Nobility

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The nobility (aristocracy) was the highest level of feudal society beneath the monarch, with the power and legal privileges commensurate with their landed title or family crest. They were directly answerable to the King, and the lands in their possession were only leasehold, for which they had to pay the King dues and were obligated to provide military assistance in the event of war. Noble status was hereditary, as were the associated land rights and responsibilities. The land came with its inhabitants, who had to pay their liege lord rent and labour on his farmlands.

The oldest Czech families include the lords of Buzic - e.g. the Zajíc (Hare) family of Hasenburg, of Beneshov (from Dauba and Krawarn), of Ronow (from Leipa and Dauba) and the Rosenbergs. In the 14th century, the Czech title 'Pán' (Lord) was reserved for the wealthy members of the higher nobility, who had the right to elect the King and sit in the Territorial Diet or Landtag, but later spread to the lower nobility, Church dignitaries, members of town councils and eventually common burghers, becoming the equivalent of 'Mister' in English as it is today. A nobleman didn’t have to be educated person. Often it was quite enough that he had a military upbringing. He had his subjects and servants to take care of administration and physical work. His main duties were the collection of taxes, managing the militia and all hereditary functions.

A Seigneur or Lord of the Manor (in Czech Zeman) was a provincial nobleman of local origin, long-established in a given territory. A Baronet (Vladyka) administered numerous estates. Yeomen, who formed the lower nobility, had no property of their own and served the higher nobility.

Nobility unquestionably influenced the medieval art, since they were often the sponsors of artistic works. This applied not only to architecture, paintings and sculptures, but also to fashion accessories, hairstyles and furniture.

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