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Old August 23rd, 2016, 01:05 PM   #1
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Why the British nobility more in trade than the French in the 18th century


The question is already started on a French forum and I have to say a quite competent discussion:
[MOD EDIT: Link removed]

I started already a similar question on the small forum Res Historica but hadn't that much response because I think this matter is propably more for "insiders" in this particular matter...
[MOD EDIT: Link removed]

If some French members of this forum can add to the thread, especially about the French nobility, derogance and the financial system. French nobles had for instance not to pay certain taxes because of their nobility...
In England as mostly the land was for the eldest son? the other sons were nearly obliged to seek fortune in other fields...?

Kind regards, Paul.
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Old August 23rd, 2016, 01:07 PM   #2

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By all means, repost the question here but posting links to other forums could be construed as promoting a forum in competition with this one, thank you.
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Old August 24th, 2016, 02:44 AM   #3
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Basically, in France and in Great Britain, nobility has the same meaning : a class of people with juridical, economical and political inheritable privileges and restrictions. The tantamount difference is in France, this nobility is a rather large class, corresponding in fact to social group we can call aristocracy. In Britain, the nobility, strictly speaking, is the House of Lords members (the Peerage), while the rest of the aristocracy is called gentry and have no privileges and restrictions.

This distinction have several consequences

1. in France, second sons, and their descendent, are also nobles, while the same is not true in Great Britain

2. There are no legal separation between trade and gentry in Great Britain, there is between trade and nobility in France

3. Given the small number of "noblemen" (peers) in Great Britain, there never was a restriction of office, except for a handful of them, to nobles only. In France, this restriction was common and increased in the 18th c.

These explains some of the difficulties for rising commoners in France in the 18th c.
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Old August 24th, 2016, 03:33 AM   #4
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Britian kicked off a wave of liberalisation of the economy along with the inudstrial revolution. The people driving it wasn't the traditional aristrocracy. They got very rich in the process however, and money talks, so as a consequence the British aristocracy to a greater extent that elsewhere already in the 18th c. re-invented itself as industrialist businessmen, as well as aristocrats.

By the 19th c. traditional aristocracy was gradually being pauperised all over Europe in comparison to the British, still relying on not-so-well-off farmers producing a surplus the aristos could skim-off to maintain themselves. (Lots of daughters of German "Junkers" living out their lives as spinsters since the financial means to marry according to their social station didn't exist, while refusing or being refused by the family to "marry down".) As a consequence British 19th c. aristos became the trendsetters for remaining aristocratic culture. The British still had the money to keep themselves in style, relatively speaking.

Basically British aggregate wealth in society was superior, and the aristocracy, who already had traditional money and estates, got in on the new action relatively early, and made good from it.
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Old August 24th, 2016, 08:28 AM   #5
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There was a lot of intermarriage between the British mercantile class and the nobility so that the children of these marriages were heirs to both mercantile and noble family traditions. This was part of that re-invention that Larrey mentioned. Larrey also mentioned pauperization of the European nobility. One solution to pauperization in Britain was for these old noble families to intermarry with the mercantile families even though that meant marrying down from the point of view of the nobility - better to marry down than starve.
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Old August 24th, 2016, 08:46 AM   #6

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What do you mean by trade here?
In Canada, lower-end office jobs are NOT necessarily better than professional trade jobs in earning power.
For example, a plumber may earn WAY MORE than an office clerk.
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Old August 24th, 2016, 12:41 PM   #7

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Cornelis View Post
Basically, in France and in Great Britain, nobility has the same meaning : a class of people with juridical, economical and political inheritable privileges and restrictions. The tantamount difference is in France, this nobility is a rather large class, corresponding in fact to social group we can call aristocracy. In Britain, the nobility, strictly speaking, is the House of Lords members (the Peerage), while the rest of the aristocracy is called gentry and have no privileges and restrictions.

This distinction have several consequences

1. in France, second sons, and their descendent, are also nobles, while the same is not true in Great Britain

2. There are no legal separation between trade and gentry in Great Britain, there is between trade and nobility in France

3. Given the small number of "noblemen" (peers) in Great Britain, there never was a restriction of office, except for a handful of them, to nobles only. In France, this restriction was common and increased in the 18th c.

These explains some of the difficulties for rising commoners in France in the 18th c.
This isn't true. There were many noblemen who were not peers in the House of Lords. In essence, in all European countries, it was a caste. A third born son of a titled noble was still nobility, as were his children. A first born daughter, who couldn't inherit the title obviously, was a noble, as were her children.

Gentry also had privileges, such as land ownership, and the right to vote in elections if they had a specific level of property.

The picture on British colonialism is mixed, since some nobles were colonialists, and others were lower-born people. The settlement of the USA was a mixed of landed gentry (such as Jefferson or Washington's ancestors) and others were commoners who earned some land and managed to build large slave estates or became successful merchants.
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Old August 25th, 2016, 01:02 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by notgiveaway
This isn't true. There were many noblemen who were not peers in the House of Lords. In essence, in all European countries, it was a caste. A third born son of a titled noble was still nobility, as were his children. A first born daughter, who couldn't inherit the title obviously, was a noble, as were her children.

Gentry also had privileges, such as land ownership, and the right to vote in elections if they had a specific level of property.

The picture on British colonialism is mixed, since some nobles were colonialists, and others were lower-born people. The settlement of the USA was a mixed of landed gentry (such as Jefferson or Washington's ancestors) and others were commoners who earned some land and managed to build large slave estates or became successful merchants.
You need to read more about this point : in the UK, noblemen are peers ; everybody else is a commoner, even his sons. Even a (courtesy) marquess, eldest son of a duke is a commoner (and therefore can stand for election in the House of Commons), only he will get eventually the noble status of his father. His younger brothers and his sisters will not : they will stay commoners. The gentry never had the "privilege to own land" (meaning no one else could acquire land) : everyone could buy land, even estates. While the right to vote was determined by the particular franchise of the borough or the forty-shilling freehold of the shire electors, it was not determined by birth or action of the Sovereign only.
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Old August 26th, 2016, 07:55 AM   #9

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Cornelis View Post
You need to read more about this point : in the UK, noblemen are peers ; everybody else is a commoner, even his sons. Even a (courtesy) marquess, eldest son of a duke is a commoner (and therefore can stand for election in the House of Commons), only he will get eventually the noble status of his father. His younger brothers and his sisters will not : they will stay commoners. The gentry never had the "privilege to own land" (meaning no one else could acquire land) : everyone could buy land, even estates. While the right to vote was determined by the particular franchise of the borough or the forty-shilling freehold of the shire electors, it was not determined by birth or action of the Sovereign only.
No. titles traditionally were granted by the monarch, but there was and is no requirement to attend Parliament. the only issue involved was being the local lord and controller of an area of land, and thus paying taxes to the King. Whilst the eldest son would inherit an estate, once one is born into a family, they had the full rights of the noble class. The purpose of nobility, from the ANglo-Saxons up until the end of feudalism (nearly 1000 years or so) was that they helped the King rule the land. The King had every right to choose which nobles attended his councils or Parliaments, but then they still owed him taxes, troops in time of war, featly and homage.

Younger children would help their elder siblings run estates, join the clergy, or otherwise use their noble status to advance their wealth, possibly go on Crusade, or be granted a title themselves. as said, nobility was a caste, so anybody high-born had rights and privileges associated with that caste.

It's like saying that because Edmund Ironside was the eldest son of Athelred the Unready, only he had royal rights. Well no, since his half-brother Edward the Confessor became King too long after he died. it was the same principle, once of the blood, one remains of the blood, unless one does something that causes disgrace.
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Old August 26th, 2016, 01:03 PM   #10
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I thank the contributors for their knowledgeable messages.
In my research on the internet I came to a factor influencing the involvement in trade by the "enclosure". No more "common ground" and the estates well defined as well as their revenues. Revenues which could be spended in commerce and risk capital in the stock echange? What is the opinion of the contributors?

Another item that was mentioned I think in:
https://books.google.be/books?id=TIG...bility&f=false
https://www.amazon.com/Noble-Privile.../dp/0841908737
https://www.amazon.com/Rich-Noble-Po.../dp/0719023815

was the difference in financial system between the UK and France.
In London one had a stock exchange at the equivalent of the stock exchange in Amsterdam in the Dutch Republic. Born in Bruges (nowadays Belgium) from exchanges with the Italian citystates and gone over to Antwerp it was an example for both the Dutch and the English.
Origins of the Stock Market
And all that was favourable for the trading climate...
What was the French counterpart? I remember the Law system under Louis XV...
Or were there other sources in France to bolster trade?

For the question of derogeance, which is new to me, I have found this for the comparison between the English and the French:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/D%C3%A9rogeance
And the history of the derogeance and a comparison between the UK and France in:
Rich Noble, Poor Noble.
Starting from page 86 and especially the pages 95 and 96...
https://books.google.be/books?id=TIG...bility&f=false

Kind regards, Paul.
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