Chamberlain (office)

A chamberlain ( in Austria and Bavaria eunuch medieval Latin Cambellanus or Cambrerius, French: Chapeau Rouge, English: Chamberlain ) was the holder of a Hofamtes in a ruling monarch, so princes, king or emperor. At the time of absolutism, it was often a real-world obligations largely entbundener ( honorary ) title. The Chamberlain stood in rank above chamber pages and squires chamber. On large farms, the Chamberlains were under the Lord Chamberlain or Lord Chamberlain. Emblem of rank was a key.

A distinction is the court office of the Chamberlain, a financial officials, however, the discussion here Hofamt in Austria and Bavaria was also called eunuchs.

The rank of Chamberlain was very high; they ranged in some courts on the General lieutenants, to others about the Major-Generals, in still others with the Major-Generals same.


At German courts to find the title from about the 16th century with the introduction of the Spanish court ceremonial by the Habsburgs. In a report on the wake of the arrival of the Archduke Ferdinand in Munich in 1568 already five chamberlains be mentioned.

First it was a title in the imperial court, the high-ranking nobles was awarded: When Emperor Rudolph II, for example, Duke Heinrich Julius of Brunswick was real chamberlain. Over time, the title was also awarded to lower-ranking princes, counts and barons.

An electoral courts this term prevailed since the mid 17th century. It is known that the first chamberlains were made on an electoral court of Johann Georg II of Saxony. The title of chamberlain was usually awarded to a person who already held a different rank high. In the Hofranglisten the Chamberlains were assimilated to Major-Generals or the lieutenant-general.

The number of chamberlains per farm varied greatly. When the Habsburgs it was relatively high: When Leopold I gave in the last year of his term of office 426 chamberlains. Charles VI. appointed alone in the year 1736 158 Chamberlain.


The scope of the duties associated with that name real varied from farm to farm and also changed over time. The service was done monthly or weekly. It consisted in ceremonial handouts when dressing and undressing, monitoring during extension, riding or traveling. Usual were also secretary services such as the organization of private audiences, or the receipt of petitions, the operation of the prince while eating or participating in board games with the Prince. Chamberlain could be sent as emissaries to other courts, to deliver messages there, congratulations or condolences.


With the rank of chamberlain of a salary was attached. Chamberlain had the right to wear on the right hip attached to a belt with a silver, gold or golden chamberlain's key. The design of this key and the manner of its attachment also varied from farm to farm and over time.

In the literature

A detailed description of the role of a Lord Chamberlain offers Theodor Fontane's novel irretrievably.