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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.

Table of contents
1 Government Chancellors
2 Austria
3 Germany
4 Finland
5 Sweden
6 Switzerland
7 United Kingdom
8 United States
9 University Chancellors

Government Chancellors


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.


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, being elected by the Bundestag, the German 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.


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 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.

United Kingdom

In the United Kingdom, a number of cabinet members hold offices containing the word Chancellor.

One of the most famous Lord Chancellors was Saint Sir Thomas More, under King Henry VIII

United States

In the United States government, the only official granted the title of chancellor is the Chancellor of the
Smithsonian Institution, a largely ceremonial office that has been held since 1784 by every Chief Justice of the Supreme Court.

University Chancellors

Outside of politics, the title is frequently used to indicate the nominal head of a university. Though not always the case, university chancellors are frequently less involved with the day to day running of the university, and are instead a sort of figurehead. Sometimes universities appoint well known personalities from the community as their chancellor. The current chancellor of the College of William and Mary, for example is former United States Secretary of State Henry Kissinger.