Honorary citizenship in modern Germany : Its origin and meaning

Bibliographic Information

Other Title
  • ドイツ近代の名誉市民権 : その起源と意義
  • ドイツ キンダイ ノ メイヨ シミンケン : ソノ キゲン ト イギ

Search this article


The honorary citizenship (Ehrenburgerrecht) bestowed by the German towns has been considered to be comparable with such honours as the orders, titles and prizes conferred by the state or the monarch from the mid-nineteenth century on. Also, the research done on a Prussian metropolis during the German empire tells us that honorary citizenship was highly reputed and played a significant role in the political culture of the city. But when did this custom first appear? And why did honorary citizenship(=civic right) possess such value? In an attempt to answer these questions, this article examines 1) the concept of honorary citizen or citizenship, 2) several historical cases in which towns provided certain people with civic right (Burgerrecht) out of gratitude or affection without obligation, 3) "le titre de citoyen francais" bestowed by revolutionary France on foreigners with great accomplishments, and 4) the codification of honorary citizenship in modern municipal laws beginning with the Prussian "Stein's municipal law" of 1808. The author concludes that the concept of honorary citizen (ship) has been characterised by the ideas of the German medieval township and its civic right, and that the regulations pertaining to honorary citizenship in the municipal laws were also interrelated with the recognition of traditional citizenship. As to the origin of modern honorary citizenship, it was based on the image of an idealised medieval version, established under the influence of the French Revolution and then institutionalised in municipal laws during the nineteenth century. Furthermore, the high reputation attributed to honorary citizenship was rooted in the traditional value of the kind of idealized medieval township reflected in civic right.



    SHIGAKU ZASSHI 120 (11), 1833-1856, 2011

    The Historical Society of Japan

Related Projects

See more

Details 詳細情報について

Report a problem

Back to top