Encyclopedia of Early Modern History Online

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Gentleman
(926 words)

The term “gentleman” (ME gentilman), attested from the 13th century, originally meant a man of noble birth entitled to a coat of arms but not an aristocrat. From the outset, therefore, the term did not fit with the categories of continental Europe. In function, the concept of “gentleman” overlapped with the (especially lesser) nobility of continental Europe, but it also differed in a number of respects. The gentleman was above the sphere of gainful work, especially manual labor, for he had property, and in particular land (Land ownership). But the idea quickly developed that bir…

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Heyl, Christoph, “Gentleman”, in: Encyclopedia of Early Modern History Online, Editors of the English edition: Graeme Dunphy, Andrew Gow. Original German Edition: Enzyklopädie der Neuzeit. Im Auftrag des Kulturwissenschaftlichen Instituts (Essen) und in Verbindung mit den Fachherausgebern herausgegeben von Friedrich Jaeger. Copyright © J.B. Metzlersche Verlagsbuchhandlung und Carl Ernst Poeschel Verlag GmbH 2005–2012. Consulted online on 26 August 2019 <http://dx.doi.org/10.1163/2352-0272_emho_SIM_019901>
First published online: 2015
First print edition: 20180208



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