FACTOID # 7: The top five best educated states are all in the Northeast.
 
 Home   Encyclopedia   Statistics   States A-Z   Flags   Maps   FAQ   About 
   
 
WHAT'S NEW
 

SEARCH ALL

FACTS & STATISTICS    Advanced view

Search encyclopedia, statistics and forums:

 

 

(* = Graphable)

 

 


Encyclopedia > French nobility
Ancien Régime
Structure
Estates of the realm
Parlements
French nobility
Taille
Gabelle
Seigneurial system

The nobility ("la noblesse") in France in the Middle Ages and the Early Modern period had specific legal and financial rights and prerogatives (the first official list of these prerogatives was established relatively late, under Louis XI of France after 1440), including exemption from paying the taille (except for non-noble lands they might possess in some regions of France), the right to hunt, the right to wear a sword and have a coat of arms, and (in principle) the right to possess a fief or seigneurie. Certain ecclesiatic, civic, and military positions were reserved for nobles. At the same time, certain activities were required of nobles ("honneur et fidelité" - honor and faithfulness) such as military service (the "impôt du sang" or "blood tax") and counsel to the king (these were the "concilium et auxilium" of the Middle Ages). Other activities could cause "dérogeance", or loss of one's nobility: most commercial and manual activities were strictly prohibited, although nobles could profit from their lands through mines and forges. Early Modern France is the portion of French history that falls in the early modern period from the end of the 15th century to the end of the 18th century (or from the French Renaissance to the eve of the French Revolution). ... In several different regions of medieval Europe, and continuing in some countries down to the present day, the Estates of the realm were broad divisions of society, usually distinguishing nobility, clergy, and commoners; this last group was, in some regions, further divided into burghers (also known as bourgeoisie) and peasants. ... Parlements (pronounced in French) in ancien régime France — contrary to what their name would suggest to the modern reader — were not democratic or political institutions, but law courts . ... The taille was a direct land tax on the French peasantry in ancien régime France (since the nobles refused to pay taxes). ... The gabelle was a very unpopular tax on salt in France before 1790. ... Generic plan of a mediaeval manor; open-field strip farming, some enclosures, triennial crop rotation, demesne and manse, common woodland, pasturage and meadow Manorialism or Seigneurialism describes the organization of rural economy and society in medieval western and parts of central Europe, characterised by the vesting of legal and economic... The Lords and Barons prove their Nobility by hanging their Banners and exposing their Coats-of-arms at the door of the Lodge of the Heralds. ... France in the Middle Ages is, for the purpose of this article, the history of the region roughly corresponding to modern day France from the death of Charlemagne in 814 to the middle of the 15th century. ... Early Modern France is the portion of French history that falls in the early modern period from the end of the 15th century to the end of the 18th century (or from the French Renaissance to the eve of the French Revolution). ... Louis XI the Giver (French: Louis XI le Donner) (July 3, 1423 – August 30, 1483), also informally nicknamed luniverselle aragne (old French for universal spider), was King of France (1461–1483). ... The taille was a direct land tax on the French peasantry in ancien régime France (since the nobles refused to pay taxes). ... A hunter on horseback shoots at deer or elk with a bow. ... Swiss longsword, 15th or 16th century Sword (from Old English sweord, cognate to Old High German swert, literally wounding tool from a Proto-Indo-European root *swer- to wound, to hurt) is a term for a long-edged, bladed weapon, consisting in its most fundamental design of a blade, usually... A modern coat of arms is derived from the medi val practice of painting designs onto the shield and outer clothing of knights to enable them to be identified in battle, and later in tournaments. ... Under the system of feudalism, a fiefdom, fief, feud or fee, consisted of heritable lands or revenue-producing property granted by a liege lord in return for a vassal knights service (usually fealty, military service, and security). ... The El Chino Mine located near Silver City, New Mexico is an open-pit copper mine This article is about mineral extraction. ... A blacksmiths forge The forge or smithy is the workplace of a smith or a blacksmith. ...


Other than in isolated cases, serfdom ceased to exist in France by the 15th century. In Early Modern France, nobles nevertheless maintained a great number of seigneurial privileges over the free peasants that worked lands under their control (in the 17th century this seigneurial system was established in France's Canadian possessions). Vassals were required to pay an annual tax on lands they leased or held (the "cens"; with inflation, the "cens" was often more symbolic than useful), to work the noble's private domain, to give the lord a portion of their harvest (the "champart"), and to use the lord's mills, ovens, or wine press at a cost (the "banalités"). Nobles also maintained certain judicial rights over their vassals, although with the rise of the modern state many of these privileges had passed to state control, leaving rural nobilty only local police functions and judicial control over violation of their seigneurial rights. To meet Wikipedias quality standards, this article or section may require cleanup. ... Generic plan of a mediaeval manor; open-field strip farming, some enclosures, triennial crop rotation, demesne and manse, common woodland, pasturage and meadow Manorialism or Seigneurialism describes the organization of rural economy and society in medieval western and parts of central Europe, characterised by the vesting of legal and economic... The seigneurial system of New France was the semi-feudal system of land distribution used in the colonies of New France . ... New France (French: la Nouvelle-France) describes the area colonized by France in North America during a period extending from the exploration of the Saint Lawrence River, by Jacques Cartier in 1534, to the cession of New France to the Kingdom of Great Britain in 1763. ... A vassal or liege, in the terminology that both preceded and accompanied the feudalism of medieval Europe, is one who enters into mutual obligations with a lord, usually of military support and mutual protection, in exchange for certain guarantees, which came to include the terrain held as a fief. ...


In the political system of the Estates General, the nobility made up the Second Estate. This three-way division of the Estates should not be construed however as implying a division of Early Modern French society into three rigid "orders" (clergy, nobles, bourgeois and peasants) without the possibility of crossover (see below). In France under the Ancien Régime, the States-General or Estates-General (in French: États-Généraux), was an assembly of the different classes (or estates) of French subjects. ... In France of the ancien régime and the age of the French Revolution, the term Second Estate (Fr. ...


Figures differ on the actual number of nobles in France at the end of the 18th century. For the year 1789, the French historian François Bluche gives a figure of 140,000 nobles (9,000 families) and claims that around 5% of nobles claimed descent from feudal nobility before the 15th century. With a total population of 28 million, this would represent merely .5%. The historian Gordon Wright gives a figure of 300,000 nobles (of which 80,000 were from the traditional "noblesse d'épée), which agrees more or less with the historian Jean de Viguerie who gives the figure of 350,000 nobles, or a little over 1% (proportionally one of smallest noble classes in Europe).

Contents


Forms of French Nobility

Despite common perceptions, the nobility in France was never an entirely closed class: titles of nobility were generally hereditary, but many were awarded by the French monarchy for loyal service and many opportunities (both legal and illegal) were available for wealthy individuals to eventually gain titles of nobility for themselves or their descendants.


From 1275 to 1578, non-nobles could acquire titles of nobility after three generations by buying lands or castles that had noble privileges attached to them (that is to say that these fiefs had formerly belonged to a noble lord or the king and had been given in feudal homage; non-nobles could not possess noble fiefs without paying a special tax on them to their liege-holder). Under the system of feudalism, a fiefdom, fief, feud or fee, consisted of heritable lands or revenue-producing property granted by a liege lord in return for a vassal knights service (usually fealty, military service, and security). ...


In the sixteenth century, families could acquire nobility by possessing certain important official or military charges, generally after two generations (see below).


Many titles of nobility were usurped by non-nobles in the Renaissance and early 17th century by purchasing fiefs and by "living nobly", i.e. by avoiding commercial and manual activity and by finding some way to be exempted from the official taille lists; in this way, the family would slowly come to be seen as noble. The taille was a direct land tax on the French peasantry in ancien régime France (since the nobles refused to pay taxes). ...


The king could grant "titles of nobility" to individuals by "lettres patentes" and convert their lands into noble fiefs or, for non-nobles possessing noble fiefs, to grant them possession of the noble titles. The king could also confer on noble fiefs special privileges (such as "peerage" for certain duchies). In general, these "lettres" needed to be officially registered with the Parlement; in the case of an unwilling Parlement, nobles were termed "à brevet" (as in "duc à brevet" or "duke by certificate"). Parlements (pronounced in French) in ancien régime France — contrary to what their name would suggest to the modern reader — were not democratic or political institutions, but law courts . ...


French nobility is generally divided into the following classes:

  • Noblesse d'épée (nobility of the sword) or noblesse de race or noblesse ancienne - The traditional or old nobility.
  • Noblesse de chancellerie (chancellor nobility) - person made noble by holding certain high offices for the king.
  • Noblesse de lettres - person made noble by "lettres patentes" from the king.
  • Noblesse de robe (nobility of the gown) - person or family made noble by holding certain official charges, like maître des requêtes, treasurer or president of a provincial parlement.
  • Noblesse de cloche (nobility of the "bell") or Noblesse échevinale - person or family made noble by being a mayor or "échevin" or "prévôt des marchands" (municipal leader) in certain towns (such as Angers, Angoulême, Bourges, Lyons, Toulouse, Paris, Perpignan, Poitiers).
  • Noblesse militaire (military noblity) - person or family made noble by holding military offices, generally after two or three generations.

Nobles sometimes made the following distinctions based on the age of their status: Various governments have a Chancellor who serves as some form of junior or senior minister. ... Maître des requêtes (in French, literally, master of petitions (the term maître is an honorific title for lawyers); plural: maîtres des requêtes) is an official title carried by certain high-level magistrates and adminstrators in France and some other European countries since the Middle Ages. ... Parlements (pronounced in French) in ancien régime France — contrary to what their name would suggest to the modern reader — were not democratic or political institutions, but law courts . ... A provost (introduced into Scots from French) was the leader of a Scottish burgh council, the equivalent of a mayor in other parts of the English-speaking world. ... Location within France Angers is a city in France in the département of Maine-et-Loire, 191 miles south-west of Paris. ... Angoulême is a town and commune in southwestern France, préfecture (capital city) of the Charente département. ... The vaulted nave of Bourges Cathedral Bourges (pop. ... Lyons), see Lyons (disambiguation). ... The Capitole, the 18th century city hall of Toulouse and best known landmark in the city; in the foreground is the Place du Capitole, a hub of urban life at the very center of the city Toulouse (pronounced in standard French, and in local Toulouse accent) (Occitan: Tolosa, pronounced ) is... The Eiffel Tower, the international symbol of the city, with the skyscrapers of La Défense business district 5 km/ 3 mi behind. ... Location within France Location within the Pyrénées-Orientales département Majorca Kings Palace in Perpignan Perpignan (French: Perpignan; Catalan Perpinyà) is a commune and the préfecture (administrative capital city) of the Pyrénées-Orientales département in southern France. ... Location within France Poitiers (population 85,000) is a small city located in west central France. ...

  • Noblesse chevaleresque (knightly nobility) - nobility from before the year 1400.
  • Noblesse d'extraction - nobility for at least four generations.

A non-noble is generally called "roturier". Magistrates and men of law are sometimes called "robins".


The acquisition of titles of nobility could be done in one generation or gradually over several generations:

  • Noblesse au premier degré (nobility in the first generation) - nobility awarded in the first generation, generally after 20 years of service or by death in one's post.
  • Noblesse graduelle - nobility awarded in the second generation, generally after 20 years of service by both father and son

The "noblesse de lettres" became, starting in the reign of François I of France, a handy method for the court to raise revenues; non-nobles possessing noble fiefs would pay a year's worth of revenues from their fiefs to gain nobility. In 1598, Henri IV of France undid a number of these "anoblissments", but eventually saw the necessity of the practice. Francis I of France - Wikipedia /**/ @import /skins-1. ... By Frans Pourbus the younger. ...


The "noblesse de cloche" dates from 1372 (for the city of Poitiers) and was found only in certain cities with legal and judicial freedoms; by the Revolution these cities were only a handful. Events In this year, the city of Aachen, Germany begins adding a Roman numeral Anno Domini date to a few of its coins. ... Location within France Poitiers (population 85,000) is a small city located in west central France. ...


The "noblesse de chancellerie" first appeared during the reign of Charles VIII of France at the end of the 15th century. As being a royal chancellor demanded (with few exceptions) royal status, non-nobles holding the position were conferred nobility, generally after 20 years of service. Non-nobles paid enormous sums to hold these positions, but this form of nobility was often criticized as being "savonnette à vilain" (soap for serfs). Charles VIII the Affable (French: Charles VIII lAffable) (June 30, 1470 – April 7, 1498) was King of France from 1483 to his death. ... Various governments have a Chancellor who serves as some form of junior or senior minister. ...


The "roblesse de robe" was a longstanding tradition. In 1600 it gained legal status. Positions in regional parlements, tax boards ("chambres des comptes") and other important financial and official state offices (usually bought at great price) conferred nobility, generally in two generations, although the Parlements of Paris, Dauphiné, Besançon, Flanders and the tax boards of Paris, Dole and Grenoble conferred nobility in one generation. These state offices could be lost by a family at the unexpected death of the office holder; in an attempt to gain more tax revenues, the king's financial advisor Paulet instituted the Paulette in 1604, a yearly tax of 1/60th of the price of the office that insured hereditary transmission. This annual tax solidified the hereditary acquisition of offices in France, and by the middle of the 17th century the majority of office holders were already noble from long possession of these offices. Parlements (pronounced in French) in ancien régime France — contrary to what their name would suggest to the modern reader — were not democratic or political institutions, but law courts . ... The Eiffel Tower, the international symbol of the city, with the skyscrapers of La Défense business district 5 km/ 3 mi behind. ... Flag of the Dauphiné Dauphiné is a former province in southeastern France, roughly corresponding to the present départements of the Isère, Drôme, and Hautes-Alpes. ... Location within France Besançon is a French city in the département of Doubs, of which it is the préfecture. ... Extent of Flemish in the Arrondissement of Dunkirk, 1874 and 1972 Nord (French: North) is a département in the north of France. ... View of Dole Dole is a commune in the Jura département in France, of which it is a sous-préfecture. ... Location within France Grenoble (Occitan: Grasanòbol) is a city and commune in south-east France, situated at the foot of the Alps, at the confluence of the Drac into the Isère River. ... La Paulette (after the financier Charles Paulet, who proposed it) was the name commonly given to the annual right (droit annuel), a special tax levied by the French Crown during the ancien régime. ... Events January 14 – Hampton Court conference with James I of England, the Anglican bishops and representatives of Puritans September 20 – Capture of Ostend by Spanish forces under Ambrosio Spinola after a three year siege. ...


Henri IV of France began to crack down on the usurpation of titles of nobility, and in 1666-1674, Louis XIV of France mandated a massive program of verification of titles of nobility: oral testimony that maintained that parents and grandparents had always been nobles and lived nobly were no longer accepted; nobles needed written proofs (marriage contracts, land documents) that they had been noble since 1560. Many families were put back on the lists of the taille and/or forced to pay fines for usurping noble titles. By Frans Pourbus the younger. ... Louis XIV (Louis-Dieudonné) (September 5, 1638–September 1, 1715), reigned as King of France and of Navarre from May 14, 1643 until his death at the age of 77. ... Events February 27 - The Treaty of Berwick, which would expel the French from Scotland, is signed by England and the Congregation of Scotland The first tulip bulb was brought from Turkey to the Netherlands. ... The taille was a direct land tax on the French peasantry in ancien régime France (since the nobles refused to pay taxes). ...


Titles, Peerage and Orders

Nobles generally carry the name of the noble fief or "seigneurie" that confers on them their title (such as "duc d'Orléans" from the "duchy" of Orléans). The most elite of these ranks and fiefs are the "fiefs de dignité" (in order of hierarchy after Prince): Duc (duché), Marquis (marquisat), Comte (comté), Vicomte (vicomté), Baron (baronnie). Next in hierarchy was the Chevalier. At the end of the scale were nobles possessing a castle (a Châtelain) or lesser fief and generally referred to by "sieur" ("sieur de Crenne") or impoverished nobles (particularly common in the 18th century) possessing neither fief nor castle and simply called "gentilhomme". In principle the expression "seigneur" applied to anyone possessing a fief, but the term was often used to imply a "grand seigneur", or noble of high rank or status. The term prince (the female form is princess), from the Latin root princeps, when used for a member of the highest aristocracy, has several fundamentally different meanings - one generic, and several types of titles. ... The term duke is a title of nobility which refers to the sovereign male ruler of a Continental European duchy, to a nobleman of the highest grade of the British peerage, or to the highest rank of nobility in various other European countries, including Portugal, Spain and France (in Italy... A marquess is a nobleman of hereditary rank in various countries under the crown of European nations. ... Look up Count in Wiktionary, the free dictionary Countess redirects here. ... A viscount is a member of the European nobility, especially, as in the British peerage, ranking above a baron, below a (British) earl or (his continental equivalent) count. ... Baron is a specific title of nobility or a more generic feudal qualification. ... The silver Anglia knight, commissioned as a trophy in 1850, intended to represent the Black Prince. ... Châtelain (Med. ...


The use of de in noble names (Fr: la particule) was not officially controlled in France (unlike von in the German states), and is not reliable evidence of the bearer's nobility. A simple tailor could be named "Marc de Lyons", as a sign of his birth place. In the nineteenth century, the "de" was mistakenly adopted by some non-nobles (like Honoré de Balzac) in an attempt to appear noble. The title "écuyer" (squire), like the expression "valet", was used both by nobles and non-nobles within royal houses. Honoré de Balzac (May 20, 1799 – August 18, 1850) was a French novelist. ... In medieval times a squire was a man-at-arms in the service of a knight, often as his apprentice. ... A valet or gentlemans gentleman is a mans male servant. ...


Each rank of nobility -- Royal Prince, Prince from collateral lines of the royal family ("prince du sang"), Duc, Marquis, Comte, Vicomte, Baron, etc. -- conferred their own privileges (dukes for example could enter royal residences in a carriage, duchesses could sit on a stool with the queen). Dukes in France -- the most important group after the princes -- were further divided into those who were also "peers" ("Duc et Pair") and those who were not. Dukes without peerage could fall into two groups: those without peerage fiefs, or those for whom the Parlement refused to register the "lettres patentes" conferring peerage on them.


The "Cour des Pairs" (Court of Peers) was composed of the richest and most illustrious families (see Peerage of France). Members of the peerage had the right to sit in a "lit de justice" (a formal preceding) and speak before the Parlement, and they were also given high positions in the court. The Peerage was made up of six (later seven) Peers of the Church (high-ranked bishops), the royal princes, the "princes du sang", foreign princes in the royal court (like Clèves, Rohan, La Tour d'Auvergne, Lorraine), and Dukes with peerage ("duc et pair"). The status of Peer of France was held by the greatest and highest-ranking of the French nobility. ... In France under the Ancien Régime, the Bed of Justice (Lit de justice) was a particular formal session of the Parlement of Paris, under the presidency of the king, for the compulsory registration of the royal edicts. ... A bishop is an ordained member of the Christian clergy who, in certain Christian churches, holds a position of authority. ... The Duchy of Cleves (Herzogtum Kleve) was a state of the Holy Roman Empire in present Germany (part of North Rhine-Westphalia) and the Netherlands (parts of Limburg, Noord-Brabant and Gelderland). ... See Rohan (disambiguation) for other uses of the word. ... Henri de la Tour dAuvergne, Vicomte de Turenne, often referred to as Turenne (September 11, 1611 - July 27, 1675) achieved military fame and became a Marshal of France. ... The Duchy of Lorraine was an independent state for most of the period of time between 843 to 1739. ...


Noble hierarchies were further complicated by the creation of knightly orders -- the "Les Chevaliers du Saint-Esprit" (Kinghts of the Holy Spirit) created by Henri III of France in 1578; the "Ordre de Saint-Michel" created by Louis XI of France in 1469; the "Order of Saint Louis" created by Louis XIV of France in 1696 -- by official posts, and by positions in the Royal House (the Great Officers of the Crown of France), such as "grand maître de la garde robe" (the "royal dresser") or "Grand panetier" (the "royal bread server") which had long ceased to be practical and had become formal positions with their own privileges. The 17th and 18th century saw nobles and the "noblesse de robe" battle each other for these positions and any other sign of royal favor. Attending the ceremony of the king's waking at Versailles (the smaller and intimate "petit lever du roi" and the more formal "grand lever du roi"), being asked to cross the barriers that separated the royal bed from the rest of the room, being invited to speak with the king, or to have a comment said by the king about a noble... all were signs of favor and actively sought. Christian military orders appeared following the First Crusade. ... The Order of the Holy Spirit, also known as the Order of the Knights of the Holy Spirit, (French: LOrdre du Saint Espirt; LOrdre des Chevaliers du Saint Esprit) was an Order of Chivalry under the French Monarchy. ... Henry III (French: Henri III; Polish: Henryk III Walezy; September 19, 1551 - August 2, 1589) was King of Poland (1573-1574) and subsequently King of France (1574-1589). ... The Order of Saint Michael (French: LOrdre de Saint-Michel) was the first French chivalric order, founded by Louis XI of France in 1469, in competitive response to the Burgundian Order of the Golden Fleece founded by Philip the Good, duke of Burgundy, Louis chief competitor for the allegiance... Louis XI the Giver (French: Louis XI le Donner) (July 3, 1423 – August 30, 1483), also informally nicknamed luniverselle aragne (old French for universal spider), was King of France (1461–1483). ... Image:Medaille-Saint Louis. ... Louis XIV (Louis-Dieudonné) (September 5, 1638–September 1, 1715), reigned as King of France and of Navarre from May 14, 1643 until his death at the age of 77. ... The Great Officers of the Crown were appointed by the King of France and there were seven all told. ... GRAND PANETIER is the French title (roughly Great Breadmaster) of one of the Great Officers of the Crown of France, functional chief of the (grande) paneterie (the root of the English word pantry) or bread department, originally (known since the 11th century) one of the two sections of the gobelet... Versailles in 1789. ...


Economic Status

Economic studies of noblity in France reveal great differences in financial status. At the end of the 18th century, a well-off family could earn 100,000 - 150,000 livres by year, although the most prestigious families could gain twice or three times that much. For provincial nobility, yearly earnings of 10,000 livres permitted a minimum of provincial luxury, but most earned far less. The ethics of noble expenditure, the financial crises of the century and the inability of nobles to particpate in most fields without losing their nobility contributed to their poverty. The livre tournois (or Tournoise pound) was a currency used in France, named after the town of Tours, in which it was minted. ...


In the 18th century, the Comte de Boulainvilliers, a rural noble, posited the belief that French nobility had descended from the victorious Franks, while non-nobles descended from the conquered Gauls. The theory had no validity, but offered a myth for an impoverished noble class. Henri, Comte de Boulainvilliers (1658, St. ... For other uses, see Franks (disambiguation). ... Gallia (in English Gaul) is the Latin name for the region of western Europe occupied by present-day France, Belgium, western Switzerland and the parts of the Netherlands and Germany on the west bank of the Rhine river. ...


Aristocratic codes

The idea of what it meant to be noble went through a radical transformation from the sixteenth to the seventeenth century. Through contact with the Italian Renaissance and their concept of the perfect courtier (Baldassare Castiglione), the rude warrior class was remodeled into what the 17th century would come to call "l'honnête homme" or "the honest or upright man", among whose chief virtues were eloquent speech, skill at dance, refinement of manners, appreciation of the arts, intellectual curiosity, wit, a spiritual or platonic attitude in love, and the ability to write poetry. This article or section does not cite its references or sources. ...


Certain values of the early modern noble classes are no longer readily comprehensible to modern observers who may see them in a negative light. Most notable of these values are the aristocratic obsession with "glory" ("la gloire") and majesty ("la grandeur") and the spectacle of power, prestige and luxury. For example, Pierre Corneille's noble heroes have been criticised by modern readers who have seen their actions as vainglorious, criminal or hubristic; aristocratic spectators of the period would have seen many of these same actions as representative of their noble station. Pierre Corneille (June 6, 1606–October 1, 1684) was a French tragedian tragedian who was one of the three great 17th Century French dramatists, along with Molière and Racine. ...


The château of Versailles, court ballets, noble portraits, triumphal arches... all of these were representations of glory and prestige. The notion of glory (military, artistic, etc.) was seen in the context of the Roman Imperial model; it was not seen as vain or boastful, but as a moral imperative to the aristocratic classes. Nobles were required to be "generous" and "magnanimous", to perform great deeds disinterestedly (i.e. because their status demanded it —whence the expression noblesse oblige—, and without expecting financial or political gain), and to master their own emotions (especially fear, jealousy and the desire for vengeance). Versailles in 1789. ... Arc de Triomphe, Paris The Gateway of India, Mumbai, India A triumphal arch is a structure in the shape of a monumental archway, usually built to celebrate a victory in war. ... In French, noblesse oblige means, literally, nobility obliges, or the noble obligation. It is generally used to confer that with wealth, power and prestige come social responsibilities. ...


One's status in the world demanded appropriate externalisation ( or "conspicuous consumption"). Nobles indebted themselves to build prestigious urban mansions ("hôtels particuliers") and to buy clothes, paintings, silverware, dishes and other furnishings befitting their rank. They were also required to show liberality by hosting sumptuous parties and by funding the arts. Conversely, social parvenues who took on the external trappings of the noble classes (such as the wearing of a sword) were severely criticised, sometimes by legal action (laws on sumptuous clothing worn by bourgeois existed since the Middle Ages). Conspicuous consumption is a term introduced by the American economist Thorstein Veblen, in The Theory of the Leisure Class (1899). ...


This kind of expenditure mandated by social status has been studied by sociologists such as Norbert Elias; there are also many links to the theories of sociologist Marcel Mauss on the "gift". Another key analysis of these values can be found in the work of Paul Bénichou. Norbert Elias (born June 22, 1897 in Breslau, Germany (now WrocÅ‚aw, Poland); died August 1, 1990 in Amsterdam) was a German sociologist of Jewish descent, who later became a British citizen. ... Marcel Mauss (May 10, 1872- February 10, 1950) was a French sociologist best known for his role in elaborating on and securing the legacy of his uncle, Émile Durkheim and the Annee Sociologique. ... Paul Bénichou, French writer, intellectual, critic, and literary historian (born September 19, 1908, in Tlemcen, French Algeria; died May 14, 2001, in Paris). ...


These aristocratic values began to be criticised in the mid 17th century: Blaise Pascal for example offered a ferocious analysis of the spectacle of power and François de la Rochefoucauld posited that no human act -- however generous it pretended to be -- could be considered disinterested. Blaise Pascal (June 19, 1623–August 19, 1662) was a French mathematician, physicist, and religious philosopher. ... François VI, duc de La Rochefoucauld, le Prince de Marcillac (September 15, 1613 - March 17, 1680), was the greatest maxim writer of France, one of her best memoir writers, and perhaps the most complete and accomplished representative of her ancient nobility. ...


By relocating the French royal court to Versailles in the 1680s, Louis XIV of France further modified the role of the nobles. Versailles became a gilded cage: to leave spelled disaster for a noble, for all official charges and appointments were made there. A strict etiquette was imposed: a word or glance from the king could make or destroy a career. The king himself followed a strict daily program, and there was little privacy. Louis was also proficient at playing nobles off against each other and against the newer "noblesse de robe". Versailles in 1789. ... Louis XIV (Louis-Dieudonné) (September 5, 1638–September 1, 1715), reigned as King of France and of Navarre from May 14, 1643 until his death at the age of 77. ... Etiquette, also known as decorum, is the code that governs the expectations of social behavior, the conventional norm. ...


Provinicial nobles who refused to join the Versailles system were locked out of important positions in the military or state offices, and lacking royal subsides (and unable to keep up a noble lifestyle on seigneural taxes), these rural nobles ("hobereaux") often went into debt.


Power and Protest

Before Louis XIV imposed his will on the nobility, the great families of France often maintained as one of their fundamental rights, the right to rebel against unacceptable royal abuse. The Wars of Religion, the Fronde, the civil unrest during the minorities of Charles VIII of France and the regencies of Anne of Austria and Marie de Medici are all linked to these perceived loss of rights at the hand of a centralizing royal power. The French Wars of Religion were a series of conflicts fought between the Catholic League and the Huguenots from the middle of the sixteenth century to the Edict of Nantes in 1598. ... The Fronde (1648–1653) was a civil war in France, followed by the Franco-Spanish War (1653–1659). ... Charles VIII the Affable (French: Charles VIII lAffable) (June 30, 1470 – April 7, 1498) was King of France from 1483 to his death. ... Anne of Austria Anne of Austria (September 22, 1601 - January 20, 1666) was Queen Consort of France and Regent for her son, Louis XIV of France. ... Marie de Medici (April 26, 1573 - July 3, 1642), born in Italy as Maria de Medici, was queen consort of France under the French name Marie de Médicis. ...


Much of the power of nobles in these periods of unrest comes from their "clientel system". Like the king, nobles granted the use of fiefs, and gave gifts and other forms of patronage to other nobles to develop a vast system of noble clients. Lesser families would send their children to be squires and members of these noble houses, and to learn in them the arts of court society and arms.


The elaboration of the Ancien Régime state was made possible only by redirecting these clientel systems to a new focal point (the king and the state), by creating contervaling powers (the bourgeoisie, the "noblesse de robe"). By the late 17th century, any act of explicit or implicit protest was treated as a form of "lèse-majesté" and harshly repressed. Lese majesty, leze majesty, or lèse majesté (from the Latin Laesa maiestatis, injury to the Majesty) is the crime of violating majesty, an offense against the dignity of a reigning sovereign or against a state. ...


The Abolition of Privileges at the French Revolution

At the beginning of the French Revolution, on August 4, 1789, feudal rights (such as the "banalités", etc.) and seigneurial dues were abolished by the National Constituent Assembly; noble lands were stripped of their special status as fiefs; the nobility were subjected to the same taxation as their co-nationals, and lost their privileges (the hunt, seigneurial justice, funeral honors), but retained their titles. These feudal privileges are termed "droits de feodalité dominante". Liberty Leading the People, a painting by Delacroix commemorating the July Revolution of 1830 but which has come to be generally accepted as symbolic of French popular uprisings against the monarchy in general and the French Revolution in particular. ... The National Constituent Assembly (French: Assemblée nationale constituante) was formed from the National Assembly on July 9, 1789, during the first stages of the French Revolution. ...


Nevertheless, it was decided that certain annual financial payments which were owed the nobility and which were considered "contractual" (i.e. not stemming from an usurpation of feudal power, but from a contract between a landowner and a tenant) such as annual rents (the "cens" and the "champart") needed to be bought back by the tenant for the tenant to have clear title to his land; these are called "droits de féodalité contractante". The rate set (May 3, 1790) for purchase of these contractual debts was 20 times the annual monetary amount (or 25 times the annual amount if given in crops or goods); peasants were also required to pay back any unpaid dues over the past thirty years. Unfortunately, no system of credit was established for small farmers, and only well-off individuals could take advantage of the ruling. This created a massive land grab by well-off peasants and members of the middle-class who became absentee land owners and had their land worked by share-croppers and poor tenants.


The French Nobility was disbanded outright by the National Constituent Assembly on June 23, 1790. Three days later were voted the Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen. The notions of equality and fraternity would triumph over some nobles such as the Marquis de Lafayette who supported the abolition of legal recognition of nobility, but other liberal nobles who had happily sacrificed their fiscal privileges saw this as an attack on the culture of honor. Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen: Revolutionary patriotism borrows familiar iconography of the Ten Commandments Wikisource has original text related to this article: Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen The Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen (French: La... Marie-Joseph-Paul-Roch-Yves-Gilbert du Motier, marquis de La Fayette (September 6, 1757 – May 20, 1834), was a French aristocrat most famous for his participation in the American Revolutionary War and early French Revolution. ...


Nobility since the Revolution

Despite the abolition of nobility at the French Revolution and the loss of their privileged juridical status ("all men are equal citizens"), the nobility continued to exist throughout the nineteenth century.


Napoléon Bonaparte established his own aristocracy and titles during the Empire, and these new nobles maintained the use of their titles even after Napoleon's overthrow. In all, about 2200 titles were created by Napoleon I: Bonaparte as general Napoléon Bonaparte (15 August 1769 – 5 May 1821) was a general of the French Revolution and was the ruler of France as First Consul (Premier Consul) of the French Republic from November 11, 1799 to May 18, 1804, then as Emperor of the French (Empereur des Français...


Princes and Dukes:
sovereign princes (3)
duchies grand fiefs (20)
victory princes (4)
victory dukedoms (10)
other dukedoms (3)
Counts (251)
Barons (1516)
Knights (385)


(There were 239 remaining families holding 1st Empire titles in 1975. Of those, perhaps 130-140 were titled. Only 1 title of prince and 7 titles of duke remain. ) Napoleon also established a new knightly order in 1802, the Légion d'honneur, which is still in existence today. Knights badge of the Legion of Honour The Légion dhonneur (Legion of Honor (AmE) or Legion of Honour (ComE)) is an Order of Chivalry first established by Napoléon Bonaparte, First Consul of the French Republic, on May 19, 1802. ...


The Restoration of Louis XVIII of France saw the return of the old nobility to power (while ultra-royalists clamored for a return of lost lands) and the electoral laws of 1817 limited suffrage to only the wealthiest or most prestigious members (less than .5%) of the population, which included many of the old nobility. The Second Empire of Napoleon III also saw the granting of noble titles. Restoration can be one of several things, depending on context: In criminal justice, restoration is another term for restorative justice. ... Louis XVIII (November 17, 1755 - September 16, 1824) was King of France and Navarre from 1814 (although he declared that he considered his reign to have begun in 1795) until his death in 1824, with a brief break in 1815 due to Napoleons return in the Hundred Days. ... The neutrality of this article is disputed. ... Charles Louis Napoléon Bonaparte (20 April 1808- 9 January 1873) was President of France from 1849 to 1852, and then Emperor of the French under the name Napoléon III from 1852 to 1870. ...


If the Third Republic returned once again to the principles of equality espoused by the revolution (at least among the political Radical party), in practice the upper echelons of French nobility maintained their notion of social distinction well into the 20th century (as witnessed by the presence of nobility and noble class distinctions in the works of Marcel Proust) and the use of their titles was officially santioned. A map of France under the Third Republic, featuring colonies. ... Marcel-Valentin-Louis-Eugène-Georges Proust (July 10, 1871 – November 18, 1922) was a French intellectual, novelist, essayist and critic, best known as the author of In Search of Lost Time (in French À la recherche du temps perdu, also translated previously as Remembrance of Things Past), a monumental work...


Currently, all noble titles created under the Old Regime, Napoleon I, and Napoleon III are used by those entitled to them, and their use is recognized by the French government. However, no new titles have been created.


Other administrative or official positions and titles

The following are administrative or official titles used in France in the Medieval and Early Modern periods. Certain positions may imply or confer nobility (see under each).

  • vidame - a secular official chosen by a bishop of a diocese to perform functions in the church's earthly interest and in the service of justice.
  • avoué - a secular official chosen by an Abbey to perform functions in the church's earthly interest and in the service of justice.
  • gouverneur - royal officer, often prince or duke, exercising royal power in the provinces.
  • sénéchal or bailli - royal officer in the provinces performing judicial, administrative and financial services; reduced to judicial functions by the 18th century. The tribunal of the bailliage or sénéchaussée was the first court for trials involving nobles.
  • prévôt - title given to a variety of civil, military, police and judicial functions
    • prévôt - juge in the prévôtés, the lowest level royal courts, a subdivision of the bailliage.
    • prévôt des marchands - the civic and municipal leaders of certain towns, most notably Paris.
    • prévôt des maréchaux - regional officers of justice, often involved in suppressing highway crime and insurrections.
  • intendant - royal officer (first created by Henri II of France) to perfom services in the provinces; role greatly expanded under Louis XIV of France to counteract the role of local parlements and provincial gouverneurs.
  • surintendant - originally the royal finance officer until the disgrace of Fouquet; thereafter, royal officer in charge of buildings.
  • maître des requêtes - parlementarian, magistrate and administrator serving in the king's counsel; indendants were usually chosen from this body.
  • connétable - chief military officer of the realm; position eliminated in 1627.

Vidame, a French corruption of the official Latin term vicedominus (vice-lord), was a feudal title in France. ... An advocatus was an advocate in the Middle Ages. ... Gouverneur may refer to: Gouverneur (village), New York Gouverneur (town), New York This is a disambiguation page — a navigational aid which lists other pages that might otherwise share the same title. ... A seneschal was an officer in the houses of important nobles in the Middle Ages. ... A Bailiff in a United States courtroom Bailiff (from Late Latin bajulivus, adjectival form of bajulus) is a governor or custodian; cf. ... Look up provost in Wiktionary, the free dictionary A provost (introduced into Scots from French) was the leader of a Scottish burgh council, the equivalent of a mayor in other parts of the English-speaking world. ... New France was governed by three rulers: the governor, the bishop and the intendant, all appointed by the King, and sent from France. ... Henry II of France Henry II (French: Henri II) (March 31, 1519 - July 10, 1559), a member of the Valois Dynasty, was King of France from 1547 until his death. ... Louis XIV (Louis-Dieudonné) (September 5, 1638–September 1, 1715), reigned as King of France and of Navarre from May 14, 1643 until his death at the age of 77. ... Nicolas Fouquet (1615 — March 23, 1680) was viscount of Melun and of Vaux, marquis of Belle-Isle, superintendent of finance in France under Louis XIV. Born in Paris, he belonged to an influential family of the noblesse de robe, and after some preliminary schooling with the Jesuits, at the age... Maître des requêtes (in French, literally, master of petitions (the term maître is an honorific title for lawyers); plural: maîtres des requêtes) is an official title carried by certain high-level magistrates and adminstrators in France and some other European countries since the Middle Ages. ... The Constable of France (French connétable de France, from Latin comes stabulari for count of the stables), as the First Officer of the Crown, was one of the original five Great Officers of the Crown of France (along with seneschal, chamberlain, butler, and chancellor) and Commander in Chief of...

Other facts

In France, the signet ring (Fr.: la chevalière) bearing the coat of arms is traditionally worn by French noblemen on the ring finger of their left hand, contrary to usage in most other European countries (where it is worn on the pinky of either the right or left hand, depending on the country); French noble women however wear it on their pinky. The chevalière may either be worn facing up (en baise-main) or facing toward the palm (en bagarre). In contemporary usage, the inward position is increasingly common, although for some noble families the inward position is traditionally used to indicate that the wearer is married. Seal as impression A seal is an impression, usually in wax or embossed on the paper itself, or other item attached to a legal instrument used to authenticate it in place of, or in addition to, a signature. ...


The Association d'entraide de la Noblesse Française ("Association for the mutual assistance of French nobility", or "ANF") exists today; it is open exclusively to French nobles.


References

  • Bénichou, Paul. Morales du grand siècle. Paris: Gallimard, 1948.
  • Bluche, François. L'Ancien Régime: Institutions et société. Collection: Livre de poche. Paris: Fallois, 1993.
  • Dioudonnat, Pierre-Marie. Encyclopedie de la Fauss Noblesse et de la Noblesse d’Apparence. New ed. Paris: Sedopols, 1994.
  • La Chesnaye-Desbois et Badier, François de (comp). Dictionnaire de la Noblesse de la France. 3d ed. 18v. Paris: Bachelin-Deflorenne, 1868-73 (Kraus-Thomson Organization, 1969).
  • Major, J. Russell. From Renaissance Monarchy to Absolute Monarchy: French Kings, Nobles & Estates. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins, 1994.
  • Elias, Norbert. The Court Society. (Originally publ., 1969) New York: Pantheon, 1983.
  • Pillorget, René & Suzanne Pillorget. France Baroque, France Classique: 1589-1715. Collection: Bouquins. Paris: Laffont, 1995.
  • Viguerie, Jean de. Histoire et dictionnaire du temps des Lumières: 1715-1789. Collection: Bouquins. Paris: Laffont, 1995.
  • Wright, Gordon. France in Modern Times. 4th ed. New York: Norton, 1987.

Paul Bénichou, French writer, intellectual, critic, and literary historian (born September 19, 1908, in Tlemcen, French Algeria; died May 14, 2001, in Paris). ... Norbert Elias (born June 22, 1897 in Breslau, Germany (now Wrocław, Poland); died August 1, 1990 in Amsterdam) was a German sociologist of Jewish descent, who later became a British citizen. ...

See also


  Results from FactBites:
 
French nobility - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia (3406 words)
Nobles also maintained certain judicial rights over their vassals, although with the rise of the modern state many of these privileges had passed to state control, leaving rural nobilty only local police functions and judicial control over violation of their seigneurial rights.
By relocating the French royal court to Versailles in the 1680s, Louis XIV of France further modified the role of the nobles.
Despite the abolition of nobility at the French Revolution and the loss of their privileged juridical status ("all men are equal citizens"), the nobility continued to exist throughout the nineteenth century.
Nobility and Titles in France (8886 words)
The legal class of nobility, as one of the fundamental remaining elements of feudalism, was abolished along with the feudal regime on August 4, 1789, which established legal equiality of all individuals regardless of birth.
French courts have held that the concept of nobility is incompatible with the equality of all citizens before the law proclaimed in the Declaration of the Rights of Man of 1789, which is legally part of the Constitution of 1958.
Titles of nobility essentially arise from the exercise of the sovereign's prerogative; and, in that respect, the executive branch (as represented by the ministry of Justice) is the heir of sovereigns past.
  More results at FactBites »

 
 

COMMENTARY     


Share your thoughts, questions and commentary here
Your name
Your comments

Want to know more?
Search encyclopedia, statistics and forums:

 


Press Releases |  Feeds | Contact
The Wikipedia article included on this page is licensed under the GFDL.
Images may be subject to relevant owners' copyright.
All other elements are (c) copyright NationMaster.com 2003-5. All Rights Reserved.
Usage implies agreement with terms, 1022, m