Aristocracy (Greek ἀριστοκρατία aristokratía, from ἄριστος aristos "excellent", and κράτος, kratos 'rule') is a form of government that places strength in the hands of a small, privileged ruling class. The term derives from the Greek aristokratia, meaning "rule of the best-born".
The term is synonymous with hereditary government, and hereditary succession is its primary philosophy, after which the hereditary monarch appoints officers as they see fit. At the time of the word's origins in ancient Greece, the Greeks conceived it as rule by the best qualified citizens—and often contrasted it favourably with monarchy, rule by an individual. In later times, aristocracy was usually seen as rule by a privileged group, the aristocratic class, and has since been contrasted with democracy. The idea of hybrid forms which have aspects of both aristocracy and democracy are in use in the parliament form.
The concept evolved in Ancient Greece, whereby a council of leading citizens was commonly empowered and contrasted with representative democracy, in which a council of citizens was appointed as the "senate" of a city state or other political unit. The Greeks did not like the concept of monarchy, and as their democratic system fell, aristocracy was upheld. In the 1651 book Leviathan, Thomas Hobbes describes an aristocracy as a commonwealth in which the representative of the citizens is an assembly by part only. It is a system in which only a small part of the population represents the government; "certaine men distinguished from the rest". Modern depictions of aristocracy tend to regard it not as the ancient Greek concept of rule by the best, but more as an oligarchy or plutocracy—rule by the few or the wealthy.
The concept of aristocracy per Plato, has an ideal state ruled by the philosopher king. Plato describes these "philosopher kings" as "those who love the sight of truth" (Republic 475c) and supports the idea with the analogy of a captain and his ship or a doctor and his medicine. According to him, sailing and health are not things that everyone is qualified to practice by nature. A large part of the Republic then addresses how the educational system should be set up to produce these philosopher kings.
The aristocracy is 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, although 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.Baron Annaly
Baron Annaly is a title that has been created three times, twice in the Peerage of Ireland and once in the Peerage of the United Kingdom. The third creation is currently extant.Baron Howard of Penrith
Baron Howard of Penrith, of Gowbarrow in the County of Cumberland, is a title in the Peerage of the United Kingdom. It was created in 1930 for the diplomat Sir Esme Howard, who had previously served as British Ambassador to the United States. A member of the famous Howard family, he was the grandson of Lord Henry Howard-Molyneux-Howard, younger brother of Bernard Howard, 12th Duke of Norfolk. As of 2010 the title is held by his grandson, the third Baron, who succeeded his father in 1999. Lord Howard of Penrith is also in remainder to the dukedom of Norfolk and its subsidiary titles.
Henry Howard and Sir Stafford Howard, brothers of the first Baron, were both Members of Parliament.British nobility
The British nobility is the peerage of the United Kingdom. The nobility of its four constituent home nations has played a major role in shaping the history of the country, although in the present day they retain only the rights to stand for election to the House of Lords, dining rights in the House of Lords, position in the formal order of precedence, the right to certain titles (see below), and the right to an audience with the monarch. Still, more than a third of British land is in the hands of aristocrats and traditional landed gentry.Byzantine bureaucracy and aristocracy
The Byzantine Empire had a complex system of aristocracy and bureaucracy, which was inherited from the Roman Empire. At the apex of the hierarchy stood the emperor, yet "Byzantium was a republican monarchy and not primarily a monarchy by divine right". Beneath the emperor, a multitude of officials and court functionaries operated the complex administrative machinery that was necessary to run the empire. In addition to those officials, a large number of honorific titles existed, which the emperor awarded to his subjects or to friendly foreign rulers.
Over the more than thousand years of the empire's existence, different titles were adopted and discarded, and many lost or gained prestige. At first the various titles of the empire were the same as those in the late Roman Empire. However, by the time that Heraclius was emperor (610–641), many of the titles had become obsolete. By the time of Alexios I reign (1082–1118), many of the positions were either new or drastically changed. However, from that time on they remained essentially the same until the fall of the Byzantine Empire in 1453.Chinese nobility
In Chinese sovereignty and peerage, the nobility of China, was an important feature of the 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 AD-1911 republican Xinhai Revolution saw the dissolution of the official imperial system although the new Republic of China government maintained noble titles like the Duke Yansheng. Though some noble families maintained their titles and dignity for a time, new political and economic circumstances forced their decline. 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 a consideration; 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.Czech nobility
Czech nobility consists of the noble families of the historical states of the Czech Republic that include Bohemian nobility, Moravian nobility and Silesian nobility. These are connected with the history of Great Moravia, Duchy of Bohemia, later Kingdom of Bohemia, Margraviate of Moravia, the Duchies of Silesia and the lands of the Bohemian Crown, the constitutional predecessor state of the modern-day republic.
Aristocracy was abolished by law (No. 61/1918 Sb. z. a n.) in December 1918, shortly after the establishment of the independent Czechoslovak Republic.French nobility
The French nobility (French: la noblesse) 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 abolished for good. 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.
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 inherited, it was not a fully 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, 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%. 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 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.Government
A government is the system or group of people governing an organized community, often a state.In the case of its broad associative definition, government normally consists of legislature, executive, and judiciary. Government is a means by which organizational policies are enforced, as well as a mechanism for determining policy. Each government has a kind of constitution, a statement of its governing principles and philosophy. Typically the philosophy chosen is some balance between the principle of individual freedom and the idea of absolute state authority (tyranny).
While all types of organizations have governance, the word government is often used more specifically to refer to the approximately 200 independent national governments on Earth, as well as subsidiary organizations.Historically prevalent forms of government include monarchy, aristocracy, timocracy, oligarchy, democracy, theocracy and tyranny. The main aspect of any philosophy of government is how political power is obtained, with the two main forms being electoral contest and hereditary succession.Kuge
The kuge (公家) was a Japanese aristocratic class that dominated the Japanese imperial court in Kyoto. The kuge were important from the establishment of Kyoto as the capital during the Heian period in the late 8th century until the rise of the Kamakura shogunate in the 12th century, at which point it was eclipsed by the bushi. The kuge still provided a weak court around the Emperor until the Meiji Restoration, when they merged with the daimyō, regaining some of their status in the process, and formed the kazoku (peerage), which lasted until shortly after World War II (1947), when the Japanese peerage system was abolished. Though there is no longer an official status, members of the kuge families remain influential in Japanese society, government, and industry.Nobility in Iceland
Nobility in Iceland (Icelandic: aðall; Norwegian: adel) may refer to the following:
Icelanders who belonged to the aristocracy of the Icelandic Republic.
Icelanders who belonged to the Norwegian nobility.
Icelanders who belonged to the Danish nobility.Optimates
The Optimates (; Latin: optimates, "best ones", singular optimas; also known as boni, "good men") were the traditionalist Senatorial majority of the late Roman Republic.
Opposed by the Populares who favoured the cause of the plebeians (the commoners), the Optimates wished to limit the power of the popular assemblies and the Tribunes of the Plebs, which were open to the plebeians; and to extend the power of the Senate, which was viewed as more dedicated to the interests of the patricians (the aristocracy) who held the reins of power. In particular, the Optimates were concerned with the rise of individual generals who, backed by the tribunate, the assemblies and their own soldiers, could shift the power away from the Senate and aristocracy.
Many members of this faction were so classified because they used the backing of the aristocracy and the Senate to achieve personal goals, not necessarily because they favored the aristocracy over the lower classes. Similarly, the Populares did not necessarily champion the lower classes, but they often used their support to achieve personal goals.Planter class
The planter class, known alternatively in the United States as the Southern aristocracy, was a socio-economic caste of Pan-American society that dominated seventeenth- and eighteenth-century agricultural markets through the forced labor of enslaved Africans. The Atlantic slave trade permitted planters access to inexpensive labor for the planting and harvesting of crops such as tobacco, cotton, indigo, coffee, tea, cocoa, sugar cane, sisal, oil seeds, oil palms,hemp, rubber trees, and fruits.
In the American South, planters maintained a distinct culture characterized by its similarity to the manners and customs of the British nobility, whom many planters were related to, with an emphasis on chivalry, gentility, and hospitality, the latter becoming a marked trait of modern Southern society. This southern culture with its landed gentry was distinctly different from areas north of the Mason–Dixon line and west of the Appalachians that were characterized by small land holdings worked by yeoman farmers without slave labor.
After the American Civil War, many in this class saw their wealth greatly reduced as the enslaved Africans were freed. Union forces under Generals William T. Sherman and Phillip Sheridan had also cut wide swaths of destruction through portions of Virginia, the Carolinas and Georgia destroying crops, killing or confiscating livestock, burning barns and gristmills, and in some cases torching plantation houses and even entire cities such as Atlanta in scorched earth tactics designed to starve the Confederacy into submission. After emancipation, many plantations were converted to sharecropping with freed Africans working as sharecroppers on the same land they had worked as slaves before the war. During the Gilded Age many plantations, no longer viable as agricultural operations, were purchased by wealthy northern industrialists as hunting retreats. Later some plantations became museums, often on the U.S. National Register of Historic Places.
Planters were prolific throughout the British, Dutch, French, Portuguese and Spanish colonies of North and South America, and the West Indies. Members of this class include colonists Robert "King" Carter, William Byrd of Westover, many signers of the Declaration of Independence including Benjamin Harrison V, Thomas Nelson, Jr., George Wythe, Carter Braxton and Richard Henry Lee, Founding Fathers, George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison and James Monroe, Confederate President Jefferson Davis, Confederate General Robert E. Lee, Mary Chesnut, Valcour Aime, Sallie Ward, and the fictional Scarlett O'Hara from the movie Gone with the Wind.Russian nobility
The Russian nobility (Russian: дворянство dvoryanstvo) arose in the 14th century. Its members (1,900,000 at 1914, 1.1%) staffed most of the Russian government apparatus until the February Revolution of 1917.
The Russian word for nobility, dvoryanstvo (дворянство), derives from the Slavonic word dvor (двор), meaning the court of a prince or duke (kniaz) and later, the court of the tsar or emperor. Originally, dvor here implied servants at the estate of an aristocrat. Later, in the late 16th-early 17th centuries, the word dvoryane was to describe the highest rank of gentry literally performing duties at the royal court, or even dwelling at it (Moskovskie zhiltsy), or being candidates to it (dvorovye deti boyarskie, vybornye deti boyarskie). A nobleman is called dvoryanin (plural: dvoryane). Pre-Soviet Russia shared with other countries the concept that nobility connotes a status or a social category rather than a title. Throughout the 18th-19th centuries, in Russia the title of nobleman had gradually become a formal status, rather than the fact of being a member of aristocracy, due to massive influx of commoners via the Table of ranks. Many descendants of former ancient Russian aristocracy, including princely, had changed their formal standing to merchants, burgers or even peasants, while people descended from serfs (Vladimir Lenin's father) or clergy (ancestry of actress Lyubov Orlova) gained formal nobility.Social class in Tibet
There were three main social groups in Tibet prior to 1959, namely ordinary laypeople (mi ser in Tibetan), lay nobility (sger pa), and monks. The ordinary layperson could be further classified as a peasant farmer (shing-pa) or nomadic pastoralist (trokpa).The Tsang (17th century) and Dalai Lama (Ganden Podrang) law codes distinguished three social divisions: high, medium and low, each in turn was divided into three classes, to give nine classes in all. Social status was a formal classification, mostly hereditary and had legal consequences: for example the compensation to be paid for the killing of a member of these classes varied from 5 (for the lowest) to 200 'sung' for the second highest, the members of the noble families.
Nobles, government officials and monks of pure conduct were in the high division, only - probably - the Dalai Lama was in the very highest class. The middle division contained a large portion of the population and ranged from minor government officials, to taxpayer and landholding peasants, to landless peasants. Movement between classes was possible in the middle division. The lower division contained ragyabpa ('untouchables') of different types: e.g. blacksmiths and butchers. The very lowest class contained executioners, and (in the Tsang code) bachelors and hermaphrodites.Anthropologists have presented different taxonomies for the middle social division, in part because they studied specific regions of Tibet and the terms were not universal. Both Melvyn Goldstein and Geoff Childs however classified the population into three main types:
taxpayer families (tre-ba or khral-pa)
householders (du-jong or dud-chung-ba)
landless peasants (mi-bo)In the middle group, the taxpaying families could be quite wealthy. Depending upon the district, each category had different responsibilities in terms of tax and labor. Membership to each of these classes was primarily hereditary; the linkage between subjects and their estate and overlord was similarly transmitted through parallel descent. The taxpayer class, although numerically smallest among the three subclasses, occupied a superior position in terms of political and economic status.
The question of whether serfdom prevailed in traditional Tibetan society is controversial; Heidi Fjeld argues for a moderate position, recognizing that serfdom existed but was not universal in U-Tsang; a better description of the traditional Tibetan social class system, at least in Central Tibet, would be a caste system, rather than a comparison to European feudalism.Social class in ancient Rome
Social class in ancient Rome was hierarchical, but there were multiple and overlapping social hierarchies, and an individual's relative position in one might be higher or lower than in another. The status of freeborn Romans during the Republic was established by:
ancestry (patrician or plebeian);
census rank (ordo) based on wealth and political privilege, with the senatorial and equestrian ranks elevated above the ordinary citizen;
attainment of honors (the novus homo or self-made man established his family as nobilis (“noble”) and thus there were noble plebeians); and
citizenship, of which there were grades with varying rights and privileges.For example, men who lived in towns outside Rome (such as municipia or colonies) might hold citizenship, but lack the right to vote (see ius Latinum); free-born Roman women were citizens, but could not vote or hold political office.
There were also classes of non-citizens with different legal rights, such as peregrini. Under Roman law, slaves were considered property and had no rights as such. However, some laws regulated slavery and offered slaves protections not extended to other forms of property such as animals. Slaves who had been manumitted were freedmen (liberti), and for the most part enjoyed the same legal rights and protections as free-born citizens.
Roman society was patriarchal in the purest sense; the male head of household (paterfamilias) held special legal powers and privileges that gave him jurisdiction (patria potestas) over all the members of his familia – a more encompassing term than its modern derivative "family" that included adult sons, his wife (but only in Rome's earlier history, when marriage cum manu was practiced), married daughters (in the Classical period of Roman history), various dependent relatives, and slaves. The patron-client relationship (clientela), with the word patronus deriving from pater (“father”), was another way in which Roman society was organized into hierarchical groups, though clientela also functioned as a system of overlapping social networks. A patron could be the client of a socially superior or more powerful patron; a client could have multiple patrons.Upper class
The upper class in modern societies is the social class composed of people who hold the highest social status, usually are the wealthiest members of society, and wield the greatest political power. According to this view, the upper class is generally distinguished by immense wealth which is passed on from generation to generation. Prior to the 20th century, the emphasis was on aristocracy, which emphasized generations of inherited noble status, not just recent wealth. Because the upper classes of a society may no longer rule the society in which they are living, they are often referred to as the old upper classes and they are often culturally distinct from the newly rich middle classes that tend to dominate public life in modern social democracies. According to the latter view held by the traditional upper classes, no amount of individual wealth or fame would make a person from an undistinguished background into a member of the upper class as one must be born into a family of that class and raised in a particular manner so as to understand and share upper class values, traditions, and cultural norms.
The term is often used in conjunction with terms like upper-middle class, middle class, and working class as part of a model of social stratification.Uradel
Uradel (German: [ʔuːɐ̯ˈʔaːdl̩], German: "ancient nobility"; adjective uradelig or uradlig) is a genealogical term introduced in late 18th-century Germany to distinguish those families whose noble rank can be traced to the 14th century or earlier. The word stands opposed to Briefadel, a term used for titles of nobility created in the early modern or modern period by letters patent. Since the earliest known such letters were issued in the 14th century, those knightly families in northern European nobility whose noble rank predates these are designated uradel.Uradel and Briefadel families are generally further divided into the categories adlig (untitled and titled nobility), freiherrlich (baronial), gräflich (comital), and fürstlich (royal, princely and ducal) houses. The latter are also referred to as Hochadel (High Nobility).Viscount Bangor
Viscount Bangor, of Castle Ward, in the County Down, is a title in the Peerage of Ireland.