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Nobility is a
social class A social class is a set of concepts in the social sciences Social science is the Branches of science, branch of science devoted to the study of society, societies and the Social relation, relationships among individuals within those soc ...
normally ranked immediately below
royalty Royalty may refer to: * Kingship * Royal family, the immediate family of a king or queen regnant, and sometimes his or her extended family * Royalty payment for use of such things as intellectual property, music, or natural resources Entertainment ...
and found in some societies that have a formal
aristocracy Aristocracy ( grc-gre, ἀριστοκρατία , from 'excellent', and , 'rule') is a form of government A government is the system or group of people governing an organized community, generally a state State may refer to: Ar ...
. Nobility has often been an
estate of the realm Image:Cleric-Knight-Workman.jpg, 250px, A 13th-century French representation of the tripartite social order of the Middle Ages – ''Oratores'' ("those who pray"), ''Bellatores'' ("those who fight"), and ''Laboratores'' ("those who work"). The esta ...
that possessed more acknowledged
privilege Privilege may refer to: Arts and entertainment * ''Privilege'' (film), a 1967 film directed by Peter Watkins * ''Privilege'' (Ivor Cutler album), 1983 * ''Privilege'' (Television Personalities album), 1990 * ''Privilege (Abridged) ''Privile ...
and higher
social status Social status is the level of social value a person is considered to hold. More specifically, it refers to the relative level of respect, honour Honour ( British English) or honor (American English American English (AmE, AE, AmEng, USEng ...
than most other classes in society. The privileges associated with nobility may constitute substantial advantages over or relative to non-nobles or may be largely honorary (e.g., precedence), and vary by country and 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 Trait may refer to: * Phenotypic trait in biology, which involve genes and characteristics of organisms * Trait (computer programming), a model for str ...
. Membership in the nobility has historically been granted by a monarch or government. Nonetheless, acquisition of sufficient power, wealth, military prowess, 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 more common in monarchies, but nobility also existed in such regimes as the
Dutch Republic The United Provinces of the Netherlands, or United Provinces (officially the Republic of the Seven United Netherlands), commonly referred to in historiography Historiography is the study of the methods of historian ( 484– 425 BC) was ...
(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 republic The maritime republics ( it, repubbliche marinare), also called merchant republics ( it ...
(1005–1815), the
Republic of Venice The Republic of Venice ( it, Repubblica di Venezia; vec, Repùblega de Venèsia) or Venetian Republic ( it, Repubblica Veneta; vec, Repùblega Vèneta), traditionally known as La Serenissima ( en, Most Serene Republic Most Serene Republic ( ...
(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 (people), Swiss") was a loose confederation of independent small state ...
(1300–1798), and remains part of the legal social structure of some 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 a small country (and a European microstate) ...

San Marino
, 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 Vatica ...

Vatican City
in Europe. In
Classical Antiquity Classical antiquity (also the classical era, classical period or classical age) is the period of cultural history History (from Greek#REDIRECT Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece Greece ( el, ...
, the ' (nobles) of the
Roman Republic The Roman Republic ( la, Rēs pūblica Rōmāna ) was a state of the classical Roman civilization, run through public In public relations Public relations (PR) is the practice of managing and disseminating information from an indiv ...
were families descended from persons who had achieved the
consulship A consul held the highest elected political office The incumbent is the current holder of an office An office is a space where an Organization, organization's employees perform Business administration, administrative Work (human acti ...
. Those who belonged to the hereditary patrician families were nobles, but
plebeians The plebeians, also called plebs, were, in ancient Rome In historiography, ancient Rome is Roman people, Roman civilization from the founding of the Italian city of Rome in the 8th century BC to the collapse of the Western Roman Empire in ...

plebeians
whose ancestors were consuls were also considered '. In the
Roman Empire The Roman Empire ( la, Imperium Rōmānum ; grc-gre, Βασιλεία τῶν Ῥωμαίων, Basileía tôn Rhōmaíōn) was the post-Republican Republican can refer to: Political ideology * An advocate of a republic, a type of governme ...

Roman Empire
, 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 Nobility is a social class normally ranked immediately below Royal family, royalty and found in some societies that have a formal aristocracy (class), aristocracy. Nobility has often bee ...
s and
styles Style is a manner of doing or presenting things and may refer to: * Architectural style, the features that make a building or structure historically identifiable * Design, the process of creating something * Fashion, a prevailing mode of clothing s ...
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 Feudalism, also known as the feudal system, was the combination of the legal, economic, military, and cultural customs that flourished in Medieval Europe In the history of Europe The history of Europe conc ...
). 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 Brazil ( pt, Brasil; ), officially the Federative Republic of Brazil (Portuguese: ), is the largest country in both South America ...
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,Usage is mixed. The Guardian' and Telegraph' use Britain as a synonym for the United Kingdom. Some prefe ...
s in the
United Kingdom The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, commonly known as the United Kingdom (UK) or Britain,Usage is mixed. The Guardian' and Telegraph' use Britain as a synonym for the United Kingdom. Some prefer to use Britain as shorth ...

United Kingdom
.


History

The term derives from Latin ', the
abstract noun A noun () is a word In linguistics, a word of a spoken language can be defined as the smallest sequence of phonemes that can be uttered in isolation with semantic, objective or pragmatics, practical meaning (linguistics), meaning. In many l ...
of the adjective ' ("noble but also secondarily well-known, famous, notable"). In
ancient Roman society In historiography, ancient Rome is Roman people, Roman civilization from the founding of the Italian city of Rome in the 8th century BC to the collapse of the Western Roman Empire in the 5th century AD, encompassing the Roman Kingdom (753 BC ...
, originated as an informal designation for the political governing class who had allied interests, including both
patricians The patricians (from la, patriciusPatricius may refer to: People * Patricius (consul 500), prominent East Roman general and consul *Patricius (jurist), 5th-century Roman jurist * Patricius (usurper) (died 352), leader of the Jewish revolt aga ...
and plebeian families ''(')'' with an ancestor who had risen to the
consulship A consul held the highest elected political office The incumbent is the current holder of an office An office is a space where an Organization, organization's employees perform Business administration, administrative Work (human acti ...
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 forms of political and cultural organization that were prevalent before the advent of the Industrial Revolution The Industrial Revolution was the transition to new manufacturing process ...
. In the
feudal system Feudalism, also known as the feudal system, was the combination of the legal, economic, military, and cultural customs that flourished in Medieval Europe In the history of Europe The history of Europe concerns itself with the disco ...
(in Europe and elsewhere), the nobility were generally those who held a
fief A fief (; la, feudum) was the central element of feudalism Feudalism, also known as the feudal system, was the combination of the legal, economic, military, and cultural customs that flourished in Medieval Europe In the hist ...
, often land or office, under
vassalage A vassal or liege subject is a person regarded as having a mutual obligation to a lord Lord is an appellation for a person or deity who has authority, control, or power (social and political), power over others, acting as a master, a chief, ...
, 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 citizen Citizenship is a relationship between an individual and a state to which the individual owes allegiance and in turn is entitled to it ...
and various, mainly military, services to a
suzerain Suzerainty () is a relationship in which one state or other polity controls the foreign policy and relations of a tributary state, while allowing the tributary state to have internal autonomy. The dominant state is called the "suzerain." Suzeraint ...
, who might be a higher-ranking nobleman or a monarch. It rapidly came to be seen as a hereditary
caste Caste is a form of social stratification Social stratification refers to a society's categorization of its people into groups based on Socioeconomic status, socioeconomic factors like wealth, income, Race (human categorization), race, educati ...
, 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 An organization, or organisation (English in the Commonwealth of Nations, Commonwealth English; American and B ...

leadership
expectations of the nobility of the Kingdom of
Tonga Tonga (, ), officially named the Kingdom of Tonga ( to, Puleʻanga Fakatuʻi ʻo Tonga), is a Polynesia Polynesia (, ; from grc, πολύς "many" and grc, νῆσος "island") ( to, Faka-Polinisia; mi, Porinihia; haw, Polenekia; ...

Tonga
.) 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,Usage is ...
is in the hands of aristocrats and traditional
landed gentry The landed gentry, or the ''gentry'', is a largely historical British social class of landowners who could live entirely from rental income Renting, also known as hiring or letting, is an agreement where a payment is made for the temp ...
. Nobility is a historical, social and often legal notion, differing from high
socio-economic status Socioeconomic status (SES) is an economic and sociological combined total measure of a person's work experience and of an individual's or family's economic access to resources and social position in relation to others. When analyzing a family's ...
in that the latter is mainly based on income, possessions or
lifestyle Lifestyle often refers to: * Lifestyle (sociology), the way a person lives * ''Otium'', ancient Roman concept of a lifestyle * Style of life (german: Lebensstil), dealing with the dynamics of personality Lifestyle may also refer to: Business and ...
. 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 A social class is a set of concepts in the social sciences and political theory Political philosophy is the philosophical study of government A government is the system or g ...
with substantial wealth and power, the status is not necessarily hereditary and does not entail a distinct
legal status Legal status is the position held by something or someone with regard to law Law is a system A system is a group of Interaction, interacting or interrelated elements that act according to a set of rules to form a unified whole. A system, ...
, nor differentiated forms of address. Various republics, including European countries such as Greece, Turkey, Austria and former
Iron Curtain The Iron Curtain was a political boundary dividing Europe Europe is a which is also recognised as part of , located entirely in the and mostly in the . It comprises the westernmost peninsulas of the of Eurasia, it shares the continenta ...
countries and places in the Americas such as
Mexico Mexico, officially the United Mexican States, is a country A country is a distinct territorial body or political entity A polity is an identifiable political entity—any group of people who have a collective identity, who are organi ...
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
usurpation
.


Noble privileges

Not all of the benefits of nobility derived from noble status . Usually privileges were granted or recognised by the
monarch A monarch is a head of state A head of state (or chief of state) is the public persona A persona (plural personae or personas), depending on the context, can refer to either the public image of one's personality, or the social role tha ...

monarch
in association with possession of a specific title, office or estate. Most nobles' wealth derived from one or more
estates Estate or The Estate may refer to: Law * Estate (law), a term in common law for a person's property, entitlements and obligations * Estates of the realm, a broad social category in the histories of certain countries. ** The Estates, representative ...
, 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 labour Manual labour (in , manual labor in ) or manual work is physical work done by humans, in contrast to labour by s and s. It is most literally work done with the hands (the word "manual" comes from the ) and, by figurative extension, it is work d ...
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 (french: link=no, République française), is a spanning and in the and the , and s. Its ...

French Revolution
, European nobles typically commanded tribute in the form of entitlement to cash rents or usage taxes, labour 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 one who was a memb ...
s or nobles of lower rank who lived or worked on the noble's
manor Manor may refer to: Land tenure *Manor, the land belonging to the Lord of the manor under manorialism in parts of medieval Europe, notably England *Manor house, the main residence of the lord of the manor *Lord of the manor, the landholder of a ma ...
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 practice of seeking, pursuing and capturing or killing wildlife Wildlife traditionally refers to undomesticated animal Animals (also called Metazoa) are multicellular A multicellular organism is an organism ...

hunting
. 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 stat ...

taille
'', 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 Latin (, or , ) is a classical language A classical language is a language A language is a structured system of communication Communication (from Latin ''communicare'', meaning "to share" or "to be i ...
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 clans. Feuds begin because o ...
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 rules Rule or ruling may refer to: Human activity * The exercise of political Politics (from , ) is the set of activit ...

duel
ling established the status of a respectable
gentleman A gentleman (Old French: ''gentilz hom'', gentle + man) is any man of good and courteous conduct. Originally, ''gentleman'' was the lowest rank of the landed gentry of England, ranking below an esquire and above a yeoman; by definition, the ran ...
, and was an accepted manner of resolving disputes. Since the end of World War I the hereditary nobility entitled to
special rightsSpecial rights is a term originally used by conservatives and libertarians Libertarianism (from french: libertaire, "libertarian"; from la, libertas, "freedom") is a political philosophy Political philosophy is the philosophical study of ...
has largely been abolished in the
Western World The Western world, also known as the West, refers to various regions, nations and state (polity), states, depending on the context, most often consisting of the majority of Europe, Northern America, and Australasia.
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 spoken in the area around Rome, known as Latium. Through the powe ...
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 minimised. 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
entail In English common law In law, common law (also known as judicial precedent or judge-made law, or ) is the body of law created by judges and similar quasi-judicial by virtue of being stated in written opinions. ' is the most-used legal dictiona ...
ed 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) ( always in the plural) are a type of legal instrument ''Legal instrument'' is a legal Law is a system A system is a group of Interaction, interacting or interrelated elements that act acco ...
are necessary to obtain a title of the
peerage A peerage is a legal system historically comprising various hereditary title Hereditary titles, in a general sense, are nobility Nobility is a social class normally ranked immediately below Royal family, royalty and found in some societi ...
, which also carries nobility and formerly a seat in the
House of Lords The House of Lords, formally The Right Honourable the Lords Spiritual and Temporal of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland in Parliament assembled, is the of the . Membership is by , or . Like the , it meets in the . ar ...

House of Lords
, but never came with automatic
entail In English common law In law, common law (also known as judicial precedent or judge-made law, or ) is the body of law created by judges and similar quasi-judicial by virtue of being stated in written opinions. ' is the most-used legal dictiona ...
of land nor rights to the local peasants' output.


Rank within the nobility

Nobility might be either inherited or conferred by a ''
fons honorumThe fount of honour ( la, fons honorum) refers to a person, who, by virtue of his or her official position, has the exclusive right of conferring legitimate titles of nobility and orders of chivalry on other persons. Origin During the High Midd ...
''. 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 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 inheritance ...
, 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 inherit Inherit may refer to: * Inheritance, passing on of property after someone's death * Heredity, passing of genetic traits to offspring * Inheritance ( ...
-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. 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 inherit Inherit may refer to: * Inheritance, passing on of property after someone's death * Heredity, passing of genetic traits to offspring * Inheritance ( ...
in much of western Europe aside from Germany. In Eastern Europe, by contrast, with the exception of a few
HungarianHungarian may refer to: * Hungary, a country in Central Europe * Kingdom of Hungary, state of Hungary, existing between 1000 and 1946 * Hungarians, ethnic groups in Hungary * Hungarian algorithm, a polynomial time algorithm for solving the assignmen ...

Hungarian
estates, they usually descended to all sons or even all children. In France, some wealthy ''
bourgeois Bourgeoisie (; ) is a polysemous Polysemy ( or ; from grc-gre, πολύ-, , "many" and , , "sign") is the capacity for a word or phrase to have multiple meanings, usually related by contiguity of meaning within a semantic fieldIn linguist ...

bourgeois
'', most particularly the members of the various ''
parlement A ''parlement'' (), under the French Ancien Régime The '' Storming of the Bastille'' on 14 July 1789, later taken to mark the end of the ''Ancien Régime''; watercolour by Jean-Pierre Houël The Ancien Régime (; ; literally "old rul ...

parlement
s'', were ennobled by the king, constituting the ''
noblesse de robe In Scotland Scotland ( sco, Scotland, gd, Alba ) 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 96-mile (154 km) Angl ...
''. The old nobility of landed or knightly origin, the ''
noblesse d'épée The Nobles of the Sword (french: noblesse d'épée) were the noblemen of the oldest class of nobility in France dating from the Middle Ages In the history of Europe, the Middle Ages or medieval period lasted from the 5th to the late 15th ...
'', increasingly resented the influence and pretensions of this ''
parvenu A ''parvenu'' is a person who is a relative newcomer to a socioeconomic class. The word is borrowed from the French language French ( or ) is a Romance languages, Romance language of the Indo-European languages, Indo-European family. It ...
'' nobility. In the last years of the ''
ancien régime The '' Storming of the Bastille'' on 14 July 1789, later taken to mark the end of the ''Ancien Régime''; watercolour by Jean-Pierre Houël The Ancien Régime (; ; literally "old rule"), also known as the Old Regime, was the political and soc ...
'' 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 of s typically founded during or inspired by the original of the (circa 1099–1291), paired with of ideals of . Since the 15th century, orders of chivalr ...
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 A government is the system or group of people governing an organized community, generally a state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''Sta ...
along with nobles of
medieval In the history of Europe The history of Europe concerns itself with the discovery and collection, the study, organization and presentation and the interpretation of past events and affairs of the people of Europe since the beginning of ...

medieval
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#REDIRECT 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 coat of arms on an escutcheon forms the central element of the fu ...

coat of arms
) 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 Vexillology () is the study of the history, symbolism and usage of flag A fla ...
and nobility; in those countries where heraldry is used, nobles have almost always been
armigerous In heraldry Heraldry () is a broad term, encompassing 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, rank and genealogy, pedigree ...
, and have used heraldry to demonstrate their ancestry and
family history Genealogy (from el, γενεαλογία ' "study of family trees") is the study of families In human society, family (from la, familia) is a Social group, group of people related either by consanguinity (by recognized birth) or Affinity ...
. However, heraldry has never been restricted to the noble classes in most countries, and being armigerous does not necessarily demonstrate nobility.
Scotland Scotland ( sco, Scotland, gd, Alba Alba (Scottish Gaelic Scottish Gaelic ( gd, Gàidhlig or Scots Gaelic, sometimes referred to simply as Gaelic) is a Goidelic language (in the Celtic languages, Celtic branch of the Indo-European ...

Scotland
, 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 Nobility is a social class normally ranked immediately below Royal family, royalty and found in some societies that have a formal aristocracy (class), aristocracy. Nobility has often bee ...
s, as distinct from noble rank, were not always recognised in law, e.g., Poland's ''
Szlachta The ''szlachta'' (Polish: , ) were the in the , the , and the who, as a , had the dominating position in the state, exercising . Szlachta as a class differed significantly from the of . The estate was officially abolished in 1921 by the . ...
''. European ranks of nobility lower than
baron Baron is a rank of nobility Nobility is a social class normally ranked immediately below Royal family, royalty and found in some societies that have a formal aristocracy (class), aristocracy. Nobility has often been an Estates of th ...

baron
or its equivalent, are commonly referred to as the
petty nobilityThe petty nobility is the lower nobility Nobility is a social class normally ranked immediately below Royal family, royalty and found in some societies that have a formal aristocracy (class), aristocracy. Nobility has often been an Estates ...
, although
baronet A baronet ( or ; abbreviated Bart or Bt) or the rare female equivalent, a baronetess (, , or ; abbreviation Btss), is the holder of a baronetcy, a hereditary title awarded by the British Crown The Crown is the in all its aspects within ...

baronet
s of the British Isles are deemed titled
gentry Gentry (from Old French Old French (, , ; Modern French French ( or ) is a Romance language of the Indo-European family. It descended from the Vulgar Latin of the Roman Empire, as did all Romance languages. French evolved from Ga ...
. 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 British social class of landowners who could live entirely from rental income Renting, also known as hiring or letting, is an agreement where a payment is made for the temp ...
of the
British Isles The British Isles are a group of islands in the North Atlantic off the north-western coast of continental Europe Continental Europe or mainland Europe is the contiguous continent A continent is any of several large landmasse ...

British Isles
. 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 An honorific is a title that conveys esteem, courtesy, or respect for position or rank when us ...
s'' of Germany, the ''
noblesse de robe In Scotland Scotland ( sco, Scotland, gd, Alba ) 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 96-mile (154 km) Angl ...
'' 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 politico ''Politico'', known originally as ''The Politico'', is an American political journalism Political journalism i ...

Benelux
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 English (german: Haus Habsburg ; es, Casa de Habsburgo ; hu, Habsburg-család), also known as the House of Austria (german: link=no, Haus Österreich; es, link=no, Casa de Austria), ...
. 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 title Hereditary titles, in a general sense, are nobility Nobility is a social class normally ranked immediately below Royal family, royalty and found in some societi ...
). Neither nobility nor titles could be transmitted through women. Some
con artist A confidence trick is an attempt to a person or group after first gaining their . Confidence tricks exploit victims using their , , , , , , and . Researchers have defined confidence tricks as "a distinctive species of fraudulent conduct ..inte ...
s sell
fake titles of nobility False titles of nobility are claimed titles of social rank that have been fabricated or assumed by an individual or family without recognition by the authorities of a country in which titles of nobility exist or once existed. They have received an ...
, 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 Law is a system A system is a group of Interaction, interacting or interrelated elements that act according to a set of rules to form a unified whole. A system, surrounded and influenced by its environment, is described by ...

fraud
rather than criminal
usurpation
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 or colloquial language is the style (sociolinguistics), linguistic style used for casual (informal) communication. It is the most common functional style of speech, the idiom normally employed in conversation and other informal conte ...
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 A social class is a set of concepts in the social sciences and political theory Political philosophy is the philosophical study of government A government is the system or g ...
. ''Blue blood'' is an
English idiom An idiom is a common word or phrase with a culturally understood meaning that differs from what its composite words' denotations would suggest; ''i.e.'' the words together have a meaning that is different from the dictionary definitions of the i ...
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 borough of New York City, coextensive with Queens County, in the U.S. state of New York. It is the largest borough of New York City New York City (NYC), often simp ...
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 '' of Alfonso X, c. 1285 The term Moor is an Endonym and exonym, exonym first used by Christian Europeans to designate the Muslims, Muslim inhabitants of the Maghreb, the Iberian Peninsula, Sicily and Malta during the Middle Ages. The Moors init ...

Moors
. The idiom originates from ancient and medieval societies of Europe and distinguishes an
upper class Upper class in modern societies is the social class A social class is a set of concepts in the social sciences and political theory Political philosophy is the philosophical study of government A government is the system or g ...
(whose
superficial vein A superficial vein is a vein Veins are blood vessels The blood vessels are the components of the circulatory system The circulatory system, also called the cardiovascular system or the vascular system, is an organ system An organ ...

superficial vein
s appeared blue through their untanned skin) from a
working class The working class (or labouring class) comprises those engaged in manual-labour occupations or industrial work, who are remunerated via waged or salaried contracts. Working-class occupations (see also "Designation of workers by collar colorCo ...
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 as ...
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.


Europe

European nobility originated in the feudal/seignorial system that arose in Europe during the
Middle Ages In the history of Europe The history of Europe concerns itself with the discovery and collection, the study, organization and presentation and the interpretation of past events and affairs of the people of Europe since the beginning of ...
. Originally,
knight 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. Knighthoo ...

knight
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 peasant A peasant is a pre-industrial farmhand, agricultural laborer or a farmer with limited land-ownership, especially one living in the Middle Ages under feudalism and tenant farmer, paying rent, tax, fee ...
s living thereon). During the period known as the
Military Revolution The Military Revolution is the theory that a series of radical changes in military strategy and tactics during the 16th and 17th centuries resulted in major lasting changes in governments and society. The theory was introduced by Michael Roberts in ...
, 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 period Period may refer to: Common uses * Era, a length or span of time * Full stop (or period), a punctuation mark Arts, entertainment, and media * Period (music), a concept in ...

Renaissance
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 Continental Europe or mainland Europe is the contiguous continent A continent is any of several large landmasse ...
. 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 peerage in the United Kingdom. As of 2021 there are 810 hereditary peers: 30 dukes (including six royal dukes), 34 marquesses, 191 earls, List of viscounts in the peerages of Britain and Ireland, 112 visco ...
s were entitled to sit and vote in the
House of Lords The House of Lords, formally The Right Honourable the Lords Spiritual and Temporal of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland in Parliament assembled, is the of the . Membership is by , or . Like the , it meets in the . ar ...

House of Lords
. 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
Castile
Castile
(probably 10%),
Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth The Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth, formally known as the Kingdom of Poland and the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, and, after 1791, the Commonwealth of Poland, was a country and bi-federation A federation (also known as a federal state) is ...
(15% of an 18th-century population of 800,000), 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 (french: link=no, République française), is a transcontinental country This is a list of countries located on more than one continent A continent is one of several large landmasses ...
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 A monarchy is a form of government A government is the system or group of people governing an organized community, generally a state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, an ...

Kingdom of Hungary
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 Old French (, , ; Modern French French ( or ) is a Romance language of the Indo-European family. It descended from the Vulgar Latin of the Roman Empire, as did all Romance languages. French evolved from Ga ...
, relatively small landowners with perhaps one or two villages, were mostly noble in most countries, for example the
Polish landed gentry Polish 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), ...
. 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 aristocratic title conferred on some Spanish nobility Spanish nobles are persons who possess the legal status of hereditary nobility Nobility is a social class normally ranked imme ...
or
Peer of France The Peerage of France (french: Pairie de France) was a hereditary distinction within the French nobility The French nobility (french: la noblesse) was a privileged social class in France during the France in the Middle Ages, Middle Ages an ...
had great prestige but little additional power.


Asia


India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Nepal

In the Indian Subcontinent 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
Zamindars A Zamindar (also known as zomindar, zomidar, or jomidar) in the Indian subcontinent was an autonomous or semiautonomous ruler of a state who accepted the suzerainty Suzerainty () is a relationship in which one state or other polity controls ...
. 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 Khas people, Khas kingdom in the confederation of 24 states known as Chaubisi rajya, on the Indian subcontinent, present-day western Nepal. The Kingdom of Gorkha extended from the Mars ...
(1559–1768) and
Kingdom of Nepal The Kingdom of Nepal ( ne, नेपाल अधिराज्य), also known as the Gorkha Kingdom or Gorkha Empire ( ne, गोरखा अधिराज्य) or Asal Hindustan (''Real Land of the Hindus''), was a Hindu Hindu ...
(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, Dewan, 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. ...

East Asia
the system was often modelled on imperial China, the leading culture. Emperors conferred
titles of nobility Traditional rank amongst European royalty, peers, and nobility Nobility is a social class normally ranked immediately below Royal family, royalty and found in some societies that have a formal aristocracy (class), aristocracy. Nobili ...
. 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 A dynasty (, ) is a sequence of rulers from the same family In human society, family (from la, familia) is a group of people related either by consanguinity (by recognized birth) or affinity (by marriage or other relationship). Th ...
rules,
rules Rule or ruling may refer to: Human activity * The exercise of political Politics (from , ) is the set of activities that are associated with Decision-making, making decisions in Social group, groups, or other forms of Power (social and po ...
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 historically known as the Yin dynasty (), was a Chinese dynasty Dynasties in Chinese history, or Chinese dynasties, were hereditary monarchical regimes that ruled over China during much of its history. From ...

Shang
and Zhou dynasties, which gradually gave way to a more bureaucratic one beginning in the
Qin dynasty The Qin dynasty, or Ch'in dynasty in Wade–Giles Wade–Giles () is a romanization Romanization or romanisation, in linguistics Linguistics is the science, scientific study of language. It encompasses the analysis of ever ...

Qin dynasty
(221 BC). This continued through the
Song dynasty The Song dynasty (; ; 960–1279) was an imperial dynasty of China that began in 960 and lasted until 1279. The dynasty was founded by Emperor Taizu of Song Emperor Taizu of Song (21 March 927 – 14 November 976), personal name Zhao Kua ...
, 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#REDIRECT Han dynasty The Han dynasty () was the second Dynasties in Chinese history, imperial dynasty of China (202 BC – 220 AD), established by the rebel leader Liu Bang and ruled by the House of Liu. Preceded by the short-lived Qin dynas ...

Han dynasty
, 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 states of Cao Wei, Wei, Shu Han, Shu, and Eastern Wu, Wu. The Three Kingdoms period started with the End of the Han dynasty, end of the Han dynasty#East ...

Three Kingdoms
period with the introduction of the
Nine-rank system The nine-rank system, also known as the nine grade controller system, was a system used to categorize and evaluate officials, and potential entrants into officialdom, in Imperial China. Created in the state of Cao Wei during the Three Kingdoms, ...
. By the
Sui dynasty The Sui dynasty (, ) was a short-lived Dynasties in Chinese history, imperial dynasty of China of pivotal significance. The Sui unified the Northern and Southern dynasties and reinstalled the rule of ethnic Han Chinese, Han in the entirety of ...

Sui dynasty
, however, the institution of the
Imperial examination The Chinese imperial examinations, or ''keju'' (lit. "subject recommendation"), was a civil service examination system in History of China#Imperial era, Imperial China for selecting candidates for the state Civil service#China, bureaucracy. T ...
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 the last dynasty A dynasty (, ) is a sequence of rulers from the same family,''Oxford English Dictionary'', "dynasty, ''n''." Oxford University Press Oxford University Pr ...
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 Marquis of Extended Grace was a title held by a descendant of the imperial family of the Ming dynasty#REDIRECT Ming dynasty {{Redirect category shell, 1= {{R from move {{R from other capitalisation ... (1368–1644) during the subsequent Qing ...
. 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 Chinese philosophy originates in the Spring and Autumn period () and Warring States period (), ...

Confucius
, as
Duke Yansheng The Duke Duke is a male title either of a monarch ruling over a duchy, or of a member of Royal family, royalty, or nobility. As rulers, dukes are ranked below emperors, kings, grand princes, grand dukes, and sovereign princes. As royalt ...
, 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 in East Asia. It shares Maritime boundary, maritime borders with the China, People's Republic of China (PRC) to the northwest, Japan to the northeast, and the Philippines to the sout ...
. 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 Mengzi (; 372–289 BC) was a Chinese Confucian , Shanxi Shanxi (; ; Chinese postal romanization, formerly romanised as Shansi) is a landlocked Provinces of China, province of the China, People's R ...

Mencius
, a "Sacrificial Official to Zengzi" for a descendant of
Zengzi Zeng Shen (505–435 BC), better known as Zengzi (Master Zeng), courtesy name A courtesy name (), also known as a style name, is a name bestowed upon one at adulthood in addition to one's given name. This practice is a tradition in the East A ...
, and a "Sacrificial Official to Yan Hui" for a descendant of
Yan Hui Yan Hui (–481 BC) was the favorite disciple of Confucius } Confucius ( ; zh, s=, p=Kǒng Fūzǐ, "Master Kǒng"; ) was a Chinese philosopher Chinese philosophy originates in the Spring and Autumn period () and Warring ...
. 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 East Asia is the eastern region of Asia Asia () is Earth's largest and most populous continent, located primarily in the Eastern Hemisphere ...

People's Republic of China
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 ibn AbdullahHe is referred to by many appellations, including Messenger of Allah, The Prophet Muhammad, Allah's Apostle, Last Prophet of Islam, and others; there are also many variant spellings of Muhammad, such as Mohamet, Mohammed, ...

Muhammad
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 Ka'ba. The Islamic prophet Muhammad was born into the Banu Hashim, Hashim clan of the tribe. Despite this, ...
, 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 'Lord', 'Master'; Arabic plural: ; feminine: ; ) is an title denoting people accepted as descendants of the and his cousin and son-in-law (Ali ibn Abi Talib) through his grandsons, and , sons ...

Sayyid
'' and ''
Sharif Sharīf ( ar, شريف, 'noble', 'highborn'), also spelled shareef or sherif, feminine sharīfa (), plural ashrāf (), shurafāʾ (), or (in the Maghreb) shurfāʾ, is a term used to designate a person descended, or claiming to be descended, fro ...

Sharif
''. Regarded as more religious than the general population, many people turn to them for clarification or guidance in religious matters. In
Iran Iran ( fa, ایران ), also called Persia, and officially the Islamic Republic of Iran, is a country in Western Asia Western Asia, West Asia, or Southwest Asia, is the westernmost subregion A subregion is a part of a larger regio ...

Iran
, historical titles of the nobility including ''
Mirza Mirza ( or ; fa, میرزا) is a name of Persian origin. It is used as a surname or prefix to identify patriarchal lineage. It is a historical royal and noble title, denoting the rank of a royal prince A prince is a male ruler (ranked ...

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 A personal name, or full name, in onomastic Onomastics or onomatology is the study of the etymology, history, and use of proper names. An ''wikt ...
, 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 (; ', ; or '; )info page on bookat Martin Luther University) // CITED: p. 36 (PDF p. 38/338). was an empire that controlled much of Southeastern Europe, Western Asia, and North Africa, Northern Africa between the 14th ...
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 The Abaza family ( ar, الأسرة الأباظية), is an Egyptian family of Circassian origin that has had an influence in the late 18th century to modern times. Believed to have a net worth of over 800 million dollars US. It is known for ...
.


Japan

Medieval Japan developed a feudal system similar to the European system, where land was held in exchange for military service. The ''
daimyō were powerful Japanese magnate A magnate, from the late Latin ''magnas'', a great man, itself from Latin ''magnus'', "great", is a noble or a man in a high social position, by birth, wealth or other qualities. In reference to the Middle Age ...
'' 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 to their abolition in 1876. They were the well-paid retainer ...

samurai
'', an elite
warrior class
warrior class
; for long periods, these held the real power without a real
central government A central government is the government A government is the system or group of people governing an organized community, generally a state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a month ...
, 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#REDIRECT Meiji Restoration The , referred to at the time as the , and also known as the Meiji Renovation, Revolution, Reform, or Renewal, was a political event that restored practical imperial rule to Japan in 1868 under Emperor Meiji. Although t ...
in 1868, and was replaced by the ''
kazoku The was the hereditary peerage A peerage is a legal system historically comprising various hereditary title Hereditary titles, in a general sense, are nobility Nobility is a social class normally ranked immediately below Royal fami ...
'', a five-rank
peerage A peerage is a legal system historically comprising various hereditary title Hereditary titles, in a general sense, are nobility Nobility is a social class normally ranked immediately below Royal family, royalty and found in some societi ...
system after the British example, which granted seats in the upper house of the
Imperial DietImperial Diet means the highest representative assembly in an empire, notably: * Imperial Diet (Holy Roman Empire), general assembly of the Imperial Estates of the Holy Roman Empire (962–1806) * Diet of Japan, Has been going on since 1889 (1889 ...
; 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 ...

Philippines
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, especially i ...
'' 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 their r ...
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 position with several historical meanings. Originally, it was an Arabic abstract noun A noun () is a word In linguistics, a word of a spoken language can be defined as the smallest sequence of phone ...

Sultan
'' and ''
Rajah ''Raja'' (; from sa, राजन्, IAST The International Alphabet of Sanskrit Transliteration (IAST) is a transliteration scheme that allows the lossless romanisation Romanization or romanisation, in linguistics Linguist ...

Rajah
'', ''Datu'' (and its
Malay Malay may refer to: Languages * Malay language or Bahasa Melayu, a major Austronesian language spoken in Indonesia, Malaysia, Brunei and Singapore ** History of the Malay language#Old Malay, the Malay language from the 4th to the 14th century ** ...
cognate In linguistics Linguistics is the scientific study of language A language is a structured system of communication used by humans, including speech (spoken language), gestures (Signed language, sign language) and writing. Most langu ...
, ''Datok'') are currently used in some parts of the Philippines,
Indonesia Indonesia ( ), officially the Republic of Indonesia ( id, Republik Indonesia, links=yes ), is a country in Southeast Asia Southeast Asia, also spelled South East Asia and South-East Asia, and also known as Southeastern Asia or SEA, is t ...

Indonesia
,
Malaysia Malaysia ( ; ) is a country in Southeast Asia Southeast Asia, also spelled South East Asia and South-East Asia, and also known as Southeastern Asia or SEA, is the geographical southeastern subregion of Asia, consisting of the regions ...

Malaysia
and
Brunei Brunei ( ; ), officially the Nation of Brunei, the Abode of Peace ( ms, Negara Brunei Darussalam, Jawi alphabet, Jawi: ), is a sovereign state, country located on the north coast of the island of Borneo in Southeast Asia. Apart from its coa ...

Brunei
. These titles are the rough equivalents of European titles, albeit dependent on the actual wealth and prestige of the bearer.


Recognition by the Spanish Crown

Upon the islands' Christianisation, the datus retained governance of their territories despite annexation to the
Spanish Empire The Spanish Empire ( es, link=no, Imperio Español), also known as the Hispanic Monarchy ( es, link=no, Monarquía Hispánica) or the Catholic Monarchy ( es, link=no, Monarquía Católica) during the Early Modern period, was a colonial empire ...

Spanish Empire
. In a law signed 11 June 1594, King
Philip II of Spain Philip II) in Spain , image_flag = Bandera de España.svg , image_coat = Escudo de España (mazonado).svg , national_motto = , national_anthem = , image_map = , map_caption ...

Philip II of Spain
ordered that the indigenous rulers continue to receive the same honours and privileges accorded them prior their conversion to
Catholicism The Catholic Church, also known as the Roman Catholic Church, is the largest Christian church, with 1.3 billion baptised Baptism (from the Greek language, Greek noun βάπτισμα ''báptisma'') is a Christians, Christian r ...
. The baptised nobility subsequently coalesced into the exclusive, landed ruling class of the lowlands known as the ''
Principalía The principalía or noble class was the ruling and usually educated upper class in the '' pueblos'' of the Spanish Philippines Spanish may refer to: * Items from or related to Spain , * gl, Reino de España, * oc, Reiaume d'Espanha, ...
''. On 22 March 1697, King
Charles II of Spain Charles II of Spain ( es, Carlos II; 6 November 1661 – 1 November 1700), known as the Bewitched ( es, El Hechizado, links=no), was the last Habsburg The House of Habsburg (), alternatively spelled Hapsburg in English (german: Haus Habsburg ...

Charles II of Spain
confirmed the privileges granted by his predecessors (in Title VII, Book VI of the
Laws of the Indies The Laws of the Indies ( es, Leyes de las Indias) are the entire body of laws issued by the Spanish Crown , coatofarms = Coat of Arms of Spanish Monarch.svg , coatofarms_article = Coat of arms of the King of Spain , image ...
) to indigenous nobilities of the Crown colonies, including the Principales of the Philippines, and extended to them and to their descendants the preeminence and honors customarily attributed to the Hidalgos of Castile.


Filipino nobles during the Spanish era

The
Laws of the Indies The Laws of the Indies ( es, Leyes de las Indias) are the entire body of laws issued by the Spanish Crown , coatofarms = Coat of Arms of Spanish Monarch.svg , coatofarms_article = Coat of arms of the King of Spain , image ...
and other pertinent Royal Decrees were enforced in the Philippines and benefited many indigenous nobles. It can be seen very clearly and irrefutably that, during the colonial period, indigenous chiefs were equated with the Spanish Hidalgos, and the most resounding proof of the application of this comparison is the General Military Archive in
Segovia Segovia (, also , ) is a city in the autonomous communities of Spain, autonomous community of Castile and León, Spain. It is the capital and most populated municipality of the Province of Segovia. Segovia is in the Inner Plateau, near the norther ...

Segovia
, where the qualifications of "Nobility" (found in the Service Records) are attributed to those Filipinos who were admitted to the Spanish Military Academies and whose ancestors were
cacique A ''cacique'' (Iberian ; Latin American ; ; feminine form: ''cacica'') translates to "king" or "prince" of an indigenous group, derived from the Taíno language, Taíno word ''kasike'' for the pre-Columbian tribal chiefs in the Bahamas, the Gre ...

cacique
s,
encomendero The ''encomienda'' () was a Spanish labor system that rewarded conquerors with the labor of particular groups of conquered non-Christian people. The laborers, in theory, were provided with benefits by the conquerors for whom they labored, the C ...
s, notable Tagalogs, chieftains,
governors A governor is, in most cases, a public official with the power to govern the executive branch The executive is the branch of government exercising authority in and holding Moral responsibility, responsibility for the governance of a State (p ...
or those who held positions in the municipal administration or government in all different regions of the large islands of the Archipelago, or of the many small islands of which it is composed. In the context of the ancient tradition and norms of Castilian nobility, all descendants of a noble are considered noble, regardless of fortune. At the ''Real Academia de la Historia'', there is a substantial number of records providing reference to the Philippine Islands, and while most parts correspond to the history of these islands, the ''Academia'' did not exclude among its documents the presence of many genealogical records. The archives of the ''Academia'' and its royal stamp recognized the appointments of hundreds of natives of the Philippines who, by virtue of their social position, occupied posts in the administration of the territories and were classified as ''"nobles"''. The presence of these notables demonstrates the cultural concern of Spain in those Islands to prepare the natives and the collaboration of these in the government of the Archipelago. This aspect of Spanish rule in the Philippines appears much more strongly implemented than in the
Americas The Americas (also collectively called America) is a landmass comprising the totality of North America, North and South America. The Americas make up most of the land in Earth's Western Hemisphere and comprise the New World. Along with th ...

Americas
. Hence in the Philippines, the local nobility, by reason of charge accorded to their social class, acquired greater importance than in the
Indies The East Indies (or simply the Indies), is a term used in historical narratives of the Age of Discovery The Age of Discovery, or the Age of Exploration (sometimes also, particularly regionally, Age of Contact or Contact Period), is an info ...
of the
New World The "New World" is a term for the majority of Earth Earth is the third planet from the Sun and the only astronomical object known to harbour and support life. 29.2% of Earth's surface is land consisting of continents and islands. The re ...
. With the recognition of the Spanish monarchs came the privilege of being addressed as
Don Don, don or DON and variants may refer to: Places *Don, BeninDon is a town in Benin, Africa. It has a population of 696,969. Nearest large airports are Cadjehoun Airport, Cotonou Cadjehoun in Cotonou and Lomé-Tokoin Airport, Lomé-Tokoin in Lom ...
or Doña, a mark of esteem and distinction in Europe reserved for a person of noble or royal status during the colonial period. Other honors and high regard were also accorded to the Christianized Datus by the
Spanish Empire The Spanish Empire ( es, link=no, Imperio Español), also known as the Hispanic Monarchy ( es, link=no, Monarquía Hispánica) or the Catholic Monarchy ( es, link=no, Monarquía Católica) during the Early Modern period, was a colonial empire ...

Spanish Empire
. For example, the
Gobernadorcillo The ''gobernadorcillo'' () was a municipal judge or governor A governor is, in most cases, a public official with the power to govern the Executive (government), executive branch of a non-sovereign or sub-national level of government, ranking ...
s (elected leader of the Cabezas de Barangay or the Christianized Datus) and Filipino officials of justice received the greatest consideration from the Spanish Crown officials. The colonial officials were under obligation to show them the honor corresponding to their respective duties. They were allowed to sit in the houses of the Spanish Provincial Governors, and in any other places. They were not left to remain standing. It was not permitted for Spanish Parish Priests to treat these Filipino nobles with less consideration. The Gobernadorcillos exercised the command of the towns. They were Port Captains in coastal towns. They also had the rights and powers to elect assistants and several lieutenants and ''
alguacil Alguacil (in Spanish), aguazil or guazil (in Portuguese) is the title for a number of governmental office-holders. Origin The term ''alguacil'' is derived from the Arabic term (''wazir''), meaning Vizier A vizier (or wazir) (, rarely ; ar, ...

alguacil
es'', proportionate in number to the inhabitants of the town.


Current ''status questionis''

The recognition of the rights and privileges accorded to the Filipino Principalía as Hijosdalgos of Castile seems to facilitate entrance of Filipino nobles into institutions of under the Spanish Crown, either civil or religious, which required proofs of nobility. However, to see such recognition as an approximation or comparative estimation of rank or status might not be correct since in reality, although the principales were vassals of the Crown, their rights as sovereign in their former dominions were guaranteed by the
Laws of the Indies The Laws of the Indies ( es, Leyes de las Indias) are the entire body of laws issued by the Spanish Crown , coatofarms = Coat of Arms of Spanish Monarch.svg , coatofarms_article = Coat of arms of the King of Spain , image ...
, more particularly the Royal Decree of Philip II of 11 June 1594, which Charles II confirmed for the purpose stated above in order to satisfy the requirements of the existing laws in the Peninsula. It must be recalled that ever since the beginning of the colonialization, the conquistador
Miguel López de Legazpi Miguel López de Legazpi (; c. 1502 – August 20, 1572), also known as '' El Adelantado'' and ''El Viejo'' (The Elder), was a Spanish navigator and governor who established the first Spanish settlement in the East Indies when his expediti ...
did not strip the ancient sovereign rulers of the Archipelago (who vowed allegiance to the Spanish Crown) of their legitimate rights. Many of them accepted the Catholic religion and were his allies from the very beginning. He only demanded from these local rulers
vassalage A vassal or liege subject is a person regarded as having a mutual obligation to a lord Lord is an appellation for a person or deity who has authority, control, or power (social and political), power over others, acting as a master, a chief, ...
to the Spanish Crown, replacing the similar
overlordship {{Feudal status An overlord in the Kingdom of England, English Feudalism in England, feudal system was a lord of the manor, lord of a manor who had Subinfeudation, subinfeudated a particular Manorialism, manor, Estate in land, estate or fief, fe ...
, which previously existed in a few cases, e.g.,
Sultanate of Brunei This article includes a list of successive Muslim state {{Infobox war faction , name = Islamic State , anthem = ''Dawlat al-Islam Qamat'' {{small, ("My Ummah (community), Dawn Has Appeared") , native_name = {{lan ...
's overlordship of the
Kingdom of Maynila In early Philippine history, the Tagalog Tagalog may refer to: Language * Tagalog language Tagalog (, ; ) is an Austronesian languages, Austronesian language spoken as a first language by the ethnic Tagalog people, who make up a quarter ...
. Other independent
polities A polity is an identifiable political entity—any group of people who have a collective identity, who are organized by some form of institutionalized social relations, and have a capacity to mobilize resources. A polity can be any other group o ...
which were not vassals to other States, e.g., Madja-as, Confederation of Madja-as and the Rajahnate of Cebu, were more of Protectorates/Suzerainty, Suzerainties having had alliances with the Spanish Crown before the Kingdom took total control of most parts of the Archipelago. An interesting question remains after the cessession of the Spanish rule in the Philippines, that is, what is the equivalent of the rank of the Filipinos, Filipino
Principalía The principalía or noble class was the ruling and usually educated upper class in the '' pueblos'' of the Spanish Philippines Spanish may refer to: * Items from or related to Spain , * gl, Reino de España, * oc, Reiaume d'Espanha, ...
, freed from vassalage yet not able to exercise their sovereignty within the democratic society in the Archipelago? One logical conclusion would be the reassumption of their ancestral Royal and noble Royal and noble ranks, title as
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, especially i ...
s while retaining the Hidalgo (nobility), Hidalguía of Castile (their former protector State), as a subsidiary title, appears most suitable to the hispanized Filipino nobles. Besides, as stated in the above-mentioned Royal Decree of Charles II, the ancient nobility of the Filipino Principales ''"is still retained and acknowledged"''. Just like the deposed royal families elsewhere in the world, which still lay claim to their hereditary rights as pretenders to the former thrones of their ancestors, the descendants of the
Principalía The principalía or noble class was the ruling and usually educated upper class in the '' pueblos'' of the Spanish Philippines Spanish may refer to: * Items from or related to Spain , * gl, Reino de España, * oc, Reiaume d'Espanha, ...
have the same de iure claims to the historical domains of their forebears.


Africa

Africa has a plethora of ancient lineages in its various constituent nations. Some, such as the numerous ''sharifian'' families of North Africa, the Keita dynasty of Mali, the Solomonic dynasty of Ethiopia, the Francisco Felix de Sousa, De Souza family of Benin and the Sherbro Tuckers, Sherbro Tucker clan of Sierra Leone, claim descent from notables from outside of the continent. Most, such as those composed of the descendants of Shaka and Moshoeshoe I, Moshoeshoe of Southern Africa, 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 has a Ethiopian aristocratic and court titles, nobility that is almost as old as the country itself. Throughout the history of the Ethiopian Empire 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 ended the ''Zemene Mesafint'' its aristocracy was organised similarly to the feudal system in Europe during the Middle Ages. For more than seven centuries, Ethiopia (or Ethiopian Empire, Abyssinia, as it was then known) was made up of many small kingdoms, principalities, emirates and imamates, 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 Emirate of Harar, 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'' of the Holy Roman Empire). 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'' ("king") which was held by hereditary governors of the provinces of Begemder, Shewa, Gojjam, and Wollo. The next highest seven titles were ''Ethiopian aristocratic and court titles#Men's honorifics, Ras'', ''Dejazmach'', ''Fit'awrari'', ''Grazmach'', ''Ethiopian aristocratic and court titles#Qenyazmach, Qenyazmach'', ''Azmach'' and ''Balambaras''. The title of ''Le'ul Ras'' was accorded to the heads of various noble families and cadet branches of the Solomonic dynasty, 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 Nobility is a social class normally ranked immediately below Royal family, royalty and found in some societies that have a formal aristocracy (class), aristocracy. Nobility has often bee ...
s in Ethiopia: including that of ''Jantirar'', reserved for males of the family of Empress Menen Asfaw who ruled over the mountain fortress of Ambassel in Wollo; ''Wagshum'', a title created for the descendants of the deposed Zagwe dynasty; and ''Shum Agame'', held by the descendants of ''Dejazmach'' Sabagadis, who ruled over the Agame 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 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, Iyasu V, inherit the throne in 1913—only to be deposed in 1916 because of his conversion to Islam.


Madagascar

The nobility in Madagascar are known as the ''Andriana''. In much of Madagascar, before French colonization of the island, the Malagasy people 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 ''Betsileo'', the ''Betsimisaraka people, 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 language, 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). 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 has a Nigerian Chieftaincy, class of traditional notables which is led by its reigning monarchs, the Nigerian traditional rulers. 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 List of Nigerian traditional states, 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'' of the ''Yoruba people, Yoruba'', the ''Nze na Ozo'' of the ''Igbo people, Igbo'' and the ''Ekpe'' of the ''Efik people, 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 viceroys 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 class#Nigeria, 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 title, either of the traditional 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 title Hereditary titles, in a general sense, are nobility Nobility is a social class normally ranked immediately below Royal family, royalty and found in some societi ...
) or the honorary variety (which does not involve the said re-enactments, roughly akin to a 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.


Latin America

In addition to a variety of indigenous peoples (such as the ''Aymara people, Aymara'' and the ''Quechua people, Quechua'', who have long traditions of being led by monarchs and nobles called ''Apu Mallkus'' and ''Mallkus''), aristocratic connections exist among a number of other groups. Peerage traditions dating to the colonial period of such countries as Brazilian nobility, Brazil, Cuban nobility, Cuba and
Mexico Mexico, officially the United Mexican States, is a country A country is a distinct territorial body or political entity A polity is an identifiable political entity—any group of people who have a collective identity, who are organi ...
have left noble families in each of them that have ancestral ties to those nations' native tribes, while such figures as the Afro-Bolivian monarchy, Afro-Bolivian king and the high priestess of the ''Ile Maroia Laji'' sect of Brazilian ''Candomblé'' trace their ancestries to and derive their prestige from ancient monarchs and nobles of the pre-colonial African continent.


Bolivia

In addition to the Criollo people, ''Criollo'' upper class that dates to the era of Colonial Bolivia and that has ancestral ties to the Spanish nobility, the South American country also has a ceremonial monarchy that is recognized as part of the Plurinational State of Bolivia and that is led by a titular ruler who is known as the ''Afro-Bolivian monarchy, Afro-Bolivian king''. The members of the royal house that he belongs to are the direct descendants of an old Monarchies_in_Africa#Sub-national_monarchies, African tribal monarchy that were brought to Bolivia as slaves. They have provided leadership to the Afro-Bolivian community ever since that event and have been officially recognized by Bolivia's government since 2007. El retorno del rey negro boliviano a sus raíces africanas - El País
/ref>


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 Constitution of Brazil, 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.


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 * Ghanaian chieftaincy ** Akan chieftaincy * Andriana, Malagasy nobility * Gbara, Malian nobility * Nigerian Chieftaincy, Nigerian chieftaincy ** Nigerian traditional rulers *** Lamido ****Hakim (title), Hakimi *** Oba (ruler), Oba ****Ogboni *** 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 * Mexican nobility ** Pipiltin


Asia

* Armenian nobility * Chinese nobility * Principalía, Filipino nobility * Indian peers and baronets *Kaji (Nepal) **Pande family **Basnyat family **Thapa family **Kunwar family or Rana dynasty *Priyayi, Indonesian (Dutch East Indies) nobility **Noblesse de robe * Japanese nobility ** Kuge ** Daimyō * Korean nobility * Vietnamese nobility * Malay titles, Malay nobility * Mongolian nobility * Ottoman titles * Thai nobility


Europe

* Albanian nobility * Austrian nobility * Baltic nobility related to 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 ** Irish nobility *** Chiefs of the Name *** Peerage of Ireland, Irish peerage * 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 An honorific is a title that conveys esteem, courtesy, or respect for position or rank when us ...
* Hungarian nobility * Nobility in Iceland, Icelandic nobility * Italian nobility ** Black Nobility **Venetian 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 * 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 The Military Revolution is the theory that a series of radical changes in military strategy and tactics during the 16th and 17th centuries resulted in major lasting changes in governments and society. The theory was introduced by Michael Roberts in ...
* Nobiliary particle * Noblesse oblige * Nze na Ozo * Ogboni * 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