Steward (office)

Steward (office)

A steward is an official who is appointed by the legal ruling monarch to represent him or her in a country, and may have a mandate to govern it in his or her name; in the latter case, it roughly corresponds with the position of governor or deputy (the Roman rector, praefectus or vicarius). It was also a term used to refer to the chief servant of a landed estate.



From Old English stíweard, stiȝweard, from stiȝ "hall, household" + weard "wikt:warden, keeper"; corresponding to Dutch: stadhouder, German Statthalter "place holder", a Germanic parallel to French lieutenant.

The Old English term stíweard is attested from the 11th century. Its first element is most probably stiȝ- "house, hall" (attested only in composition; its cognate stiȝu is the ancestor of Modern English sty). Old French estuard and Old Norse stívarðr are adopted from the Old English.

The German and Dutch term (Middle High German stat-halter) is a parallel but independent formation (a calque of lieutenant) corresponding to obsolete English stead holder (stede haldare 1456; also stedys beryng (1460), sted-haldande (1375) steadward, steadsman).

In medieval times, the steward was initially a servant who supervised both the lord's estate and his household. However over the course of the next century, other household posts expanded and involved more responsibilities. This meant that in the 13th century, there were commonly two stewards in each house- one who managed the estate and the other, the majordomo, to manage domestic routine. Stewards commonly earned up to 3 to 4 pounds per year. Stewards took care of their lord's castles when they were away. Also, stewards checked on the taxes of the serfs on his lord's manor.


The Lord High Steward of England held a position of power in the 12th to 14th centuries, and the Lord Steward is the first dignitary of the court. The Stewart family traces its appellation to the office of the High Steward of Scotland. Lord High Steward of Ireland is a hereditary office held since the 15th century.

Low Countries

In the Netherlands, it developed into a rare type of de facto hereditary head of state of the thus crowned Dutch Republic.

Stadtholders were appointed by feudal lords to govern parts of their territory. Stadtholders could be appointed for the whole or parts of their territory by the local rulers of the independent provinces in the Low Countries, e.g. the Duke of Gelre appointed a stadtholder to represent him in Groningen. In the Low Countries (which included present-day Netherlands, Belgium and Luxembourg) from the Middle Ages to the 18th century, this was originally an essentially honorary title awarded by the Spanish Habsburg kings to major noblemen in each province. But its nature changed drastically.

Northern Europe

Danish Statholder

  • In Denmark, a ministerial high office of royal governor in the capital, at Copenhagen Castle

Norwegian Statholder

In Norway the office of Statholder existed both during the Dano-Norwegian personal union from 1536 to 1814 and during the Swedish-Norwegian personal union from 1814 until it was abolished in 1873. During the latter, the office was also known as Rigsstatholder, i.e. Lieutenant of the Realm. The Statholder governed Norway on behalf of the King. As Norway was a separate kingdom with its own laws and institutions, it was arguably the most influential office in both Denmark-Norway and in the Swedish-Norwegian realm second to that of the king. The office was sometimes held by the Crown Prince, who was styled as Viceroy.

The term Statholder (from German Statthalter) means "place holder", i.e. the one governing on behalf of the king. The modern Norwegian spelling is stattholder.

Eastern Europe

The Russian equivalent of "stadtholder" is posadnik; the term sometimes occurs as "stadtholder" in English-language literature. Although there were such legendary posadniks as Gostomysl (9th century), the term first appeared in the Primary Chronicle under the year of 997 to denote the most senior official of an Eastern Slavic town. The earliest posadniks of the city of Novgorod (Holmgard) include a dynasty composed of Dobrynya, his son Konstantin Dobrynich and Ostromir.

See also

External links

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Steward — The term Steward may refer to: * Arch Steward, a seneschal, prince elector of the Holy Roman Empire * Steward, a Flight attendant * Wine steward, a sommelier * Butler, the steward of a household * Steward (band), an Australian musical group *… …   Wikipedia

  • Steward's assistant — An SA works closely with the chief cook and chief steward. General Other names : Waiter, messman, galley utilityman. Departmen …   Wikipedia

  • Steward of the Realm (Denmark) — Steward of the Realm (Danish: Rigshofmester) was an office at the Royal Danish Court. With the coronation of Eric VII of Denmark it became an important office, taking over the role of the Seneschal (Danish: Drost) as the de facto prime minister… …   Wikipedia

  • Office of profit — An office of profit is a term used in a number of national constitutions to refer to executive appointments. A number of countries forbid members of the legislature from accepting an office of profit under the executive as a means to secure the… …   Wikipedia

  • Steward's Assistant — Infobox shipping job name = Steward s Assistant othernames = Waiter, Messman, Galley Utilityman. photo = noaa stewards department.jpg photo Chief Cook and Chief Steward. department = Steward s Department licensed = reports to = Chief Steward,… …   Wikipedia

  • Steward Observatory — Infobox Observatory name = Steward Observatory caption = organization = University of Arizona location = Tucson, Arizona, USA coords = coord|32.2333|N|110.9483|W altitude = 792.5 m (2600 feet) weather = established = closed =… …   Wikipedia

  • steward — Synonyms and related words: Federal, Ganymede, Hebe, MC, accountant, aerial photographer, agent, air warden, aircrew, aircrewman, airline hostess, airline stewardess, amanuensis, attendant, attorney, auditor, avigator, baggage agent, bailiff,… …   Moby Thesaurus

  • Steward — This is an Anglo Saxon occupational surname of both Scottish and English origin. It derives from the Olde English pre 7th Century stigweard , the Middle English (1200 1500) stiward , being a compound of stig , household, and weard guardian; the… …   Surnames reference

  • STEWARD, LORD HIGH —    in early times the highest office of state in England, ranking in power next to the sovereign; hereditary during many centuries, the office lapsed in the reign of Henry IV., and since has been revived only on special occasions, e. g. a… …   The Nuttall Encyclopaedia

  • office boy — Synonyms and related words: Ganymede, Hebe, airline hostess, airline stewardess, attendant, batman, bellboy, bellhop, bellman, bootblack, boots, cabin boy, caddie, callboy, caller, chore boy, copyboy, cupbearer, errand boy, errand girl, footboy,… …   Moby Thesaurus

Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”

We are using cookies for the best presentation of our site. Continuing to use this site, you agree with this.