Royalty & Nobility as Multi-Generational Institutions
They became genuinely noble through intensive lifetime efforts, driven by moral, spiritual and traditional values, inspired by a sense of higher purpose, constantly working to better the world through their own merits of substance.
By Culture Editor
Picture: Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah and Prince Mateen (Getty Images)
Historically, royals and nobles generally possessed substantial wealth, both financially and in land and property ownership. This predominant situation was significantly enhanced by cumulative inheritance over many generations of noble bloodlines, during time periods when the legal framework of society protected and supported the accumulation of hereditary assets.
This characteristic of wealth was not for its own sake. First, the wealth of royalty and nobility was regularly and generously used for charity, sponsorship of education, science, arts and culture, and other forms of philanthropy. Second, the financial independence of noble families gave them the freedom to dedicate their lives to missions and causes of a higher purpose for the betterment of humanity.
Nobles were constantly striving to learn and master skills, write books of great importance to scholarship, research and preserve historical knowledge and artifacts, undertake the exploration of new worlds or new spheres of science, and many other worthy endeavors. Such beneficial activities for humanity were so deeply ingrained in the tradition of royalty and nobility, that this literally originated the phrases “noble pursuit” and “noble cause”.
As a result of having the financial independence to constantly pursue noble causes, develop knowledge, and preserve history, families of royalty and nobility were essentially “institutions” in their own right. Noble families typically possessed a castle, an extensive library, heirlooms including historical artifacts and works of fine art, and had an entourage and staff of many of the world’s top scholars, educators and experts.
Accordingly, growing up in a noble family was very much like attending an advanced private university and skills training academy throughout one’s life. Children of nobility were intensively schooled, from the earliest age of near infancy, in history, art, science, religion and military arts such as swordsmanship and horse riding. Noble children were literally raised to be governors, scholars, diplomats, priestly religious leaders and warriors, all rolled into one. This tradition led to the expression “Renaissance man”, meaning a person of multiple and diverse earned skills, which in combination literally contributes to and promotes the ‘Renaissance‘ (French meaning “rebirth”), or revitalization, of contemporary civilization.
For these reasons, nobility is often hereditary, not because of an unfounded “birthright” merely by chance of birth to the right parents, but rather based upon the assumption that growing up in a noble family would guarantee proper education and training, and would instill traditional cultural, spiritual and humanitarian values. Being raised in nobility was expected to reliably ensure that one would have all the knowledge, skills and traditions from all of one’s ancestors, collectively.
Just as nobles benefited from accumulated wealth, they also benefited from accumulated knowledge, by giving top priority to education and skills training. This knowledge was passed down through many generations. In this way, a “house of nobility” functions as an “institution” for preservation of history, culture, tradition and positive social values.
Considering that the institution of family (and family values) was especially strong during the relevant earlier periods of history, the intended guarantee that hereditary nobility would be backed by real merit was all the more meaningful and justified.
Therefore, even the “hereditary” aspect of nobility is ultimately based upon earned merit, by accomplishments through constant hard work and dedication, driven by a sense of higher purpose. Additionally, royalty and nobility also included the regular practice of awarding titled nobility to non-hereditary newcomers for their own demonstrated earned merit.
These realities prove that true nobility was never meant to be automatic “entitlement” of privilege. Instead, nobility was truly characterized and defined by upholding higher principles of “meritocracy”. Nobles were not noble by pretending to be better than other people. They became genuinely noble through intensive lifetime efforts, driven by moral, spiritual and traditional values, inspired by a sense of higher purpose, constantly working to better the world through their own merits of substance.
Over the past two centuries (ca. 1800-2000 AD), most nobility families throughout the world lost their accumulated wealth, primarily through inheritance taxes, political upheavals and the scourge of war. Thus, many modern nobles no longer have the benefit of being independently wealthy by inheritance. Just as all “commoners”, they are left with their own skills, talents, values and aspirations to achieve higher education and professional status, working hard to make their contributions to humanity.
In most cases they have been given a wealth of knowledge and motivation by their parents and grandparents, as well as the inspiration of their family history and ancestors. Many nobles succeed in rebuilding wealth through their merits and accomplishments. Networking circles of nobility are often engaged in diverse philanthropic activities, often as financial sponsors, figureheads and high profile volunteers. All of this is based upon authentic meritocracy.