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.



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

British Orders




A Glossary of European Noble, Princely, Royal and imperial Titles

House of Nobility

Database of German and other European Nobility




Last updated at 2002.06.23