1790: French Noble Titles Abolished

1790: French Noble Titles Abolished
Photo Credit To Wikipedia Commons

Story Highlights

  • Historical event:
  • 19 June 1790
  • Before the Revolution, there was a branched system of about eight classes and about a dozen French noble titles.

On this day in 1790, during the French Revolution, French noble titles were abolished.

Of course, it was a significant event, as the nobility in France played a major role in the pre-revolutionary period. By abolishing noble titles, French nobles lost their legal privilege that differentiate them from other citizens.

Indeed, earlier, different laws applied for nobles and commoners, and the nobles even had tax privileges. The French Revolution sought to put an end to all these differences.

In terms of noble titles, there was a branched system of about eight ranks and a dozen titles in France up until the Revolution. Let us mention the French noble titles, starting from the highest towards the lowest:

– Duke (Duc),
– Prince (Prince),
– Marquess (Marquis),
– Count (Comte),
– Viscount (Vicomte),
– Vidame (Vidame),
– Baron (Baron),
– Lord (Seigneur).

Traditionally, the French nobles wore a ring with a family crest on the ring finger of their left hand. This signet ring is called in French “chevalière”.

It may either be worn with the coat of arms facing up (to be visible) or facing down (toward the palm). In other European countries, the nobles wore their ring mostly on the little finger, of either the right or left hand.

French noblewoman, unlike the men, usually wore their noble ring on the little finger, not the ring finger.

Unlike in other European countries, nobles in France were not so much appreciated by their titles, as much as by their seniority, i.e. how long the family already had its noble status.

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