Author Topic: napoleonic nobility  (Read 6873 times)

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Offline Dmitry Russian

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napoleonic nobility
« on: February 06, 2007, 06:45:43 PM »
Excuse me, please. Probably, I create a theme having the small attitude to royal forums. But I am interested in napoleonic nobility. I know, that Napoleon has created new nobility. Thus the new  nobility consisted of people of a modest origin or approached to  Napoleon. I know, that many of its marshals had nobiliary titles and ranks. Therefore I have questions concerning napoleonic nobility. Their titles were the presents or not? Whether to consider descendants of these noblemen as the present noblemen or not? Any related communications have been established between napoleonic nobility and old pre-revolutionary aristocracy?
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Offline James1941

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Re: napoleonic nobility
« Reply #1 on: February 09, 2007, 02:59:05 PM »
There is a very good website that explains about Napoleon and his creation of titles. It is

Napoleon created new "titles" but they were not called nobles or nobility, although in the event they became knows as noblesse d'empire. Some went with the office the person held. Some had land grants with them, some were just what we would call today "life" peers, that is, their title was not hereditary, and some were hereditary.
When Louis XVIII came to the throne after Napoleon's fall he issued the Charter and in it was a clause that recognized the priviledges and rights of both the old nobility and the new nobility. So, yes they were considered nobility after Napoleon's fall. Many served in office during the Bourbon restoration, the Orleanist monarchy, and the Second Empire. Since France is now a republic titles mean little, except they often used for courtesy. And, I am no expert on French society, but I would imagine the two groups do mix socially and even inter marry.
« Last Edit: February 09, 2007, 03:01:47 PM by James1941 »

Naslednik Norvezhskiy

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Re: napoleonic nobility
« Reply #2 on: January 24, 2010, 01:11:33 PM »
Even though I find the ancien-régime system of noble titles being firmly attached to land (and sellable together with the land!) the most fascinating and appealing, I must say that Napoleon's often-ridiculed system of nobility also has some appealing features: I am particularly taken with the feature that a title stayed a life title unless the recipient (or the Emperor) endowed it with a majorat; only then did it become hereditary. A very handy way of letting those titles that couldn't be worn "with style" by future generations die a natural death. Though of course I greatly dislike the idea that the majorat of a principality, dukedom or county could be formed of capital or government bonds instead of land! Such unfeudal fiefs are only fit for baronies (as was the case in Denmark-Norway).

Not sure if I like the feature that the life titles of dukes, counts and barons were automatically conferred on the holders of certain offices or positions (who then could make their title hereditary by endowing it with a majorat). I think it's a good idea that a certain position automatically makes you eligible for some honorifics (like the Table of Ranks in Russia), but what's the point of making all prefects counts? or barons? Then it would be better to just appoint counts and barons to administer France! Nay, the size of landholdings should rather determine eligibility for such feudal titles, shouldn't it?
Another feature that does appeal to me is the declension of titles: If a majorat had been formed, then the son of a prince was a duke, the son of a duke was a count, the son of a count was a baron. This innovation was preserved by the Restoration for peers and is still practized in France.

Napoleonic heraldry (see great overviews in the appropriate French sections on the wonderful Héraldique européenne site) has of course gotten an ever harder beating than the titles. Apart from the rather unimaginative military-inspired arms chosen by most grantees, the official augmentations for different titles, offices and dignities do seem too rigid and hard to handle with regard to individuals and heirs as time goes by. They would be much better suited for municipal, departmental and regional arms. I am surprised that French official or civil heraldry isn't more inspired by the uniform system set up by Napoleon. They should just replace his municipal augmentations with different civil or mural coronets.

Even though I love coronets of rank, I must say I am rather taken with the Napoleonic toques with different numbers of ostrich feathers for princes, dukes, counts, barons and knights. In ages when we have a hard time seeing how a baron should be entitled to any type of crown or coronet, these hats or caps seem very fitting.
« Last Edit: January 24, 2010, 01:41:46 PM by Tainyi sovetnik »

Offline Tony de Gandarillas

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Re: napoleonic nobility
« Reply #3 on: February 01, 2011, 09:18:46 PM »
LuAnn de Lesseps, self styled Countess LuAnn or The Countess (born May 17, 1965) is an American television personality, recording artist, socialite, and former fashion model best known for her appearances on the Bravo show The Real Housewives of New York City. Her title comes from her previous marriage to Frenchman Alexandre de Lesseps, a descendant of Ferdinand de Lesseps, the architect of the Suez Canal.

Ferdinand Marie, Vicomte de Lesseps, GCSI (19 November 1805 – 7 December 1894) was the French developer of the Suez Canal, which joined the Mediterranean and Red Sea in 1869, and substantially reduced sailing distances and times between the West and the East.  He was made vicomte de Lesseps by Emperor Napoleon III, therefore a member of Napoleonic nobility.

Here are two marriages that show a mix of Napoleonic nobility with the nobility of the Ancien Régime:

•   Ferdinande de Lesseps (Paris, 3 December 1872 - Paris, 4 May 1948), married firstly in Paris on 10 May 1890 to Ferdinand de Gontaut-Biron (Paris, 11 November 1868 - Château de Kimpempois, 6 December 1898), of the Marquesses of Saint-Blacard, by whom she had a son Ferdinand de Gontaut-Biron (Paris, 25 January 1892 - Paris, 2 February 1892), and married secondly François-Joseph de Cassagne de Beaufort, Marquis de Miramon (1867–1932)

•   Marie Solange de Lesseps (Château de La Chesnaye, Guilly, Vatan, Indre, 17 September 1877 - ?), married in Paris on 12 January 1910 to Don Fernando Mexía y Fitz-James-Stuart (Biarritz, 22 October 1881 - ?), 6th Duke of Tamames, 3rd Duke of Galisteo and 12th Count of Mora, and had issue