The Restauration Monarchies in continental Europe were interested in preserving the privileged status of nobility. In France, where the traditional nobility had been greatly reduced in number by the French Revolution - the holders of Napoleonic noble titles were regarded politically suspicious - a new nobility was created, by granting peerage to politically reliable persons.
The nobility, in most countries, was politically conservative, supporting the monarchy and the Ancien Regime. The nobility depended on the state (king) to protect their privileges, on positions in the army's officers corps, in diplomacy, in the higher echelons of state administration to be given to noblemen.
There were exceptions to the rule. In Hungary, the nobility was the strongest force behind the Hungarian political movement of the 1840es, which resulted in the Hungarian Revolution of 1848-1849.

Noblemen experienced increasing difficulty to finance their affluent lifestyle. As owners of estates, they depended on the prices of agricultural products, most notably wheat. The Corn Laws were intended to protect the revenue of the estate owners, by protecting domestically grown wheat from cheaper imports (in those days, from Russia's Polish and Ukrainian provinces). Still, noblemen increasingly had to violate an unwritten class rule and marry common girls because of their dowry, a frequent topic of 19th century novels.


This page is part of World History at KMLA
First posted on October 4th 2003, last revised on November 16th 2004

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