AskDefine | Define duchies

User Contributed Dictionary



  1. Plural of duchy

Extensive Definition

A duchy is a territory, fief, or domain ruled by a duke or duchess. Historically, some duchies in Continental Europe were sovereign, while others (especially in France and Britain) were subordinate districts of a kingdom.
Traditionally, a grand duchy, such as Luxembourg, was generally independent and sovereign. Sovereign duchies were common in the Holy Roman Empire and German-speaking areas.
In France, a number of duchies existed in the medieval period. Queen Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom still holds the medieval French title of Duke of Normandy; the only lands still attached to the Duchy of Normandy are the Channel Islands although there no longer is a King of France. Important French duchies included Normandy, Burgundy, Brittany and Aquitaine.
In medieval England, the territories of Lancashire and Cornwall were made duchies, with certain powers accruing to their Dukes. The Duchy of Lancaster was created in 1351 but became merged with the Crown when, in 1399, the Duke, Henry Bolingbroke ascended the throne of England as Henry IV. The Duchy of Cornwall was created in 1337 and held successively by Dukes of Cornwall who were also heirs to the throne. These duchies today have lost their political role, although there is an ongoing dispute over the status of Cornwall.
In more recent times, territorial duchies have become rare; most dukedoms conferred in the last few centuries have been of a purely symbolic character (see Duke). No independent duchies exist today; however, Luxembourg is an independent Grand Duchy.
  • For the history of duchies as an institution, see the entry on Duke.

Fictional duchies

External links

duchies in Afrikaans: Hertogdom
duchies in Welsh: Dugiaeth
duchies in Danish: Hertugdømme
duchies in German: Herzogtum
duchies in Spanish: Ducado
duchies in French: Duché
duchies in Croatian: Vojvodstvo
duchies in Hungarian: Hercegség
duchies in Italian: Ducato (feudo)
duchies in Dutch: Stamhertogdom
duchies in Norwegian: Hertugdømme
duchies in Polish: Księstwo
duchies in Portuguese: Ducado|Duque
duchies in Swedish: Hertigdöme
duchies in Ukrainian: Герцогство
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