There is nothing noble in being superior to some other person. The true nobility is in being superior to your previous self.”
Of all varieties of foppery, the vanity of high birth is the greatest. True nobility is derived from virtue, not from birth. Title, indeed, may be purchased, but virtue is the only coin that makes the bargain valid.
The term derives from Latin nobilis (well-known, famous), indicating those who were "well-known" or "notable" in society, and was applied to the highest social class in pre-modern societies. In the feudal system, the nobility were generally those who held a fief, often land or office, under vassalage, i.e., in exchange for allegiance and various, mainly military, services to a suzerain, who might be a monarch or a higher-ranking nobleman. It rapidly came to be seen as a hereditary caste, sometimes associated with a right to bear a hereditary title and, for example in pre-revolutionary France, enjoying fiscal and other privileges.
While noble status formerly conferred significant privileges in most jurisdictions, today it is a largely honorary dignity in all nations, although a few, residual privileges may still be preserved legally (e.g. Netherlands, Spain, UK) and some Asian, Pacific and African sub-cultures may still attach considerable significance to formal, hereditary rank or titles.
Although many societies have a privileged 'upper class' with substantial wealth and power, the status is not necessarily hereditary and does not entail a distinct legal status, nor differentiated forms of address.
The French revolution that inspired ideals of democracy and the rule of the majority slowly changed the political landscape until today when nobility titles rendered them virtually powerless. In most European countries though, their influence is till rooted in the culture. Politically, the nobility has become largely ceremonial in nature, only to preserve traditions and cultures.
Nobility is a historical, social and often legal notion, distinct from socio-economic status which is mainly based on income and possessions. Being wealthy or influential does not automatically make one a noble, nor are all nobles wealthy and influential (aristocratic families have lost their fortunes in various ways, and the concept of the 'poor nobleman' is almost as old as nobility itself). Countries without a feudal tradition do not have nobility as such.
Various republics, including the
One of the merits of which families can be particularly proud is their illustrious origin, which stamps a very important distinction between them and others of their class, especially when it is a matter of being descended from Sovereign Houses.
This is due to the fact that all noble families have enjoyed, albeit in varying degrees for differing reasons, the superiority and prerogatives of their social status, while a distinguished origin for those who can demonstrate it gives a particular pre-eminence over others of their class, since that is what cannot be claimed by the other houses and on the other hand it is even held in esteem by those who show no respect for the nobility and the privileges enjoyed by it.
From this arises the desire to discover that the earlier generation of which Job wrote (Ch.8, v.8), which may be not only the most ancient but also the most illustrious.
Yet it is to be admitted that the great Houses, beyond their direct and principal descendants whose continuous genealogy is certified by facts and historical documents, have had offshoots from secondary branches which themselves often constitute the origin of new houses, when these latter in no way contradict the illustrious derivation ascribed to them by reason of the importance of it.
This capital element should be taken into account when assessing the authenticity of assertions by heralds in respect of the derivation of sovereign Houses of Italian states and others for those families which are not themselves the historic house.
It can be demonstrated that in
With regard to these elements it is useless to quote the sources from which are drawn the descendant of the families concerned, being sufficient to consult the most notable heralds. In this respect will be found of the greatest use the Bibliography of Italian Genealogy produced by the Most Illustrious A. Gheno (Heraldic Review of the year 1915 and subsequently).
The political feudalism that Charlemagne had discovered in force under the Frankish Monarchy carried on in full vigor under his weak successors. It is thanks to that great King that it became widespread in the countries conquered by him, because he found it to be an opportune means of government, by means of concessions among which was foremost that of involving vassals in the authority of the Count; which thereafter had to be deemed to constitute a danger for the said royal sovereignty.
When Charles the Fat was deposed in 887 the Kingdom of Italy found itself divided into numerous hereditary fiefs, kinds of Marches, of which the main ones were three: Friuli, to hold off the barbarians from the East, Spoleto and Camerino to resist domination by the Lombard element (the Dukes of Benevento) and Tuscany as a bulwark against a Saracen invasion. King Guy, the opponent of Berengar I, founded two more
Royalty, nobility, chivalry
The terms "royalty", "nobility" and "chivalry" seem to be taken from old ages. Nowadays a lot of people do not quite understand what they really mean.
"Royalty" means belonging to monarchs and their families.
"Nobility" means belonging to a class of persons distinguished by high birth or rank, possessing special hereditary privileges, rights and titles.In
"Chivalry" means the medieval system, principles, and customs of knighthood. The ideal knight should demonstrate knightly behavior: should be brave, loyal, generous, should take part in the Crusades to the
It is important to observe that the use of aristocratic titles in
While there exist no means to petition for "official" recognition of Italian noble titles or coats of arms, some private organizations, such as those associated with the former ruling dynasties, continue to recognize these. The Italian Senate, consisting almost entirely of titled aristocrats, was appointed by the king. In
To some extent, it is a sense of historical memory, if not continuity, that distinguishes
One of the best general books on the history and traditions of the European nobility is Robert Lacey's Aristocrats (London, Boston, Toronto 1983), which describes titled families of five countries, including Italy.
The Nature of Nobility
The Italian concept of nobility was very different from the English one. Whereas, in England, only a peerage bestows nobility on the holder, in France, nobility was a quality, a legal characteristic of the individual, which was held or acquired in specified ways, and which conferred specified rights and privileges. The manners of acquiring nobility being specific, Italian nobility aren’t the same as the English gentry either, which has no legal definition or status.
Nobility was usually a hereditary characteristic, but some forms of nobility could not be transmitted. When it was hereditary, nobility usually came from the father, but sometimes a higher percentage of noble blood might be required or that the family be noble for a certain number of generations. A nobleman marrying a commoner did not lose his nobility, but a noblewoman who married a commoner lost it, as long as she was married to the commoner.
Nobility was an important legal concept, in particular because of the privileges attached to it. Taxes were originally levied to help the sovereign in times of war; and since nobles were expected to provide help in kind, by fighting for their sovereign, they were usually exempted from taxes. This privilege lost its rationale after the end of feudalism and nobility had nothing to do with military activity, but it survived for the older forms of taxation until 1789.
Acquisition of Nobility
But one could also acquire nobility, and that was a numerically significant mode since the 16th c.
There were three main ways one could be noble:
By birth: usually, but not always, from the father, and the mother could be a commoner. Some regions of Italy allowed for transmission of nobility by the mother, but otherwise an edict of 1370 restricted transmission to the father. Bastards of nobles became noble when legitimated by letters of the sovereign, until 1600 when a separate act of ennoblement was required (royal bastards were always noble, even without legitimation).
By office: depending on the office, the holder of the office became noble either immediately or after a number of years, nobility was personal or hereditary, hereditary for 2, 3 or more generations, etc.
By "letters": that is, by royal grant. The king could always ennoble anyone he wished. The earliest examples date from the last third of the 13th century. In times of financial distress, the king sold such letters of nobility, sending them blank to his provincial administrators.
Titles of Nobility
The status of nobility was a personal quality, inherited or acquired. Titles of nobility were a rank attached to certain pieces of land. The two (nobility and titles) are therefore separate, although nobility was a pre-condition for bearing a title of nobility. This explains, in particular, why so many noble families were untitled.
Among nobles, one also distinguished between cavaliere and scudiero (Squire). These were not titles, but ranks within the nobility. Any nobleman, no matter how recent, was a scudiero, and only noblemen could be styled as such. Cavalieri (knights) were a subset of the nobility, which included all titled nobility, members of the orders of knighthood of the king, but also members of families of ancient nobility, even untitled. It should be noted that "cavaliere" was also used to refer to a member of an order such as the Knights of Saint John (a.k.a. Order of Malta) as well as members of royal orders: the use of the term makes it similar to a title but it was not; it simply indicated membership in such an order, a very common occupation for younger sons of the nobility.
Lord (signore/seigneur) was not a title. The owner of a lordship, even a commoner, was its lord. The term "lord" only meant "the possessor of a certain kind of property" in the feudal system, a mixture of actual real estate and rights over people (rents and fees could be collected from them, certain obligations could be imposed on them, etc). Someone who was only a signore/seigneur was not titled.
Italian nobiliary practices cannot be compared directly to those of other countries, such as
The Nobility of Italy reflects the fact that medieval "
Until the 19th century, the peninsula we now call Italy was made up of many city-states. These independent nations exist under successions of various invading empires of the French, Turks, Germans, Austrians and Spanish. The individual states, although sharing a small geographical space, were each culturally unique. They spoke separate dialects, worshiped in different churches and had unique attitudes. The cultural movement of the 16th and 17th centuries created a sense of nationalism within the future Italy for the first time.
We must realize than less that 150 years ago Italy was comprised of about 10 separate small countries, and as result, great-great grandfather was not “Italian”, but either Piemontese, Toscano, Veneziano, Modenese, Parmigiano, a subject of the Pope, or Napoletano – Siciliano, etc.
Prior to Italian Unification, the existence of the Kingdom of Sardinia, the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies (which before 1816 was split in Kingdom of Naples and Kingdom of Sicily), the Grand Duchy of Tuscany, the Duchy of Parma the Duchy of Modena, the Duchy of Savoy, the Duchy of Milan, the Papal States, various republics and the Austrian dependencies in Northern Italy led to parallel nobility with different traditions and rules.
In 1796, Napoleon, the Emperor of France, began his invasion of Italy and eventually liberated the city-states from the various foreign rulers. He politically unified them into the Kingdom of Italy, over which he proclaimed himself king. It is interesting to note that Napoleon was born Napoleone Buonaparte and later changed his name to the French Bonaparte, so he was actually Italian, not French. During his rule, Napoleon created Italy’s first centralized administrative, judicial and civil code. The feudalism that characterized prior centuries was virtually eliminated. The civil vital records for most regions began in 1809, during the Napoleonic era so we have Napoleon to thank for the many records we are able to discover today.
After Napoleon’s fall, Italy reverted to its reunification city-states and the European monarchs redrew their old boundaries. The north was ruled by the Austrian empire, the central region consisted of the Papal States and the south was ruled by Spain. Secret underground societies developed to encourage a free Italy. In the mid-1800s a movement called il Risorgimento (the resurrection) inspired a new Italy. During this political active decade between 1860 and 1870, il Risorgimento incited Victor Emmanuel II to unite the individual kingdoms into a single empire. By 1870, Italy as we know it was born.
Contemporary genealogical functions in Italy
Article 139 of the Constitution of the
The Founder of the Caputo Family Association was born in 1942, five years before the referendum.
In reality, after a period of uncertainty the Italian aristocracy continued to use their titles in the same way as they had in previous centuries. This behavior was cemented by the continued publication of Il Libro d'Oro della Nobiltà Italiana, (Golden Book of the Italian Nobility) published as much to prevent self-styled aristocrats social climbing as to list the established nobility. It is not an official publication of the Italian state, which does not recognize titles of nobility or personal coats of arms.
Although a democratic republic since 1946, Italy boasts two non-regnant royal families as well as three non-regnant grand ducal houses, each of which bestows honors upon Italian citizens. Three sovereign governments exist entirely within Italian borders, and each bestows honors as well. few Italians are hereditary knights bachelor, forming a kind of Italian baronetage. Indeed, for a nation having no throne, and entertaining no serious plans for the reinstitution of a monarchy, the Italian Republic is endowed with a plethora of gentlemen entitled to the ancient address "Cavaliere."
The parliamentary law of 1951 establishing the first order of the Republic while formally abrogating continued recognition of those orders bestowed by the exiled King of Italy constitutes the framework of Italian policy in this regard, but the statute itself makes it clear that Italian citizens decorated by the King of Italy before that date were not thereby deprived of pre-existing rights to their honors, decorations and forms of address, even if their court privileges and precedence were rescinded.
While the social use of the old titles of nobility was not banned, peers could no longer expect any legal precedence or other privileges. Their titles remained lawful only in so far as these could be incorporated into the surname. The Consulta Araldica (College of Arms) was formally abolished, its operations assumed by private bodies such as Colleggio Araldico, formerly a heraldry society. Although the Republic would not grant titles or armorial bearings, it would bestow knightly honors upon outstanding in citizens—titles which would confer little more than national recognition.
In the XIV transitory disposition of the Italian Constitution, noble titles have never been abolished, simply they are not recognized, but the fact they are not recognized just means that republicans are not interested in titles, that they are private wealth before being historic. The Constitutional Assembly could not deprive citizens of an inborn right, because it would be the same as if a law were approved in the future that canceled certain surnames.
Know that the Caputo Family is in effect recognized before 1922. The Caputo Family is registered on:
REVIEW OF THE
ONCE SOVEREIGN HOUSES OF THE STATES OF
Check the web site of ONCE SOVEREIGN HOUSES OF THE STATES OF ITALY and national families.... scroll down to page 13, you will find that Corrado (Conrad) Caputo Prince of
IL LIBRO D´ORO DELLA NOBILTÁ ITALIANA
The Libro d'Oro (Italian: Golden Book), once the formal directory of nobles in the
The Caputo Family is registered in the "Il Libro D´Oro della Nobiltá Italiana" the Heraldry College of Arms. By visiting the pages Caputo name can been seen in different place such as:
"Elenco delle famiglie che possedettero feudi in Contado di Molise fino al 1806" (List of families that possessed Feudal in Molise to the year 1806)
Under "LEGISLAZIONE ARALDICO NOBILIARE" (Legislation of Nobiliary Heraldry)
Elenco per famiglie delle Concessioni Ducali nel Regno delle Due Sicilie 1485 - 1806 (List of families that were obtained Ducal titles in the Reign of Two Sicilies 1485 - 1806)
Caputo Torano 27 feb. 1701 (esec. 30 apr. 1701)
Caputo Duca sul cognome 1724
Under " PATRIZIATO DELLA CITTA’ DI NAPOLI (Patriarcs of the City of
C) SEGGIO DI MONTAGNA (stemma: cinque monti di verde in campo d’argento): 25. Caputo
E) SEGGIO DI PORTANOVA (stemma: una porta d’oro in campo d’azzurro): 33. Caputo
LIBRO D´ORO DELLA MELITA (Maltese Golden Book)
The Imperial Family of Hohenstaufen - Corrado (Caputo) of
Annuario della Nobiltà Italiana
Elenco delle famiglie già sovrane negli antichi Stati italiani e la real casa d’Italia (vol. I)
(Yearbook of the Italian Nobility
List of sovereign families already in the ancient Italian states and theRoyal House of Italy (vol. I))
Caputo - Vol. I, Part II, pages 1080 to 1081
Associazione Araldica Geneaologica Italiana
(Italian Heraldic Genealogy Association)
NOBILI NAPOLITANI (Napolitan Nobles)
Caputo - Armory of the Kingdom of Sicily
Families of the Sicilian nobility recognised from 1282 to 1860
Caputo - Tutte le famiglie reali, principesche e ducali italiane a partire dal 1700
(All Royal, Princely and Ducal Italian families since the 18th century)
Year 1880 - Page 36
Year 1882 - Page 168
Year 1884 - Page 145
Year 1891 - Page 75
Year 1894 - Page 65, 73
Year 1903 - Page 89
Year 1905 – Page 91
Most medieval Italian heralds were independent; one would never think to associate them with particular houses. Later, when
Thus, we find in
This is significant because the group that Italians consider the "gentry" is little more than a largely non armigerous bourgeosie emerged during the nineteenth century and today provides the vast majority of the political and commercial elite. The bearing of arms takes on even greater importance because Italian lacks onomastic prefixes (such as the French de and German von) designating noble origins.
With the abolition of the Consults Araldica (College of Arms) by the Republic, a non-official body (Colleggio Araldico) patronized by the House of Savoy assumed certain heraldic functions—primarily the recording of various families' titles and arms. In practice, the role served by Colleggio Araldico is aptly compared to that of Burke's and Debrett's in
Hence, numerous names are absent from its pages, having become casualties of the economy or mere oversight. Prominent heraldic scholars, notably Count Guelfi Camaiani and Count Coccia Urbani, both Florentines, assist Italians with armorial claims. Grants of arms are only rarely devised by the two royal houses, and the Italian government exercises no authority in armorial.
In the middle of the twelfth century, during the Norman rule of much of
The hereditary nature of coats of arms and titles of nobility is readily apparent if their historical development is considered. So closely linked is heraldry to genealogy that the Italian word for coat of arms, stemma is the Latin for family tree. In most countries, including
Some family historians appropriate for themselves (or their ancestors) coats of arms or aristocratic lineages drawn from references discovered from public libraries. The researcher probably shares no more than a surname with the famous family whose history he has claimed. Thousands of ordinary families coincidentally bear such famous surnames as Medici, Este, Grimaldi, Visconti, and Savoia, having no kinship whatsoever to the ancient dynasties which also bear these names.
Onomatology the study of proper name origins must be approached with caution. Any native speaker of Italian knows that Ferraro derives from the word for blacksmith, and that Rosso meant redhead; the origins of toponymic names (Veneziano, Calabrese, Milano) seem equally obvisious. However, the origin of a less frequent may depend greatly upon the dialect of the region in which the family originated. In other words, the same surname might have a particular derivation in
Onomastic conclusions are often flawed where patronymic surnames are concerned. The surname Di Cesere for example, derives from the acient Latin root Caesar, but this etymology has little to do with the familial use of this name in
The accuracy of heraldic, nobiliary and onomastic knowledge depends upon genealogy; objective interpretation of these topics can spell the difference between real family history and fanciful family folklore.
These are some of the honorifics used in Italy.
As part of the republican constitution that became effective in
1 However the so-called predicati — territorial or manorial designations that were often connected to a noble title by use of a nobiliary particle such as di, da, della, dei, could be resumed as part of the legal surname upon judicial approval for persons who possessed it prior to (date of Italian fascism 's accession to power).
2 In practice, this meant that, e.g., "John Doe, Duke of Somewhere" or "Princess Jane of Kingdom" might become "John Doe di Somewhere" or "
Nonetheless, titles are often still used unofficially in villages, private clubs and some social sets. Signore and Signora (formerly signifying landed nobility) are translations of "Sir" and "Lady", used also in the military hierarchy and for persons in official positions or for members of a society's elite.
A few titles are also common in diminutive form as terms of affection for young people (e.g. Principino for "Princekin" or Contessina for "the Little Countess"). Re (King) / Regina (Queen) Principe (Prince) / Principessa (Princess) Duca (Duke) / Duchessa (Duchess) Marchese (Marquis) / Marchesa (Marchioness) Conte (Count or Earl) / Contessa (Countess) Visconte (Viscount) / Viscontessa (Viscountess) Barone (Baron) / Baronessa (Baroness) Coscritto (Select) no female equivalent Patrizio (Patrician) no female equivalent Nobiluomo – n.h./n.u. (Nobleman) / Nobildonna – n.d. (Noblewoman) Cavaliere Ereditario (Baronet) no female equivalent.
3 Use of the prefix "Don" as a style for certain persons of distinction spread to the
Any Italian monarch (as in
The choice of our symbol is the one that resemble the emblems of the families that made our House Illustrious.
Up to left, first quarter, we find the House of Swabia (Hohenstaufen) carried one gold shield, to three lions passing of black, one placed on the other, alias of silver, to three lions passing of red, placed one on the other. (The monarchs of the House of Swabia subsequently added to the ancien arms, the figure of the black Eagle).
Up to right, second quarter, we find therefore the one of Altavilla (Hauteville). (Arm: Of blue to the squared red silver band and of two rows). Enrico VI Hohenstaufen, son of the great Barbarossa, and Costanza d' Altavila, daughter of king Ruggero II of
Of the same dynasty of Altavilla, of the house of Trancheti, Roberto Trancheti, Roberto Guisgardo had for son Boemond I where he guided the Norman crusade to the first crusade. In
In Third quarter represents the coat of arms of Frederick d' Antioch, father of Conrad (Caputo) of
Of red and gulls of gold, (the gules represents the descendant and the Coat of arms of the king Fillips of France - deep azure).
In the Fourth quarter A red shield with a gold lion's head, crowned gold: Royal crown. This is the coat of arms of the first Caputo.
Of the red one, the color that it attests, perhaps even more of every other, the nobility of our ancestry, while it remembers the spilling of blood in battle and also audacity, value and dominion. Lion of gold in the arm gentilizia if “it had not expressed permission” from the Fons Honoris and not even “allowed the red with the gold in the arm if not for Princes and Knights, and that they were of illustrious blood”. We have in our coat of arms the gold and the red!
In Center: represents the Eagle of the Holy Roman Germanic Empire, black and crowned gold eagle. Coat of arms of Federico II Hohenstaufen.
The cross that divides the four quarters: black cross of the Teutonic Order of St. Mary of