Religion Past and Present

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(509 words)

[German Version]

A class of nobility emerged in a wide range of premodern cultures. Its primary characteristic is that its members were privileged to exercise power and were available to rule because they were supported materially by subjects or inferiors. As a rule, societies appeared on the stage of history already stratified. Earlier conditions are therefore inaccessible to historical analysis. But social exclusivity can develop only on the condition that the rural or urban economy provides suf…

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Matzerath, Josef, “Nobility”, in: Religion Past and Present. Consulted online on 25 September 2021 <>
First published online: 2011
First print edition: ISBN: 9789004146662, 2006-2013

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