and princesses. The Prussian fashion of call-ing the eldest daughter of the sovereign the " princess royal " was introduced into England by 0-eorge II. lt was not the custom, however, for the daughters of English monarchs to be entitled " princesses" at all until the reign of Clia.rles I. The two daughters of Henry VIII. were the Lady Mary and the Lady Elizabeth until they ascended the throne, for, although there is a tradition that they were both made princess of Wales successively, there is no evidence whatever to support it. As late as the reign of Charles II. the granddaughters of Charles I., daughters of James, duke of York, the heir-presumptive to the crown, were called the Lady Mary and the Lady Anne until they became princesses by marriage, the one as the wife of William, prince of Orange, and the other as the wife of Prince George of Denmark. It is difficult to say when the younger sons of English sovereigns were originally called " princes." But the practice of so calling them prob-ably began as early as the reign of Henry VIE., although there was no opportunity of observing it again before the reign of James I., when it was certainly established.





In France before the Revolution the designation of " princes du sang," or " princes of tlie blood," was common from generation to generation to all the male descendants of the French kings, and they liad precedence according to their proximity to the crown of all dignitaries and nobles. It was not, however, until the reign of Charles VII. or Louis XI. that they were called "princes," their earlier appellation having been "seigneurs du sang" or "seigneurs du lignage du roi." Fi:ance, too, the natural children of the king were, when formally acknowledged, termed " princes legitimes," at any rate from the reign of Louis XIV., and although they were excluded from the line of succession to the throne they were ranked imme-diately after the princes du sang. The princely character of all the male descendants of the imperial, royal, and other reigning families of the Continent, when neither illegitimate nor the issue of a morganatic marriage, is perpetual and indelible. Moreover, the families which were formerly reigning within the boundaries of the old German or existing- Austrian empires, despite that they have now ceased to reign, are in this respect still in the full possession of their earlier privileges. But in England, on the contrary, it was considered necessary only about a quarter of a century- ago to make express provision by ' royal authority- that the titles of " prince" and "princess " should be enjoyed by the children of the sons as well as by the sons and daughters of any sovereign of the United Kingdom. It may therefore be concluded that they bad no previous claim to the attributes of prince and princess, and that they will not transmit them to their posterity.

Besides the more or less general uses of the words "prince " and "princess" which we have already noticed, there are the particular applications of them, first to a dis-tinct class of rulers, and secondly to a particular order of nobility. Princes regarded as the political chiefs of states are inferior to emperors and kings, and not necessarily superior to reigning grand-dukes or &Likes. 'Very few ex-amples of them at present exist, - those of Waldeck and Pyrinont, Montenegro, Bulgaria, and Monaco alone occur-ring to us. None of the great feudatories of the Middle Ages, whether in Germany, France, or Spain, were formally described as princes, and of the inediatized families still extant who once supplied members to the imperial diet, many of them from a remote period, not one had the de-signation of "prince" before the commencement of the 17th century, while not more than five or six had it before the commeneement of the 18th century. The old Italian and Welsh princes and the more modern princes of Orange are in fact nearly- the only reigning princes who are remembered in history. As a name of dignity, neither of dominion on the one hand nor of courtesy on the other, " prince" is common enough among the nobility of the Continent. But in England it is never conferred on anybody except the heir-apparent to the crown, and his principality- is a peerage. Since the reign of Edward III. the eldest sons of the kings and queens of England have always been dukes of Cornwall by birth, and, with a few exceptions, princes of Wales by creation. Before that Edward I. had con-ferred the principality on his eldest son, afterwards Edward II., who was summoned to and sat in parliament as prince of Wales. But Edward the Black Prince was the original grantee of the principality as well as of the dukedom, under the special limitations which have continued in force to the present day. The entail of the former was " to him and his heirs the kings of England " and of the latter " to lihn and his heirs the first-begotten sons of the kings of England." Hence when a prince of Wales and duke of Cornwall succeeds to the throne the principality in all cases merges at once in the crown, and can have no sepa-rate existence again except under a fresh creation, while the dukedom, if he has a son, descends immediately to him, or remains in abeyance until he has a son if one is not already born. If, however, a prince of Wales and duke of Corn-wall should die in the lifetime of the sovereign, leaving a son and heir, both dignities are extinguished, because his son, although he is his heir, is neither a king of England nor the first-begotten son of a king of England. But, if instead of a son he should leave a brother his heir, then - as was decided in the reign of James I. on the death of Henry-, prince of Wales, whose heir was his brother Charles, duke of York - the dukedom of Cornwall would pass to him as the first-begotten son of the king of England then alive, the principality of Wales alone becoming merged in the crown. It has thus occasionally happened that the dukes of Cornwall have not been princes of Wales, as Henry VI. and Edward VI., and that the princes of Wales have not been dukes of Cormvall, as Richard II. and George III. It was in direct imitation of these dignities that the princi-pality of the Asturias and the dukedom of Rothesay were created by John 1. of Castile and Robert III. of Scotland in favour of their eldest sons and the eldest sons of their successors. In the new kingdoms of Holland and Italy the principalities of Orange and Naples have been appropriated to the eldest sons of the sovereigns. Under the monarchy in France princes invariably yielded precedence to dukes, unless of course they were " princes du sang " or " princes legitimes," as the princes of Conde, of Conti, or of Lamballe. Several of the French dukes numbered principalities among their inferior titles, as the duke of La Rochefoucauld also prince of Marcillac, and the duke of Gramont also prince of Ilidache, while several of the French princes were the heads merely of junior branches of ducal families, as the princes of Loon and of Soubise of the Bohan family, and the princes of Tingry and of Robeeq of the Montmorency family. When Napoleon established the empire and reintroduced titles into France, princes were made the first and dukes the second order of the new nobility. But only a few princes were created - Talleyrand, prince of Benevent; Bernadotte, prince of Ponte Corvo ; Berthier, prince of Wagram ; Davoust, prince of Eckmiihl ; Massena, prince of Essling ; and Ney, prince of Moskowa, nearly if not quite exhausting the list. In Germany and Austria the title of "prince" is represented by "Prinz" when it appertains to the members of imperial and royal families, as Kronprinz von Oesterreich or Prinz IATillielm von Preussen, and by " " when it appertains to the members of inediatized or noble families, as Ffirst von Salm-Salm or von Hohenlohe-Langenburg, and Efirst von Metternich-Winneburg or von Bismarck-Schonhausen. According to its identification with " Prinz " or " Fiirst " it is a higher or lower dignity than " Herzog " (duke). In the old empire, however, the Churfiirsten or electors were alway-s next to the emperor and the king of the Romans. In Italy, as well as in Belgium and Hol-land, princes are inferior to dukes as members of a parti-cular order of nobility. In Spain and Portugal we are not aware that the title of " prince " has ever been conferred on a subject outside of the royal family except in the well-known case of Godoy, Prince of the Peace. Among the Russian nobility- there are neither dukes nor marquesses, the orders being princes, counts, and barons. It is to be observed, however, that in no part of the Continent does precedence depend exclusively as in the United Kingdom on the apparent rank of titular distinctions or the relative positions which they- nominally occupy in formal classifi-cation. (F. DR.)







Search the Encyclopedia:



About this EncyclopediaTop ContributorsAll ContributorsToday in History
Sitemaps
Terms of UsePrivacyContact Us



© 2005-17 1902 Encyclopedia. All Rights Reserved.

This website is the free online Encyclopedia Britannica (9th Edition and 10th Edition) with added expert translations and commentaries