There is a image in the popular culture of a king sitting on a throne in a throne room and "holding court", that is performing administrative and diplomatic tasks. Was such ceremony and room ever utilized by rulers of lower rank? Both independent and vassals of an overlord.

I am specifically looking for the term used for such rooms and sitting places. Is throne room adequate?

The question is about Europe from XI to XV century, but if you have any examples from other time periods or geographical areas, please do include them.

  • 1
    @MCW The question's not asking about rules but whether the practice commonly existed. Having some examples would basically make the answer "yes".
    – Harry
    Mar 8, 2022 at 19:34
  • 2
    Some examples wouldn't make the answer "yes". Over the period of the middle ages (which covers a thousand years), there were probably many thousands of kings and nobles (and their equivalents) around the globe. Even if you found a couple of dozen examples, that wouldn't qualify as common practice. Mar 8, 2022 at 19:48
  • @KillingTime Are you saying it's not? If there are only a few dozen maybe it's not but a couple of hundred would be.
    – Harry
    Mar 8, 2022 at 20:06
  • 3
    @Harry Are you expecting someone here to provide you with a couple of hundred examples? You'd also need to know just how many kings, princes, archdukes, dukes, earls, counts, viscounts and barons (and their equivalents around the world) there were in total to be able to determine if the couple of hundred examples was sufficient to be considered "common". You also need to define what counts as a "throne" and what counts as a "throne room" - which could be tricky in non-European environments. Mar 8, 2022 at 20:21
  • 3
    Somebody is playing too much Crusader Kings III. They've just released a DLC with a throne room for rulers. :-) But seriously: a ruler has to receive subjects somewhere to judge issues. It would rather be a nice room, to impose authority. If it was called throne room or not, or how nice/big it was, or how everything worked, it is impossible to answer unless you set limits on time and place.
    – Luiz
    Mar 9, 2022 at 0:00

4 Answers 4


Sure. "Throne room" is perfectly fine, though I think "audience chamber" may have been more common.

Pulling an example out of my hat (I visited and was very, very impressed) take the Residence of the Prince-Bishop of Würzburg in Germany. Würzburg was a typical small medieval German state under the Holy Roman Empire (HRE) which was ruled by the city's bishop. In the HRE, ruling bishops were given the title "Prince-bishop" (P-B), were considered elected monarchs, and had an effective rank of Duke in the HRE. (They were probably roughly in the third rank of HRE nobility.)

The P-B of Wurzburg built an utterly amazing Baroque palace which was his residence but was also the seat of government — sort of like the mayor of a large city living in City Hall.
See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/W%C3%BCrzburg_Residence for description and some pictures.

As it says there:

The Weisser Saal or White Hall in Rococo style was the audience chamber and is dominated by the stucco decorations of Antonio Bossi …

Imperial Hall or Kaisersaal … was used to receive visiting dignitaries, including the Emperors-to-be on their voyage to Frankfurt and on the return trip to Vienna.

Two rooms, that were opulent beyond belief. As far as I know, the original furniture does not survive, but you can be certain that the P-B didn't sit in an office chair when he held an audience or received visiting dignitaries.

As far as whether your imaginary country has thrones, just like here on Earth, it all depends on local custom.


For the actual 'room' the term Throne room seems to be well established:

throne room or throne hall is the room, often rather a hall, in the official residence of the crown, either a palace or a fortified castle, where the throne of a senior figure (usually a monarch) is set up with elaborate pomp—usually raised, often with steps, and under a canopy, both of which are part of the original notion of the Greek word thronos.

On that page we see examples for lower-than-kings, like Monaco.

A problem with this concept is that in Europe most smaller rulers of that timeframe in most of Europe had to represent their power and money and whatnot with this kind of architecture. But these rather large rooms or halls were not necessarily really where such rulers actually sat all day to — well, rule from the stool all the time? Such accommodations were of course used for audiences, ceremonies, festivities, honours, assemblies of court etc.

One such example of a throne —without a throne room!— would be the Duke's chair in Carinthia in use from 1161 to 1597, similar in function to the Coronation Chair. Obviously, taking power was symbolised by taking seat on that seat, but everyday business was then conducted elsewhere afterwards.

We therefore need perhaps look at the functional aspects of 'a throne room' which are transferable to other rooms and contexts, and therefore give rise to a lot of other names for such a room. The idea that historical monarchs in particular performed almost all of their official functions in a throne room is likely to be a romanticisation in most cases. Many monarchies in the early historical period of inquiry here were operating without having even a proper capital or a residence.

If we consider these differences, then we might discover still quite a lot of examples like in Meißen the Albrechtsburg with its "Great Hall", which was built from 10th century by Margraves and taking its present day appearance in late 15th century under Electors. Similarly, the Dresden Castle features two rooms called properly 'Eckparadesaal' and 'Audienzsaal', although they are alternatively called throne room and new throne room, for the Elector of Saxony, after their apparent functions.


This isn't a rigorously structured question, so I'm going to give an answer with less rigor than I generally prefer.

  1. There is no enforcing body. There exists no police force who will come in and reclassify your throne as "merely a fancy chair". So I think it is entirely plausible for your count to be the only person seated in the room on a chair that demonstrates conspicuous consumption, is elevated above the floor, etc. I have no doubt that some of the people in that room will use the term "throne", but everyone in the room will understand the message.

  2. The particulars vary significantly through history, but in almost all cases, the senior person in the room must do something to be set apart. I can't find a succinct summary or quote (I welcome edits/adds), but this is part of the reason for customs such as waiting for the host to sit before you sit – sitting first implies precedence. If there is only one chair in the room, it is reserved for the senior person (and therefore it is 'a throne' even if nobody uses the specific term for it).

  3. Again, the particulars vary in time and space, but authority generally needs a symbol to convey that they are acting officially. The authority seated in a room full of standing subordinates is sending a message.

  4. "A throne is the seat of state of a potentate or dignitary, especially the seat occupied by a sovereign on state occasions; or the seat occupied by a pope or bishop on ceremonial occasions." Wikipedia

  5. Some other prelates besides bishops are permitted the use of thrones, such as abbots and abbesses. Wikipedia

  6. Design Institute of San Diego has a short article on the use of the chair through history.

  7. Although it is quite outside the time and boundary of your question, it may be useful to consider the role of the stool in some African cultures.

Out of time – I hope that helps at least a little bit.

  • 1
    Thanks for the answer, rather than a police force it's more like asking if it's a social faux pas, for example, a lot of people call their daughters princess, but if you were english nobility and you were in the company of actual princesses and you call your daughter who's not a princess that's a bit embarrassing right. If you're a count and your buddy King visits you, would you show him the place and be like, this is my bedroom, and this is my throne room?
    – Harry
    Mar 10, 2022 at 14:01

The answer to the question is really subjective and depends on what we consider a throne and throne room.

To illustrate this on an example from the middle ages: the Republic of Venice and the Doge (elected ruler). The Doge's Palace has a Council room (Hall of the Great Council, Sala del Maggior Consiglio) that was the center of all political decisions and was designed for about 2000 citizens plus Doge and officials. The seat in this room clearly has a similar function that you described as the throne room. Is it? In the same building, there is Sala del Collegio, the room where the Cabinet and the Doge were meeting, and also for meeting important foreign visitors. The chair of the Doge is explicitly called a throne in the description, and the room also had the function that what you would call a throne room.

Now let's walk to another building in the same city: MUVE, originally a palace one of the old, wealthy families (Bon). If you take a look at the layout, one room is called the throne room. To be fair, it was named after a very important chair used by a pope. My point is: the rich and influential often had a designated room, home office space, to meet with others, and that room generally had chairs, some of them even pretty big, to represent power (see a list at Wikipedia).


  • I was asking mostly of the terminology used by people to distinguish rank and privilege and if that applies to the concept of throne room. For sure the room itself exists everywhere. I think your example shows that the throne room is not commonly a thing among lower officials, eg council room, and it was the pope that had a throne room.
    – Harry
    Mar 10, 2022 at 14:59
  • @Harry The above-ementioned council room hosted the Doge ""holding court", which is performing administrative and diplomatic tasks", had exactly the same function as you described, with Doge sitting in the center at a distinguished seat. They didn't call in the throne room? Well, Napoleon had the same in the Senate, and it was not called a throne room, the British Monarch has no throne room, the Chrysanthemum Throne is not in a room called throne room, neither the pope has a throne room (except of course in Venice, where a pope once sit on a chair).
    – Greg
    Mar 11, 2022 at 7:51
  • Thanks good point
    – Harry
    Mar 11, 2022 at 11:59
  • very Doge, so council, many political, wow
    – Robert Columbia
    Mar 13, 2022 at 11:46

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.