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Kinds of Nobility

Discussion in 'Research' started by TopHat, May 24, 2013.

  1. TopHat

    TopHat Minstrel

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    Hi!

    I'd like to know the difference between the medieval noble and the renaissance noble, in terms of privileges and duties towards the royals?
    I know that a medieval noble could also be a knight and had to serve his king in times of war, did the renaissance noble had the same obligation?

    Yours,
    TopHat.
     
    S.T. Ockenner likes this.
  2. A medieval noble in the feudal system had juridical power (and therefor, political power) over his demesne. He ruled over it as he saw fit and in exchange he owed taxes, fealty and military assistance to his liege lord.

    The renaissance noble was basically a landowner paying taxes. Military and juridical duties and privileges were diminished over time as the kings strived for absolutism.
     
  3. TopHat

    TopHat Minstrel

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    Thanks! :)
     
  4. skip.knox

    skip.knox toujours gai, archie Moderator

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    I have to disagree with Abbas-Al-Morim. The distinction between a Renaissance noble and a medieval noble is essentially false because the historical distinction is false. What time period is meant here? 1400? 1500? For Poland or England or Italy or Spain? The answer will vary with each.

    A noble was a noble. Period. Obligations varied wildly by time and place, by circumstance and even by whim.

    But I have to ask: why are you asking? What are you after here? If it's historical accuracy, then we really do need to know both time and place--forget "Renaissance" because that's useful only as an art history term and not very useful even there. If you're not after real-Earth history, then you can make up whatever you please!
     
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  5. TopHat

    TopHat Minstrel

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    I'm interested because I've got two different kingdoms based of two time periods. I've got a medieval kingdom that is based of High Medieval Ages (1000-1300 roughly) and the Renaissance kingdom is based of Venice around 1500. I want to know the overall difference between nobles in these two settings. I know the European noble had an obligation to serve his king as a knight in times of war. Did this obligation exist in Venice 1500?

    I do want to know the real-Earth history, what was the difference between a noble in England around 1300, and the 1500-Venice noble, in terms of privileges and duties towards the rulers?
     
    S.T. Ockenner likes this.
  6. skip.knox

    skip.knox toujours gai, archie Moderator

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    You may be disappointed. While there were nobles in Venice, the city was an independent republic, owing allegiance (and service) to no man. The obligations were that of citizens to their city. For the late 15thc/early 16thc, even that was different because Venice mainly relied on mercenaries. And while nobles did live in Venice, the true rulers were the patriciate. This was a set of families whose names were inscribed in the Golden Book. Membership was closed at some point ... late 13th century? Or was it 15thc? Sorry, I don't have my books ready to hand. Especially by the 16thc, these families were marrying into noble families on the terra ferma, and so were acquiring titles, but it wasn't the title that make them privileged in the Serene Republic, it was membership in the patriciate. Also, while the Doge was something like the mayor of the city (the word is related to the word 'duke'), he wasn't more noble than anyone else--the Doge was an elected official.

    England was unusual in that most nobles owed service directly to the king. You don't get the layering of vassals that you find in France or Germany or Spain. In 1300 England was being ruled by Edward I "Longshanks", and everyone danced to his tune. There had been numerous baronial rebellions in the 13thc, and Edward's daddy had had a tough time of it, but Edward himself was a tough cookie who was smart, stern, and (most importantly for a king) successful in war. His nobles rarely gave him trouble.

    In England as elsewhere, you have to distinguish between greater and lesser nobility. At the lower end you might have a title and not much more, not even land. Maybe you baby-sat one of the king's castles or served in some largely administrative capacity. At the greater end, you might have estates so large that you could field your own armies and have more money than the king himself. There was no one in Edward's time that was so powerful but it did happen under other monarchs.

    If you want to deep dive, read any of a dozen histories of the Plantagenets for England. For Venice, read Fred Lane or Julian Norwich (Lane is the better historian; Norwich is more readable).

    Does that help?
     
    S.T. Ockenner likes this.
  7. TopHat

    TopHat Minstrel

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    Yes, it helps a lot. Thanks! :)
     
    S.T. Ockenner likes this.
  8. S.T. Ockenner

    S.T. Ockenner Auror

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    Then what would you call the period between the late middle ages and early modern times?
     
  9. CupofJoe

    CupofJoe Myth Weaver

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    Skip can answer for themselves, but to me it would depend on where you are in the world and what mattered to you.
    For some, it could be the Ming Dynasty; for others, the Age of Discovery, or the Renaissance.
    And even the Little Ice Age if you were looking at weather.
     
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  10. skip.knox

    skip.knox toujours gai, archie Moderator

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    If other cultures have a Middle Age, they can speak to their own historiographic traditions. I only know Europe and only a fraction of that!

    Anyway, I am comfortable saying there is no intervening period. In truth, I'm more comfortable abandoning Europe-wide epochs entirely. They're about as useful as fantasy sub-genres. <g>

    But, not to dodge the question: I run the Middle Ages smack up to the doorstep of the Reformation. To me, that's the transformative generation, from about 1510 to 1550. What follows is all Early Modern, a period that lasts until another generation, from about 1780 to 1820. Eric Hobsbawn called that the Dual Revolution (French and Industrial) and wrote a very persuasive book on the matter. After which comes Modern Times (reality, and the movie).

    FTR, I have a much harder time identifying a similar watershed between Late Antiquity and the Early Middle Ages. Whenever I think on it, I retreat to insisting on the confounding uselessness of epochs and ages.
     
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