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The aristocracy is a
social class A social class is a set of concepts in the social sciences Social science is the Branches of science, branch of science devoted to the study of society, societies and the Social relation, relationships among individuals within those soc ...
that a particular society considers its highest order. In many states, the aristocracy included the
upper class Upper class in modern societies is the social class A social class is a set of concepts in the social sciences and political theory Political philosophy is the philosophical study of government A government is the system or g ...
of people (aristocrats) with hereditary rank and titles. In some, such as ancient Greece, Rome, or India, aristocratic status came from belonging to a military
caste Caste is a form of social stratification Social stratification refers to a society's categorization of its people into groups based on Socioeconomic status, socioeconomic factors like wealth, income, Race (human categorization), race, educati ...
. It has also been common, notably in African societies, for aristocrats to belong to priestly dynasties. Aristocratic status can involve feudal or legal privileges. They are usually below only the monarch of a
country A country is a distinct territorial body or political entity A polity is an identifiable political entity—any group of people who have a collective identity, who are organized by some form of Institutionalisation, institutionalized social ...

country
or
nation A nation is a community A community is a social unit (a group of living things) with commonality such as Norm (social), norms, religion, values, Convention (norm), customs, or Identity (social science), identity. Communities may share a sense ...

nation
in its
social hierarchy Social stratification refers to a society's categorization Categorization is the ability and activity to recognize shared features or similarities between the elements of the experience of the world (such as Object (philosophy), objects, ev ...
. In modern European societies, the aristocracy has often coincided with the
nobility Nobility is a social class normally ranked immediately below Royal family, royalty and found in some societies that have a formal aristocracy (class), aristocracy. Nobility has often been an Estates of the realm, estate of the realm that p ...
, a specific class that arose in the
Middle Ages In the history of Europe The history of Europe concerns itself with the discovery and collection, the study, organization and presentation and the interpretation of past events and affairs of the people of Europe since the beginning of ...
, but the term "aristocracy" is sometimes also applied to other
elite In Political philosophy, political and sociology, sociological theory, the elite (French ''élite'', from Latin ''eligere'', to select or to sort out) are a small group of powerful people who hold a economic inequality, disproportionate amount o ...

elite
s, and is used as a more generic term when describing earlier and non-European societies. Some revolutions, such as the French Revolution, have been followed by the abolition of the aristocracy.


Etymology

The term
aristocracy Aristocracy ( grc-gre, ἀριστοκρατία , from 'excellent', and , 'rule') is a form of government A government is the system or group of people governing an organized community, generally a state State may refer to: A ...
derives from the
Greek#REDIRECT Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, , ), officially the Hellenic Republic, is a country located in Southeast Europe. Its population is approximately 10.7 million as of ...
( from () 'excellent' and () 'power').''The Oxford Companion to British History'', John Cannon (editor),
Oxford University Press Oxford University Press (OUP) is the university press A university press is an academic publishing Publishing is the activity of making information, literature, music, software and other content available to the public for sale or for fre ...

Oxford University Press
, 1997,
In most cases, aristocratic titles were and are hereditary. The term was first used in
Athens , image_skyline = File:Athens Montage L.png, center, 275px, alt=Athens montage. Clicking on an image in the picture causes the browser to load the appropriate article. rect 15 15 985 460 Acropolis of Athens rect 15 475 48 ...

Athens
with reference to young
citizen Citizenship is a relationship between an individual and a state to which the individual owes allegiance and in turn is entitled to its protection. Each state determines the conditions under which it will recognize persons as its citizens, and th ...

citizen
s (the men of the ruling class) who led armies at the front line. roughly translates to "rule of the best born". Due to
martial Marcus Valerius Martialis (known in English English usually refers to: * English language English is a West Germanic languages, West Germanic language first spoken in History of Anglo-Saxon England, early medieval England, which has ...

martial
bravery being highly regarded as a
virtue Virtue ( la, virtus ''Virtus'' () was a specific virtue in Ancient Rome. It carries connotations of valor, manliness, excellence, courage, character, and worth, perceived as masculine strengths (from Latin ''vir'', "man"). It was thus a fr ...

virtue
in
ancient Greece Ancient Greece ( el, Ἑλλάς, Hellás) was a civilization belonging to a period of History of Greece, Greek history from the Greek Dark Ages of the 12th–9th centuries BC to the end of Classical Antiquity, antiquity ( AD 600). This era wa ...
, it was assumed that the armies were being led by "the best". This virtue was called (). Etymologically, as the word developed, it also produced a more political term: (). The term aristocracy is a compound word stemming from the singular of , (), and the Greek word for power, (). From the ancient Greeks, the term passed to the European
Middle Ages In the history of Europe The history of Europe concerns itself with the discovery and collection, the study, organization and presentation and the interpretation of past events and affairs of the people of Europe since the beginning of ...
for a similar ''hereditary class'' of military leaders, often referred to as the nobility. As in Greece, this was a class of privileged men and women whose familial connections to the regional armies allowed them to present themselves as the most "noble" or "best" of society.


See also

*
Gentry Gentry (from Old French Old French (, , ; Modern French French ( or ) is a Romance language of the Indo-European family. It descended from the Vulgar Latin of the Roman Empire, as did all Romance languages. French evolved from Ga ...
(United Kingdom) *
Honorifics An honorific is a title that conveys esteem, courtesy, or respect for position or rank when used in addressing or referring to a person. Sometimes, the term "honorific" is used in a more specific sense to refer to an honorary academic title. It i ...
*
Monarchy A monarchy is a form of government A government is the system or group of people governing an organized community, generally a state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a ...
*
Nobility Nobility is a social class normally ranked immediately below Royal family, royalty and found in some societies that have a formal aristocracy (class), aristocracy. Nobility has often been an Estates of the realm, estate of the realm that p ...
*
List of fictional nobility This is a list of fictional nobility that have appeared in various works of fiction. This list is organized by noble rank and limited to well-referenced, notable examples of fictional members of nobility Nobility is a social class normally ...
*
Upper class Upper class in modern societies is the social class A social class is a set of concepts in the social sciences Social science is the Branches of science, branch of science devoted to the study of society, societies and the Social rel ...
*
ImtiazImtiaz or Imtiyaz () is a given name of Arabic Arabic (, ' or , ' or ) is a Semitic language that first emerged in the 1st to 4th centuries CE.Semitic languages: an international handbook / edited by Stefan Weninger; in collaboration with Geo ...

Imtiaz
(Egypt) * Chieftaincy (Nigeria) *
Old money Old money (french: vieux riche ) is "the inherited wealth of The Establishment, established upper class, upper-class families (i.e. gentry, patrician (post-Roman Europe), patriciate)" or "a person, family, or lineage possessing inherited wealth ...
*
Peerage A peerage is a legal system historically comprising various hereditary title Hereditary titles, in a general sense, are nobility Nobility is a social class normally ranked immediately below Royal family, royalty and found in some societi ...
(United Kingdom) *
Royal and noble ranks Traditional rank amongst European royalty Royalty may refer to: * Kingship * Royal family, the immediate family of a king or queen regnant, and sometimes his or her extended family * Royalty payment for use of such things as intellectual proper ...
*
Styles Style is a manner of doing or presenting things and may refer to: * Architectural style, the features that make a building or structure historically identifiable * Design, the process of creating something * Fashion, a prevailing mode of clothing s ...
(manner of address) *
Styles Style is a manner of doing or presenting things and may refer to: * Architectural style, the features that make a building or structure historically identifiable * Design, the process of creating something * Fashion, a prevailing mode of clothing s ...
(royal and noble) *
Styles Style is a manner of doing or presenting things and may refer to: * Architectural style, the features that make a building or structure historically identifiable * Design, the process of creating something * Fashion, a prevailing mode of clothing s ...
(United Kingdom) *
Title A title is one or more words used before or after a person's name, in certain contexts. It may signify either generation, an official position, or a professional or academic qualification. In some languages, titles may be inserted between the firs ...

Title
s *
Titles A title is one or more words used before or after a person's name, in certain contexts. It may signify either generation, an official position, or a professional or academic qualification. In some languages, titles may be inserted between the firs ...
(false) *
Titles A title is one or more words used before or after a person's name, in certain contexts. It may signify either generation, an official position, or a professional or academic qualification. In some languages, titles may be inserted between the firs ...
(hereditary) *
Titles A title is one or more words used before or after a person's name, in certain contexts. It may signify either generation, an official position, or a professional or academic qualification. In some languages, titles may be inserted between the firs ...
(honorary) *
Social capital Social capital is "the networks of relationships among people who live and work in a particular society, enabling that society to function effectively". It involves the effective functioning of social group In the social science Soc ...
*
Social environment The social environment, social context, sociocultural context or milieu refers to the immediate physical and social setting in which people live or in which something happens or develops. It includes the culture that the individual was educate ...
*
Symbolic capital In sociology Sociology is a social science Social science is the branch The branches and leaves of a tree. A branch ( or , ) or tree branch (sometimes referred to in botany Botany, also called , plant biology or phytol ...
*
Honour Honour (British English British English (BrE) is the standard dialect of the English language English is a West Germanic languages, West Germanic language first spoken in History of Anglo-Saxon England, early medieval England, whi ...
*
Moral responsibility In philosophy Philosophy (from , ) is the study of general and fundamental questions, such as those about Metaphysics, existence, reason, Epistemology, knowledge, Ethics, values, Philosophy of mind, mind, and Philosophy of language, langu ...
*
Yangban The ''Yangban'' (), were part of the Korean ruling class, traditional ruling class or gentry of dynastic Korea during the Joseon Dynasty. The ''yangban'' were mainly composed of highly educated civil servants and military officers—landed or ...
(Korea) *
Kuge The was a Japanese aristocratic Aristocracy ( grc-gre, ἀριστοκρατία , from 'excellent', and , 'rule') is a form of government that places strength in the hands of a small, privileged ruling class, the aristocrats. The ter ...
(Japan)


References


External links


Fake Titles


{{DEFAULTSORT:Aristocracy (Class) High society (social class) Social classes Social groups Nobility Oligarchy pl:Arystokracja