AskDefine | Define castellan

User Contributed Dictionary



  1. The governor or caretaker of a castle or keep.

Extensive Definition

A castellan was the governor or caretaker of a castle or keep. The word stems from the Latin Castellanus, derived from castellum 'castle'.


Usually, a castellan combined the duties of both a majordomo (responsible for a castle's domestic staff) and a military administrator (responsible for maintaining defences and protecting the castle's lands). This was particularly the case if there was no lord resident at the castle, or if the resident lord was frequently absent.


In France, castellans (known in French as Châtelains) who governed castles without resident nobles acquired considerable powers, and the position actually became a hereditary fiefdom.


At times, there was a castellan among the Officers of the Kingdom of Jerusalem.


In the Kingdom of Poland and later the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, the castellans (Polish: kasztelan) were often considered to be subordinates of voivodes (with the exception of the Castellan of Cracow as Cracow was the Commonwealth capital until 1596). Castellans were in charge of a part of the voivodeship called castellany until the 15th century and from that time on their domain was divided into provinces for Greater Castellans and powiats for Minor Castellans. Chancellors were district officials and had the right to attend sessions of the Polish parliament, the Sejm.


See also

castellan in German: Kastellan
castellan in French: Castellan
castellan in Italian: Castellano (storia)
castellan in Lithuanian: Kaštelionas
castellan in Polish: Kasztelan
castellan in Portuguese: Castelão
castellan in Russian: Кастелян
castellan in Swedish: Kastellan
castellan in Ukrainian: Каштелян

Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

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