How is nobility acquired?Share
Could nobility be lost?
- By Birth. Usually from the father since 1370 (only exceptions are nobility in Champagne until the 16th century and Bar until the French Revolution). Bastards of nobles became nobles when legitimated by letters of the sovereign until 1600, after that a separate act of ennoblement was required (except royal bastards, they were always nobles even with no legitimization).
- By Office. Depending on the office, the holder became noble either after a number of years in office or immediately. This kind of nobility could be personal or hereditary for 2, 3 or more generations. Here we have nobles for fiscal offices (tax courts and state auditors), “noblesse de robe” (for judicial offices, members of the parliament or courts that have been in office for 20 years), “noblesse de cloche” (municipal offices, the mayors of towns), administrative offices (the places on the household of the king and the secrétaires du Roi) and military commissions (since 1750 officers reaching the rank of general would receive hereditary nobility).
- By Letters. Meaning, by royal grant, meaning that the king could always ennoble whoever he wished.
Yes, it could. You lose it by failing to your failing duties (this was called “déchéance”, kind of like Athos in The Musketeers BBC series); by practising forbidden occupations (called “dérogeance”), like commerce or manual crafts or farming someone else’s land (farming your own or the King’s land was ok). Funny that medicine, glass-blowing, exploitation of mines, maritime commerce and wholesale commerce was acceptable. Also, if you were a woman and marry a commoner, your nobility is lost. (Read more.)