France - The secret sparkle of Champagne-Ardenne

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Additional resources for France - The secret sparkle of Champagne-Ardenne

Example text

No existing ducal title, by contrast, went back beyond the sixteenth century, and many of their holders could not boast immemorial nobility. Most had reached this eminence by generations of royal service or favour, and all sustained it by great wealth. The king would not think of creating a ducal peerage without the certainty that the candidate could sustain his new dignity with appropriate revenues. Existing ducal peers, whose ambitions or improvidence had strained their resources, instinctively looked to the king to maintain their pretensions with pensions and sinecures.

G. ), Marquis de Bombelles: Journal, 4 vols. (Geneva, 1978- ), i, 138, 13 Aug. 1782. aristocracy ascendant 27 and members of pressure groups who had helped them to power. All of these would be nobles, too. Louis XIV had also made it a principle never to appoint ministers rich or powerful enough in their own right to be independent of his authority. He preferred noble families of recent extraction to dukes, peers, and scions of other great clans. The same applied to the intendants who exercised the plenitude of royal authority in the provinces.

Otherwise any man of honour would demand the satisfaction of a duel. Duelling was the ultimate noble conceit. ‘France’ wrote Count Alexandre de Tilly, who grew up at the Court of Louis XVI, ‘is the homeland of duels ... nowhere else have I met with that fateful susceptibility, that sad disposition to believe oneself insulted ... ’¹⁷ Personal resolution of affairs of honour offered the chance to flaunt fighting skills, universally deemed inherent in true nobility. It demonstrated the courage without which these skills were meaningless.

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