Social Order The social order of the renaissance state was defended by maintaining that it was instituted by a higher authority. The photograph above the door shows a coloured drawing in the autograph album* of the Viborg Bishop Frank Rosenbaum. Here God hands a sword to the noble squire as a symbol of his role as a warrior, while the peasant receives a scythe as a representative of the working classes. On the left of the peasant the clergyman receives a book as he is in charge of the religious upbringing. The king, the uppermost leader of society, is given a sceptre and a crown. Reproduced photo from the Royal Library. * An album which the gentry and clergy brought with them on their journeys of education. Friends and celebrities were invited to write and draw in the album.
Privileges and Virtues The noble squires of the renaissance possessed a number of privileges, which kept them separate from the other social classes. They paid neither tithe nor tax, and they had exclusive rights to offices at court, as counts and as judges at the provincial courts. Estates belonging to the nobility could not be acquired by other social classes, and the nobility could only be judged by the royal court in cases relating to killings and to honour. In return they were only obliged to serve the society by providing a number of armoured riders for the defence of the country, the number of riders being in relation to the size of their estate. The military importance of this service was progressively reduced as firearms were developed and use of professional mercenaries became common, but nevertheless the nobility upheld stubbornly their privileges. They claimed that due to their noble descent and breeding they were in possession of virtues, which made them particularly suited to govern the country. From the philosophy of the antiquity the Christian church adopted the concept of the four cardinal virtues: Strength, Wisdom, Moderation, and Justice to which it added Faith, Hope and Charity. These virtues were accentuated in the publications of the nobility and used repetitively in the arts, they financed. During the absolute monarchy the old nobility were replaced by a new kind of squires, but these adopted also the old traditions.