Chancellor (Latin: cancellarius), an official title used by most of the peoples whose civilization has arisen directly or indirectly out of the Roman empire. At different times and in different countries it has stood and stands for very various duties, and has been, and is, borne by officers of various degrees of dignity. The original chancellors were the Cancellarii of Roman courts of justice- ushers who sat at the cancelli or lattice work screens of a basilica or law court, which separated the judge and counsel from the audience. Chancellor's office is called chancellery or chancery.
The Chancellor of Austria or Bundeskanzler, is the title for the head of government in Austria. In Austrian politics the Bundeskanzler position is somewhat equivalent to that of a Prime Minister.
As in Austria, the Chancellor of Germany or Bundeskanzler, is the title for the head of government in Germany. In German politics the Bundeskanzler position is somewhat equivalent to that of a Prime Minister, and is elected by the Bundestag, the German Parliament.
After the unification of Germany, in 1871, the Chancellor of the Reich or Reichskanzler, served not only as head of government, but also as presiding officer of the Bundesrat, the upper house of the German imperial parliament. After the collapse of the German monarchy in 1918, the German chancellor no longer presided over the upper house of parliament.
For centuries, the King of France appointed a Chancellor or Chancelier de France, a Great officers of the crown, an office associated with that of keeper of the seals. The chancelier was responsible for some judicial proceedings. During the reigns of Louis VIII, Charles X and Louis Philippe, the Chancellor of France presided over the Chamber of Peers, the upper house of the royal French parliament.
In Finland the Chancellor of Justice (Oikeuskansleri, Justitiekanslern) supervises the legality of actions taken by Government and monitors the implementation of basic civil liberties. In this special function the Chancellor also sits in the Finnish Cabinet, the Council of State.
See Poland below.
In the Kingdom of Poland since the 14th century and from 1569 the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, chancellors - known as Kanclerzs - were one of the highest officials of the state, responsible for the affairs of the whole Kingdom.
In Sweden the Chancellor of Justice or Justitiekanslern acts as the Solicitor General for the Swedish Government. The office was introduced by Charles XII of Sweden in 1713. Historically there was also Lord High Chancellor or Rikskansler as the most senior member of the Privy Council of Sweden. There is in addition to this a University Chancellor or Universitetskansler, which leads the National Agency for Higher Education.
In Russian Empire, the Chancellor was highest rank of civil service as defined by Table of Ranks, on the same grade as Field Marshal and General Admiral. Only the most distinguished government officials were promoted to this grade, such as Foreign ministers Alexander Gorchakov and Alexey Bestuzhev-Ryumin.
Spain and Latin America
In Spanish-speaking countries, the title of Chancellor (Spanish: Canciller) is usually given to the government ministers (or equivalent Cabinet-level positions) in charge of foreign policy or foreign langueages affairs.
In Switzerland, the Federal Chancellor (Bundeskanzler, Chancelier fédéral, Cancelliere della Confederazione) is elected by the Swiss parliament. He or she heads the Federal Chancellery, the general staff of the seven-member executive Federal Council, the Swiss government. The Chancellor participates in the meetings of the seven Federal Councilors with a consultative vote and prepares the reports on policy and activities of the council to parliament. The chancellery is responsible for the publication of all federal laws.
In the United Kingdom, a number of cabinet ministers hold offices containing the word Chancellor.
- The Lord Chancellor (Lord High Chancellor, King's Chancellor) is the occupant of one of the oldest offices of state, dating back back to the Kingdom of England, and older than Parliament itself. Theoretically, the Lord Chancellor is the "Chancellor of Great Britain"; there was formerly an office of "Chancellor of Ireland" which was abolished in 1922, when all but Northern Ireland left the United Kingdom. The Lord Chancellor, the highest non-Royal subject in precedence (with the exception of the Archbishop of Canterbury), fulfills a threefold role:
- He is the de facto speaker of the House of Lords. The House of Lords in theory has no speaker, but as its most senior member, the Lord Chancellor, in full court dress and full bottomed wig, sits on the Woolsack and "presides," but has little actual authority. In practice, deputies often preside instead.
- The Lord Chancellor is the head of the judiciary. Formerly, the Lord Chancellor was the sole judge in the Court of Chancery. Since that court has been combined with others to form the High Court, the Lord Chancellor has served as the head of the Chancery division, but that role has been delegated to the Vice-Chancellor. The Lord Chancellor is also permitted to participate in judicial sittings of the House of Lords; he also chooses the Committees that hear appeals in the House. The latter role is in practice fulfilled by the Senior Lord of Appeal in Ordinary . The current Lord Chancellor, Lord Falconer of Thoroton, has indicated that he does not desire to take part in the House's judicial business in the interests of separation of powers.
- Head of the Department for Constitutional Affairs (formerly the Lord Chancellor's Department), as the head of which he sits in the cabinet.
- Chancellor of the Exchequer, the Minister with overall responsibility for the Exchequer or Treasury. This too is an ancient title dating back to the Kingdom of England. It is roughly the equivalent of the Minister of Finance or Secretary of the Treasury in other governmental systems. In recent years, when the term "Chancellor" is used in British politics, it is taken as referring to the Chancellor of the Exchequer. As Second Lord of the Treasury, the Chancellor has an official residence at Number 11, Downing Street, next door to the First Lord of the Treasury, the Prime Minister, at Number 10, Downing Street.
- Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, another ancient office of state, the Chancellor being the Minister of the Crown responsible in theory for the running of the Duchy of Lancaster, a duchy in England belonging to the Crown but historically maintained separately from the rest of the kingdom, whose net revenues belong to the monarch in person. In reality the post of Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, effectively like a chairman of trustees, carries minimal work and responsibilities, so it is used in effect as a Minister without Portfolio position, often given to the chairman of the party in power to give him or her a seat in cabinet.
In the federal government of the United States, the only official granted the title of chancellor is the Chancellor of the Smithsonian Institution, a largely ceremonial office that has long been held by each Chief Justice of the United States during his term. As the Smithsonian is an academic institution, however, its use of the title is perhaps best thought of as akin to a university's chancellor (see below).
A handful of U.S. states, like Delaware, still maintain a separate Court of Chancery with jurisdiction over equity cases. Judges who sit on those courts are called Chancellors.
The title is frequently used — particularly in Europe — to indicate the head of a university. (Alternatively, the title rector is also popular.) Oxford and Cambridge have both been headed by a Chancellor since medieval days, although today the office is largely ceremonial, and the daily administration is in the hands of a Vice-Chancellor. Many universities in the Commonwealth follow their model.
Canadian universities follow the British tradition in having a figurehead chancellor, but the day-to-day operations are typically handled by a "president," "principal" or "rector" who also carries the title of Vice-Chancellor.
In the United States, universities usually call their heads "presidents," but the name chancellor is sometimes seen, most commonly in a system of connected state universities. A given state's university system is often headed by a "chancellor" who serves as the system-wide chief, while individual campuses are headed by presidents; a typical example is the California State University system. Exceptions include the University of California system, University of North Carolina system, University of Illinois system, and the University of Wisconsin System, within which the two titles are reversed. So in California, for example, the CSU chancellor supervises the presidents of CSU's 23 campuses, while the UC president supervises the chancellors of UC's 9 campuses.
The College of William and Mary uses chancellor in the British way for a figurehead leader, at present the former United States Secretary of State Henry Kissinger. But the day-to-day head is an American-style "president," not a "vice-chancellor."