Duke of Brabant

The Duke of Brabant (Dutch: hertog van Brabant, French: duc de Brabant) was formally the ruler of the Duchy of Brabant since 1183/1184. The title was created by the Holy Roman Emperor Frederick Barbarossa in favor of Henry I of the House of Reginar, son of Godfrey III of Leuven (who was duke of Lower Lotharingia at that time). The Duchy of Brabant was a feudal elevation of the existing (since 1085/1086) title of landgrave of Brabant. This was an Imperial fief which was assigned to Count Henry III of Leuven shortly after the death of the preceding count of Brabant, Herman II of Lotharingia (born 20 September 1085). Although the corresponding county was quite small (limited to the territory between the rivers Senne and Dender) its name was applied to the entire country under control of the dukes from the 13th century on. In 1190, after the death of Godfrey III, Henry I also became duke of Lotharingia. Formerly Lower Lotharingia, this title was now practically without territorial authority, but was borne by the later dukes of Brabant as an honorific title.

Coat of arms of the Duchy of Brabant.
Princess Elisabeth, Duchess of Brabant, is the current holder of the title.

In 1288, the dukes of Brabant became also dukes of Limburg. The title fell to the dukes of Burgundy in 1430. Later on, it followed with the Burgundian inheritance until the French Revolution, although the northern part of the territory of Brabant was actually governed by the United Provinces during the 17th and 18th century (see Generality Lands).

Today, the title of duke or duchess of Brabant designates, since the Royal Decree of December 16 1840 (amended in 1991), the heir apparent to the throne of Belgium. The current holder is Princess Elisabeth.