Archiver > GEN-MEDIEVAL > 2004-01 > 1074823184

From: "John P. DuLong" <>
Subject: Re: Sixteen Quarters Of Nobility
Date: Thu, 22 Jan 2004 20:59:44 -0500
References: <DYYOb.370$> <400d148f$0$17313$>

"Pierre Aronax" <> wrote:

> In France, never: to be noble, one had only to have a noble father. To be
> noble extraction, to have a father, a grandfather and a great granfather
> (all in the male line) noble.

My understanding is that during the Ancien rgime the determination of
nobility depended on the time, the place, and the reason for asking. This
is what Roland E. Mousnier indicates in his _The Instituions of France under
the Absolute Monarchy, 1589-1789_, 2 vols. (1974).

For example, to receive particularly royal honors you had to proof your
nobility to varying degrees. See the list below:

Royal Honor Ancestry Requirements
Colonial Army Officers Three paternal generations of
Honors of the Court Paternal nobility back to 1400
without known ennoblement
Navy Student Officers Four paternal generations of
Order of St. John of Sixteen quarters of nobility
[meaning all paternal and
Jerusalem (Order of Malta) maternal ancestors back to the
sixteen great-great-grandparents]
Order of the Holy Spirit Four paternal generations of
Order of St. Lazarus Nine paternal generations of
Order of St. Michael Three paternal generations of
Pages of the Great Royal Stables Paternal nobility back to 1550 without
known ennoblement
Pages of the Small Royal Stables Paternal nobility back to 1550 without
known ennoblement
Regular Army Officers Four paternal generations of
Royal Military Schools Four paternal generations of
School at St. Cyr Over 140 years of paternal
Squires of the Great Royal Stables Over 200 years of paternal nobility

Either the Genealogist of the King's Orders or the Judge of Arms would be
required to evaluate your submitted proofs.

In addition, there were occassional tax court (cours des aides) hearings
ordered to investigate nobility claims. The required proof to satisfy these
inquires varied according to the time and place. You would have to submit
documents to show that your ancestors were called nobles.

Nevertheless, to be asked to submit proof of sixteen quarters of nobility
was very rare. In the list above, only the Order of Malta made this
requirement. However, the only time I have reviewed evidence submitted to
join the Order of Malta, for the Chabot de Souville family, I noticed that
not all the required ancestors were recorded! This was in the sixteenth
century. So I am just not too sure how strict they were on this

I believe that showing off your sixteen quarters was more a matter of
bragging rights and to demonstrate that your family had not recently


John P. DuLong, Ph.D.
Acadian and French Canadian Genealogy

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