Imperial, royal and noble ranks  

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Ritterburg / Felsenschloß (1828) by Karl Friedrich Lessing
Ritterburg / Felsenschloß (1828) by Karl Friedrich Lessing

"In political writers, again, the result which is insisted on is the change in the organisation of European society. Before the Crusades, Europe was covered with castles; the family was the most real organisation manifest. After the Crusades, the family organisation, or, what is the same thing, feudal life, is absorbed into national life, and, instead of castles and barons, kingdoms and monarchs meet our view."--Noble Traits of Kingly Men (1860)

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Traditional rank amongst European imperiality, royalty, peers, and nobility is rooted in Late Antiquity and the Middle Ages. Although they vary over time and among geographic regions (for example, one region's prince might be equal to another's grand duke), the following is a reasonably comprehensive list that provides information on both general ranks and specific differences. Distinction should be made between reigning (or formerly reigning) families and the nobility – the latter being a social class subject to and created by the former.

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