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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 nobility 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.

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]