The Imperial Nobility of France
The nobility (French: la noblesse) in France, in the Middle Ages and the Early Modern period, had specific legal and financial rights, and prerogatives. The first official list of these prerogatives was established relatively late, under Louis XI of France after 1440 and includes:
* exemption from paying the taille (except for non-noble lands they might possess in some regions of France),
* the right to hunt,
* the right to wear a sword and have a coat of arms,
* the right (in principle) to possess a fief or seigneurie.
*Certain ecclesiastic, civic, and military positions were reserved for nobles. At the same time, certain activities were required of nobles.
* honneur et fidélité (honor and faithfulness) such as military service (the "impôt du sang" or "blood tax")
* concilium et auxilium (counsel and assistance to the king)
Other activities could cause dérogeance, or loss of one's nobility. So were most commercial and manual activities strictly prohibited, although nobles could profit from their lands through mines and forges. Other than in isolated cases, serfdom ceased to exist in France by the 15th century. In Early Modern France, nobles nevertheless maintained a great number of seigneurial privileges over the free peasants that worked lands under their control. These included:
* cens (tax): Vassals were required to pay an annual tax on lands they leased or held (the "cens" was often more symbolic than useful),
* champart (work): to work the noble's private domain, to give the lord a portion of their harvest,
* banalités (small charges): to use the lord's mills, ovens, or wine press at a cost.
Nobles also maintained certain judicial rights over their vassals, although with the rise of the modern state many of these privileges had passed to state control, leaving rural nobility only local police functions and judicial control over violation of their seigneurial rights.