The exhibition Manor Life

The exhibition Manor Life

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.

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