French Nobility


The French nobility (French: la noblesse) was the privileged social class in France during the Middle Ages and the Early Modern period until the French Revolution in 1789. 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 abolished, and survived in hereditary titles until the Second Empire fell in 1870.

In the political system of pre-Revolutionary France, the nobility made up the Second Estate of the Estates General (with the Catholic clergy comprising the First Estate and the bourgeoisie and peasants in the Third Estate). Although membership in the noble class was mainly passed down though hereditary rights, it was not a closed order. New individuals were appointed to the nobility by the monarchy, or they could purchase rights and titles or join by marriage.

Sources differ about the actual number of nobles in France, however, proportionally, it was among the smallest noble classes in Europe. For the year 1789, the French historian François Bluche gives a figure of 140,000 nobles (9,000 noble families) and states that about 5% of nobles could claim descent from feudal nobility before the 15th century. With a total population of 28 million, this would represent merely 0.5%. The historian Gordon Wright gives a figure of 300,000 nobles (of which 80,000 were from the traditional noblesse d'épée), which agrees with the estimation of the historian Jean de Viguerie, or a little over 1%. In terms of land holdings, at the time of the revolution, noble estates comprised about one-fifth of the land.

Read more about French NobilityPrivileges, Duties, Forms of French Nobility, Titles, Peerage, and Orders, Economic Status, Aristocratic Codes, Power and Protest, The Nobility and The Enlightenment, The Abolition of Privileges During The French Revolution, Nobility Since The Revolution, Symbols

Other articles related to "french, nobility, french nobility":

Faubourg Saint-Germain - History
... During the 17th century, French high nobility started to move from the central Marais, the then-aristocratic district of Paris where nobles used to build their urban mansions (see ... The district became so fashionable within the French aristocracy that the phrase le Faubourg has been used to describe French nobility ever since ... The oldest and most prestigious families of the French nobility built outstanding residences in the area such as the Hôtel Matignon, the Hôtel de Salm or the Hôtel Biron ...

Famous quotes containing the words nobility and/or french:

    The cloud was so dark that it needed all the bright lights that could be turned upon it. But for four years there was a contagion of nobility in the land, and the best blood North and South poured itself out a libation to propitiate the deities of Truth and Justice. The great sin of slavery was washed out, but at what a cost!
    M. E. W. Sherwood (1826–1903)

    ‘’Tis all dependin’ whether
    The ould engin’ howlds together—’
    ‘And it might now, Michael, so it might!’
    —William Percy French (1854–1920)