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The aristocracyis a social class that a particular society considers its highest order. In many states, the aristocracy included the upper class of people (aristocrats) with hereditary rank and titles. In some, such as ancient Greece, Rome, and 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. They are usually below only the monarch of a country or nation in its social hierarchy. 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.
The term aristocracy derives from the Greek ἀριστοκρατία ( aristokratia from ἄριστος (aristos) "excellent" and κράτος (kratos) "power").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.
A government is the system or group of people governing an organized community, often a state, but also other entities like for example companies, especially in the case of colonial companies.
The szlachta was a legally privileged noble class in the Kingdom of Poland and in the Grand Duchy of Lithuania. After the Union of Lublin in 1569, the Grand Duchy and its neighbouring Kingdom became a single state, the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth.
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 aristokratia, meaning 'rule of the best'.
A boyar was a member of the highest rank of the feudal Bulgarian, Russian, Serbian, Wallachian, Moldavian, and later Romanian and Baltic states aristocracies, second only to the ruling princes from the 10th century to the 17th century. The rank has lived on as a surname in Russia, Romania, Finland, Lithuania and Latvia where it is spelled Pajari or Bajāri.
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 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.
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.
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."
Aristoi is a 1992 science fiction novel by American writer Walter Jon Williams. It was one of the preliminary candidates for the 1993 Hugo Award for Best Novel in a particularly competitive year. The cover art for Aristoi was nominated for the 1993 Hugo Award for Best Original Artwork.
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, ancient 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 élites 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.
The nobility of Italy comprised individuals and their families of the Italian Peninsula, and the islands linked with it, recognized by sovereigns, such as the Holy Roman emperors, the Holy See, the kings of Italy, and certain other Italian sovereigns, as members of a class of persons officially enjoying hereditary privileges which distinguished them from other persons and families. They often held lands as fiefs and were sometimes endowed with hereditary titles or nobiliary particles. From the Middle Ages until March 1861, "Italy" was not a single country but was a number of separate kingdoms and other states, with many reigning dynasties. These were often related through marriage to each other and to other European royal families. The Italian nobility was expanded in Africa with the creation of the Italian Empire in conquered Ethiopia and east Africa. Official recognition of the nobility ceased with the creation of the Italian Republic in 1946, however titles of nobility are still used as courtesy titles.
The French nobility was a privileged social class in France during the Middle Ages and the Early Modern period to the revolution in 1790. The nobility was revived in 1805 with limited rights as a titled elite class from the First Empire to the fall of the July Monarchy in 1848, when all privileges were permanently abolished. Hereditary titles, without privileges, continued to be granted until the Second Empire fell in 1870. They survive among their descendants as a social convention and as part of the legal name of the corresponding individuals.
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, Bosnia 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.
Landed nobility or landed aristocracy is a category of nobility in various countries over history, for which landownership was part of their noble privileges. Their character depends on the country.
A kakistocracy ([kækɪ'stɑkrəsi]) is a system of government that is run by the worst, least qualified, and/or most unscrupulous citizens. The word was coined as early as the seventeenth century.
Gentry are "well-born, genteel and well-bred people" of high social class, especially in the past. In the United Kingdom, the term gentry refers to the landed gentry, the majority of the land-owning social class who were typically armigerous, but did not have titles of nobility.
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.
Nobility is a social class normally ranked immediately below royalty and found in some societies that have a formal aristocracy. Nobility possesses more acknowledged privileges and higher social status 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, and vary by country and era. As referred to in the Medieval chivalric motto noblesse oblige, nobles can also carry a lifelong duty to uphold various social responsibilities, such as honourable behaviour, customary service, or leadership positions. Membership in the nobility, including rights and responsibilities, is typically hereditary.
The Sicilian nobility was a privileged hereditary class in the Kingdom of Sicily, the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies and the Kingdom of Italy, whose origins may be traced to the 11th century AD.
The term edelfrei or hochfrei was originally used to designate and distinguish those Germanic noblemen from the Second Estate, who were legally entitled to atonement reparation of three times their "Weregild" (Wergeld) value from a guilty person or party. Such knights were known as Edelfreie or Edelinge. This distinguished them from those other free men or free knights who came from the Third Estate social hierarchy, and whose atonement reparation value was the standard "Weregild" (Wergeld) amount set according to regional laws. In the Holy Roman Empire, the "high nobility" emerged from the Edelfreie during the course of the 12th century, in contrast to the so-called ministeriales, most of whom were originally unfree knights or Dienstadel.
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