The Clan McLea/Livingstone Forum
|Title:||The 'Noble' Clan|
|Posted by:||Young Bachuil|
|Date:||19 September 2004|
As it is a sleepy Sunday morning I thought I might stir the pot and ask a few fundamental questions. |
The first is when did the phrase “the Noble Clan X” first start appeari?
Second what do we mean by nobility, and is it’s meaning different in Scotland from England?
In an attempt to answer this question I came across this site http://www.heraldica.org/topics/odegard/titlefaq.htm which has some useful comments. “Romans recognized three orders: patricians, equestrians (Miles?) and plebeians, and earlier, before the foundation of the republic, a fourth: royalty. Added to this, there was the concept of nobilis; to be noble meant you were descended from someone who had been Consul; being a patrician was necessary to become Consul (though you could buy your way in), but to be noble was ineffably grander, at least to the Roman way of thinking.”
It continues, “These notions of the Romans apply to present-day parlance. In the British system, one can discriminate between royalty, nobility, knights, gentry and commons: five grades. The Germans tend to regard certain of what the British regard as gentry as noble, and at the highest levels, what the British define as noble resembles what the Germans regard as "princely" and in general, continental systems as a whole tend to have a broader definition of 'noble'. In essence, the nobility were the landowners. ”
The statement that “the nobility were the landowners” has some merit. In England the House of Lords evolved from the tenants-in-chief of the crown. In Scotland parliament consisted of “three estaits” one of which were the barons and landowners of estates of at least 40 shillings.
“In the West, it is nearly impossible to trace any noble lineage back much before AD 800 (though the old Gaelic nobility of Ireland has a special claim to antiquity here); anything before 1100 is remarkable.”
It should not be forgotten that many of our Scots families bear the Lion in their arms and these all descend from Erc, King of Dalriada. It was always the boast of the King of Scots that his was the oldest crown in Christendom.
“The organized system of titles we have today is a rather late development, but ‘count’, and ‘prince’ go back to the Roman Empire. Only when it was recognized that one might have "betters" (i.e., with the organization of nation-states) did the nobles start paying attention to titles, styles, and pedigrees.”
In the "Robes of the feudal baronage of Scotland" (27th Oct 1945) Proceedings of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland, Vol. 79, Sir Thomas Innes of Learney, then Lord Lion King of Arms, writes:
“The baronage is an order derived partly from the allodial system of territorial tribalism in which the patriarch held his country under God, and partly from the later feudal system - which we shall see was, in Western Europe anyway, itself a developed form of tribalism - in which the territory came to be held off and under the King in an organised parental realm.
François Velde states
“In Old Regime France, the term Prince could refer to a rank or a title.
In the strictest sense the term prince implied a notion of sovereignty. It was a rank generally reserved to the princes du sang (Princes of the Blood), who were all in line to succeed to the throne. This concept sits easily with the Irish Scot concept of the "true family" or Derbhfine. This is why the old families made great use of the hand which was considered a symbol of the Derbhfine and made other allusions to their royal blood wherever possible - such as the Lion Rampant borne in the arms.
"In some areas (especially in Brittany), the title of prince was traditionally attached to a feudal land which had been considered allodial, i.e., without overlord. In France, almost all lands were feudal, that is, held from some superior, ultimately back to the king. But there were a few allodial lands (allods were more common in northern Italy and in Germany). Such titles of "prince", which appear in early charters, were considered by jurists to have no more meaning than the title of lord; there are dozens of examples.....Some families took upon themselves to change a title of lord into a title of prince (Condé, Conti). Most often, such changes were carried out by individuals who already ranked as princes, either foreign or of the blood: the princes of Condé and Conti are examples of the first, the Rohan (princes of Soubise, Guéméné, Rochefort) and the Luxembourg (Tingry, Martigues) examples of the second" http://www.heraldica.org/topics/france/frprince.htm
It seems to me therefore, that the number of people who have an ancestor who held land direct from the crown must be very substantial. It is an interesting mathematical and statistical concept but it must include the vast majority of the population. In particular, given the nature of the clan system, it suggests that every clansmen is noble.
So if that is the case, what now differentiates us? Is it our behaviour – those with lofty ideas?
Something to chew on - and hopefully generate an informed discussion.
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