Nobles are not synonymous with rich, synonymous with legal status and privilege. That's why they're a class, not a caste. As a caste, some don't do very well (don't marry well, affected by crop failures, reliant on collecting money from tenants, etc).
- They're a legal status with economic implications. Class is purely economic
- Ex: If there's a crop failure two years in a row, they can't pay taxes, rent, and the nobility don't get status since they can't live nobly
Lineage, legal privileges, titles granted by aristocracy, and coats of arms all show social order and hierarchy.
- Award of a higher title acknowledged a family's growing importance and economic might rather than contributing to its rise
- Medieval knights had a special relationship to queen, lady, landowner, etc
- Special relationship based on service they provided on the battlefield to defend their prince against other princes
- Titles had a very clear role to play in defining aristocratic society
- Titles are being created by the 100s
*In England there was no nobility, but there were titles with rank
In order of importance: prince, duke, marquis, earl, viscount, baron, knight*
- People who essentially live only, own estates, manorial house/castle, tenant farmers, country gentlemen (gentle, not male), have standing, employ others, don't work with their hands, will fight when they need to
- Based on concept of being esquired
- Offset by very strict inheritance system in England: only first born male can be an aristocrat that carries on the title, can't multiply, only crown and government can
- If a family's lineage dies out, then that family's aristocratic title dies out