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The nobility of Italy (
Italian Italian may refer to: * Anything of, from, or related to the country and nation of Italy ** Italians, an ethnic group or simply a citizen of the Italian Republic ** Italian language, a Romance language *** Regional Italian, regional variants of the ...

Italian
: ''Nobiltà italiana'') comprised individuals and their families of the
Italian Peninsula The Italian Peninsula (Italian Italian may refer to: * Anything of, from, or related to the country and nation of Italy ** Italians, an ethnic group or simply a citizen of the Italian Republic ** Italian language, a Romance language *** Reg ...
, and the islands linked with it, recognized by the sovereigns of the
Italian city-states The Italian city-states were numerous political and independent territorial entities that existed in the Italian Peninsula The Italian Peninsula (Italian Italian may refer to: * Anything of, from, or related to the country and nation of ...
since 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 ...
, and by the
kings of Italy Kings or King's may refer to: *Monarch A monarch is a head of stateWebster's II New College DictionarMonarch Houghton Mifflin. Boston. 2001. p. 707. Life tenure, for life or until abdication, and therefore the head of state of a monarchy. A mona ...
after the
unification of the region
unification of the region
into a single state, the
Kingdom of Italy The Kingdom of Italy ( it, Regno d'Italia) was a state that existed from 1861—when King Victor Emmanuel II en, Victor Emmanuel Mario Albert Eugene Ferdinand Thomas , house = House of Savoy, Savoy , father = Charles Albert o ...
. Nobles had a specific legal status, and held most of the wealth and various privileges denied to other classes, mainly politicians. In most of the former Italian pre-Unification states it was the only class that had access to high-level government positions. They also practically monopolized the most distinguished positions in the city-states and in the
Catholic Church The Catholic Church, also known as the Roman Catholic Church, is the largest Christian church, with 1.3 billion baptised Baptism (from the Greek language, Greek noun βάπτισμα ''báptisma'') is a Christians, Christian ...

Catholic Church
for a long time. There were several different systems of nobility over time and in different regions. From 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 ...
until March 1861, "Italy" was not a single country but was a number of separate kingdoms and other states, with many
reign A reign is the period of a person's or dynasty A dynasty (, ) is a sequence of rulers from the same family,''Oxford English Dictionary'', "dynasty, ''n''." Oxford University Press Oxford University Press (OUP) is the university pres ...
ing
dynasties A dynasty (, ) is a sequence of rulers from the same family In human society, family (from la, familia) is a group of people related either by consanguinity (by recognized birth) or affinity (by marriage or other relationship). Th ...
. These were often related by marriage to each other and to other European royal families. The Italian nobility was expanded into Africa with the creation of the
Italian Empire The Italian colonial empire ( it, Impero coloniale italiano), known as the Italian Empire (''Impero italiano'') between 1936 and 1943, began in Africa in the 19th century and comprised the colonies In political science, a colony is a terr ...

Italian Empire
in conquered
Ethiopia Ethiopia, officially the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia, is a landlocked country A landlocked country is a country A country is a distinct territory, territorial body or political entity. It is often referred to as the ...
and
East Africa East Africa, Eastern Africa, or East of Africa is the eastern sub-region A subregion is a part of a larger region or continent and is usually based on location. Cardinal directions, such as south or southern, are commonly used to define a subr ...
. Recognition of Italian nobility ceased with the creation of the
Italian Republic Italy ( it, Italia ), officially the Italian Republic ( it, Repubblica Italiana, links=no ), is a country consisting of a peninsula delimited by the Alps The Alps ; german: Alpen ; it, Alpi ; rm, Alps; sl, Alpe ) are the highest an ...
in 1946.


History


Pre-unification

Before
Italian Unification The unification of Italy ( it, Unità d'Italia ), also known as the ''Risorgimento'' (, ; meaning "Resurgence"), was the 19th-century political and social movement that resulted in the Merger (politics), consolidation of List of historic stat ...

Italian Unification
there was a relatively large number of members of the nobility in Italy. In the 16th, 17th and 18th centuries, Italy (after the
Renaissance The Renaissance ( , ) , from , with the same meanings. is a period Period may refer to: Common uses * Era, a length or span of time * Full stop (or period), a punctuation mark Arts, entertainment, and media * Period (music), a concept in ...

Renaissance
) was home to myriad noble families that had risen to prominence via
judicial The judiciary (also known as the judicial system, judicature, judicial branch, judiciative branch, and court or judiciary system) is the system of court A court is any person or institution, often as a government A government i ...
appointment, election to the various regional
senate The Curia Julia in the Roman Forum ">Roman_Forum.html" ;"title="Curia Julia in the Roman Forum">Curia Julia in the Roman Forum A senate is a deliberative assembly, often the upper house or Debating chamber, chamber of a bicameral legislatu ...

senate
s or appointment to
Catholic Church The Catholic Church, also known as the Roman Catholic Church, is the largest Christian church, with 1.3 billion baptised Baptism (from the Greek language, Greek noun βάπτισμα ''báptisma'') is a Christians, Christian ...

Catholic Church
office.''History of the popes; their church and state (Volume III)''
by Leopold von Ranke (2009,
Wellesley College Wellesley College is a private Private or privates may refer to: Music * "In Private "In Private" was the third single in a row to be a charting success for United Kingdom, British singer Dusty Springfield, after an absence of nearly two ...

Wellesley College
Library)
There were also families which had been part of Italian nobility for many decades or even centuries. Writing in the 19th century,
Leopold von Ranke Leopold von Ranke (; 21 December 1795 – 23 May 1886) was a German historian ( 484– 425 BC) was a Greek historian who lived in the 5th century BC and one of the earliest historians whose work survives. A historian is a person who studies and ...

Leopold von Ranke
recorded:


Sicilian nobility


Neapolitan nobility


Papal nobility

During this period, throughout Italy various influential families came to positions of power through the
election An election is a formal group decision-making process by which a population chooses an individual or multiple individuals to hold Public administration, public office. Elections have been the usual mechanism by which modern representative dem ...
of a family member as
Pope The pope ( la, papa, from el, πάππας, translit=pappas, "father"), also known as the supreme pontiff () or the Roman pontiff (), is the bishop of Diocese of Rome, Rome, chief pastor of the worldwide Catholic Church, and head of state o ...

Pope
or were elevated into the ranks of nobility through
ecclesiastical {{Short pages monitor