Full Text

aristocracy


Subject History

DOI: 10.1111/b.9781405189224.2011.x


Extract

Derived from Greek aristokratia (“power of the best”), this term evolved into a definition of government by the nobly born, and later became used still more often to identify the highest class within certain societies. This second sense is the one chiefly encountered in histories of modern Europe. There it typically describes holders of hereditary titles, and sometimes of hereditary offices too, whose authority was normally entwined with the maintenance of monarchism and the promotion of conservatism in general. Towards the end of the ancien regime the size of the aristocratic order varied widely between different countries, though everywhere its members formed a minority of the population. At one extreme were Genoa and Denmark, with 128 and 215 noble families respectively. Standing in the middle were France, where nobles comprised perhaps 1 in every 255 inhabitants, and Britain where some members of the non-titled gentry should be added to the 220 peers. Broadly similar ratios existed in Prussia and the Italian states, as well as in Russia (where, however, difficulties of nomenclature complicate the situation). On the other hand, as much as 6 percent of the population in Hungary and the Iberian peninsula, and perhaps 10 percent of Poles (see szlachta ), claimed noble status. In practice, aristocratic power depended upon three things: social distinction, exercise of political ... log in or subscribe to read full text

Log In

You are not currently logged-in to Blackwell Reference Online

If your institution has a subscription, you can log in here:

 

     Forgotten your password?

Find out how to subscribe.

Your library does not have access to this title. Please contact your librarian to arrange access.


[ access key 0 : accessibility information including access key list ] [ access key 1 : home page ] [ access key 2 : skip navigation ] [ access key 6 : help ] [ access key 9 : contact us ] [ access key 0 : accessibility statement ]

Blackwell Publishing Home Page

Blackwell Reference Online ® is a Blackwell Publishing Inc. registered trademark
Technology partner: Semantico Ltd.

Blackwell Publishing and its licensors hold the copyright in all material held in Blackwell Reference Online. No material may be resold or published elsewhere without Blackwell Publishing's written consent, save as authorised by a licence with Blackwell Publishing or to the extent required by the applicable law.

Back to Top