The Privy Council was in the territories of the Holy Roman Empire and the later German monarchies a board of councils ( Secret Council College, Secret Konseil, Secret Cabinet, in Brandenburg: Secret State Council ), which directly subordinate to the princes and mostly under the chairmanship of the most important country matters, in particular the adoption of regulations, Board to issue. In free cities was considered Privy Council of the so-called Little advice. This was responsible for all financial and foreign policies of these city-states. Precursor to the beginning of the 17th century was the Austrian court counselor. Privy Councillor and thus are not academic titles.

In the Privy Council sized elements were initially represented, but soon outweighed the pure officialdom. The various branches of the sovereign administration found in him a focal point and often a lever to enforce their own interests and intentions, or at least move in the field of view of the ruler. The Privy Council allowed the other hand, a planned organization of the administration. He was thus the most important handle for attachment of the Assembly co-regency and for the expansion and implementation of the sovereign ( public ) violence.

The members of the Privy Council, the College had the title of Privy Councillor or Councillor. In Prussia, the members of the Secret Civil Cabinet have been since the mid-17th century called the Privy Council, in contrast to the members of the judiciary and Domain Committee, which only led the simple title. Later, the title of Privy Council was awarded as a prize to the highest officials. The title was usually associated with the title of Excellency.

Meaning extension of the title

The meaning of the title is derived from an earlier connotation of the word "secret", which also could mean as much as " familiar ". The privy was thus the familiar - the drawn into his confidence - Guide his master.

Was later Privy Council of the title of the chief magistrate, a roll-call of ministerial departments, the lecture end boards in the ministries of the first councils in the colleges, etc. In general, the title was then connected to an accessory, which spawned the department in which the question Council was busy, such as Privy Councillor, Secret Fiscal Council, Privy Councillor, etc. Even as a mere title, without this was connected an official function, the title of Privy Council, in particular the Chief Medical Adviser to doctors, the Secret was awarded the award, Commerce (or Secret Commissionsrath ) to excellent merchants and industrialists, the Secret Ökonomierat to deserving farmers, etc. the Subalternbeamten as firm, accounting councils, the title received in Prussia after a long period of service Privy Council.


The development in Germany initially pursued similar paths as in France, where the Conseil du Roi was used to exercise the Royal Decree violence in the 15th century. Through the establishment of responsible government departments and at all of the constitutional system, the constitutional position of the Privy Council, however, was drastically changed.

With the development of constitutionalism and the participation of people's representatives in the legislative process of the Privy Council lost its meaning, but to received some such body as begutachtendes college for important matters of legislation in some constitutions for some time, the State Council said in Prussia. There was also a Council of State in Bavaria and since 1879 also in Alsace- Lorraine. In Württemberg there were 1816 to 1911 a committee with the function name and a privy councilor.

After 1918 the title in Germany was further awarded by the State of Bavaria as an award. ( Occupies including by Title ceremonies to Paul Wolters and August Brehm. )


After the end of the Holy Roman Empire of the German nation did the "Secret - Raths title " in the Empire of Austria and then in the Austro-Hungarian Empire until its abolition in 1918. Entitled the salutation excellence was still connected. The privy councilors questioned the tip of the imperial courtiers and ( State Guide) were also in the " Court Calendar " section. The award of the Grand Cross of the Order of St. Stephen, Order of Leopold and the Order of the Iron Crown also brought a receding the title. With the creation of the Republic of the leadership of this title was made prohibited and punishable by the nobility repeal Act (1919).

Privy is therefore not today, as is sometimes incorrectly assumed, an Austrian official title. As a rank designation respectively Award ( " Job Title " ), however, until today the title of " Councilor " is used (although there is no " yard" more since the proclamation of the republic ). The title "Real Councilor " wore in the Republic only officials of the second highest class of service ( the military field the rank of brigadier or major general of the Austrian army equivalent ) to distinguish the official title of " Councilor " from the homonymous professional title ( without the " real " ) to be able to. The addition was abolished at the federal level in the revision of the official title of procedure; at provincial officials there it still partially.

Great Britain

About the Privy Council in England, see Privy Council.