During the time period of the late sixteenth century to the late eighteenth century the concept of what nobility is and what it was conceived to be varied greatly as more modern thoughts developed and desperation of monarchs grew to meet such demand. The arguments related to nobility differed greatly, but these were the most crucial; the difference between the sword and the robe and the right to even hold such a position at all.
The nobles from military decent (the sword) have an extensive lineage that allows them to perform certain tasks as described by Jean de La Taille in the poem “The Retired Courtier,” the words speak of the need to be a noble, to be a pure noble, to hold the position of a courtier [Doc 1]. King Louis XIII has proclaimed in the Declaration of Duels and Affairs of Honor that nobles bought into the nobility are wasting time fighting with the nobles of military decent should rather have spent that energy defending the country that gives them such authority in the first place [Doc 6].
King Louis XIII only wants the political emancipation from such a minor distraction as this controversy caused such a up roar of the masses. Gilles Andre de La Roque said, “You can’t just earn the title of nobility because you lack the family necessary for it” [Doc 9]. On that note, note everyone had the exact same idea as to what makes a noble, a noble. Marc-Antoine Millotet supported the rights of being a robe nobleman being that it was acquired by law, so as to make it just [Doc 7].
This belief was most likely due to the fact that he was a Judge thus, influencing the idea of law. Moliere created the scene in “Dom Juan” that nobility is not earned through birth, but by the actions of ced person [Doc 8]. He could have possibly thought that this because of his non-nobility status and his role thespianism, meaning only nobles would watch plays anyways.
King Louis XVI changed the way the monarchy viewed the rights to nobility by stating you don’t have to fight in war to gain noble recognition any nobility involvement will do [Doc 10]. Although, people feuded about which noble was the right noble some didn’t even believe it should exist. Pierre de La Primaudaye thought nobility needed self-worth before such nobility were to even be inherited; he said you need to contribute to the family name [Doc 2].
Villagers of Mondeville in a testimony to the Parlement that nobility isn’t a perfect breed they shouldn’t hold such prestige over other people, saying that Pierre Morin believed his noble status gives him the right to mistreat anyone who is not royal or noble [Doc 3]. Henry, Prince of Conde spoke about the current nobility buying their way into offices, saying that there is no reward for virtue or tradition of family since all power now belongs to favors, alliances, kinship, and money [Doc 4].
Henry perhaps felt a need to say what was on his mind as he saw the immediate nobility change in the court around him causing much stress and indifference. Over the period of the late sixteenth century to the late eighteenth century nobility changed its influences on the public and the royal court this led to arguments such as the difference of the sword and robe nobles to the idea of not having nobles at all. This controversy will continue as the struggle for power continues in the higher classes in European governments or when the idea of monarchy ends entirely.
Courtney from Study Moose
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