The privileges associated with nobility may constitute substantial advantages over or relative to non-nobles, or may be largely honorary, and vary from country to country and era to era. There is often a variety of ranks within the noble class. g, san Marino and the Vatican City in Europe. Hereditary titles often distinguish nobles from non-nobles, although in many nations most of the nobility have been un-titled, some countries have had non-hereditary nobility, such as the Empire of Brazil. The term derives from Latin nobilitas, the noun of the adjective nobilis. In modern usage, nobility is applied to the highest social class in pre-modern societies and it rapidly came to be seen as a hereditary caste, sometimes associated with a right to bear a hereditary title and, for example in pre-revolutionary France, enjoying fiscal and other privileges. Nobility is a historical, social and often legal notion, differing from high socio-economic status in that the latter is based on income. Being wealthy or influential cannot, ipso facto, make one noble, various republics, including former Iron Curtain countries, Greece, Mexico, and Austria have expressly abolished the conferral and use of titles of nobility for their citizens. Not all of the benefits of nobility derived from noble status per se, usually privileges were granted or recognised by the monarch in association with possession of a specific title, office or estate. Most nobles wealth derived from one or more estates, large or small and it also included infrastructure such as castle, well and mill to which local peasants were allowed some access, although often at a price. Nobles were expected to live nobly, that is, from the proceeds of these possessions, work involving manual labour or subordination to those of lower rank was either forbidden or frowned upon socially. In some countries, the lord could impose restrictions on such a commoners movements. Nobles exclusively enjoyed the privilege of hunting, in France, nobles were exempt from paying the taille, the major direct tax. In some parts of Europe the right of war long remained the privilege of every noble. During the early Renaissance, duelling established the status of a respectable gentleman, Nobility came to be associated with social rather than legal privilege, expressed in a general expectation of deference from those of lower rank. By the 21st century even that deference had become increasingly minimised, in France, a seigneurie might include one or more manors surrounded by land and villages subject to a nobles prerogatives and disposition. Seigneuries could be bought, sold or mortgaged, if erected by the crown into, e. g. a barony or countship, it became legally entailed for a specific family, which could use it as their title. Yet most French nobles were untitled, in other parts of Europe, sovereign rulers arrogated to themselves the exclusive prerogative to act as fons honorum within their realms. Nobility might be inherited or conferred by a fons honorum
The House of Lords of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland (old chamber, burned down in 1834) as drawn by Augustus Pugin and Thomas Rowlandson for Ackermann's Microcosm of London (1808-11).
Nobility offered protection in exchange for service
French aristocrats, c. 1774
A French political cartoon of the three orders of feudal society (1789). The rural third estate carries the clergy and the nobility.