1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Margrave
MARGRAVE (Ger. Markgraf), a German title meaning literally “count of the March” (Lat. marchio, comes marchae, marchisus). The margraves had their origin in the counts established by Charlemagne and his successors to guard the frontier districts of the empire, and for centuries the title was always associated with this function. The margraves had within their own jurisdiction the authority of dukes, but at the outset they were subordinate to the dukes in the feudal army of the empire. In the 12th century, however, the margraves of Brandenburg and Austria (the north and east marks) asserted their position as tenants-in-chief of the empire; with the break-up of the great duchies the others did the same; and the margraves henceforward took rank with the great German princes. The title of margrave very early lost its original significance, and was borne by princes whose territories were in no sense frontier districts, e.g. by Hermann, a son of Hermann, margrave of Verona, who assumed in 1112 the title of margrave of Baden. Thus, too, when the elector Albert Achilles of Brandenburg in 1473 gave Bayreuth and Ansbach as apanages to his sons and their descendants these styled themselves margraves. The title, however, retained in Germany its sovereign significance, and has not, like “marquis” in France and “marchese” in Italy, sunk into a mere title of nobility; it is not, therefore, in its present sense the equivalent of the English title “marquess.” The German margraviates have now all been absorbed into other sovereignties, and the title margrave is borne only as a subsidiary title in the full style of their sovereigns.