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A duchy, or dukedom, is a territory, fief, or domain ruled by a duke or duchess.

Some duchies were sovereign in areas that would become unified realms only during the Modern era (such as Germany and Italy). In contrast, others were subordinate districts of those kingdoms that unified either partially or completely during the Medieval era (such as England, France, and Spain).

For the history of duchies as an institution, see the entry on Duke.



Traditionally, a grand duchy, such as Luxembourg, was generally independent and sovereign. Sovereign duchies were common in the Holy Roman Empire and German-speaking areas.

In France, a number of duchies existed in the medieval period. Queen Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom still claims the medieval French title of Duke of Normandy in relation to her ownership of the Channel Islands. Other important French duchies included Burgundy, Brittany, and Aquitaine.

The mediæval German Stem duchies (German: Stammesherzogtum, literally "tribal duchy") were associated with the Frankish Kingdom and corresponded with the areas of settlement of the major Germanic tribes. They formed the nuclei of the major feudal states that comprised the Holy Roman Empire of the German nation. These were Schwaben, Bayern and Sachsen in pre-Carolingian times, to which Franken and Lothringen were added in post-Carolingian times.

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