Nobility and its privileges

Sometimes we look at a person and think to ourselves: “what is his or her aristocratic appearance.” The concepts of the aristocracy and nobles are most often derived from films and cinema. And who the nobles really were. How could one get the nobility and become an aristocratic person?

For what they gave the nobility

The nobility could be acquired by a special highest award, but in practice such cases were very rare.

The “Table of Ranks” determined the procedure for acquiring the nobility by the service.
Another source of acquiring noble dignity is the rewarding of one of the Russian orders.
In 1722-1845, hereditary nobility was given for the service of the first chief officer rank (ensign, cornet) in military service and the rank of collegiate assessor in civil service and for awarding any order of the Russian Empire.
In 1845-1856 – for the service of the rank of major and state adviser, and for awarding with all degrees the orders of St. George, St. Vladimir and the first degrees of other orders.

In 1856-1900 the bar still rose. It was necessary to curry favor to the colonel, captain of the 1st rank, real state adviser.

In 1900-1917 the qualifications for orders increased – only a person awarded the Order of St. Vladimir of the 3rd degree could become a hereditary nobleman.

The grandchildren of personal noblemen (i.e., the descendants of two generations of people who received personal nobility and have been in the service for at least 20 years each), senior grandchildren of eminent citizens (rank that existed from 1785 to 1807) upon reaching 30 could request years of age, if their grandfathers, fathers, and they themselves “kept their name immaculate,” and also, according to a tradition not legally drafted, merchants of the 1st guild on the occasion of the 100th anniversary of their company. For example, the founders and owners of the Trekhgorny manufactory Prokhorov received the nobility.

When new territories joined Russia, the local nobility was usually included in the Russian nobility.
We can assume that this is a global experiment in the selection of people capable of successful career growth, with a clear recording of the results.

Regardless of the method of obtaining hereditary nobility, all hereditary nobles in the Russian Empire enjoyed the same rights. The differences were only depending on the size of the real estate – the degree of full participation of nobles in the noble elections depended on it. From this point of view, all the nobles of the Russian Empire can be divided into 3 categories:

  • Nobles entered in genealogical books and owning real estate in the province. The nobleman was supposed to be recorded in the genealogy book of the province where he had a permanent place of residence, if he owned any real estate there. Nobles who had the necessary property qualifications in several provinces at once could register in the genealogy books of all those provinces where they wished to participate in the elections.
  • Nobles entered in genealogy books, but do not own real estate. They were entered in the book of that province where their ancestors owned the estate.
  • Nobles not included in genealogy books.

What privileges did the nobles have

The nobles had the following privileges:

  • Ownership of inhabited estates (until 1861).
  • Freedom from compulsory service (in 1762-1874, later the all-conscription service was introduced).
  • Freedom from zemstvo duties (until the 2nd half of the 19th century).
  • The right to enter the civil service and to receive education in privileged educational institutions (in the Page Corps, the Imperial Alexander Lyceum, the Imperial School of Law, children of noblemen from 5 and 6 parts of the genealogy book and children of persons with a rank of at least grade 4 were accepted).
  • Corporate Organization Law.
    We can assume that after 1861 there were no serious privileges at all.


Good luck in finding.