Nobility exist in many countries and had earlier in time both political, economical, legal and military privileges, which at present time in has been abolished except that the nobility in certain countries has some form of decision making assembly and in Great Britain also partial political privileges
Noble ranks including titles has been conferred and created in Europe and Japan.
There exist two kinds of nobility, feudal or economical nobility and legal nobility.
Legal nobility has been conferred by sovereigns and their deputies and officials to for example prominent people ,members of the nobility and relatives to sovereigns since the Medieval ages.
Legal nobility does not necessary mean a titled nobility but can also be untitled nobility.
Legal and political privileges has often been connected such type of nobility which are either for life or hereditary accordingly to the laws or traditions of the country.
Economical nobility means that a certain noble rank or title is connected to a certain property and therefore can be sold or bought. This kind of nobility is not considered to be "real nobility". Earlier such kind of nobility included the right to collect taxes.
In the Medieval Ages the sovereign or the lord of the county/region could give a knight a certain property or geographical area which included the right to be noble (lord of the Manor) ,but such kind of nobility is not protected by law and the nobles is not usually included in books of noble families.
In all European Monarchies including the Vatican state and republic of San Marino with the exception of Sweden and Norway the head state still has the right to confer noble ranks and titles, but it is only in Great Britain the sovereign creates new nobility every year.
It exist two ways to inherited an noble dignity either by primogeniture or if the whole family is noble, family nobility .
Family nobility means that the whole family or house bears noble rank or titles ,while primogeniture means that only one person at the time is holder of a noble dignity and the other members of the family is not noble.
Family nobility is the most common type.
The only way to inherited a noble title or rank by primogeniture is if it is a British (including English, Irish & Scottish Nobility) , Spanish or Portuguese Noble dignity.
Within Italian,Papal,Dutch and German nobility but not in Austria the rule is that nobility means that the whole family is noble and bears the same rank ,but sometimes the head of the family is holder of a higher noble dignity than the rest of the family .
Within French Nobility is inheritance of noble dignities by primogeniture the general rule ,but sometimes other members of the family is holder of lower noble title. For example the son of a Marquess is a Count and his son is a Viscount.
The number of Noble families is about circa 200 in Finland,400 in Denmark,617 in Sweden, 16 in Norway, about 4000 in France,1000 in Belgium and it exist about 800 hereditary peerages ,400 life peers and 2000 baronetcies in Great Britain.
It existed in France before the French revolution about15000 Noble families.
In Sweden it is so that if you received a noble dignity before 1809 so was the whole family noble,but if were ennobled after 1809 so was only the head of the family holder of a noble dignity .
The last person to become noble in Sweden was Sven Hedin ,which was ennobled 1902.
Now you can not become noble in Sweden anymore ,since the sovereign thus not have the right to confer noble rank accordingly to the present Act of Government from 1974.
COMPOSITION AMONG NOBLE FAMILIES IN SWEDEN ACCORDINGLY TO RANK : Count,Baron or untitled nobility and the total number of noble families. This does not include families which have received noble dignity by a foreign head of state.
OTHER PAGES ABOUT NOBILITY:
History of Swedish Nobility(in Swedish)
More Facts about nobility in different countries
List of Swedish Noble in order of numbers families living in Sweden
List in order of numbers of Swedish Noble families living abroad
List of British Marquesses and Dukes
List of other English peerages
List of other Scottish peerages
List of other Irish peerages
List of other GB peerages
List of other UK peerages
A Glossary of European Noble, Princely, Royal and imperial Titles
House of Nobility
Database of German and other European Nobility