Aristocracy (class)

Last updated
French aristocrats, c. 1774 Le bal pare.jpg
French aristocrats, c.1774
A castle, the symbol of the rule of aristocracy in medieval Europe (Krasna Horka in Slovakia) Krasna Horka 1.JPG
A castle, the symbol of the rule of aristocracy in medieval Europe (Krásna Hôrka in Slovakia)

The aristocracy [1] is historically associated with "hereditary" or "ruling" social class. In many states, the aristocracy included the upper class of people (aristocrats) with hereditary rank and titles. [2] In some, such as ancient Greece, ancient Rome, or India, aristocratic status came from belonging to a military caste. It has also been common, notably in African societies, for aristocrats to belong to priestly dynasties. Aristocratic status can involve feudal or legal privileges. [3] They are usually below only the monarch of a country or nation in its social hierarchy. [4] In modern European societies, the aristocracy has often coincided with the nobility, a specific class that arose in the Middle Ages, but the term "aristocracy" is sometimes also applied to other elites, and is used as a more generic term when describing earlier and non-European societies. [5] Some revolutions, such as the French Revolution, have been followed by the abolition of the aristocracy.

Contents

Etymology

Count Carl Robert Mannerheim (1835-1914), aristocrat, businessman and father of Marshal C. G. E. Mannerheim. Carl Robert Mannerheim.jpg
Count Carl Robert Mannerheim (1835–1914), aristocrat, businessman and father of Marshal C. G. E. Mannerheim.

The term aristocracy derives from the Greek ἀριστοκρατία (aristokratia from ἄριστος (aristos) 'excellent' and κράτος (kratos) 'power'). [6] The royals and the aristocrats or people from noble descent were called "Blue Bloods" in medieval times in English language.[ citation needed ] In most cases, aristocratic titles were and are hereditary.

The term aristokratia was first used in Athens with reference to young citizens (the men of the ruling class) who led armies at the front line. Aristokratia roughly translates to "rule of the best born". Due to martial bravery being highly regarded as a virtue in ancient Greece, it was assumed that the armies were being led by "the best". This virtue was called arete ( ἀρετή ). Etymologically, as the word developed, it also produced a more political term: aristoi (ἄριστοι). The term aristocracy is a compound word stemming from the singular of aristoi, aristos ( ἄριστος ), and the Greek word for power, kratos ( κράτος ).

From the ancient Greeks, the term passed to the European Middle Ages for a similar hereditary class of military leaders, often referred to as the nobility. As in Greece, this was a class of privileged men and women whose familial connections to the regional armies allowed them to present themselves as the most "noble" or "best" of society.

See also

Related Research Articles

<i>Szlachta</i> Legally privileged noble class in the Kingdom of Poland and the Grand Duchy of Lithuania

The szlachta were the noble estate of the realm in the Kingdom of Poland, the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, and the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth who, as a class, had the dominating position in the state, exercising extensive political rights and power. Szlachta as a class differed significantly from the feudal nobility of Western Europe. The estate was officially abolished in 1921 by the March Constitution.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Aristocracy</span> Form of government that places strength in the hands of a small, privileged ruling class

Aristocracy is a form of government that places strength in the hands of a small, privileged ruling class, the aristocrats. The term derives from the Greek aristokratíā, meaning 'rule of the best'.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Boyar</span> Template (table) of early Slavic status

A boyar or bolyar was a member of the highest rank of the feudal nobility in many Eastern European nations, including Kievan Rus', Bulgaria, Russia, Wallachia and Moldavia, and later Romania, Lithuania and among Baltic Germans. Boyars were second only to the ruling princes from the 10th century to the 17th century. The rank has lived on as a surname in Russia, Finland, Lithuania and Latvia where it is spelled Pajari or Bajārs/-e.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Baron</span> Title of nobility in Europe

Baron is a rank of nobility or title of honour, often hereditary, in various European countries, either current or historical. The female equivalent is baroness. Typically, the title denotes an aristocrat who ranks higher than a lord or knight, but lower than a viscount or count. Often, barons hold their fief – their lands and income – directly from the monarch. Barons are less often the vassals of other nobles. In many kingdoms, they were entitled to wear a smaller form of a crown called a coronet.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Royal court</span> Court of a monarch, or at some periods an important nobleman

A royal court, often called simply a court when the royal context is clear, is an extended royal household in a monarchy, including all those who regularly attend on a monarch, or another central figure. Hence, the word "court" may also be applied to the coterie of a senior member of the nobility. Royal courts may have their seat in a designated place, several specific places, or be a mobile, itinerant court.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Swedish nobility</span>

The Swedish nobility has historically been a legally and/or socially privileged class in Sweden, and part of the so-called frälse. The archaic term for nobility, frälse, also included the clergy, a classification defined by tax exemptions and representation in the diet. Today the nobility does not maintain its former legal privileges although family names, titles and coats of arms are still protected. The Swedish nobility consists of both "introduced" and "unintroduced" nobility, where the latter has not been formally "introduced" at the House of Nobility (Riddarhuset). The House of Nobility still maintains a fee for male members over the age of 18 for upkeep on pertinent buildings in Stockholm.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Imperial, royal and noble ranks</span> Legal privilege given to some members in monarchical and princely societies

Traditional rank amongst European royalty, peers, and nobility is rooted in Late Antiquity and the Middle Ages. Although they vary over time and among geographic regions, the following is a reasonably comprehensive list that provides information on both general ranks and specific differences. Distinction should be made between reigning families and the nobility – the latter being a social class subject to and created by the former.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Peer of the realm</span> Member of the highest aristocratic social order outside the ruling dynasty

A peer of the realm is a member of the highest aristocratic social order outside the ruling dynasty of the kingdom.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Grandee</span> Aristocratic title conferred on Spanish nobility

Grandee is an official aristocratic title conferred on some Spanish nobility. Holders of this dignity enjoyed similar privileges to those of the peerage of France during the Ancien Régime, though in neither country did they have the significant constitutional political role the House of Lords gave to the Peerage of England and later Peerage of the United Kingdom. A "Grandee of Spain" would have nonetheless enjoyed greater "social" privileges than those of other similar European dignities.

The Aristoi was the label given to the noblemen in ancient Greek society, and in particular ancient Athens. The term literally means "best", with the denotation of best in terms of birth, rank, and nobility, but also usually possessing the connotation of also being the morally best. The term in fact derives similarly with arete: "The root of the word is the same as aristos, the word which shows superlative ability and superiority, and "aristos" was constantly used in the plural to denote the nobility."

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Datu</span> Noble title in the pre-Spanish Philippines

Datu is a title which denotes the rulers of numerous indigenous peoples throughout the Philippine archipelago. The title is still used today, especially in Mindanao, Sulu and Palawan, but it was used much more extensively in early Philippine history, particularly in the regions of Central and Southern Luzon, the Visayas and Mindanao. It is a cognate of the title ratu in several other Austronesian languages.

The Armenian nobility was a class of persons which enjoyed certain privileges relative to other members of society under the laws and customs of various regimes of Armenia. Governments which recognized or conferred nobility were the Kingdom of Van, Satrapy of Armenia, Kingdom of Armenia, Bagratid Kingdom of Armenia (885-1045) and the Armenian Kingdom of Cilicia (1198-1375). The Armenian kingdoms of Vanand (963-1065), Syunik (987-1170), and Lori (978-1113) had a system of nobility that was similar to the nobility of Cilicia.

Aristocracy of Norway refers to modern and medieval aristocracy in Norway. Additionally, there have been economical, political, and military elites that—relating to the main lines of Norway's history—are generally accepted as nominal predecessors of the aforementioned. Since the 16th century, modern aristocracy is known as nobility.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Nobility of Italy</span> Privileged social class in Italy

The nobility of Italy comprised individuals and their families of the Italian Peninsula, and the islands linked with it, recognized by the sovereigns of the Italian city-states since the Middle Ages, and by the kings of Italy after the unification of the region into a single state, the Kingdom of Italy.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">French nobility</span> Social class in Middle Age and Early Modern France

The French nobility was a privileged social class in France from the Middle Ages until its abolition on June 23, 1790 during the French Revolution.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Croatian nobility</span> Privileged social class in ancient and medieval Croatia

Croatian nobility was a privileged social class in Croatia during the Antiquity and Medieval periods of the country's history. Noble families in the Kingdom of Croatia included high ranking populates from Slavonia, Dalmatia, Istria, and Republic of Ragusa. Members belonged to an elite social hierarchy, normally placed immediately behind blood royalty, that possessed considerably more privileges or eminence than most other classes in a society. Membership thereof typically was often hereditary. Historically, membership in the nobility and the prerogatives thereof have been regulated or acknowledged by the monarch. Acquisition of sufficient power, wealth, military prowess or royal favour enabled commoners to ascend into the nobility. The country's royalty was heavily influenced by France's nobility resulting members of the Royal Courts to assume French titles and practices during French occupation. The controversial assumption of French practices contributed to wide spread political and social elitism among the nobles and monarch. The nobility regarded the peasant class as an unseen and irrelevant substrata of people which lead to high causality revolts and beheadings as well as sporadic periods of intense domestic violence.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Landed nobility</span>

Landed nobility or landed aristocracy is a category of nobility in the history of various countries, for which landownership was part of their noble privileges. Their character depends on the country.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Gentry</span> People of high social class, in particular of the land-owning social class

Gentry are "well-born, genteel and well-bred people" of high social class, especially in the past. Word similar to gentle [simple and decent] families Gentry, in its widest connotation, refers to people of good social position connected to landed estates, upper levels of the clergy, and "gentle" families of long descent who in some cases never obtained the official right to bear a coat of arms. The gentry largely consisted of landowners who could live entirely from rental income, or at least had a country estate; some were gentleman farmers. In the United Kingdom, the term gentry refers to the landed gentry: the majority of the land-owning social class who typically had a coat of arms, but did not have a peerage. The adjective "patrician" describes in comparison other analogous traditional social elite strata based in cities, such as free cities of Italy, and the free imperial cities of Germany, Switzerland, and the Hanseatic League.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Georgian feudalism</span>

Georgian feudalism, or patronqmoba, as the system of personal dependence or vassalage in ancient and medieval Georgia is referred to, arose from a tribal-dynastic organization of society upon which was imposed, by royal authority, an official hierarchy of regional governors, local officials and subordinates. It is thought to have its roots into the ancient Georgian, or Iberian, society of Hellenistic period.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Nobility</span> Official privileged social class

Nobility is a social class found in many societies that have an aristocracy. It is normally ranked immediately below royalty. Nobility has often been an estate of the realm with many exclusive functions and characteristics. The characteristics associated with nobility may constitute substantial advantages over or relative to non-nobles or simply formal functions, and vary by country and by era. Membership in the nobility, including rights and responsibilities, is typically hereditary and patrilineal.

References

  1. Definition of Aristocracy
  2. Definition (2) of Aristocracy
  3. The Aristocrats: a portrait of Britain's nobility and their way of life today, by Roy Perrott, (London 1968), pp. 5–10.
  4. Native Wood Preservation Ltd, on British Aristocracy and Hierarchy
  5. Modern European societies and the nobility of aristocracy
  6. The Oxford Companion to British History, John Cannon (editor), Oxford University Press, 1997, ISBN   978-0-19-866176-4