Personal Nobility

Paul Langford

in Public Life and the Propertied Englishman 1689–1798

Published in print August 1994 | ISBN: 9780198205340
Published online October 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780191676574 | DOI:

Series: Ford Lectures

Personal Nobility

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  • Early Modern History (1500 to 1700)


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This chapter finds a seemingly powerful aristocracy adapting itself to a society in which even inherited rank and title were expected to submit to the requirements of the propertied classes at large. English aristocracy can be easily contrasted with its continental neighbours. Peers as such enjoyed few legal immunities and possessed only a portion of the propertied wealth which determined the distribution of power. In a relatively open, rapidly changing society, the nobility was exposed to constant criticism and challenge. Its political influence was kept within boundaries partly by the divided loyalties of the peers themselves. Titles mattered most in seemingly trivial matters. The propensity of public education to throw commoners and nobles together had a marked effect. In some respects, it may have served to ease the tensions of rank.

Keywords: aristocracy; wealth; nobility; bourgeois; public education

Chapter.  35803 words. 

Subjects: Early Modern History (1500 to 1700)

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