Patricianship

Patricianship

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Patricianship, the quality of belonging to a patriciate, began in the ancient world, where cities such as Ancient Rome
Ancient Rome
Ancient Rome was a thriving civilization that grew on the Italian Peninsula as early as the 8th century BC. Located along the Mediterranean Sea and centered on the city of Rome, it expanded to one of the largest empires in the ancient world....

 had a class of patrician families whose members were the only people allowed to exercise many political functions. In the rise of Europe
Europe
Europe is, by convention, one of the world's seven continents. Comprising the westernmost peninsula of Eurasia, Europe is generally 'divided' from Asia to its east by the watershed divides of the Ural and Caucasus Mountains, the Ural River, the Caspian and Black Seas, and the waterways connecting...

an towns in the tenth and eleventh centuries, the patriciate, a limited group of families with a special constitutional position, in Henri Pirenne
Henri Pirenne
Henri Pirenne was a Belgian historian. A medievalist of Walloon descent, he wrote a multivolume history of Belgium in French and became a national hero....

's view, was the motive force. In 19th century, central Europe, the term had become synonymous with the Bourgeoisie
Bourgeoisie
In sociology and political science, bourgeoisie describes a range of groups across history. In the Western world, between the late 18th century and the present day, the bourgeoisie is a social class "characterized by their ownership of capital and their related culture." A member of the...

.

With the establishment of the medieval Italian republics
Italian city-states
The Italian city-states were a political phenomenon of small independent states mostly in the central and northern Italian peninsula between the 10th and 15th centuries....

, the patriciate was a formally defined class of governing elites found within metropolitan areas such as Venice
Republic of Venice
The Republic of Venice or Venetian Republic was a state originating from the city of Venice in Northeastern Italy. It existed for over a millennium, from the late 7th century until 1797. It was formally known as the Most Serene Republic of Venice and is often referred to as La Serenissima, in...

, Florence
Republic of Florence
The Republic of Florence , or the Florentine Republic, was a city-state that was centered on the city of Florence, located in modern Tuscany, Italy. The republic was founded in 1115, when the Florentine people rebelled against the Margraviate of Tuscany upon Margravine Matilda's death. The...

, Genoa
Republic of Genoa
The Most Serene Republic of Genoa |Ligurian]]: Repúbrica de Zêna) was an independent state from 1005 to 1797 in Liguria on the northwestern Italian coast, as well as Corsica from 1347 to 1768, and numerous other territories throughout the Mediterranean....

, and Amalfi
Duchy of Amalfi
The Duchy of Amalfi or the Republic of Amalfi was a de facto independent state centred on the Southern Italian city of Amalfi during the 10th and 11th centuries. The city and its territory were originally part of the larger ducatus Neapolitanus, governed by a patrician, but it extracted itself...

 and also in many of the Free imperial cities
Free Imperial City
In the Holy Roman Empire, a free imperial city was a city formally ruled by the emperor only — as opposed to the majority of cities in the Empire, which were governed by one of the many princes of the Empire, such as dukes or prince-bishops...

 of Germany
Germany
Germany , officially the Federal Republic of Germany , is a federal parliamentary republic in Europe. The country consists of 16 states while the capital and largest city is Berlin. Germany covers an area of 357,021 km2 and has a largely temperate seasonal climate...

 such as Nuremburg, Ravensburg
Ravensburg
Ravensburg is a town in Upper Swabia in Southern Germany, capital of the district of Ravensburg, Baden-Württemberg.Ravensburg was first mentioned in 1088. In the Middle Ages, it was an Imperial Free City and an important trading centre...

, Augsburg
Augsburg
Augsburg is a city in the south-west of Bavaria, Germany. It is a university town and home of the Regierungsbezirk Schwaben and the Bezirk Schwaben. Augsburg is an urban district and home to the institutions of the Landkreis Augsburg. It is, as of 2008, the third-largest city in Bavaria with a...

, Konstanz
Konstanz
Konstanz is a university city with approximately 80,000 inhabitants located at the western end of Lake Constance in the south-west corner of Germany, bordering Switzerland. The city houses the University of Konstanz.-Location:...

 and Lindau
Lindau
Lindau is a Bavarian town and an island on the eastern side of Lake Constance, the Bodensee. It is the capital of the Landkreis or rural district of Lindau. The historic city of Lindau is located on an island which is connected with the mainland by bridge and railway.- History :The name Lindau was...

 and Switzerland
Switzerland
Switzerland name of one of the Swiss cantons. ; ; ; or ), in its full name the Swiss Confederation , is a federal republic consisting of 26 cantons, with Bern as the seat of the federal authorities. The country is situated in Western Europe,Or Central Europe depending on the definition....

 such Bern, Basel
Basel
Basel or Basle In the national languages of Switzerland the city is also known as Bâle , Basilea and Basilea is Switzerland's third most populous city with about 166,000 inhabitants. Located where the Swiss, French and German borders meet, Basel also has suburbs in France and Germany...

 and Zurich
Zürich
Zurich is the largest city in Switzerland and the capital of the canton of Zurich. It is located in central Switzerland at the northwestern tip of Lake Zurich...

.

As in Ancient Rome, patrician status could generally only be inherited. However, membership in the patriciate could be passed on through the female line . For example, if the union was approved by her parents, the husband of patrician daughter was granted membership in the patrician society Zum Sünfzen of the Lindau as a matter of right, on the same terms as the younger son of a patrician male (i.e., upon payment of a nominal fee) even if the husband was otherwise deemed socially ineligible. Accession to a patriciate through this mechanism was referred to as "erweibern."

In any case, only male patricians could hold, or participate in elections for, most political offices. Often, as in Venice, non-patricians had next to no political rights. Lists were maintained of who had the status, of which the most famous is the Libro d'Oro
Libro d'Oro
The Libro d'Oro , once the formal directory of nobles in the Republic of Venice, is now a respected, privately-published directory of the nobility of Italy ....

 (Golden Book) of the Venetian Republic. From the fall of Hohenstaufen
Hohenstaufen
The House of Hohenstaufen was a dynasty of German kings in the High Middle Ages, lasting from 1138 to 1254. Three of these kings were also crowned Holy Roman Emperor. In 1194 the Hohenstaufens also became Kings of Sicily...

 (1268) city-republics increasingly became principalities, like Milan and Verona, and the smaller ones were swallowed up by monarchical states or sometimes other republics, like Pisa and Siena by Florence, and any special role for the local patricians was restricted to municipal affairs. The few remaining patrician constitutions, notably that of Venice and Genoa, were swept away by the conquering French armies of the period after the French Revolution
French Revolution
The French Revolution , sometimes distinguished as the 'Great French Revolution' , was a period of radical social and political upheaval in France and Europe. The absolute monarchy that had ruled France for centuries collapsed in three years...

, though many patrician families remained socially and politically important, as some do to this day.

The term patrician is also used broadly in a number of European countries to refer to a social class
Social class
Social classes are economic or cultural arrangements of groups in society. Class is an essential object of analysis for sociologists, political scientists, economists, anthropologists and social historians. In the social sciences, social class is often discussed in terms of 'social stratification'...

 until the late 19th or early 20th century, namely those families whose prominence was based on economic activity over many generations. For instance in Scandinavia, the term became synonymous with the mercantile elite.

The patricius in Late Antiquity and the Early Middle Ages



There was an intermediate period under the Late Roman Empire and Byzantine Empire
Byzantine Empire
The Byzantine Empire was the Eastern Roman Empire during the periods of Late Antiquity and the Middle Ages, centred on the capital of Constantinople. Known simply as the Roman Empire or Romania to its inhabitants and neighbours, the Empire was the direct continuation of the Ancient Roman State...

 when the title was given to governors in the Western parts of the Empire, such as Sicily
Sicily
Sicily is a region of Italy, and is the largest island in the Mediterranean Sea. Along with the surrounding minor islands, it constitutes an autonomous region of Italy, the Regione Autonoma Siciliana Sicily has a rich and unique culture, especially with regard to the arts, music, literature,...

Stilicho
Stilicho
Flavius Stilicho was a high-ranking general , Patrician and Consul of the Western Roman Empire, notably of Vandal birth. Despised by the Roman population for his Germanic ancestry and Arian beliefs, Stilicho was in 408 executed along with his wife and son...

, Aetius
Flavius Aëtius
Flavius Aëtius , dux et patricius, was a Roman general of the closing period of the Western Roman Empire. He was an able military commander and the most influential man in the Western Roman Empire for two decades . He managed policy in regard to the attacks of barbarian peoples pressing on the Empire...

 and other fifth-century magistri militari usefully exemplify the role and scope of the patricius at this point. Later the role, like that of the Giudicati
Giudicati
The giudicati were the indigenous kingdoms of Sardinia from about 900 until 1410, when the last fell to the Aragonese. The rulers of the giudicati were giudici , from the Latin iudice , often translates as "judge". The Latin for giudicato was iudicatus The giudicati (singular giudicato) were the...

 of Sardinia
Sardinia
Sardinia is the second-largest island in the Mediterranean Sea . It is an autonomous region of Italy, and the nearest land masses are the French island of Corsica, the Italian Peninsula, Sicily, Tunisia and the Spanish Balearic Islands.The name Sardinia is from the pre-Roman noun *sard[],...

, acquired a judicial overtone, and was used by rulers who were often de facto independent of Imperial control, like Alberic II of Spoleto
Alberic II of Spoleto
Alberic II was ruler of Rome from 932 to 954, after deposing his mother Marozia and his stepfather, King Hugh of Italy.He was of the house of the Counts of Tusculum, the son of the notorious Marozia by her first husband, Alberic I, Duke of Spoleto. His half-brother was Pope John XI...

, "Patrician of Rome" from 932 to 954.

In the 9th and 10th centuries, the Byzantine emperors strategically used the title of patrikios to gain the support of the native princes of southern Italy in the contest with the Carolingian Empire
Carolingian Empire
Carolingian Empire is a historiographical term which has been used to refer to the realm of the Franks under the Carolingian dynasty in the Early Middle Ages. This dynasty is seen as the founders of France and Germany, and its beginning date is based on the crowning of Charlemagne, or Charles the...

 for control of the region. The allegiance of the Principality of Salerno
Principality of Salerno
The Lombard Principality of Salerno was a South Italian state, centered on the port city of Salerno, formed in 851 out of the Principality of Benevento after a decade-long civil war....

 was bought in 887 by investing Prince Guaimar I
Guaimar I of Salerno
Guaimar I was the prince of Salerno from 880, when his father entered the monastery of Monte Cassino in August. His parents were Prince Guaifer and Landelaica, daughter of Lando I of Capua...

, and again in 955 from Gisulf I
Gisulf I of Salerno
Gisulf I was the eldest son of his father, Guaimar II, and his second wife Gaitelgrima. He was associated with his father as prince of Salerno in 943 and he succeeded him on his death in 952...

. In 909 the Prince of Benevento, Landulf I
Landulf I of Benevento
Landulf I , sometimes called Antipater, was a Lombard nobleman and the Prince of Benevento and of Capua from 12 January 901, when his father, Atenulf I, prince of Capua and conqueror of Benevento, associated his with him in power...

, personally sought and received the title in Constantinople for both himself and his brother, Atenulf II
Atenulf II of Benevento
Atenulf II was the younger brother of Prince Landulf I of Benevento, who associated him with the government in June 910 or 911 .In 909, Landulf went to Constantinople to receive the titles of anthypatos and...

. In forging the alliance that won the Battle of the Garigliano in 915, the Byzantine strategos
Strategos
Strategos, plural strategoi, is used in Greek to mean "general". In the Hellenistic and Byzantine Empires the term was also used to describe a military governor...

Nicholas Picingli
Nicholas Picingli
Nicholas Picingli was the Byzantine strategos of Bari in the thema of Langobardia, who led the Byzantine contingent of the Christian League in the Battle of Garigliano in 915 during the Byzantine–Arab Wars....

 granted the title to John I
John I of Gaeta
John I was the second hypatus of Gaeta of his dynasty, a son of Dociblis I and Matrona, and perhaps the greatest of medieval Gaetan rulers....

 and Docibilis II of Gaeta
Docibilis II of Gaeta
Docibilis II was the ruler of Gaeta, in one capacity or another, from 906 until his death. He was the son of the hypatus John I, who made him co-ruler in 906 or thereabouts....

 and Gregory IV
Gregory IV of Naples
Gregory IV was the firstborn son of Duke Sergius II of Naples and successor of his paternal uncle, Bishop Athanasius, in 898, when he was elected dux, or magister militum, unanimously by the aristocracy. His other paternal uncle, Stephen, succeeded Athanasius as bishop...

 and John II of Naples
John II of Naples
John II was the duke of Naples from 915 to his death. He succeeded his father Gregory IV on the latter's death late in 915.He had accompanied his father to the Battle of the Garigliano under Nicholas Picingli, where the Christian coalition defeated the Moslems of the fortress on the Garigliano....

.

At this time there was usually only one "Patrician" for a particular city or territory at a time; in several cities in Sicily
Sicily
Sicily is a region of Italy, and is the largest island in the Mediterranean Sea. Along with the surrounding minor islands, it constitutes an autonomous region of Italy, the Regione Autonoma Siciliana Sicily has a rich and unique culture, especially with regard to the arts, music, literature,...

, like Catania
Catania
Catania is an Italian city on the east coast of Sicily facing the Ionian Sea, between Messina and Syracuse. It is the capital of the homonymous province, and with 298,957 inhabitants it is the second-largest city in Sicily and the tenth in Italy.Catania is known to have a seismic history and...

 and Messina, a one-man office of patrician was part of municipal government for much longer. Amalfi
Amalfi
Amalfi is a town and comune in the province of Salerno, in the region of Campania, Italy, on the Gulf of Salerno, c. 35 km southeast of Naples. It lies at the mouth of a deep ravine, at the foot of Monte Cerreto , surrounded by dramatic cliffs and coastal scenery...

 was ruled by a series of Patricians, the last of whom
Mastalus II of Amalfi
Mastalus II was the first duke of Amalfi from 957 until his death.He succeeded his father as patricius in 953, when he was still a minor. He came of age in 957 and was elected dux, raising him to equal rank with the Dukes of Gaeta and Naples. In the next year, he was assassinated by Sergius of...

 was elected Duke.

Formation of the European patriciates



Though often mistakenly so described, patrician families of Italian cities were not in their origins members of the territorial nobility
Nobility
Nobility is a social class which possesses more acknowledged privileges or eminence than members of most other classes in a society, membership therein typically being hereditary. The privileges associated with nobility may constitute substantial advantages over or relative to non-nobles, or may be...

, but members of the minor landowners, the bailiffs and stewards of the lords and bishops, against whose residual powers they led the struggles in establishing the urban commune
Medieval commune
Medieval communes in the European Middle Ages had sworn allegiances of mutual defense among the citizens of a town or city. They took many forms, and varied widely in organization and makeup. Communes are first recorded in the late 11th and early 12th centuries, thereafter becoming a widespread...

s. At Genoa
Republic of Genoa
The Most Serene Republic of Genoa |Ligurian]]: Repúbrica de Zêna) was an independent state from 1005 to 1797 in Liguria on the northwestern Italian coast, as well as Corsica from 1347 to 1768, and numerous other territories throughout the Mediterranean....

 the earliest records of trading partnerships are in documents of the early eleventh century; there the typical sleeping partner is a member of the local petty nobility
Petty nobility
Petty nobility is dated at least back to 13th century and was formed by Nobles/Knights around their strategic interests. The idea was more capable peasants with leader roles in local community that were given tax exemption for taking care of services like for example guard duties of local primitive...

 with some capital to invest, and in the expansion of trade leading roles were taken by men who already held profitable positions in the feudal order, who received revenues from rents or customs tolls or market dues. Then in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries, to this first patrician class were added the families who had risen through trade, the Doria
Doria
Doria, originally de Auria , meaning "the sons of Auria", and then de Oria or d'Oria, is the name of an old and extremely wealthy Genoese family who played a major role in the history of the Republic of Genoa and in Italy, from the 12th century to the 16th century.-Origins:According to legend, a...

, Cigala and Lercari In Milan
Milan
Milan is the second-largest city in Italy and the capital city of the region of Lombardy and of the province of Milan. The city proper has a population of about 1.3 million, while its urban area, roughly coinciding with its administrative province and the bordering Province of Monza and Brianza ,...

, the earliest consuls were chosen from among the valvasores
Vavasour
A vavasour, is a term in Feudal law. A vavasour was the vassal or tenant of a baron, one who held their tenancy under a baron, and who also had tenants under him...

, capitanei and cives. H. Sapori found the first patriaciates of Italian towns to usurp the public and financial functions of the overlord to have been drawn from such petty vassal
Vassal
A vassal or feudatory is a person who has entered into a mutual obligation to a lord or monarch in the context of the feudal system in medieval Europe. The obligations often included military support and mutual protection, in exchange for certain privileges, usually including the grant of land held...

s, holders of heritable tenancies and rentiers who farmed out the agricultural labours of their holdings.

At a certain point it was necessary to obtain recognition of the independence of the city, and often its constitution, from either the Pope or the Holy Roman Emperor
Holy Roman Emperor
The Holy Roman Emperor is a term used by historians to denote a medieval ruler who, as German King, had also received the title of "Emperor of the Romans" from the Pope...

 - "free" cities in the Empire continued to owe allegiance to the Emperor, but without any intermediate rulers.

In the late Middle Ages and early modern period patricians also acquired noble titles, sometimes simply by acquiring domains in the surrounding contado that carried a heritable fief. However in practice the status and wealth of the patrician families of the great republics was higher than that of most nobles, as money economy
Market economy
A market economy is an economy in which the prices of goods and services are determined in a free price system. This is often contrasted with a state-directed or planned economy. Market economies can range from hypothetically pure laissez-faire variants to an assortment of real-world mixed...

 spread and the profitability and prerogatives of land-holding eroded, and they were accepted as of similar status. The Republic of Genoa had a separate class, much smaller, of nobility, originating with rural magnates who joined their interests with the fledgling city-state. Some cities, such as Naples
Naples
Naples is a city in Southern Italy, situated on the country's west coast by the Gulf of Naples. Lying between two notable volcanic regions, Mount Vesuvius and the Phlegraean Fields, it is the capital of the region of Campania and of the province of Naples...

 and Rome
Rome
Rome is the capital of Italy and the country's largest and most populated city and comune, with over 2.7 million residents in . The city is located in the central-western portion of the Italian Peninsula, on the Tiber River within the Lazio region of Italy.Rome's history spans two and a half...

, which had never been republics, also had patrician classes, though most holders also had noble titles.

Subsequently "patrician" became a vaguer term used for aristocrat
Aristocracy (class)
The aristocracy are people considered to be in the highest social class in a society which has or once had a political system of Aristocracy. Aristocrats possess hereditary titles granted by a monarch, which once granted them feudal or legal privileges, or deriving, as in Ancient Greece and India,...

s and elite bourgeoisie
Bourgeoisie
In sociology and political science, bourgeoisie describes a range of groups across history. In the Western world, between the late 18th century and the present day, the bourgeoisie is a social class "characterized by their ownership of capital and their related culture." A member of the...

 in many countries.

Transformations within patriciates


In some Italian cities an early patriciate drawn from the minor nobles and feudal officials took a direct interest in trade, notably the textile trade and the long-distance trade in spices and luxuries as it expanded, and were transformed in the process. In others, the inflexibility of the patriciate would build up powerful forces excluded from its ranks, and in an urban coup the great mercantile interests would overthrow the grandi, without overthrowing the urban order, but simply filling its formal bodies with members drawn from the new ranks, or rewriting the constitution to allow more power to the "populo". Florence, in 1244, came rather late in the peak period of these transformations, which was between 1197, when Lucca
Lucca
Lucca is a city and comune in Tuscany, central Italy, situated on the river Serchio in a fertile plainnear the Tyrrhenian Sea. It is the capital city of the Province of Lucca...

 followed this route, and 1257, when Genoa adopted similar changes. However Florence was to have other upheavals, reducing the power of the patrician class, in the movement leading to the Ordinances of Justice
Ordinances of Justice
The Ordinances of Justice were a series of statutory laws enacted in Florence, Italy between the years 1293 and 1295. These laws were directed against, and identified by name particularly influential families and Ghibelline sympathizers. Those identified were supposed to possess a bellicose and...

 in 1293, and the Revolt of the Ciompi in 1378.

Of the major republics, only Venice managed to retain an exclusively patrician government, which survived until Napoleon. In Venice, where the exclusive patriciate reserved to itself all power of directing the Serenissima Repubblica and erected legal barriers to protect the state increased its scrutiny over the composition of its patriciate in the generation after the Battle of Chioggia
Battle of Chioggia
The naval Battle of Chioggia took place on June 21, 1380 in the lagoon off Chioggia, Italy, between the Venetian and the Genoese fleets, who had captured the little fishing port in August the preceding year. This occurred during the War of Chioggia....

. Venetians with a disputed claim to the patriciate were required to present to the avogadori di commun established to adjudicate such claims a genealogy called a prova di nobiltà, a "test of nobility". This was particularly required of Venetian colonial elite in outlying regions of the Venetian thalassocracy
Thalassocracy
The term thalassocracy refers to a state with primarily maritime realms—an empire at sea, such as Athens or the Phoenician network of merchant cities...

, as in Crete, a key Venetian colony 1211-1669, and a frontier between Venetian and Byzantine, then Ottoman, zones of power. For Venetians in Venice, the prova di nobiltà was simply a pro forma rite of passage to adulthood, attested by family and neighbors; for the colonial Venetian elite in Crete the political and economic privileges weighed with the social ones, and for the Republic, a local patriciate in Crete with loyalty ties to Venice expressed through connective lineages was of paramount importance.

Recruitment to patriciates


Active recruitment of rich new blood was also a character of some more flexible patriciates, which drew in members of the mercantile elite, through ad hoc partnerships in ventures, which became more permanently cemented by marriage alliances. "In such cases an upper group, part feudal-aristocratic, part mercantile would arise, a group of mixed nature like the 'magnates' of Bologna,formed of nobles made bourgeois by business, and bourgeois ennobled by city decree, both fused together in law." Others, like Venice, tightly restricted membership, which was closed in 1297, though some families, the "case nuove" or "new houses" were allowed to join in the 14th century, after which membership was frozen.

German cities of the Holy Roman Empire


Beginning in the 11th century, a privileged class which much later came to be called Patrizier formed in the German-speaking free imperial cities
Imperial City
-Places:* Imperial City, Beijing, the central section of Beijing* Imperial City , a walled fortress and palace in the former capital of Vietnam.* Free imperial city, city formally responsible only to the emperor in the Holy Roman Empire,....

. Besides wealthy merchant Great Burgher
Great burgher
Great Burgher is a specific title and legally defined "order of citizenship", a higher ranking type of citizen and social order, a formally defined social class of wealthy high status individuals and families in medieval German-speaking cities and towns under the Holy...

s , they were recruited from the ranks of imperial knights
Imperial Knight
The Free Imperial Knights, or the Knights of the Empire was an organisation of free nobles of the Holy Roman Empire, whose direct overlord was the Emperor, remnants of the medieval free nobility and the ministeriales...

, administrators and ministeriales
Ministerialis
Ministerialis ; a post-classical Latin word, used in English, meaning originally servitor, agent, in a broad range of senses...

; the latter two groups were accepted even when they were not freemen.

Members of a patrician society entered into oaths of loyalty to one another and directly with respect to the Holy Roman Emperor
Holy Roman Emperor
The Holy Roman Emperor is a term used by historians to denote a medieval ruler who, as German King, had also received the title of "Emperor of the Romans" from the Pope...

.

German medieval patricians did not refer to themselves as such. Instead, they organized themselves into closed societies (i.e., Gesellschaften) and would point to their belonging to certain families or "houses" (i.e., Geschlechter), as documented for Imperial Free Cities of Cologne
Cologne
Cologne is Germany's fourth-largest city , and is the largest city both in the Germany Federal State of North Rhine-Westphalia and within the Rhine-Ruhr Metropolitan Area, one of the major European metropolitan areas with more than ten million inhabitants.Cologne is located on both sides of the...

, Frankfurt am Main, Nuremberg
Nuremberg
Nuremberg[p] is a city in the German state of Bavaria, in the administrative region of Middle Franconia. Situated on the Pegnitz river and the Rhine–Main–Danube Canal, it is located about north of Munich and is Franconia's largest city. The population is 505,664...

. The use of the word Patrizier to refer to the most privileged segment of urban society dates back not to the Middle Ages but to the Renaissance. In 1516 the Nuremberg councillor and jurist Dr. Christoph Scheuerl (1481–1542) was commissioned by Dr. Johann Staupitz, the vicar general of the order of St. Augustine, to draft a précis of the Nuremberg constitution, presented on 15 December 1516 in the form of a letter. Because the letter was composed in Latin, Scheuerl referred to the Nuremberg "houses" as "patricii", making ready use of the obvious analogy to the constitution of ancient Rome. His contemporaries soon turned this into the loan words Patriziat and Patrizier for patricianship and patricians. However, this usage did not become common until the 17th and 18th centuries.

The Patrizier filled the seats of town councils and appropriated other important civic offices to themselves. For this purpose they assembled in patrician societies and asserted a hereditary claim to the coveted offices. In Frankfurt the Patrizier societies began to bar admittance of new families in the second half of the 16th century. The industrious Calvinist refugees from the southern Netherlands made substantial contributions to the city's commerce. But their advancement was largely limited to the material sphere. At the time this was summed up as, Jews were in any case never even considered for membership in patricians societies. Unlike non-Lutheran Christians and until their partial emancipation brought on by Napoleonic occupation, however, other avenues to advancement in society were also closed to them.

As in the Italian republics, this was opposed by the craftsmen who were organized in guilds of their own (Zünfte). In the 13th century they began to challenge the prerogatives of the patricians and their guilds. Most of the time the guilds succeeded in achieving representation on a town's council. However, these gains were reversed in most Imperial Free Cities through the reforms in 1551-1553 by Emperor Charles V
Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor
Charles V was ruler of the Holy Roman Empire from 1519 and, as Charles I, of the Spanish Empire from 1516 until his voluntary retirement and abdication in favor of his younger brother Ferdinand I and his son Philip II in 1556.As...

 (of the Holy Roman Empire, 1519 - 1556) and patricians consolidated their exclusive right to city counsel seats and associated offices, making the patriciate the only families eligible for election to the city council.

During the formative years of a patrician junker
Junker
A Junker was a member of the landed nobility of Prussia and eastern Germany. These families were mostly part of the German Uradel and carried on the colonization and Christianization of the northeastern European territories during the medieval Ostsiedlung. The abbreviation of Junker is Jkr...

, it was common to pursue international apprenticeships and academic qualification. During their careers patricians often achieved high military and civil service positions in the service of their cities and the emperor. It was also common for patricians to gain wealth as shareholders of corporations which traded commodities across Europe.

In the territories of the former Holy Roman Empire, patricians were considered the equal of the feudal nobility (the "landed gentry"). Indeed, many patrician societies such as the Suenfzen of Lindau, referred to their members as "noble" and themselves as a "noble" or even "high noble" societies. Some patrician societies such as that of Bern, officially granted their members the right to use noble predicates whereas other patricians chose to use the noble predicate "von" in connection with their original name or a country estate, see e.g., the Lindau patrician families Heider von Gitzenweiler (also von Heider), Funk von Senftenau, Seutter von Loetzen (also von Seutter), Halder von Moellenberg (also von Halder), Curtabatt (also von Curtabat or de Curtabat). In 1696 and 1697 Emperor Leopold affirmed the noble quality (i.e., ebenburtigkeit") of Nuremberg Patrizier and their right to elevate new families to their society.

Notwithstanding that membership in a patrician society (or eligibility there for, i.e., "Ratsfähigkeit") was per se evidence of belonging to the highest of social classes of the Holy Roman Empire, patricians always had the option to have their noble status confirmed by a patent of nobility from the Holy Roman Emperor which was granted as a matter course upon the payment of fee. In any case, when travelling to other parts of Europe for example to the court of Louis XIV, members of the patrician societies of imperial free cities were recognized as noble courtiers as documented in the autobiography of Lindau Suenfzenjunker
Junker
A Junker was a member of the landed nobility of Prussia and eastern Germany. These families were mostly part of the German Uradel and carried on the colonization and Christianization of the northeastern European territories during the medieval Ostsiedlung. The abbreviation of Junker is Jkr...

 Rudolf Curtabatt.

The Holy Roman Empire ceased to exist in 1806. Although not the arbiter of who belongs to the historical German patriciate, the modern Genealogisches Handbuch des Adels (= Genealogical Handbook of Nobility) following appropriate review by the fourth chamber of the German Adelsrechtsausschuss or Noble Law Committee, will include families even without a title of nobility affirmed by the Emperor, when there is proof that their progenitors belonged to hereditary "council houses" in German imperial cities. To the extent patricians and their descendants chose to avail themselves of a noble predicate after 1806 and, therefore, without imperial affirmation, such titles and predicates would also be accepted by the German Adelsrechtsausschuss if acquired through a legal mechanism akin to adverse possession
Adverse possession
Adverse possession is a process by which premises can change ownership. It is a common law concept concerning the title to real property . By adverse possession, title to another's real property can be acquired without compensation, by holding the property in a manner that conflicts with the true...

, i.e., Ersitzung.

In any case, in the Netherlands (see below) and many Hanseatic cities such as Hamburg
Hamburg
-History:The first historic name for the city was, according to Claudius Ptolemy's reports, Treva.But the city takes its modern name, Hamburg, from the first permanent building on the site, a castle whose construction was ordered by the Emperor Charlemagne in AD 808...

, patricians scoffed at the notion of ennoblement. Indeed, Johann Christian Senckenberg
Johann Christian Senckenberg
Johann Christian Senckenberg was a German physician , naturalist and collector.In 1763 he established the Senckenberg Foundation to support natural sciences...

, the famous naturalist, commented, "An honest man is worth more than all the nobility and all the Barons. If anyone were to make me a Baron
Baron
Baron is a title of nobility. The word baron comes from Old French baron, itself from Old High German and Latin baro meaning " man, warrior"; it merged with cognate Old English beorn meaning "nobleman"...

, I would call him a [female canine organ] or equally well a Baron. This is how much I care for any title."

In 1816, Frankfurt's new constitution abolished the privilege of heritable office for the patricians. In Nuremberg, successive reforms first curtailed the patricians privileges (1794) and then effectively abolished them (1808), although they retained some vestiges of power until 1848.

Patricianship in the Netherlands


The Netherlands
Netherlands
The Netherlands is a constituent country of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, located mainly in North-West Europe and with several islands in the Caribbean. Mainland Netherlands borders the North Sea to the north and west, Belgium to the south, and Germany to the east, and shares maritime borders...

 also has a patriciate. It consists of extremely old and or well known Dutch
Netherlands
The Netherlands is a constituent country of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, located mainly in North-West Europe and with several islands in the Caribbean. Mainland Netherlands borders the North Sea to the north and west, Belgium to the south, and Germany to the east, and shares maritime borders...

 families. These are registered in Nederland's Patriciaat
Nederland's Patriciaat
Nederland's Patriciaat, informally known as Het Blauwe Boekje , is a book series published annually since 1910, containing the genealogies of important Dutch patrician non-noble families. It is issued by the Centraal Bureau voor Genealogie in The Hague. The Publication Commission of the CBG...

, colloquially called The Blue Book. A listing can be found here. To be eligible for entry, families must have played an active and important role in Dutch
Netherlands
The Netherlands is a constituent country of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, located mainly in North-West Europe and with several islands in the Caribbean. Mainland Netherlands borders the North Sea to the north and west, Belgium to the south, and Germany to the east, and shares maritime borders...

 society
Society
A society, or a human society, is a group of people related to each other through persistent relations, or a large social grouping sharing the same geographical or virtual territory, subject to the same political authority and dominant cultural expectations...

, fulfilling high positions in the government
Government
Government refers to the legislators, administrators, and arbitrators in the administrative bureaucracy who control a state at a given time, and to the system of government by which they are organized...

, in prestigious commissions and in other prominent public posts for over six generations or 150 years.

The longer a family has been listed in the Blue Book, the higher its esteem. The earliest entries are often families seen as co-equal to the high nobility
Nobility
Nobility is a social class which possesses more acknowledged privileges or eminence than members of most other classes in a society, membership therein typically being hereditary. The privileges associated with nobility may constitute substantial advantages over or relative to non-nobles, or may be...

 (barons and counts), because they are the younger branches of the same family or have continuously married members of the Dutch nobility over a long period of time.

There are "regentenfamilies", whose forefathers were active in the administration of town councils, counties or the country itself during the Dutch Republic
Dutch Republic
The Dutch Republic — officially known as the Republic of the Seven United Netherlands , the Republic of the United Netherlands, or the Republic of the Seven United Provinces — was a republic in Europe existing from 1581 to 1795, preceding the Batavian Republic and ultimately...

. Some of these families declined ennoblement because they did not keep a title
Title
A title is a prefix or suffix added to someone's name to signify either veneration, an official position or a professional or academic qualification. In some languages, titles may even be inserted between a first and last name...

 in such high regard. At the end of the 19th century, they still proudly called themselves "patriciers". Other families belong to the patriciate because they are held in the same regard and respect as the nobility
Nobility
Nobility is a social class which possesses more acknowledged privileges or eminence than members of most other classes in a society, membership therein typically being hereditary. The privileges associated with nobility may constitute substantial advantages over or relative to non-nobles, or may be...

 but for certain reasons never were ennobled. Even within the same important families there can be branches with and without noble titles.

The noble position of the lowest rank of the Dutch nobility is jonkheer
Jonkheer
Jonkheer is a Dutch honorific of nobility.-Honorific of nobility:"Jonkheer" or "Jonkvrouw" is literally translated as "young lord" or "young lady". In medieval times such a person was a young and unmarried son or daughter of a high ranking knight or nobleman...

, or untitled nobility. It could be seen as co-equal to the average non-noble patrician family; the lower nobility in the Netherlands is becoming more common, less noble
Nobility
Nobility is a social class which possesses more acknowledged privileges or eminence than members of most other classes in a society, membership therein typically being hereditary. The privileges associated with nobility may constitute substantial advantages over or relative to non-nobles, or may be...

, and is taking the form of the bourgeois upper middle-class instead of the upper-class.

See also

  • Hanseaten (class)
    Hanseaten (class)
    The Hanseaten is a collective term for the heirachy group consisting of elite individuals and families of prestigious rank who constituted the ruling class of the free imperial city of Hamburg, conjointly with the equal First Families of the free imperial cities Bremen and Lübeck...

  • Great Burgher
    Great burgher
    Great Burgher is a specific title and legally defined "order of citizenship", a higher ranking type of citizen and social order, a formally defined social class of wealthy high status individuals and families in medieval German-speaking cities and towns under the Holy...

  • Upper class
    Upper class
    In social science, the "upper class" is the group of people at the top of a social hierarchy. Members of an upper class may have great power over the allocation of resources and governmental policy in their area.- Historical meaning :...

  • Social environment
    Social environment
    The social environment of an individual, also called social context or milieu, is the culture that s/he was educated or lives in, and the people and institutions with whom the person interacts....

  • La Distinction
    La Distinction
    La Distinction is a book by French sociologist Pierre Bourdieu , based on Bourdieu's empirical research on French culture. Taken from studies conducted by Bourdieu in 1963 and concluded in 1967-68, the book was originally published in France in 1979...

  • Nobile
    Nobile (aristocracy)
    Nobile or Nob. is an Italian title of nobility ranking between that of baron and knight. As with the other titles of nobility, such as baron or count, nobile is also used immediately before the family name, usually in the abbreviated form: Nob.The word “nobile” is derived from the Latin “nobilis”,...

  • Aristocracy (class)
    Aristocracy (class)
    The aristocracy are people considered to be in the highest social class in a society which has or once had a political system of Aristocracy. Aristocrats possess hereditary titles granted by a monarch, which once granted them feudal or legal privileges, or deriving, as in Ancient Greece and India,...

  • Gentry
    Gentry
    Gentry denotes "well-born and well-bred people" of high social class, especially in the past....


External links