Also found in: Dictionary, Thesaurus, Wikipedia.


a. a state or sovereign exercising some degree of dominion over a dependent state, usually controlling its foreign affairs
b. (as modifier): a suzerain power
a. a feudal overlord
b. (as modifier): suzerain lord
Collins Discovery Encyclopedia, 1st edition © HarperCollins Publishers 2005
The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



in medieval Western Europe, a superior feudal lord, or seigneur, of a territory (for example, a king, duke, or prince) who is sovereign over the vassals in his domain (seeVASSALAGE). The authority of a suzerain derives from his power to grant fiefs to vassals.

The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
References in periodicals archive ?
The Supreme Ruler's meta-sovereignty remains despite devolving autonomy to human rulers, like a suzerain allowing a degree of autonomy to a vassal entity.
"Every time the Turks become suzerain of people believing in a different faith, tolerance is presented as a normal relationship between Turks and the others.
The Serbian government might not have been formally represented at the Conference, but through its envoy Mijatovic it made clear that, on this issue at least, it wholly supported the position of the suzerain power.
The Hainan decision empowering its border police to intercept foreign ships sailing in waters claimed by China as its territory, which also overlaps territories in the South China Sea, affronts other claimants because it is seen as condescending and treating them as vassal states of the suzerain province.
His Majesty's Government, while they have formally recognized the suzerain rights of China in Thibet [Tibet], have never recognized, and are not prepared to recognize, the right of China to intervene actively in the internal administration of Thibet [Tibet], which should remain, as contemplated by the treaties, in the hands of the Thibetan [Tibetan] authorities.
(126) Additionally, although Article VII of the 1856 Treaty of Paris expressly recognised the Sultan, (127) the very nature of a suzerainty implies that the suzerain will conduct international affairs on behalf of the vassal State.
The scale of his task was immense, as this was an area characterised by resistance to suzerain authority, with each emirate being fiercely protective of its own identity and individual character.
Among these, the most significant item is the twelfth large tray, which contains a loop and a hook for controlling elephants as symbols of ancient suzerain power.
On pourrait pousser plus loin l'analogie en remarquant que le seigneur lui-meme pouvait etre dans la situation de devoir rendre hommage a plus puissant que lui, a savoir a un suzerain dont il etait le vassal, ce qui constituait en somme un systeme de reassurance.
(57) In 1883, Pedro requested "a significant detachment of troops" to sustain himself, for "knowing that since ancient times Portugal has always been the suzerain" of Congo, and that some 20 years earlier their troops had put him on the throne.