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The European Nobility, 1400-1800 (New Approaches to European History) Paperback – 12 Oct 2010

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4.3 out of 5 stars 3 reviews from Amazon.com

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Product description


'… a challenging new synthesis to explain the experience of the nobility of western Europe in the early modern era …'. English Historical Review

Book Description

This book is the first comprehensive history of the European nobility between the Renaissance and the French Revolution. Designed to introduce students and non-specialists to the subject, it explains all the principal themes and problems in an authoritative and accessible manner.

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Amazon.com: 4.3 out of 5 stars 3 reviews
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A peak at the real life of the nobility- it was different than you think 20 Oct. 2011
By LD - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
I thoroughly enjoyed the book because it brought so many facets of life together into an ever changing story. I'll not reveal everything in this timeline- read the book.

Prior to 1450
Nobles were generally inheritors of titles. They were viewed as having superior qualities over commoners. They deserved respect and in return they used their aptitude for protecting and commanding. They felt that they must be freed of cares of daily lives to fulfill their station in life. Nobles generally paid no taxes. They provided the military for the king. They collected taxes for themselves, rents from serfs who could sell their land, and got 3-4 days per week labor from the peasants. Money was rarely used, barter was common. Priests were the only educated class and provided administrators for the government. Land ownership was the most coveted possession. Knights were awarded titles and replaced those who died in battle or from disease.
After 1450
University educated nobles replaced priests and became a faster way to wealth than rewards from battle. They were receptive to Humanist ideas. Living off the estate was no longer acceptable when others ate imported foods and dressed elaborately. Castles no longer provided protection and country estates allowed privacy and nature could be tamed by landscaping.
Kings became stronger with larger armies and holdings. Kings and nobles sold land and possessions to finance wars. Litigation started to be accepted as a way to resolve disputes instead of wars.
Colonies contributed to the king's wealth while nobles invested in trading companies and businesses. Money replaced land as the dominate force. Peasants became soldiers while nobles moved to Court. Power moved from local to political influence. A wide gap developed between rich and poor nobles while merchants and guild members became equal to both groups. Titles no longer defined classes.
The Industrial Revolution allowed clothing to blur the lines between nobles and the middle class. Nobles were selling their land so they could flaunt their wealth. Most borrowed until they were bankrupt. Countries that kept their peasants poor had a small tax base and fell behind. Motivated workers produced more so nobles saw the advantage of reforming the remaining feudal system.
12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great, but repetitive, evaluation of noble resiliency 5 July 2000
By J. Hart - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Dewald has written something interesting here -- a social history of a group that social historians typically avoid. The nobility has gotten a lot of attention in more traditional history, and that is why they've been largely ignored in the social realm, but Dewald has carefully studied them, and challenged many of notions of nobility that have been strong since Tocqueville.
Primarily, he tackles the idea of the decline of the nobility, and shows that instead of declining, the nobility weathered the Early Modern period by being resilient and adaptable -- though the group was fundamentally changed, it still remained strong.
That is the main thrust of the book, and he considers their resiliency in aspects of the make-up of the nobility, their wealth and economics, their politics, and their involvement in culture. He concludes with an brief analysis of the effects of the French Revolution on the group, and how it contributed to the fundamental change the nobility underwent, from privileged order to ruling class.
This is a readable, interesting book. The only problem lies in a strong repetitiveness. I have no complaints about the book's organization, but it in some ways contributes to this, and Dewald ends up having to repeat conclusions he made just pages before. Sometimes the repetition becomes quite tedious, but as a whole, the book remains interesting and readable.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Pretty good introductory treatment 15 Nov. 2001
By Michael K. Smith - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
Unlike the two systematic studies by Michael L. Bush, to which he refers approvingly, Dewald offers an extended interpretative essay, the theme of which is the evolution of the Continental nobility (or aristocracy -- he regards the terms as overlapping but distinct in meaning) during the four centuries between the end of the Middle Ages and the arrival of the French Revolution. Though small in absolute numbers, the nobility controlled most of the land and all of the politics on the Continent until well into the 19th century, and the author maintains that they managed to do this despite wars, revolutions, and the coming of modern industry because they were very effective in adapting to the changes around them. He also argues that from one country and culture to the next, nobles faced similar problems and responded to them in very similar ways. Intended as an introductory text on the subject, this is an excellent historical survey for the beginning student.
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