A castellan was the governor or caretaker of a castle or keep. The word stems from the Latin Castellanus, derived from castellum 'castle'.
Usually, a castellan combined the duties of both a majordomo
(responsible for a castle's domestic staff) and a military administrator (responsible for maintaining defences and protecting the castle's lands). This was particularly the case if there was no lord resident at the castle, or if the resident lord was frequently absent.
, castellans (known in French
) who governed castles without resident nobles acquired considerable powers, and the position actually became a hereditary fiefdom
At times, there was a castellan among the Officers of the Kingdom of Jerusalem
In the Kingdom of Poland
and later the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth
, the Castellans (Kasztelan) were in most cases lower in precedence to the Palatines
(with the exception of the Lord Castellan of Cracow
who had precedence before Lord Palatine
). Castellans were in charge of a part of a Palatinate
) until the 15th century
and from that time on their domain was divided into provinces
for Greater Castellans and powiats
for Minor Castellans.