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Nobility is a
social class A social class is a grouping of people into a set of hierarchical social categories, the most common being the upper, middle and lower classes. Membership in a social class can for example be dependent on education, wealth, occupation, inc ...
found in many societies that have an
aristocracy Aristocracy (, ) is a form of government that places strength in the hands of a small, privileged ruling class, the aristocracy (class), aristocrats. The term derives from the el, αριστοκρατία (), meaning 'rule of the best'. At t ...
. It is normally ranked immediately below royalty. Nobility has often been an
estate of the realm The estates of the realm, or three estates, were the broad orders of social stratification, social hierarchy used in Christendom (Christian Europe) from the Middle Ages to early modern Europe. Different systems for dividing society members into ...
with many exclusive functions and characteristics. The characteristics associated with nobility may constitute substantial advantages over or relative to non-nobles or simply formal functions (e.g., precedence), and vary by country and by era. Membership in the nobility, including rights and responsibilities, is typically
hereditary Heredity, also called inheritance or biological inheritance, is the passing on of traits from parents to their offspring; either through asexual reproduction Asexual reproduction is a type of reproduction that does not involve the fusion ...
and
patrilineal Patrilineality, also known as the male line, the spear side or agnatic kinship, is a common kinship system in which an individual's family membership derives from and is recorded through their father's lineage. It generally involves the inheritanc ...
. Membership in the nobility has historically been granted by a monarch or government, and acquisition of sufficient power, wealth, ownerships, or royal favour has occasionally enabled commoners to ascend into the nobility. There are often a variety of ranks within the noble class. Legal recognition of nobility has been much more common in monarchies, but nobility also existed in such regimes as the
Dutch Republic The United Provinces of the Netherlands, also known as the (Seven) United Provinces, officially as the Republic of the Seven United Netherlands (Dutch language, Dutch: ''Republiek der Zeven Verenigde Nederlanden''), and commonly referred to in ...
(1581–1795), the
Republic of Genoa The Republic of Genoa ( lij, Repúbrica de Zêna ; it, Repubblica di Genova; la, Res Publica Ianuensis) was a medieval and early modern Maritime republics, maritime republic from the 11th century to 1797 in Liguria on the northwestern Italy, It ...
(1005–1815), the
Republic of Venice The Republic of Venice ( vec, Repùblega de Venèsia) or Venetian Republic ( vec, Repùblega Vèneta, links=no), traditionally known as La Serenissima ( en, Most Serene Republic of Venice, italics=yes; vec, Serenìsima Repùblega de Venèsia, ...
(697–1797), and the
Old Swiss Confederacy The Old Swiss Confederacy or Swiss Confederacy (German language, Modern German: ; historically , after the Swiss Reformation, Reformation also , "Confederation of the Swiss") was a loose confederation of independent small states (, German or ...
(1300–1798), and remains part of the legal social structure of some small non-hereditary regimes, e.g.,
San Marino San Marino (, ), officially the Republic of San Marino ( it, Repubblica di San Marino; ), also known as the Most Serene Republic of San Marino ( it, Serenissima Repubblica di San Marino, links=no), is the List of countries and dependencies by a ...
, and the
Vatican City Vatican City (), officially the Vatican City State ( it, Stato della Città del Vaticano; la, Status Civitatis Vaticanae),—' * german: Vatikanstadt, cf. '—' (in Austria: ') * pl, Miasto Watykańskie, cf. '—' * pt, Cidade do Vati ...
in Europe. In
Classical Antiquity Classical antiquity (also the classical era, classical period or classical age) is the period of cultural history between the 8th century BC and the 5th century AD centred on the Mediterranean Sea, comprising the interlocking civilizations of ...
, the ' (nobles) of the
Roman Republic The Roman Republic ( la, Res publica Romana ) was a form of government of Rome and the era of the ancient Rome, classical Roman civilization when it was run through res publica, public Representation (politics), representation of the Roman peo ...
were families descended from persons who had achieved the
consulship A consul held the highest elected political office of the Roman Republic ( to 27 BC), and ancient Romans considered the consulship the second-highest level of the ''cursus honorum'' (an ascending sequence of public offices to which politic ...
. Those who belonged to the hereditary patrician families were nobles, but
plebeians In ancient Rome, the plebeians (also called plebs) were the general body of free Roman citizenship, Roman citizens who were not Patrician (ancient Rome), patricians, as determined by the capite censi, census, or in other words "commoners". Both ...
whose ancestors were consuls were also considered '. In the
Roman Empire The Roman Empire ( la, Imperium Romanum ; grc-gre, Βασιλεία τῶν Ῥωμαίων, Basileía tôn Rhōmaíōn) was the post-Roman Republic, Republican period of ancient Rome. As a polity, it included large territorial holdings aro ...
, the nobility were descendants of this Republican aristocracy. While ancestry of contemporary noble families from ancient Roman nobility might technically be possible, no well-researched, historically-documented generation-by-generation genealogical descents from ancient Roman times are known to exist in Europe.
Hereditary title Hereditary titles, in a general sense, are nobility titles, positions or Style (manner of address), styles that are Inheritance, hereditary and thus tend or are bound to remain in particular families. Though both monarchs and nobles usually inher ...
s and styles added to names (such as "Prince", "Lord", or "Lady"), as well as
honorific 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 ...
s, often distinguish nobles from non-nobles in conversation and written speech. In many nations, most of the nobility have been untitled, and some hereditary titles do not indicate nobility (e.g.,
vidame Vidame () was a feudal title in France, a term descended from mediaeval Latin . Like the advocatus#In France, ''avoué'' or ''advocatus'', the ''vidame'' was originally a secular official chosen by the bishop of the diocese—with the consent ...
). Some countries have had non-hereditary nobility, such as the
Empire of Brazil The Empire of Brazil was a 19th-century state that broadly comprised the territories which form modern Brazil and (until 1828) Uruguay. Its government was a Representative democracy, representative Parliamentary system, parliamentary constituti ...
or
life peer In the United Kingdom The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, commonly known as the United Kingdom (UK) or Britain, is a country in Europe, off the north-western coast of the European mainland, continental mainland. It ...
s in the
United Kingdom The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, commonly known as the United Kingdom (UK) or Britain, is a country in Europe, off the north-western coast of the European mainland, continental mainland. It comprises England, Scotlan ...
.


History

The term derives from Latin ', the
abstract noun A noun () is a word that generally functions as the name of a specific object or set of objects, such as living creatures, places, actions, qualities, states of existence, or ideas.Example nouns for: * Organism, Living creatures (including people ...
of the adjective ' ("noble but also secondarily well-known, famous, notable"). In
ancient Roman society In modern historiography, ancient Rome refers to Roman civilisation from the founding of the city of Rome in the 8th century BC to the collapse of the Western Roman Empire in the 5th century AD. It encompasses the Roman Kingdom (753–509 ...
, originated as an informal designation for the political governing class who had allied interests, including both patricians and plebeian families ''(')'' with an ancestor who had risen to the
consulship A consul held the highest elected political office of the Roman Republic ( to 27 BC), and ancient Romans considered the consulship the second-highest level of the ''cursus honorum'' (an ascending sequence of public offices to which politic ...
through his own merit (see , "new man"). In modern usage, "nobility" is applied to the highest social class in
pre-modern societies Pre-industrial society refers to social attributes and forums of political and cultural organization that were prevalent before the advent of the Industrial Revolution, which occurred from 1750 to 1850. ''Pre-industrial'' refers to a time before ...
. In the
feudal system Feudalism, also known as the feudal system, was the combination of the legal, economic, military, cultural and political customs that flourished in Middle Ages, medieval Europe between the 9th and 15th centuries. Broadly defined, it was a wa ...
(in Europe and elsewhere), the nobility were generally those who held a
fief A fief (; la, feudum) was a central element in medieval contracts based on feudal law. It consisted of a form of property holding or other rights granted by an Lord, overlord to a vassal, who held it in fealty or "in fee" in return for a for ...
, often land or office, under vassalage, i.e., in exchange for
allegiance An allegiance is a duty of fidelity said to be owed, or freely committed, by the people, subjects or citizens to their state (polity), state or Monarch, sovereign. Etymology From Middle English ''ligeaunce'' (see medieval Latin ''ligeantia'', ...
and various, mainly military, services to a
suzerain Suzerainty () is the rights and obligations of a person, state or other polity who controls the foreign policy, foreign policy and relations of a tributary state, while allowing the tributary state to have internal autonomy. While the subordinate ...
, who might be a higher-ranking nobleman or a monarch. It rapidly became a hereditary
caste Caste is a form of social stratification characterised by endogamy, hereditary transmission of a style of life which often includes an occupation, ritual status in a hierarchy, and customary social interaction and exclusion based on cultural ...
, sometimes associated with a right to bear a hereditary title and, for example in pre-revolutionary France, enjoying fiscal and other privileges. While noble status formerly conferred significant privileges in most jurisdictions, by the 21st century it had become a largely honorary dignity in most societies, although a few, residual privileges may still be preserved legally (e.g., Netherlands, Spain, UK) and some Asian, Pacific and African cultures continue to attach considerable significance to formal hereditary rank or titles. (Compare the entrenched position and
leadership Leadership, both as a research area and as a practical skill, encompasses the ability of an individual, group or organization to "lead", influence or guide other individuals, teams, or entire organizations. The word "leadership" often gets view ...
expectations of the nobility of the Kingdom of
Tonga Tonga (, ; ), officially the Kingdom of Tonga ( to, Puleʻanga Fakatuʻi ʻo Tonga), is a Polynesia, Polynesian country and archipelago. The country has List of islands and towns in Tonga, 171 islands – of which 45 are inhabited. Its tota ...
.) More than a third of
British land The British Land Company plc is one of the largest property development and investment companies in the United Kingdom The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, commonly known as the United Kingdom (UK) or Britain, is a ...
is in the hands of aristocrats and traditional
landed gentry The landed gentry, or the ''gentry'', is a largely historical Social structure of the United Kingdom#History, British social class of landowners who could live entirely from rental income, or at least had a Estate (land), country estate. Whil ...
. Nobility is a historical, social and often legal notion, differing from high socio-economic status in that the latter is mainly based on income, possessions or lifestyle. Being wealthy or influential cannot make one noble, nor are all nobles wealthy or influential (aristocratic families have lost their fortunes in various ways, and the concept of the 'poor nobleman' is almost as old as nobility itself). Although many societies have a privileged
upper class Upper class in modern societies is the social class composed of people who hold the highest social status, usually are the economic inequality, wealthiest members of class society, and wield the greatest political power. According to this view, t ...
with substantial wealth and power, the status is not necessarily hereditary and does not entail a distinct legal status, nor differentiated forms of address. Various republics, including European countries such as Greece, Turkey, Austria and former
Iron Curtain The Iron Curtain was the political boundary dividing Europe into two separate areas from the end of World War II in 1945 until the end of the Cold War in 1991. The term symbolizes the efforts by the Soviet Union (USSR) to block itself and its s ...
countries and places in the Americas such as
Mexico Mexico (Spanish language, Spanish: México), officially the United Mexican States, is a List of sovereign states, country in the southern portion of North America. It is borders of Mexico, bordered to the north by the United States; to the so ...
and the
United States The United States of America (U.S.A. or USA), commonly known as the United States (U.S. or US) or America, is a country Continental United States, primarily located in North America. It consists of 50 U.S. state, states, a Washington, D.C., ...
, have expressly abolished the conferral and use of titles of nobility for their citizens. This is distinct from countries which have not abolished the right to inherit titles, but which do not grant legal recognition or protection to them, such as Germany and Italy, although Germany recognizes their use as part of the legal surname. Still other countries and authorities allow their use, but forbid attachment of any privilege thereto, e.g., Finland, Norway and the European Union, while French law also protects lawful titles against usurpation.


Noble privileges

Not all of the benefits of nobility derived from noble status . Usually privileges were granted or recognized by the
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 monarch may exercise the highest authority ...
in association with possession of a specific title, office or estate. Most nobles' wealth derived from one or more estates, large or small, that might include fields, pasture, orchards, timberland, hunting grounds, streams, etc. It also included infrastructure such as castle, well and mill to which local peasants were allowed some access, although often at a price. Nobles were expected to live "nobly", that is, from the proceeds of these possessions. Work involving
manual labor Manual labour (in Commonwealth English, manual labor in American English) or manual work is physical Work (human activity), work done by humans, in contrast to labour by machines and working animals. It is most literally work done with the hand ...
or subordination to those of lower rank (with specific exceptions, such as in military or ecclesiastic service) was either forbidden (as derogation from noble status) or frowned upon socially. On the other hand, membership in the nobility was usually a prerequisite for holding offices of trust in the realm and for career promotion, especially in the military, at court and often the higher functions in the government, judiciary and church. Prior to the
French Revolution The French Revolution ( ) was a period of radical political and societal change in France France (), officially the French Republic ( ), is a country primarily located in Western Europe. It also comprises of Overseas France, ...
, European nobles typically commanded tribute in the form of entitlement to cash rents or usage taxes, labor or a portion of the annual crop yield from
commoner A commoner, also known as the ''common man'', ''commoners'', the ''common people'' or the ''masses'', was in earlier use an ordinary person in a community or nation who did not have any significant social status, especially a member of neither ...
s or nobles of lower rank who lived or worked on the noble's
manor Manor may refer to: Land ownership *Manorialism Manorialism, also known as the manor system or manorial system, was the method of land ownership (or "Land tenure, tenure") in parts of Europe, notably France and later England, during the Midd ...
or within his '' seigneurial'' domain. In some countries, the local lord could impose restrictions on such a commoner's movements, religion or legal undertakings. Nobles exclusively enjoyed the privilege of
hunting Hunting is the human activity, human practice of seeking, pursuing, capturing, or killing wildlife or feral animals. The most common reasons for humans to hunt are to harvest food (i.e. meat) and useful animal products (fur/hide (skin), hide, ...
. In France, nobles were exempt from paying the ''
taille The ''taille'' () was a direct land tax on the France, French French peasants, peasantry and non-nobles in ''Ancien Régime'' France. The tax was imposed on each household and was based on how much land it held, and was directly paid to the sta ...
'', the major direct tax. Peasants were not only bound to the nobility by dues and services, but the exercise of their rights was often also subject to the
jurisdiction Jurisdiction (from Latin 'law' + 'declaration') is the legal term for the legal authority granted to a legal entity to enact justice. In federations like the United States, areas of jurisdiction apply to local, state, and federal levels. Jur ...
of courts and police from whose authority the actions of nobles were entirely or partially exempt. In some parts of Europe the right of
private war A feud , referred to in more extreme cases as a blood feud, vendetta, faida, clan war, gang war, or private war, is a long-running argument or fight, often between social groups of people, especially family, families or clan, clans. Feuds begin be ...
long remained the privilege of every noble. During the early Renaissance,
duel A duel is an arranged engagement in combat between two people, with matched weapons, in accordance with agreed-upon Code duello, rules. During the 17th and 18th centuries (and earlier), duels were mostly single combats fought with swords (the r ...
ling established the status of a respectable
gentleman A gentleman (Old French Old French (, , ; Modern French: ) was the language spoken in most of the northern half of France from approximately the 8th to the 14th centuries. Rather than a unified language, Old French was a linkage of Roma ...
, and was an accepted manner of resolving disputes. Since the end of World War I the hereditary nobility entitled to special rights has largely been abolished in the
Western World The Western world, also known as the West, primarily refers to the various nations and state (polity), states in the regions of Europe, North America, and Oceania.
as intrinsically discriminatory, and discredited as inferior in efficiency to individual
meritocracy Meritocracy (''merit'', from Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally a dialect spoken in the lower Tiber area (then known as Latiu ...
in the allocation of societal resources. Nobility came to be associated with social rather than legal privilege, expressed in a general expectation of deference from those of lower rank. By the 21st century even that deference had become increasingly minimized. In general, the present nobility present in the European monarchies has no more privileges than the citizens decorated in republics.


Ennoblement

In France, a (lordship) might include one or more manors surrounded by land and villages subject to a noble's prerogatives and disposition. could be bought, sold or mortgaged. If erected by the crown into, e.g., a barony or countship, it became legally entailed for a specific family, which could use it as their title. Yet most French nobles were untitled ("seigneur of Montagne" simply meant ownership of that lordship but not, if one was not otherwise noble, the right to use a title of nobility, as commoners often purchased lordships). Only a member of the nobility who owned a countship was allowed, , to style himself as its , although this restriction came to be increasingly ignored as the drew to its close. In other parts of Europe, sovereign rulers arrogated to themselves the exclusive prerogative to act as within their realms. For example, in the United Kingdom royal
letters patent Letters patent ( la, litterae patentes) (plurale tantum, always in the plural) are a type of legal instrument in the form of a published written order issued by a monarch, President (government title), president or other head of state, genera ...
are necessary to obtain a title of the
peerage A peerage is a legal system historically comprising various hereditary titles (and sometimes Life peer, non-hereditary titles) in a number of countries, and composed of assorted Imperial, royal and noble ranks, noble ranks. Peerages include: Aus ...
, which also carries nobility and formerly a seat in the
House of Lords The House of Lords, also known as the House of Peers, is the Bicameralism, upper house of the Parliament of the United Kingdom. Membership is by Life peer, appointment, Hereditary peer, heredity or Lords Spiritual, official function. Like the ...
, but never came with automatic entail of land nor rights to the local peasants' output.


Rank within the nobility

Nobility might be either inherited or conferred by a '' fons honorum''. It is usually an acknowledged preeminence that is hereditary, i.e. the status descends exclusively to some or all of the legitimate, and usually male-line, descendants of a nobleman. In this respect, the nobility as a class has always been much more extensive than the
primogeniture Primogeniture ( ) is the right, by law or custom, of the firstborn legitimate child to inheritance, inherit the parent's entire or main estate (law), estate in preference to shared inheritance among all or some children, any illegitimate child ...
-based titled nobility, which included peerages in France and in the United Kingdom, '' grandezas'' in Portugal and Spain, and some noble titles in Belgium, Italy, the Netherlands, Prussia and Scandinavia. In Russia, Scandinavia and non-Prussian Germany, titles usually descended to all male-line descendants of the original titleholder, including females. In Spain, noble titles are now equally heritable by females and males alike. Noble estates, on the other hand, gradually came to descend by
primogeniture Primogeniture ( ) is the right, by law or custom, of the firstborn legitimate child to inheritance, inherit the parent's entire or main estate (law), estate in preference to shared inheritance among all or some children, any illegitimate child ...
in much of western Europe aside from Germany. In Eastern Europe, by contrast, with the exception of a few Hungarian estates, they usually descended to all sons or even all children. In France, some wealthy ''
bourgeois The bourgeoisie ( , ) is a social class A social class is a grouping of people into a set of hierarchical social categories, the most common being the upper, middle and lower classes. Membership in a social class can for example be ...
'', most particularly the members of the various ''
parlement A ''parlement'' (), under the French Ancien Régime, was a Provinces of France, provincial appellate court of the Kingdom of France. In 1789, France had 13 parlements, the oldest and most important of which was the Parliament of Paris, Parl ...
s'', were ennobled by the king, constituting the ''
noblesse de robe The concept of the Scottish Noblesse, a class of nobles of either peerage or non-peerage rank, was prominently advocated for by Sir Thomas Innes of Learney during his tenure as an officer of arms. Innes of Learney believed that Scottish armigers ...
''. The old nobility of landed or knightly origin, the '' noblesse d'épée'', increasingly resented the influence and pretensions of this '' parvenu'' nobility. In the last years of the '' ancien régime'' the old nobility pushed for restrictions of certain offices and
orders of chivalry An order of chivalry, order of knighthood, chivalric order, or equestrian order is an order (distinction), order of knights, typically founded during or inspired by the original Catholic Military order (religious society), military orders of the ...
to noblemen who could demonstrate that their lineage had extended " quarterings", i.e. several generations of noble ancestry, to be eligible for offices and favours at
court A court is any person or institution, often as a government institution, with the authority to Adjudication, adjudicate legal disputes between Party (law), parties and carry out the administration of justice in Civil law (common law), civil, C ...
along with nobles of
medieval In the history of Europe, the Middle Ages or medieval period lasted approximately from the late 5th to the late 15th centuries, similar to the post-classical period of global history. It began with the fall of the Western Roman Empire ...
descent, although historians such as William Doyle have disputed this so-called "Aristocratic Reaction". Various court and military positions were reserved by tradition for nobles who could "prove" an ancestry of at least ''seize quartiers'' (16 quarterings), indicating exclusively noble descent (as displayed, ideally, in the family's
coat of arms A coat of arms is a heraldry, heraldic communication design, visual design on an escutcheon (heraldry), escutcheon (i.e., shield), surcoat, or tabard (the latter two being outer garments). The coat of arms on an escutcheon forms the central ele ...
) extending back five generations (all 16 great-great grandparents). This illustrates the traditional link in many countries between
heraldry Heraldry is a discipline relating to the design, display and study of armorial bearings (known as armory), as well as related disciplines, such as vexillology, together with the study of ceremony, Imperial, royal and noble ranks, rank and genealo ...
and nobility; in those countries where heraldry is used, nobles have almost always been armigerous, and have used heraldry to demonstrate their ancestry and
family history Genealogy () is the study of families, family history, and the tracing of their Lineage (anthropology), lineages. Genealogists use oral interviews, historical records, genetic analysis, and other records to obtain information about a family a ...
. However, heraldry has never been restricted to the noble classes in most countries, and being armigerous does not necessarily demonstrate nobility.
Scotland Scotland (, ) is a Countries of the United Kingdom, country that is part of the United Kingdom. Covering the northern third of the island of Great Britain, mainland Scotland has a Anglo-Scottish border, border with England to the southeast ...
, however, is an exception. In a number of recent cases in Scotland the Lord Lyon King of Arms has controversially ( Scotland's Salic law) granted the arms and allocated the chiefships of medieval noble families to female-line descendants of lords, even when they were not of noble lineage in the male line, while persons of legitimate male-line descent may still survive (e.g. the modern Chiefs of Clan MacLeod). In some nations,
hereditary title Hereditary titles, in a general sense, are nobility titles, positions or Style (manner of address), styles that are Inheritance, hereditary and thus tend or are bound to remain in particular families. Though both monarchs and nobles usually inher ...
s, as distinct from noble rank, were not always recognised in law, e.g., Poland's ''
Szlachta The ''szlachta'' (Polish: endonym, Lithuanian language, Lithuanian: šlėkta) were the nobility, noble Estates of the realm, estate of the realm in the Kingdom of Poland (1025–1385), Kingdom of Poland, the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, and the ...
''. European ranks of nobility lower than
baron Baron is a rank of nobility Nobility is a social class found in many societies that have an aristocracy (class), aristocracy. It is normally ranked immediately below Royal family, royalty. Nobility has often been an Estates of the rea ...
or its equivalent, are commonly referred to as the
petty nobility The petty nobility is the lower nobility classes. Finland Petty nobility in Finland is dated at least back to 13th century and was formed by nobles around their strategic interests. The idea was more capable peasants with leader roles in local c ...
, although
baronet A baronet ( or ; abbreviated Bart or Bt) or the female equivalent, a baronetess (, , or ; abbreviation Btss), is the holder of a baronetcy, a hereditary title awarded by the British Crown. The title of baronet is mentioned as early as the 14th ...
s of the British Isles are deemed titled
gentry Gentry (from Old French ''genterie'', from ''gentil'', "high-born, noble") are "well-born, genteel and well-bred people" of high social class, especially in the past. Word similar to gentle imple and decentfamilies ''Gentry'', in its widest ...
. Most nations traditionally had an untitled lower nobility in addition to titled nobles. An example is the
landed gentry The landed gentry, or the ''gentry'', is a largely historical Social structure of the United Kingdom#History, British social class of landowners who could live entirely from rental income, or at least had a Estate (land), country estate. Whil ...
of the
British Isles The British Isles are a group of islands in the North Atlantic Ocean off the north-western coast of continental Europe, consisting of the islands of Great Britain, Ireland Ireland ( ; ga, Éire ; Ulster Scots dialect, Ulster-Scots: ...
. Unlike England's gentry, the ''
Junker Junker ( da, Junker, german: Junker, nl, Jonkheer, en, Yunker, no, Junker, sv, Junker ka, იუნკერი (Iunkeri)) is a noble honorific, derived from Middle High German ''Juncherre'', meaning "young nobleman"Duden; Meaning of Junke ...
s'' of Germany, the ''
noblesse de robe The concept of the Scottish Noblesse, a class of nobles of either peerage or non-peerage rank, was prominently advocated for by Sir Thomas Innes of Learney during his tenure as an officer of arms. Innes of Learney believed that Scottish armigers ...
'' of France, the '' hidalgos'' of Spain and the ''nobili'' of Italy were explicitly acknowledged by the monarchs of those countries as members of the nobility, although untitled. In Scandinavia, the
Benelux The Benelux Union ( nl, Benelux Unie; french: Union Benelux; lb, Benelux-Unioun), also known as simply Benelux, is a Political union, politico-economic union and formal international intergovernmental cooperation of three neighboring states in ...
nations and Spain there are still untitled as well as titled families recognised in law as noble. In Hungary members of the nobility always theoretically enjoyed the same rights. In practice, however, a noble family's financial assets largely defined its significance. Medieval Hungary's concept of nobility originated in the notion that nobles were "free men", eligible to own land. This basic standard explains why the noble population was relatively large, although the economic status of its members varied widely. Untitled nobles were not infrequently wealthier than titled families, while considerable differences in wealth were also to be found within the titled nobility. The custom of granting titles was introduced to Hungary in the 16th century by the
House of Habsburg The House of Habsburg (), alternatively spelled Hapsburg in Englishgerman: Haus Habsburg, ; es, Casa de Habsburgo; hu, Habsburg család, it, Casa di Asburgo, nl, Huis van Habsburg, pl, dom Habsburgów, pt, Casa de Habsburgo, la, Domus Hab ...
. Historically, once nobility was granted, if a nobleman served the monarch well he might obtain the title of baron, and might later be elevated to the rank of count. As in other countries of post-medieval central Europe, hereditary titles were not attached to a particular land or estate but to the noble family itself, so that all patrilineal descendants shared a title of baron or count (cf.
peerage A peerage is a legal system historically comprising various hereditary titles (and sometimes Life peer, non-hereditary titles) in a number of countries, and composed of assorted Imperial, royal and noble ranks, noble ranks. Peerages include: Aus ...
). Neither nobility nor titles could be transmitted through women. Some con artists sell fake titles of nobility, often with impressive-looking documentation. This may be illegal, depending on local law. They are more often illegal in countries that actually have nobilities, such as European monarchies. In the United States, such commerce may constitute actionable
fraud In law, fraud is intentional deception to secure unfair or unlawful gain, or to deprive a victim of a legal right. Fraud can violate civil law (e.g., a fraud victim may sue the fraud perpetrator to avoid the fraud or recover monetary compe ...
rather than criminal usurpation of an exclusive right to use of any given title by an established class.


Other terms

"Aristocrat" and "aristocracy", in modern usage, refer
colloquially Colloquialism (), also called colloquial language, everyday language or general parlance, is the style (sociolinguistics), linguistic style used for casual (informal) communication. It is the most common functional style of speech, the idiom norm ...
and broadly to persons who inherit elevated social status, whether due to membership in the (formerly) official nobility or the monied
upper class Upper class in modern societies is the social class composed of people who hold the highest social status, usually are the economic inequality, wealthiest members of class society, and wield the greatest political power. According to this view, t ...
. ''Blue blood'' is an English idiom recorded since 1811 in the Annual Register and in 1834 for noble birth or descent; it is also known as a translation of the Spanish phrase ''sangre azul'', which described the Spanish
royal family A royal family is the immediate family of kings/queens Queens is a Boroughs of New York City, borough of New York City, coextensive with Queens County, in the U.S. state of New York (state), New York. Located on Long Island, it is the lar ...
and high nobility who claimed to be of
Visigothic The Visigoths (; la, Visigothi, Wisigothi, Vesi, Visi, Wesi, Wisi) were an early Germanic people who, along with the Ostrogoths, constituted the two major political entities of the Goths within the Roman Empire in late antiquity, or what is kno ...
descent, in contrast to the
Moors The term Moor, derived from the ancient Mauri, is an Endonym and exonym, exonym first used by Christianity in Europe, Christian Europeans to designate the Muslims, Muslim inhabitants of the Maghreb, the Iberian Peninsula, Sicily and Malta duri ...
. The idiom originates from ancient and medieval societies of Europe and distinguishes an
upper class Upper class in modern societies is the social class composed of people who hold the highest social status, usually are the economic inequality, wealthiest members of class society, and wield the greatest political power. According to this view, t ...
(whose
superficial vein Superficial veins are veins that are close to the surface of the body, as opposed to deep veins, which are far from the surface. Superficial veins are not paired with an artery, unlike the deep veins, which are typically associated with an arte ...
s appeared blue through their untanned skin) from a
working class The working class (or labouring class) comprises those engaged in manual labour, manual-labour occupations or industrial work, who are remunerated via wage, waged or salary, salaried contracts. Working-class occupations (see also "Designation ...
of the time. The latter consisted mainly of agricultural peasants who spent most of their time working outdoors and thus had tanned skin, through which superficial veins appear less prominently.
Robert Lacey Robert Lacey (born 3 January 1944) is a British historian and biographer. He is the author of a number of best-selling biographies, including those of Henry Ford, Eileen Ford, Queen Elizabeth II and other British royal family, royals, as well a ...
explains the genesis of the blue blood concept:
It was the Spaniards who gave the world the notion that an aristocrat's blood is not red but blue. The Spanish nobility started taking shape around the ninth century in classic military fashion, occupying land as warriors on horseback. They were to continue the process for more than five hundred years, clawing back sections of the peninsula from its Moorish occupiers, and a nobleman demonstrated his pedigree by holding up his sword arm to display the filigree of blue-blooded veins beneath his pale skin—proof that his birth had not been contaminated by the dark-skinned enemy.


Africa

Africa has a plethora of ancient lineages in its various constituent nations. Some, such as the numerous ''
sharif Sharīf ( ar, شريف, 'noble', 'highborn'), also spelled shareef or sherif, feminine sharīfa (), plural ashrāf (), shurafāʾ (), or (in the Maghreb) shurfāʾ, is a title used to designate a person descended, or claiming to be descended, fr ...
ian'' families of North Africa, the Keita dynasty of
Mali Mali (; ), officially the Republic of Mali,, , ff, 𞤈𞤫𞤲𞥆𞤣𞤢𞥄𞤲𞤣𞤭 𞤃𞤢𞥄𞤤𞤭, Renndaandi Maali, italics=no, ar, جمهورية مالي, Jumhūriyyāt Mālī is a landlocked country in West Africa. Mali ...
, the
Solomonic dynasty The Solomonic dynasty, also known as the House of Solomon, was the ruling dynasty of the Ethiopian Empire formed in the thirteenth century. Its members claim lineal descent from the biblical Solomon, King Solomon and the Queen of Sheba. Tradition ...
of
Ethiopia Ethiopia, , om, Itiyoophiyaa, so, Itoobiya, ti, ኢትዮጵያ, Ítiyop'iya, aa, Itiyoppiya officially the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia, is a landlocked country in the Horn of Africa. It shares borders with Eritrea to the ...
, the De Souza family of
Benin Benin ( , ; french: Bénin , ff, Benen), officially the Republic of Benin (french: République du Bénin), and formerly Republic of Dahomey, Dahomey, is a country in West Africa. It is bordered by Togo to the west, Nigeria to the east, Burki ...
and the Sherbro Tucker clan of
Sierra Leone Sierra Leone,)]. officially the Republic of Sierra Leone, is a country on the southwest coast of West Africa. It is bordered by Liberia to the southeast and Guinea surrounds the northern half of the nation. Covering a total area of , Sierra ...
, claim descent from notables from outside of the continent. Most, such as those composed of the descendants of
Shaka Shaka kaSenzangakhona ( – 22 September 1828), also known as Shaka Zulu () and Sigidi kaSenzangakhona, was the king of the Zulu Kingdom The Zulu Kingdom (, ), sometimes referred to as the Zulu Empire or the Kingdom of Zululand, was a mon ...
and Moshoeshoe of
Southern Africa Southern Africa is the southernmost subregion of the African continent, south of Congo Basin, the Congo and Tanzania. The physical location is the large part of Africa to the south of the extensive Congo River basin. Southern Africa is home to ...
, belong to peoples that have been resident in the continent for millennia. Generally their royal or noble status is recognized by and derived from the authority of traditional custom. A number of them also enjoy either a constitutional or a statutory recognition of their high social positions.


Ethiopia

Ethiopia Ethiopia, , om, Itiyoophiyaa, so, Itoobiya, ti, ኢትዮጵያ, Ítiyop'iya, aa, Itiyoppiya officially the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia, is a landlocked country in the Horn of Africa. It shares borders with Eritrea to the ...
has a
nobility Nobility is a social class found in many societies that have an aristocracy (class), aristocracy. It is normally ranked immediately below Royal family, royalty. Nobility has often been an Estates of the realm, estate of the realm with many e ...
that is almost as old as the country itself. Throughout the history of the
Ethiopian Empire The Ethiopian Empire (), also formerly known by the exonym Abyssinia, or just simply known as Ethiopia (; Amharic and Tigrinya language, Tigrinya: ኢትዮጵያ , , Oromo language, Oromo: Itoophiyaa, Somali language, Somali: Itoobiya, Afar l ...
most of the titles of nobility have been tribal or military in nature. However the Ethiopian nobility resembled its European counterparts in some respects; until 1855, when
Tewodros II , spoken = ; ''djānhoi'', lit. ''"O steemedroyal"'' , alternative = ; ''getochu'', lit. ''"Our master"'' (pl.) Tewodros II ( gez, ዳግማዊ ቴዎድሮስ, baptized as Gebre Kidan; 1818 – 13 April 1868) was Emperor of Ethi ...
ended the ''
Zemene Mesafint The Zemene Mesafint ( gez, ዘመነ መሳፍንት ''zamana masāfint'', modern: ''zemene mesāfint'', variously translated "Era of Judges," "Era of the Princes," "Age of Princes," etc.; named after the Book of Judges) was a period in Histor ...
'' its aristocracy was organised similarly to the feudal system in Europe during the Middle Ages. For more than seven centuries, Ethiopia (or
Abyssinia The Ethiopian Empire (), also formerly known by the exonym Abyssinia, or just simply known as Ethiopia (; Amharic and Tigrinya language, Tigrinya: ኢትዮጵያ , , Oromo language, Oromo: Itoophiyaa, Somali language, Somali: Itoobiya, Afar l ...
, as it was then known) was made up of many small kingdoms, principalities, emirates and
imam Imam (; ar, إمام '; plural: ') is an Islam Islam (; ar, ۘالِإسلَام, , ) is an Abrahamic monotheistic religion centred primarily around the Quran, a religious text considered by Muslims to be the direct word of G ...
ates, which owed their allegiance to the ''nəgusä nägäst'' (literally "King of Kings"). Despite its being a Christian monarchy, various Muslim states paid tribute to the emperors of Ethiopia for centuries: including the
Adal Sultanate The Adal Sultanate, or the Adal Empire or the ʿAdal or the Bar Saʿad dīn (alt. spelling ''Adel Sultanate, ''Adal ''Sultanate'') () was a medieval Sunni Muslim Empire which was located in the Horn of Africa. It was founded by Sabr ad-Din I ...
, the
Emirate of Harar The Emirate of Harar was a Muslim kingdom founded in 1647 when the Harari people refused to accept Imām ʿUmardīn Ādan as their ruler and broke away from the Imamate of Aussa to form their own state under `Ali ibn Da`ud. Prior to its invasion ...
, and the Awsa sultanate. Ethiopian nobility were divided into two different categories: ''Mesafint'' ("prince"), the hereditary nobility that formed the upper echelon of the ruling class; and the ''Mekwanin'' ("governor") who were appointed nobles, often of humble birth, who formed the bulk of the nobility ('' cf.'' the ''
Ministerialis The ''ministeriales'' (singular: ''ministerialis'') were a class of people raised up from serfdom and placed in positions of power and responsibility in the High Middle Ages in the Holy Roman Empire. The word and its German translations, ''Minist ...
'' of the
Holy Roman Empire The Holy Roman Empire was a Polity, political entity in Western Europe, Western, Central Europe, Central, and Southern Europe that developed during the Early Middle Ages and continued until its Dissolution of the Holy Roman Empire, dissolution i ...
). In Ethiopia there were titles of nobility among the ''Mesafint'' borne by those at the apex of medieval Ethiopian society. The highest royal title (after that of emperor) was ''
Negus Negus (Negeuce, Negoose) ( gez, ንጉሥ, ' ; cf. ti, ነጋሲ ' ) is a Ethiopian aristocratic and court titles, title in the Ethiopian Semitic languages. It denotes a monarch,
'' ("king") which was held by hereditary governors of the provinces of
Begemder Begemder ( amh, በጌምድር; also known as Gondar or Gonder, alternative name borrowed from its 20th century capital Gondar) was a province A province is almost always an administrative division within a country or sovereign state, sta ...
,
Shewa Shewa ( am, ሸዋ; , om, Shawaa), formerly romanized as Shua, Shoa, Showa, Shuwa (''Scioà'' in Italian language, Italian), is a historical region of Ethiopia which was formerly an autonomous monarchy, kingdom within the Ethiopian Empire. The ...
,
Gojjam Gojjam ( ''gōjjām'', originally ጐዛም ''gʷazzam'', later ጐዣም ''gʷažžām'', ጎዣም ''gōžžām'') is a Provinces of Ethiopia, historical province in northwestern Ethiopia, with its capital city at Debre Marqos. Gojjam's earlie ...
, and Wollo. The next highest seven titles were '' Ras'', ''
Dejazmach Until the end of the Ethiopian monarchy in 1974, there were two categories of nobility Nobility is a social class found in many societies that have an aristocracy (class), aristocracy. It is normally ranked immediately below Royal famil ...
'', ''Fit'awrari'', '' Grazmach'', '' Qenyazmach'', '' Azmach'' and '' Balambaras''. The title of ''Le'ul Ras'' was accorded to the heads of various noble families and
cadet branch In history and cadency, heraldry, a cadet branch consists of the patrilineality, male-line descendants of a monarch's or patriarch's younger sons (cadet (genealogy), cadets). In the ruling dynasty, dynasties and nobility, noble families of much o ...
es of the
Solomonic dynasty The Solomonic dynasty, also known as the House of Solomon, was the ruling dynasty of the Ethiopian Empire formed in the thirteenth century. Its members claim lineal descent from the biblical Solomon, King Solomon and the Queen of Sheba. Tradition ...
, such as the princes of Gojjam, Tigray, and Selalle. The heirs of the ''Le'ul Rases'' were titled ''Le'ul Dejazmach'', indicative of the higher status they enjoyed relative to ''Dejazmaches'' who were not of the blood imperial. There were various
hereditary title Hereditary titles, in a general sense, are nobility titles, positions or Style (manner of address), styles that are Inheritance, hereditary and thus tend or are bound to remain in particular families. Though both monarchs and nobles usually inher ...
s in Ethiopia: including that of ''
Jantirar Jantirar (Amharic: ጃንጥራር) was a title of the Ethiopian Empire given to the ruler of Amba Geshen. Overview Jantirar is borne historically by the head of the family holding the mountain fortress of Ambassel in Ethiopia; similar to Ethiop ...
'', reserved for males of the family of Empress
Menen Asfaw Menen Asfaw (baptismal name: Walatta Giyorgis; 25 March 1889 – 15 February 1962) was Empress consort of the Ethiopian Empire. She was the wife of Emperor Haile Selassie. Family Menen Asfaw was born in Ambassel, located in Wollo Province ...
who ruled over the mountain fortress of
Ambassel Ambassel (Amharic Amharic ( or ; (Amharic: ), ', ) is an Ethiopian Semitic language, which is a subgrouping within the Semitic branch of the Afroasiatic languages. It is spoken as a first language by the Amharas, and also serves as a li ...
in Wollo; ''
Wagshum Until the end of the Ethiopian monarchy in 1974, there were two categories of nobility Nobility is a social class found in many societies that have an aristocracy (class), aristocracy. It is normally ranked immediately below Royal famil ...
'', a title created for the descendants of the deposed
Zagwe dynasty The Zagwe dynasty (Ge'ez: ዛጔ ሥርወ መንግሥት) was an Agaw people, Agaw medieval dynasty that ruled the northern parts of Ethiopia and Eritrea, after the historical name of the Lasta province. Centered at Lalibela, it ruled large par ...
; and ''Shum Agame'', held by the descendants of ''Dejazmach'' Sabagadis, who ruled over the
Agame Agame () was a former Provinces of Ethiopia, province in northern Ethiopia. It includes the northeastern corner of the Ethiopian Empire, borders Akele Guzai in Eritrea, Tembien Province, Tembien, Kalatta Awlalo and Enderta province, Enderta in t ...
district of Tigray. The vast majority of titles borne by nobles were not, however, hereditary. Despite being largely dominated by Christian elements, some Muslims obtained ''entrée'' into the Ethiopian nobility as part of their quest for aggrandizement during the 1800s. To do so they were generally obliged to abandon their faith and some are believed to have feigned conversion to Christianity for the sake of acceptance by the old Christian aristocratic families. One such family, the Wara Seh (more commonly called the "Yejju dynasty") converted to Christianity and eventually wielded power for over a century, ruling with the sanction of the Solomonic emperors. The last such Muslim noble to join the ranks of Ethiopian society was
Mikael of Wollo ''Negus'' Mikael of Wollo (born Mohammed Ali, 1850 – 8 September 1922), was an Army of the Ethiopian Empire, army commander and a member of the nobility of the Ethiopian Empire. He was the father of the "uncrowned" Emperor Lij Iyasu of Ethiopia, ...
who converted, was made ''Negus'' of Wollo, and later King of Zion, and even married into the Imperial family. He lived to see his son,
Lij Iyasu ''Lij'' Iyasu ( gez, ልጅ ኢያሱ; 4 February 1895 – 25 November 1935) was the designated Emperor of Ethiopia from 1913 to 1916. His baptismal name was Kifle Yaqob (ክፍለ ያዕቆብ ''kəflä y’aqob''). Ethiopian emperors tradition ...
, inherit the throne in 1913—only to be deposed in 1916 because of his conversion to Islam.


Madagascar

The nobility in
Madagascar Madagascar (; mg, Madagasikara, ), officially the Republic of Madagascar ( mg, Repoblikan'i Madagasikara, links=no, ; french: République de Madagascar), is an island country in the Indian Ocean, approximately off the coast of East Afric ...
are known as the '' Andriana''. In much of Madagascar, before French colonization of the island, the
Malagasy people The Malagasy (french: Malgache) are an Austronesian peoples, Austronesian-speaking African ethnic group native to the island country of Madagascar. Traditionally, the population have been divided by subgroups (tribes or ethnicities). Examples ...
were organised into a rigid social caste system, within which the ''Andriana'' exercised both spiritual and political leadership. The word "Andriana" has been used to denote nobility in various ethnicities in Madagascar: including the ''
Merina The Merina people (also known as the Imerina, Antimerina, or Hova) are the largest ethnic group in Madagascar.Merina ...
'', the '' Betsileo'', the '' Betsimisaraka'', the '' Tsimihety'', the '' Bezanozano'', the '' Antambahoaka'' and the '' Antemoro''. The word ''Andriana'' has often formed part of the names of Malagasy kings, princes and nobles. Linguistic evidence suggests that the origin of the title ''Andriana'' is traceable back to an ancient Javanese title of nobility. Before the colonization by France in the 1890s, the ''Andriana'' held various privileges, including land ownership, preferment for senior government posts, free labor from members of lower classes, the right to have their tombs constructed within town limits, etc. The ''Andriana'' rarely married outside their caste: a high-ranking woman who married a lower-ranking man took on her husband's lower rank, but a high-ranking man marrying a woman of lower rank did not forfeit his status, although his children could not inherit his rank or property ('' cf.''
morganatic marriage Morganatic marriage, sometimes called a left-handed marriage, is a marriage between people of unequal social rank, which in the context of royal family, royalty or other List of titles, inherited title prevents the principal's position or privileg ...
). In 2011, the Council of Kings and Princes of Madagascar endorsed the revival of a Christian ''Andriana'' monarchy that would blend modernity and tradition.


Nigeria

Contemporary
Nigeria Nigeria ( ), , ig, Naìjíríyà, yo, Nàìjíríà, pcm, Naijá , ff, Naajeeriya, kcg, Naijeriya officially the Federal Republic of Nigeria, is a country in West Africa. It is situated between the Sahel to the north and the Gulf of G ...
has a class of traditional notables which is led by its reigning monarchs, the
Nigerian traditional rulers Nigerian traditional rulers often derive their titles from the rulers of independent states or communities that existed before the formation of modern Nigeria. Although they do not have formal political power, in many cases they continue to comma ...
. Though their functions are largely ceremonial, the titles of the country's noblemen and women are often centuries old and are usually vested in the membership of historically prominent families in the various subnational kingdoms of the country. Membership of initiatory societies that have inalienable functions within the kingdoms is also a common feature of Nigerian nobility, particularly among the southern tribes, where such figures as the ''
Ogboni Ogboni (also known as Osugbo in Ijèbú) is a fraternal institution indigenous to the Yoruba language, Yoruba-speaking polities of Nigeria, Republic of Bénin and Togo, as well as among the Edo people. The society performs a range of political a ...
'' of the '' Yoruba'', the '' Nze na Ozo'' of the '' Igbo'' and the ''
Ekpe Ekpe, also known as Mgbe/Egbo (Ekoi language: ''leopard''; derived from the Ibibio language, Ibibio term for the same), is a West African secret society in Nigeria and Cameroon flourishing chiefly among the Efik people, Efiks. It is also found ...
'' of the '' Efik'' are some of the most famous examples. Although many of their traditional functions have become dormant due to the advent of modern governance, their members retain precedence of a traditional nature and are especially prominent during festivals. Outside of this, many of the traditional nobles of Nigeria continue to serve as privy counsellors and
viceroy A viceroy () is an official who reigns over a polity in the name of and as the representative of the monarch of the territory. The term derives from the Latin prefix ''vice-'', meaning "in the place of" and the French word ''roy'', meaning "k ...
s in the service of their traditional sovereigns in a symbolic continuation of the way that their titled ancestors and predecessors did during the pre-colonial and colonial periods. Many of them are also members of the country's political elite due to their not being covered by the prohibition from involvement in politics that governs the activities of the traditional rulers. Holding a
chieftaincy A tribal chief or chieftain is the leader of a tribe, tribal society or chiefdom. Tribe The concept of tribe is a broadly applied concept, based on tribal concepts of societies of western Afroeurasia. Tribal societies are sometimes categori ...
title, either of the
traditional A tradition is a belief A belief is an Attitude (psychology), attitude that something is the case, or that some proposition is truth, true. In epistemology, philosophers use the term "belief" to refer to attitudes about the world which can b ...
variety (which involves taking part in ritual re-enactments of your title's history during annual festivals, roughly akin to a British
peerage A peerage is a legal system historically comprising various hereditary titles (and sometimes Life peer, non-hereditary titles) in a number of countries, and composed of assorted Imperial, royal and noble ranks, noble ranks. Peerages include: Aus ...
) or the honorary variety (which does not involve the said re-enactments, roughly akin to a
knighthood A knight is a person granted an honorary title of knighthood by a head of state (including the Pope) or representative for service to the monarch, the Christian denomination, church or the country, especially in a military capacity. Knighthood ...
), grants an individual the right to use the word "chief" as a pre-nominal
honorific 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 ...
while in Nigeria.


Asia


India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Nepal

In the
Indian subcontinent The Indian subcontinent is a list of the physiographic regions of the world, physiographical region in United Nations geoscheme for Asia#Southern Asia, Southern Asia. It is situated on the Indian Plate, projecting southwards into the Indian O ...
during the British Raj, many members of the nobility were elevated to royalty as they became the monarchs of their princely states and vice versa as many princely state rulers were reduced from royals to noble
zamindar A zamindar ( Hindustani: Devanagari: , ; Persian: , ) in the Indian subcontinent was an autonomous or semiautonomous ruler of a province A province is almost always an administrative division within a country or sovereign state, stat ...
s. Hence, many nobles in the subcontinent had royal titles of Raja, Rai, Rana, Rao, etc. In Nepal, ''Kaji'' ( ne, काजी) was a title and position used by nobility of
Gorkha Kingdom Gorkha Kingdom ( ne, गोरखा राज्य) was a member of the Chaubisi rajya, a confederation of 24 states on the Indian subcontinent ruled by Khas people. In 1743 CE, the kingdom began a campaign of military expansion, Unification o ...
(1559–1768) and
Kingdom of Nepal The Kingdom of Nepal ( ne, नेपाल अधिराज्य), also known as the Gorkha Empire ( ne, गोरखा अधिराज्य) or Asal Hindustan ( ne, असल हिन्दुस्तान)(), was a Hindu king ...
(1768–1846). Historian Mahesh Chandra Regmi suggests that ''Kaji'' is derived from Sanskrit word ''Karyi'' which meant functionary. Other noble and aristocratic titles were Thakur,
Sardar Sardar, also spelled as Sardaar/Sirdar ( fa, سردار, , 'commander', literally 'headmaster'), is a title of royal family, royalty and nobility that was originally used to denote princes, noblemen, chiefs, kings and other Aristocracy (clas ...
, Jagirdar,
Mankari Mankari (Mānkari or Maankari) is a hereditary title used by Maratha Empire, Maratha Nobility, nobles and troops from the Indian subcontinent who held land grants, and cash allowances. They held an official position at the Durbar (court), Darbar ...
,
Dewan ''Dewan'' (also known as ''diwan'', sometimes spelled ''devan'' or ''divan'') designated a powerful government official, minister, or ruler. A ''dewan'' was the head of a state institution of the same name (see Divan). Diwans belonged to the el ...
, Pradhan, Kaji etc.


China

In
East Asia East Asia is the eastern region of Asia, which is defined in both Geography, geographical and culture, ethno-cultural terms. The modern State (polity), states of East Asia include China, Japan, Mongolia, North Korea, South Korea, and Taiwan. ...
the system was often modelled on imperial China, the leading culture. Emperors conferred
titles of nobility Traditional rank amongst European monarch, royalty, peerage, peers, and nobility is rooted in Late Antiquity and the Middle Ages. Although they vary over time and among geographic regions (for example, one region's prince might be equal to anot ...
. Imperial descendants formed the highest class of ancient Chinese nobility, their status based upon the rank of the empress or concubine from which they descend maternally (as emperors were polygamous). Numerous titles such as ''Taizi'' (crown prince), and equivalents of "prince" were accorded, and due to complexities in dynastic rules,
rules Rule or ruling may refer to: Education * Royal University of Law and Economics (RULE), a university in Cambodia Human activity * The exercise of political Politics (from , ) is the set of activities that are associated with making ...
were introduced for Imperial descendants. The titles of the junior princes were gradually lowered in rank by each generation while the senior heir continued to inherit their father's titles. It was a custom in China for the new dynasty to ennoble and enfeoff a member of the dynasty which they overthrew with a title of nobility and a fief of land so that they could offer sacrifices to their ancestors, in addition to members of other preceding dynasties. China had a feudal system in the
Shang The Shang dynasty (), also known as the Yin dynasty (), was a Chinese royal dynasty founded by Tang of Shang Cheng Tang (), personal name Zi Lü (), recorded on oracle bones as Da Yi (大乙), was the first King of China, king of the Sha ...
and Zhou dynasties, which gradually gave way to a more bureaucratic one beginning in the
Qin dynasty The Qin dynasty ( ; zh, c=秦朝, p=Qín cháo, w=), or Ch'in dynasty in Wade–Giles romanization ( zh, c=, p=, w=Ch'in ch'ao), was the first dynasty of Imperial China. Named for its heartland in Qin state (modern Gansu Gansu (, ; ...
(221 BC). This continued through the
Song dynasty The Song dynasty (; ; 960–1279) was an Dynasties in Chinese history, imperial dynasty of China that began in 960 and lasted until 1279. The dynasty was founded by Emperor Taizu of Song following his usurpation of the throne of the Later Zhou. ...
, and by its peak power shifted from nobility to bureaucrats. This development was gradual and generally only completed in full by the Song dynasty. In the
Han dynasty The Han dynasty (, ; ) was an imperial dynasty of China (202 BC – 9 AD, 25–220 AD), established by Emperor Gaozu of Han, Liu Bang (Emperor Gao) and ruled by the House of Liu. The dynasty was preceded by the short-lived Qin dynasty (22 ...
, for example, even though noble titles were no longer given to those other than the Emperor's relatives, the fact that the process of selecting officials was mostly based on a vouching system by current officials as officials usually vouched for their own sons or those of other officials meant that a de facto aristocracy continued to exist. This process was further deepened during the
Three Kingdoms The Three Kingdoms () from 220 to 280 AD was the tripartite division of China among the dynastic states of Cao Wei, Shu Han, and Eastern Wu. The Three Kingdoms period was preceded by the Han dynasty#Eastern Han, Eastern Han dynasty and wa ...
period with the introduction of the
Nine-rank system The nine-rank system, also known as the nine-grade controller system, was used to categorize and classify government officials in Imperial China The earliest known written records of the history of China date from as early as 1250 BC, from ...
. By the
Sui dynasty The Sui dynasty (, ) was a short-lived imperial dynasty of China that lasted from 581 to 618. The Sui unified the Northern and Southern dynasties, thus ending the long period of division following the fall of the Western Jin dynasty, and la ...
, however, the institution of the
Imperial examination The imperial examination (; lit. "subject recommendation") refers to a civil service examination, civil-service examination system in History of China#Imperial China, Imperial China, administered for the purpose of selecting candidates for the ...
system marked the transformation of a power shift towards a full bureaucracy, though the process would not be truly completed until the Song dynasty. Titles of nobility became symbolic along with a stipend while governance of the country shifted to scholar officials. In the
Qing dynasty The Qing dynasty ( ), officially the Great Qing,, was a Manchu people, Manchu-led Dynasties in Chinese history, imperial dynasty of China and the last orthodox dynasty in Chinese history. It emerged from the Later Jin (1616–1636), La ...
titles of nobility were still granted by the emperor, but served merely as honorifics based on a loose system of favours to the Qing emperor. Under a centralized system, the empire's governance was the responsibility of the Confucian-educated scholar-officials and the local gentry, while the literati were accorded gentry status. For male citizens, advancement in status was possible via garnering the top three positions in imperial examinations. The Qing appointed the Ming imperial descendants to the title of
Marquis of Extended Grace The Marquis of Extended Grace was a title held by a descendant of the House of Zhu, imperial family of the Ming dynasty (1368–1644) during the subsequent Qing dynasty (1644–1912). Holders of this title were also called the Marquis of Zhu from ...
. The oldest held continuous noble title in Chinese history was that held by the descendants of
Confucius Confucius ( ; zh, s=, p=Kǒng Fūzǐ, "Master Kǒng"; or commonly zh, s=, p=Kǒngzǐ, labels=no; – ) was a Chinese philosopher and politician of the Spring and Autumn period who is traditionally considered the paragon of Chinese sages. Co ...
, as Duke Yansheng, which was renamed as the Sacrificial Official to Confucius in 1935 by the
Republic of China Taiwan, officially the Republic of China (ROC), is a Country, country in East Asia, at the junction of the East China Sea, East and South China Seas in the northwestern Pacific Ocean, with the China, People's Republic of China (PRC) to the n ...
. The title is held by Kung Tsui-chang. There is also a "Sacrificial Official to Mencius" for a descendant of
Mencius Mencius ( ); born Mèng Kē (); or Mèngzǐ (; 372–289 BC) was a Chinese Confucianism, Confucian Chinese philosophy, philosopher who has often been described as the "second Sage", that is, second to Confucius himself. He is part of Confuc ...
, a "Sacrificial Official to Zengzi" for a descendant of
Zengzi Zeng Shen (505–435 BC), better known as Zengzi (Master Zeng), courtesy name Ziyu (), was a Chinese philosophy, Chinese philosopher and Disciples of Confucius, disciple of Confucius. He later taught Zisi (Kong Ji), the grandson of Confucius, who ...
, and a "Sacrificial Official to Yan Hui" for a descendant of
Yan Hui Yan Hui (–481 BC) was a Chinese philosopher. He was the favorite disciples of Confucius, disciple of Confucius and one of the most revered figures of Confucianism. He is venerated in Confucian temples as one of the Four Sages. Names Yan Hui ...
. The bestowal of titles was abolished upon the establishment of the
People's Republic of China China, officially the People's Republic of China (PRC), is a country in East Asia. It is the world's List of countries and dependencies by population, most populous country, with a Population of China, population exceeding 1.4 billion, slig ...
in 1949, as part of a larger effort to remove feudal influences and practises from Chinese society.


Islamic world

In some Islamic countries, there are no definite noble titles (titles of hereditary rulers being distinct from those of hereditary intermediaries between monarchs and commoners). Persons who can trace legitimate descent from
Muhammad Muhammad ( ar, مُحَمَّد;  570 – 8 June 632 Common Era, CE) was an Arab religious, social, and political leader and the founder of Islam. According to Muhammad in Islam, Islamic doctrine, he was a prophet Divine inspiration, di ...
or the clans of
Quraysh The Quraysh ( ar, قُرَيْشٌ) were a grouping of Arab clans that historically inhabited and controlled the city of Mecca and its Kaaba. The Islamic prophet Muhammad was born into the Banu Hashim, Hashim clan of the tribe. Despite this, ma ...
, as can members of several present or formerly reigning dynasties, are widely regarded as belonging to the ancient, hereditary Islamic nobility. In some Islamic countries they inherit (through mother or father) hereditary titles, although without any other associated privilege, e.g., variations of the title ''
Sayyid ''Sayyid'' (, ; ar, سيد ; ; meaning 'sir', 'Lord', 'Master'; Arabic plural: ; feminine: ; ) is a surname of people descending from the Islamic prophet Prophets in Islam ( ar, الأنبياء في الإسلام, translit=al-ʾA ...
'' and ''
Sharif Sharīf ( ar, شريف, 'noble', 'highborn'), also spelled shareef or sherif, feminine sharīfa (), plural ashrāf (), shurafāʾ (), or (in the Maghreb) shurfāʾ, is a title used to designate a person descended, or claiming to be descended, fr ...
''. Regarded as more religious than the general population, many people turn to them for clarification or guidance in religious matters. In
Iran Iran, officially the Islamic Republic of Iran, and also called Persia, is a country located in Western Asia. It is bordered by Iraq and Turkey to the west, by Azerbaijan and Armenia to the northwest, by the Caspian Sea and Turkmeni ...
, historical titles of the nobility including '' Mirza'', '' Khan'', '' ed-Dowleh'' and ''Shahzada'' ("Son of a Shah), are now no longer recognised. An aristocratic family is now recognised by their
family name In some cultures, a surname, family name, or last name is the portion of one's personal name that indicates one's family, tribe or community. Practices vary by culture. The family name may be placed at either the start of a person's full name, ...
, often derived from the post held by their ancestors, considering the fact that family names in Iran only appeared in the beginning of the 20th century. Sultans have been an integral part of Islamic history . During the
Ottoman Empire The Ottoman Empire, * ; is an archaic version. The definite article forms and were synonymous * and el, Оθωμανική Αυτοκρατορία, Othōmanikē Avtokratoria, label=none * info page on book at Martin Luther University) ...
in the Imperial Court and the provinces there were many Ottoman titles and appellations forming a somewhat unusual and complex system in comparison with the other Islamic countries. The bestowal of noble and aristocratic titles was widespread across the empire even after its fall by independent monarchs. One of the most elaborate examples is that of the Egyptian aristocracy's largest clan, the Abaza family.


Japan

Medieval Japan developed a feudal system similar to the European system, where land was held in exchange for military service. The '' daimyō'' class, or hereditary landowning nobles, held great socio-political power. As in Europe, they commanded private armies made up of ''
samurai were the hereditary military nobility and officer caste of History of Japan#Medieval Japan (1185–1573/1600), medieval and Edo period, early-modern Japan from the late 12th century until their abolition in 1876. They were the well-paid retai ...
'', an elite warrior class; for long periods, these held the real power without a real
central government A central government is the government that is a controlling power over a unitary state. Another distinct but sovereign political entity is a Federation#Federal governments, federal government, which may have distinct powers at various levels of ...
, and often plunged the country into a state of civil war. The ''daimyō'' class can be compared to European peers, and the samurai to European knights, but important differences exist. Feudal title and rank were abolished during the
Meiji Restoration The , referred to at the time as the , and also known as the Meiji Renovation, Revolution, Regeneration, Reform, or Renewal, was a political event that restored practical imperial rule to Japan in 1868 under Emperor Meiji. Although there were ...
in 1868, and was replaced by the ''
kazoku The was the hereditary peerage of the Empire of Japan, which existed between 1869 and 1947. They succeeded the feudal lords () and court nobles (), but were abolished with the Constitution of Japan, 1947 constitution. Kazoku (wikt:華族, 華 ...
'', a five-rank
peerage A peerage is a legal system historically comprising various hereditary titles (and sometimes Life peer, non-hereditary titles) in a number of countries, and composed of assorted Imperial, royal and noble ranks, noble ranks. Peerages include: Aus ...
system after the British example, which granted seats in the upper house of the Imperial Diet; this ended in 1947 following Japan's defeat in World War II.


Philippines

Like other Southeast Asian countries, many regions in the
Philippines The Philippines (; fil, Pilipinas, links=no), officially the Republic of the Philippines ( fil, Republika ng Pilipinas, links=no), * bik, Republika kan Filipinas * ceb, Republika sa Pilipinas * cbk, República de Filipinas * hil, Republ ...
have indigenous nobility, partially influenced by Hindu, Chinese, and Islamic custom. Since ancient times, ''
Datu ''Datu'' is a title which denotes the rulers (variously described in historical accounts as chiefs, sovereign princes, and monarchs) of numerous indigenous peoples throughout the Philippine archipelago. The title is still used today, especial ...
'' was the common title of a chief or monarch of the many
pre-colonial Colonialism is a practice or policy of control by one people or power over other people or areas, often by establishing colony, colonies and generally with the aim of economic dominance. In the process of colonisation, colonisers may impose the ...
principalities and sovereign dominions throughout the isles; in some areas the term ''Apo'' was also used. With the titles ''
Sultan Sultan (; ar, سلطان ', ) is a Royal and noble ranks, position with several historical meanings. Originally, it was an Arabic abstract noun meaning "strength", "authority", "rulership", derived from the verbal noun ', meaning "authority" ...
'' and '' Rajah'', ''Datu'' (and its Malay
cognate In historical linguistics, cognates or lexical cognates are sets of words in different languages that have been inherited in direct descent from an etymological ancestor in a common parent language. Because language change can have radical ...
, ''Datok'') are currently used in some parts of the Philippines,
Indonesia Indonesia, officially the Republic of Indonesia, is a country in Southeast Asia and Oceania between the Indian Ocean, Indian and Pacific Ocean, Pacific oceans. It consists of over List of islands of Indonesia, 17,000 islands, including Sumatr ...
,
Malaysia Malaysia ( ; ) is a country in Southeast Asia. The federation, federal constitutional monarchy consists of States and federal territories of Malaysia, thirteen states and three federal territories, separated by the South China Sea into two r ...
and
Brunei Brunei ( , ), formally Brunei Darussalam ( ms, Negara Brunei Darussalam, Jawi alphabet, Jawi: , ), is a country located on the north coast of the island of Borneo in Southeast Asia. Apart from its South China Sea coast, it is completely sur ...
. These titles are the rough equivalents of European titles, albeit dependent on the actual wealth and prestige of the bearer.


Europe

European nobility originated in the feudal/seignorial system that arose in Europe during the
Middle Ages In the history of Europe, the Middle Ages or medieval period lasted approximately from the late 5th to the late 15th centuries, similar to the Post-classical, post-classical period of World history (field), global history. It began with t ...
. Originally,
knight A knight is a person granted an honorary title of knighthood by a head of state A head of state (or chief of state) is the public persona who officially embodies a state (polity), state#Foakes, Foakes, pp. 110–11 " he head of sta ...
s or nobles were mounted warriors who swore allegiance to their sovereign and promised to fight for him in exchange for an allocation of land (usually together with
serf Serfdom was the status of many peasants under feudalism, specifically relating to manorialism, and similar systems. It was a condition of debt bondage and indentured servitude with similarities to and differences from slavery, which developed ...
s living thereon). During the period known as the Military Revolution, nobles gradually lost their role in raising and commanding private armies, as many nations created cohesive national armies. This was coupled with a loss of the socio-economic power of the nobility, owing to the economic changes of the
Renaissance The Renaissance ( , ) , from , with the same meanings. is a Periodization, period in History of Europe, European history marking the transition from the Middle Ages to modernity and covering the 15th and 16th centuries, characterized by an e ...
and the growing economic importance of the merchant classes, which increased still further during the
Industrial Revolution The Industrial Revolution was the transition to new manufacturing processes in Great Britain, continental Europe, and the United States, that occurred during the period from around 1760 to about 1820–1840. This transition included going fr ...
. In countries where the nobility was the dominant class, the ''bourgeoisie'' gradually grew in power; a rich city merchant came to be more influential than a nobleman, and the latter sometimes sought inter-marriage with families of the former to maintain their noble lifestyles. However, in many countries at this time, the nobility retained substantial political importance and social influence: for instance, the United Kingdom's government was dominated by the (unusually small) nobility until the middle of the 19th century. Thereafter the powers of the nobility were progressively reduced by legislation. However, until 1999, all
hereditary peer The hereditary peers form part of the peerages in the United Kingdom, peerage in the United Kingdom. As of September 2022, there are 807 hereditary peers: List of dukes in the peerages of Britain and Ireland, 29 dukes (including five royal dukes ...
s were entitled to sit and vote in the
House of Lords The House of Lords, also known as the House of Peers, is the Bicameralism, upper house of the Parliament of the United Kingdom. Membership is by Life peer, appointment, Hereditary peer, heredity or Lords Spiritual, official function. Like the ...
. Since then, only 92 of them have this entitlement, of whom 90 are elected by the hereditary peers as a whole to represent the peerage. The countries with the highest proportion of nobles were
Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth The Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth, formally known as the Kingdom of Poland and the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, and, after 1791, as the Commonwealth of Poland, was a bi-confederal state, sometimes called a federation, of Crown of the Kingdom of ...
(15% of an 18th-century population of 800,000), Castile (probably 10%), Spain (722,000 in 1768 which was 7–8% of the entire population) and other countries with lower percentages, such as Russia in 1760 with 500,000–600,000 nobles (2–3% of the entire population), and pre-revolutionary
France France (), officially the French Republic ( ), is a country primarily located in Western Europe. It also comprises of Overseas France, overseas regions and territories in the Americas and the Atlantic Ocean, Atlantic, Pacific Ocean, Pac ...
where there were no more than 300,000 prior to 1789, which was 1% of the population (although some scholars believe this figure is an overestimate). In 1718 Sweden had between 10,000 and 15,000 nobles, which was 0.5% of the population. In Germany it was 0.01%. In the
Kingdom of Hungary The Kingdom of Hungary was a monarchy in Central Europe that existed for nearly a millennium, from the Middle Ages into the 20th century. The Principality of Hungary emerged as a Christian kingdom upon the Coronation of the Hungarian monarch, c ...
nobles made up 5% of the population. All the nobles in 18th-century Europe numbered perhaps 3–4 million out of a total of 170–190 million inhabitants. By contrast, in 1707, when England and Scotland united into Great Britain, there were only 168 English peers, and 154 Scottish ones, though their immediate families were recognised as noble. Farnborough, T. E. May, 1st Baron (1896). ''Constitutional History of England since the Accession of George the Third'', 11th ed
Volume I, Chapter 5, pp.273–281.
London: Longmans, Green and Co.
Apart from the hierarchy of noble titles, in England rising through baron, viscount, earl, and marquess to duke, many countries had categories at the top or bottom of the nobility. The
gentry Gentry (from Old French ''genterie'', from ''gentil'', "high-born, noble") are "well-born, genteel and well-bred people" of high social class, especially in the past. Word similar to gentle imple and decentfamilies ''Gentry'', in its widest ...
, relatively small landowners with perhaps one or two villages, were mostly noble in most countries, for example the
Polish landed gentry Polish landed gentry ( pl, ziemiaństwo, ziemianie, from '' ziemia'', "land") was a social group or class of hereditary landowners who held manorial estates. Historically, ''ziemianie'' consisted of hereditary nobles ('' szlachta'') and land ...
. At the top, Poland had a far smaller class of "magnates", who were hugely rich and politically powerful. In other countries the small groups of Spanish
Grandee Grandee (; es, Grande de España, ) is an official royal and noble ranks, aristocratic title conferred on some Spanish nobility. Holders of this dignity enjoyed similar privileges to those of the peerage of France during the , though in neith ...
or Peer of France had great prestige but little additional power.


Latin America

In addition to the nobility of a variety of native populations in what is now Latin America (such as the '' Aymara'', ''
Aztec The Aztecs () were a Mesoamerican culture that flourished in central Mexico in the post-classic period from 1300 to 1521. The Aztec people included different Indigenous peoples of Mexico, ethnic groups of central Mexico, particularly those g ...
s'', ''
Maya Maya may refer to: Civilizations * Maya peoples, of southern Mexico and northern Central America ** Maya civilization, the historical civilization of the Maya peoples ** Maya language (disambiguation), Maya language, the languages of the Maya peop ...
'', and '' Quechua'') who had long traditions of being led by monarchs and nobles, peerage traditions dating to the colonial (and post-colonial imperial periods in the case of such countries as
Mexico Mexico (Spanish language, Spanish: México), officially the United Mexican States, is a List of sovereign states, country in the southern portion of North America. It is borders of Mexico, bordered to the north by the United States; to the so ...
and
Brazil Brazil ( pt, Brasil; ), officially the Federative Republic of Brazil (Portuguese: ), is the largest country in both South America South America is a continent entirely in the Western Hemisphere and mostly in the Southern Hemisphere, ...
), have left noble families in each of them that have ancestral ties to those nations' Indigenous and European families, especially the
Spanish Spanish might refer to: * Items from or related to Spain: **Spaniards are a nation and ethnic group indigenous to Spain **Spanish language, spoken in Spain and many Latin American countries **Spanish cuisine Other places * Spanish, Ontario, Cana ...
but also the Portuguese and French nobility.


Bolivia

From the many historical native chiefs and rulera of pre-Columbian
Bolivia , image_flag = Bandera de Bolivia (Estado).svg , flag_alt = Horizontal tricolor (red, yellow, and green from top to bottom) with the coat of arms of Bolivia in the center , flag_alt2 = 7 × 7 square p ...
to the ''Criollo'' upper class that dates to the era of Colonial Bolivia and that has ancestral ties to the
Spanish nobility Spanish nobles are persons who possess the legal status of hereditary nobility according to the laws and traditions of the Spanish monarchy and historically also those who held personal nobility as bestowed by one of the three highest orders of ...
, Bolivia has several groups that may fit into the category of nobility. The country also has a ceremonial
monarchy A monarchy is a government#Forms, form of government in which a person, the monarch, is head of state for life or until abdication. The legitimacy (political)#monarchy, political legitimacy and authority of the monarch may vary from restric ...
that is recognized as part of the
Plurinational State of Bolivia , image_flag = Bandera de Bolivia (Estado).svg , flag_alt = Horizontal tricolor (red, yellow, and green from top to bottom) with the coat of arms of Bolivia in the center , flag_alt2 = 7 × 7 square p ...
and that is led by a titular ruler who is known as the '' Afro-Bolivian king''. The members of the royal house that he belongs to are the direct descendants of an old African tribal monarchy that were brought to Bolivia as slaves. They have provided leadership to the
Afro-Bolivian community Afro-Bolivians are Bolivian people of Sub-Saharan African heritage and therefore the descriptive "Afro-Bolivian" may refer to historical or cultural elements in Bolivia thought to emanate from their community. It can also refer to the combining of ...
ever since that event and have been officially recognized by Bolivia's government since 2007.


Brazil

The nobility in Brazil began during the Colonial Brazil, colonial era with the Portuguese nobility. When Brazil became a United Kingdom of Portugal, Brazil and the Algarves, united kingdom with Portugal in 1815, the first Brazilian nobility, Brazilian titles of nobility were granted by the King of Portugal, Brazil and the Algarves. With the independence of Brazil in 1822 as a constitutional monarchy, the titles of nobility initiated by the King of Portugal were continued and new titles of nobility were created by the Emperor of Brazil. However, according to the Brazilian Constitution of 1824, the Emperor conferred titles of nobility, which were personal and therefore non-hereditary, unlike the earlier Portuguese and Portuguese-Brazilian titles, being inherited exclusively to the royal titles of the Brazilian Imperial Family. During the existence of the Empire of Brazil, 1,211 noble titles were acknowledged. With the proclamation of the First Brazilian Republic, in 1889, the Brazilian nobility was extinguished. It was also prohibited, under penalty of accusation of high treason and the suspension of political rights, to accept noble titles and foreign decorations without the proper permission of the State. In particular, the nobles of greater distinction, by respect and tradition, were allowed to use their titles during the republican regime. The Imperial Family also could not return to the Brazilian soil until 1921, when the Banishment Law was repealed.


Mexico

The Mexican nobility were a Heredity, hereditary nobility of Mexico, with specific privileges and obligations determined in the various political systems that historically ruled over the Mexican territory. The term is used in reference to various groups throughout the entirety of Mexican history, from formerly Dynasty, ruling Indigenous peoples of the Americas, indigenous families of the pre-Columbian era, pre-Columbian states of present-day Mexico, to noble Mexican families of
Spanish Spanish might refer to: * Items from or related to Spain: **Spaniards are a nation and ethnic group indigenous to Spain **Spanish language, spoken in Spain and many Latin American countries **Spanish cuisine Other places * Spanish, Ontario, Cana ...
, mestizo, and other European descent, which include conquistadors and their Lineal descendant, descendants (ennobled by King Philip II of Spain, Philip II in 1573), untitled noble families of Mexico, and holders of Imperial, royal and noble ranks, titles of nobility acquired during the New Spain, Viceroyalty of the New Spain (1521–1821), the First Mexican Empire (1821–1823), and the Second Mexican Empire (1862–1867); as well as bearers of titles and other noble prerogatives granted by foreign powers who have settled in Mexico. The Constitution of Mexico, Political Constitution of Mexico has prohibited the State from recognizing any Imperial, royal and noble ranks, titles of nobility since 1917. The present Mexico, United Mexican States does not issue or recognize titles of nobility or any hereditary prerogatives and honors. Informally, however, a Mexican aristocracy remains a part of Mexican culture and its Hierarchy, hierarchical society.


Nobility by nation

A list of noble titles for different European countries can be found at Royal and noble ranks.


Africa

* Botswanan chieftaincy ** Kgosi * Ganwa, Burundian nobility * Sahib-ul-Ma'ali, Egyptian nobility * Ethiopian aristocratic and court titles, Ethiopian nobility **Ras (title), Ras **
Jantirar Jantirar (Amharic: ጃንጥራር) was a title of the Ethiopian Empire given to the ruler of Amba Geshen. Overview Jantirar is borne historically by the head of the family holding the mountain fortress of Ambassel in Ethiopia; similar to Ethiop ...
* Ghanaian chieftaincy ** Akan chieftaincy * Andriana, Malagasy nobility * Gbara, Malian nobility * Nigerian Chieftaincy, Nigerian chieftaincy **
Nigerian traditional rulers Nigerian traditional rulers often derive their titles from the rulers of independent states or communities that existed before the formation of modern Nigeria. Although they do not have formal political power, in many cases they continue to comma ...
*** Lamido ****Hakim (title), Hakimi *** Oba (ruler), Oba ****
Ogboni Ogboni (also known as Osugbo in Ijèbú) is a fraternal institution indigenous to the Yoruba language, Yoruba-speaking polities of Nigeria, Republic of Bénin and Togo, as well as among the Edo people. The society performs a range of political a ...
*** Eze **** Nze na Ozo * Abiru, Rwandan nobility * Somali aristocratic and court titles, Somali nobility * Zimbabwean chieftaincy


America

* Canadian peers and baronets * Brazilian nobility * Cuban nobility * Kuraka, Kuraka (Peru) * Mexican nobility ** Pipiltin


Asia

* Armenian nobility * Chinese nobility * Indian peers and baronets *Kaji (Nepal) **Pande family **Basnyat family **Thapa family **Kunwar family or Rana dynasty *Priyayi, Indonesian (Dutch East Indies) nobility * Japanese nobility ** Kuge ** Daimyō * Konbaung Dynasty, Burmese nobility ** Ba Maw, Burmese Mon nobility * Korean nobility * Vietnamese nobility * Malay titles, Malay nobility * Mongolian nobility * Ottoman titles * Principalía of the Philippines * Thai nobility


Europe

* Albanian nobility * Austrian nobility * Baltic nobility – ethnically Baltic German nobility in the modern area of Estonia and Latvia * Belgian nobility * British nobility ** British peerage *** Peerage of Great Britain *** Peerage of the United Kingdom *** Peerage of England, English peerage *** Noblesse, Scottish noblesse ****Peerage of Scotland, Scottish peerage ****Barons in Scotland, Barons ****Lairds *** Welsh Peers *** Chiefs of the Name *** Peerage of Ireland, Irish peerage ** Landed gentry, British gentry/ minor nobility *** Lord of the manor, Lords/ Ladies of the Manor * Byzantine aristocracy and bureaucracy **Phanariotes * Croatian nobility * Czech nobility * Danish nobility * Dutch nobility * Finnish nobility * French nobility * German nobility ** Freiherr ** Graf **
Junker Junker ( da, Junker, german: Junker, nl, Jonkheer, en, Yunker, no, Junker, sv, Junker ka, იუნკერი (Iunkeri)) is a noble honorific, derived from Middle High German ''Juncherre'', meaning "young nobleman"Duden; Meaning of Junke ...
* Hungarian nobility * Nobility in Iceland, Icelandic nobility * Irish nobility * Italian nobility ** Black Nobility * Lithuanian nobility * Montenegrin nobility (1852–1918), Montenegrin nobility * Norwegian nobility * Polish nobility ** Magnates of Poland and Lithuania, Magnates * Portuguese nobility * Russian nobility ** Boyars * Serbian nobility *
Spanish nobility Spanish nobles are persons who possess the legal status of hereditary nobility according to the laws and traditions of the Spanish monarchy and historically also those who held personal nobility as bestowed by one of the three highest orders of ...
* Swedish nobility * Swiss nobility


Oceania

* Australian peers and baronets * Ratu, Fijian nobility * Ariki, Polynesian nobility ** Fa'amatai, Samoan nobility ** Tongan nobles


See also

* Almanach de Gotha * Aristocracy (class) * Ascribed status * Baig * Caste (social hierarchy of India) * Debutante * False titles of nobility * Gentleman * Gentry * Grand Burgher (German: ''Großbürger'') * Heraldry * Honour * Kaji (Nepal) * King * List of fictional nobility * List of noble houses * Magnate * Military elite * Military Revolution * Nobiliary particle * Noblesse oblige * Nze na Ozo *
Ogboni Ogboni (also known as Osugbo in Ijèbú) is a fraternal institution indigenous to the Yoruba language, Yoruba-speaking polities of Nigeria, Republic of Bénin and Togo, as well as among the Edo people. The society performs a range of political a ...
* Pasha * Patrician (ancient Rome) * Patrician (post-Roman Europe) * Peerage * Petty nobility * Princely state * Raja * ''Redorer son blason'' * Royal descent * Social environment * Symbolic capital


References


External links


WW-Person
an on-line database of European noble genealogy
Worldroots, a selection of art and genealogy of European nobility



Etymology OnLine



A few notes about grants of titles of nobility by modern Serbian Monarchs
{{Authority control Nobility, Estates (social groups) Feudalism Oligarchy Social classes