Grand Duchess

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Grand Duchess (Masculine: Grand Duke) is a title for the sovereign leader of a Grand Duchy (i.e. independent country), autonomous Duchy (i.e. administrative division of a country) or a title associated with a Royal Family with or without a placename or lands attached to it. In the context of the Principality of the Northern Forests, it is ranked in order of precedence below the title of Princess or Prince and above that of Duchess or Duke. A example include the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg.

History of the Title

The term "Grand Duchess (or Grand Duke)" as a Monarch reigning over an independent State was a later invention (in Western Europe at first in 1569 for the ruler of Tuscany) to denote either a particularly mighty Duchess or a Monarchy playing an important political, military and/or economic role, but not large enough to be considered a Kingdom or Principality. It arose because the title of Duchess and Duke had gradually lost status and precedence during the Middle Ages by having been granted to rulers of relatively small Fiefs (feudal territories), instead of the large regions or even national territories to which the title was once attached.


One of the first examples occurred when Count Gonçalo I Mendes of Portucale (in northwest Portugal and considered as that country's original nucleus) took, in 987, the personal title of Magnus Dux Portucalensium ("Grand Duke of the Portuguese") and rebelled against his Feudal Lord, King Bermudo II of León. He was defeated by the Royal Armies but nevertheless obtained a remarkable autonomy as a Magnus Dux (Grand Duke), leading ultimately to Portuguese independence from the Spanish Kingdom of Castille-León.

Another example was the line of self-proclaimed Grand Duchesses and Dukes of the Duchy of Burgundy in the 15th century, when they ruled most of present-day north-eastern France as well as almost the entire Low Countries. They tried — ultimately without success — to create from these territories under their control a new unified country between the Kingdom of France in the west and the Holy Roman Empire (mainly present-day Germany) in the east. Duke Philip III of Burgundy (reigned 1419–67) assumed the subsidiary, legally void style and title of "Grand Duke of the West" in 1435, having previously brought the Duchy of Brabant and Duchy of Limburgas well as the counties of Holland, Zeeland, Friesland, Hainaut and Namur into his possession. His son and successor Duke Charles of Burgundy (reigned 1467–77) continued to use the same style and title.

The first Monarchs ever officially titled Grand Duchess or Grand Duke were the Medici Sovereigns of Grand Duchy of Tuscany, starting from the late 16th century. This official title was granted by Pope Pius V in 1569; arguably it was a personal (Papal) title attached to a mere Dukedom, though, because the territory was under the vassalage of the Holy Roman Empire. Napoleon I of France awarded the title extensively: during his era, several of his allies (and de facto vassals) were allowed to assume the title of Grand Duchess and Grand Duke, usually at the same time as their inherited Fiefs (or Fiefs granted by Napoleon) were enlarged by annexed territories previously belonging to enemies defeated on the battlefield.

Forms of Address

A Grand Duchess, or a Grand Duke, is theoretically the ruler of a Grand Duchy; she can be addressed as "The Grand Duchess of [Placename]"; Your Grace; or Her Royal Highness of [Placename] or Royal Highness. A Grand Duchess has the title of Grand Duchess of [X] when the title originates from a placename. In the [[Principality of the Northern Forests there is never a Grand Duchess (or Grand Duke} title that comes from a surname. In either case, she is referred to as Her (your) Grace the Grand Duchess [X]. Her husband does not have a title (unless he has one in his own right). The eldest child of a Grand Duchess, or Grand Duke, is technically, though not themselves a peer, is usually entitled to use a courtesy title, usually the highest of his Mother's lesser titles (if any); younger sons are styled The Honourable [Forename] [Surname], and daughters The Lady [Forename] [Surname] nut cannot use any placenames with the courtesy title. There is only one Grand Duchy in the Principality of the Northern Forests and the Grand Duchess is a member of the Princely Family.


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