Nobles of the Sword  

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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.

The Nobles of the Sword (noblesse d'épée) refers to the class of traditional or old nobility in France during the Middle Ages and the Early Modern periods. This class was heir to a militaristic ideology of professional chivalry. It is largely synonymous with the expressions noblesse de race and noblesse ancienne, and is used in opposition to other classes of French nobility, namely:

  • noblesse de chancellerie - chancellor nobility made noble by holding certain high offices for the king
  • noblesse de lettres - person made noble by "lettres patentes" from the king
  • noblesse de robe (nobility of the gown) - person or family made noble by holding certain official charges, like maître des requêtes, treasurer or president of a provincial parlement
  • noblesse de cloche (nobility of the "bell") or noblesse échevinale - person or family made noble by being a mayor or "échevin" or "prévôt des marchands" (municipal leader) in certain towns (such as Angers, Angoulême, Bourges, Lyon, Toulouse, Paris, Perpignan, Poitiers)
  • noblesse militaire - person made noble through military position

As with officer of the sword, the expression derives from the right of nobles to wear a sword.




Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Nobles of the Sword" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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