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Revista da Faculdade de Letras : História
L'essence de l'aristocracie en France au XIX siècle : entre luxe et simplicité
AbstractThe notion of equality before law in 19th-century France led to a certain social levelling in contrasting with previous exhibitions of opulence. What is, then, the essence of aristocracy, the cult of image or just simplicity based on egalitarian principles? Old or recent nobiliary aristocracy, bourgeois aristocrats, talented aristocracy, all coexisted in French society with different manifestations of luxury: ostentatious luxury exceeding their social background, inherited luxury displaying past wealth, and, occasionally, a reserved luxury, reflecting the wish to maintain their social status and state social dignity. Simplicity, however, is also one of the traits of aristocracy, whether in social life, familial relationships and in charity. During this period, society valued aristocrats according to their manners, compelling them to replace arrogance by simplicity, superiority by affability, even if this does not rule out a certain degree of condescension. Simplicity conferred aristocracy prestige, influence and social or personal superiority, becoming their essence in the extent that relationships with others were based on reciprocal respect founded both in hierarchical rights and in the right of human dignity.
Last Update: 2014-04-16
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