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A paladin (alternatively paladine, also spelled palatine, or Latin palatinus, -i) is any of diverse officials found in numerous countries of medieval and early modern Europe.
It has existed in history first in Ancient Rome as an official of the Emperor as well as a corps of the praetorian guard (Diocletian), named after its neighboring Scholae Palatinae. In the early Middle Ages there was a papal church official or a noble close to the king (see below), in the late Middle Ages a synonym of count palatine, in Modernity it was in 19th century Hungary the supreme title given by the king or, in a broader sense especially around 1900 in Britain and the German Empire, a knight.
In fiction, the paladines were twelve heroes of mediaeval poetry, and in fiction it remains the meaning of “honourable knight”.

Derivative terms
The different spellings originate from the different languages that used the title throughout the ages (a phenomenon called lenition). The word "paladin" evolved from the Latin word palatinus, meaning "belonging to the Palatine Hill", where the house of the Roman emperor was situated since Octavian. The meaning of the term changed only little, but was changed to the pronunciation of the European languages: Latin palatinus, plural palatini, English paladin and paladine, French palaisin and German Paladin. The term was also adopted to describe the residence of the Ancient Roman palatinus, the palatium. In the early Middle Ages the German “paladin” was the elector of the King, given the palatinate to have a territory as a basis to sustain him (Pfalz).
The word palace also developed from “palatium”, so that a paladin was in one sense a palace official. Other uses are the titles of "mayor of the palace" and "count palatine". The original Middle French form is palaisin. The English paladin was loaned into Early Modern English from the Italian form, paladino, because late medieval treatments of the "Matter of France" were mostly by Italian authors such as Ludovico Ariosto and Matteo Maria Boiardo.

Ancient Rome
The Scholae Palatinae, named after its location on Palatine Hill, the mythical founding place of Rome, was the older of two schools of the ancient Salii brotherhood of God of War Mars, which lent some of their symbols to the emperial, later the papal palace.

Originally the term was applied to the chamberlains and to some troops guarding the palace of the Roman emperor. In Constantine's time, the title was also used for the most advanced field force of the army, the Praetorian Guard, that might guard the Roman Emperor on campaigns. The traditions of the two groups of 12 Salii priests and of the Praetorian Guard soon merged into one, creating an image of an influential official with nonphysical connotations

Middle Ages: Holy Roman Empire
From the Middle Ages on, the term palatine was applied to various different officials across Europe. The most important of these was the count palatine, who in Merovingian and Carolingian times (5th through 10th century) was an official of the sovereign's household, in particular of his court of law. The count palatine was the official representative at proceedings of the court such as oath takings or judicial sentences and was in charge of the records of those developments. At first he examined cases in the king's court and was authorized to carry out the decisions, in time, these rights extended to having own judicial rights. In addition to those responsibilities, the count palatine had administrative functions, especially concerning the king's household.

After Carolingean times France was split from the Holy Roman Empire, and under the German kings of the Saxon and Salian dynasties (10th to 12th century), the function of the counts palatine corresponded to those of the missi dominici at the Carolingian Court. They had various tasks: representatives of the king in the provinces, they were responsible for the administration of the royal domain and for the protecting and guiding the legal system in certain duchies, such as Saxony and Bavaria, and, in particular, Lotharingia. Later other palatine rights were absorbed by ducal dynasties, by local families, or, in Italy, by bishops. Increasigly, the count palatine of Lotharingia, whose office had been attached to the royal palace at Aachen from the 10th century onward, became the real successor to the Carolingian count palatine. From his office grew the Countship Palatine of the Rhine, or simply the Palatinate, which became a great territorial power from the time of the emperor Frederick I Barbarossa (d. 1190) on. The term palatine reoccurs under Charles IV, but they had only voluntary jurisdiction and some honorific functions.

The word palatinus and its derivatives also translate the titles of certain great functionaries in eastern Europe, such as the Polish wojewoda, a military governor of a province.

Middle Ages: Catholic Church
For the main article, see Palatinus (Roman Catholic Church)
In the Middle Ages, the judices palatini ('[papal] palace judges') were the highest administrative officers of the pope's household; with the growth of the temporal power of the popes they acquired great importance.

Early Modern Usage
In England the term palatinate, or county palatine, was applied to counties of lords who could exercise powers normally reserved to the crown. Likewise, there were palatine provinces among the English colonies in North America: Cecilius Calvert, Lord Baltimore, was granted palatine rights in Maryland in 1632, as were the proprietors of the Carolinas in 1663.[1]

19th and 20th century
In Germany and Britain, paladin was an official rank and considered an honorary title for one in service of the emperors. It was a Knight with additional honours.
During the second reinstating of a German Empire called the Third Reich, Hermann Göring was also given the title “Paladin”, referring to the tradition of a title that made the carrier second to the king.

Source: wikipedia