Chinese sovereignty and peerage, the nobility of China, were an important feature of traditional social and political organization of Imperial China. While the concepts of hereditary sovereign and peerage titles and noble families were featured as early as the semi-mythical, early historical period, a settled system of nobility was established from the Zhou Dynasty. In the subsequent millennia, this system was largely maintained in form, with some changes and additions, although the content constantly evolved. The last, well-developed system of noble titles was established under the Qing Dynasty. The CE 1911 republican Xinhai Revolution saw the dissolution of the nobility along with the totality of the official imperial system. Though some noble families maintained their titles and dignity for a time, new political and economic circumstances forced their decline. The fact that most existing nobles were of the Manchu ethnicity, a ruling elite under the Qing Dynasty, but an ethnic minority like any other under the new Republic, resulted in minimal popular recognition of their nobility. Today, the nobility as a class is almost entirely dissipated in China, and only a very few maintain any pretense or claim to noble titles, which are almost universally unrecognized.
Elevation and degradation of rank might occur posthumously, and posthumous elevation was sometimes an aspiration; Guan Yu, was styled, during his lifetime, Marquis of Han Shou (漢壽亭侯) in the Han Dynasty then posthumously in the later Song Dynasty elevated to Duke Zhonghui (忠惠公) then in the Yuan Dynasty Prince of Xianling Yiyong Wu'an Yingji (顯靈義勇武安英濟王) then in the Ming Dynasty both beatified and royalized as Saintly Emperor Guan the Great God Who Subdues Demons of the Three Worlds and Whose Awe Spreads Far and Moves Heaven (三界伏魔大神威遠震天尊關聖帝君) and in popular culture deified as a God of Prosperity, Commerce, War, and Police.
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Famous quotes containing the word nobility:
“War alone brings up to their highest tension all human energies and imposes the stamp of nobility upon the peoples who have the courage to make it.”
—Benito Mussolini (18831945)