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This entry is more about examining some unanswered questions than and observations. Throughout European history many kingdoms have come and gone. What has intrigued me is the decisions for some of these realms to be a kingdom while some held lower titles. The thing that intrigues me is that there are no hard, set-in-stone, criteria for what state or territory should be called a kingdom. Geographical size and population do not seem to matter. Here is a dictionary definition of a kingdom.

king·dom  [king-duhm]
noun
1. a state or government having a king or queen as its head.
2. anything conceived as constituting a realm or sphere of independent action or control: the kingdom of thought.
3. a realm or province of nature, especially one of the three broad divisions of natural objects: the animal, vegetable, and mineral kingdoms.
4. Biology . a taxonomic category of the highest rank, grouping together all forms of life having certain fundamental characteristics in common: in the five-kingdom classification scheme adopted by many biologists, separate kingdoms are assigned to animals (Animalia), plants (Plantae), fungi (Fungi), protozoa and eucaryotic algae (Protista), and bacteria and blue-green algae (Monera).
the spiritual sovereignty of God or Christ.

Here is the definition of a realm from Wikipedia.

A realm ( /ˈrɛlm/) is a community or territory over which a sovereign rules; it is commonly used to describe a kingdom or other monarchical or dynastic state.

The Old French word reaume, modern French royaume, was the word first adopted in English; the fixed modern spelling does not appear until the beginning of the 17th century. The word supposedly derives from medieval Latin regalimen, from regalis, of or belonging to a rex, (king).[1]
“Realm” is particularly used for those states whose name includes the word kingdom (for example, the United Kingdom), to avoid clumsy repetition of the word in a sentence (for example, “The Queen’s realm, the United Kingdom…”). It is also useful to describe those countries whose monarchs are called something other than “king” or “queen”; for example, the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg is a realm but not a kingdom since its monarch holds the title Grand Duke rather than King.

From my research it seems who holds the title of a king or queen is pretty arbitrary. I have read that only an emperor can grant the title of king or queen. However, that doesn’t seem to be true. The Congress of Vienna created the Electorate of Hanover a kingdom in 1814 and I do not think any emperor granted that title. In 1830 Belgium became a sovereign state and decided upon a constitutional monarchy and chose Leopold of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha to be their king. They could have just as easily have called Belgium a Grand Duchy although I don’t think Leopold would have been happy with a lesser title.

Speaking of separation of states and titles, in 1890, when King Willem III of the Netherlands died, he was also the Grand Duke of Luxembourg, but because Luxembourg went by the Salic Law which barred women from ruling in their own right, the throne of the Netherlands went to Willem III’s daughter, Queen Wilhelmina, while Luxembourg went to the the nearest male relative, Adolphus of Nassau-Weilburg. I always wondered, with Luxembourg now separate from the Netherlands could they have elevated their rulers title to that of king?

One of the more curious discrepancies (from my point of view) over the creations of a kingdom and its arbitrary nature is between the states of Baden and Württemberg. For a long period of their respective histories within the Holy Roman Empire both Baden and Württemberg were duchies. However, it must be noted that during that portion of their history Baden was not unified and several lines of the House of Zähringen ruled over Baden. It became unified under Duke Carl-Friedrich of Baden-Durlach after the death of August-Georg of Baden-Baden in 1771 without heirs.

In 1803 came the Reichsdeputationshauptschluss which was a redistribution and restructuring of the empire which resulted in the secularization of ecclesiastical principalities and mediatisation of numerous small secular principalities and Free Imperial Cities. This act created more imperial electors (those in charge of electing the emperor) and the rulers of both Baden and Württemberg were made electors of the empire.

However, this new reorganization of the empire was short lived for within three years the empire itself was dissolved. As the empire was dissolving in those early years of the 19th century, the rulers of Baden and Württemberg sided with Napoleon who had his carving knives out eager to incorporate former German territories into his empire. For their support of Napoleon both of their territories were expanded and titles were elevated. This is where the arbitrary nature of the what constitutes a kingdom come in. Baden became a Grand Duchy while Württemberg became a kingdom. Even though Württemberg was the larger territory, although not by much, both states had been a duchy and then briefly an electorate within the empire. The same situation existed in Saxony. It too, became a kingdom after having been an electorate and this state was even smaller than Baden. So why was Württemberg and Saxony elevated to kingdom status while Baden became only a Grand Duchy? I have never found an answer to that question. I wonder if it was ever considered to raise Baden to the kingdom?

Questions like these make history fun for me. History often talks about what happened I like to find out why things happened the way they did.

 

 

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