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French aristocrats, c. 1774

Nobility was the highest social class in pre-modern societies. In the feudal system (in Europe and elsewhere), the noble were mostly those who got land from the monarch and had to provide services to him, mainly military service. Men of this class were called noblemen. It soon became a hereditary class, sometimes with a right to bear a hereditary title and to have financial and other privileges in the estates of the realm.

Today, in most countries, 'noble status' means no legal privileges; an important exception is the United Kingdom, where certain titles (titles of the peerage) guaranteed until recently a seat in the Upper House of Westminster Parliament (that is why it is called House of Lords) and still provide some other, less important privileges.

History[change | change source]

Nobles were always recognized as lower families of the King/Queen. Nobles usually rule Duchies, Counties, and principalities. Nobles were usually given a "House", being of course a noble house. Nobles usually worked as advisors to the King, and land owners. Some families did not work at all because they were quite wealthy. But not all nobles were wealthy. Some were very poor. One of the richest claim to be noble families were the Medicis. The Medici's ruled Tuscany, Milan ect. The Medici's were pretty much common people, but they were richer than most monarchs at there time until there fall in the 1700's.

Noble families had plenty of power depending on what land they ruled. The rich Duchy of Burgundy was a major power spot because of how big to Duchy was. Another power spot was the Duchy of Milan and the Duchy of Luxembourg. Some nobles had little to no power. Most nobles are given a title such as "lady-in-waiting," that is non hereditary.

Famous Noble Families[change | change source]

Nobility by rank[change | change source]

Title Male Female
Empire Emperor Empress
Kingdom King Queen
Grand Principality Grand Prince Grand Princess
Principality Prince Princess
Archduchy Arch Duke Arch Duchess
Grand Duchy Grand Duke Grand Duchess
Duchy Duke Duchess
Marquisate Marquess Marchioness
County/Earldom Count/Earl Countess
Viscounty Viscount Viscountess
Barony Baron Baroness

Other websites[change | change source]