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In some countries, the local lord could impose restrictions on such a commoner's movements, religion or legal undertakings.

Nobles exclusively enjoyed the privilege of hunting.

In some parts of Europe the right of private war long remained the privilege of every noble.

According to Ariel Roth, during the reign of Henry IV, over 4,000 French aristocrats were killed in duels "in an eighteen-year period" whilst a twenty-year period of Louis XIII's reign saw some eight thousand pardons for "murders associated with duels".

The privileges associated with nobility may constitute substantial advantages over or relative to non-nobles, or may be largely honorary (e.g., precedence), and vary by country and era.

The Medieval chivalric motto "noblesse oblige", meaning literally "nobility obligates", explains that privileges carry a lifelong obligation of duty to uphold various social responsibilities of, e.g., honorable behavior, customary service, or leadership roles or positions, that lives on by a familial or kinship bond.

In modern usage, "nobility" is applied to the highest social class in pre-modern societies, excepting the ruling dynasty.

In the feudal system (in Europe and elsewhere), 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 higher-ranking nobleman or a monarch.

Nobility is a social class, normally ranked immediately under royalty, that possesses more acknowledged privileges and higher social status than most other classes in a society and with membership thereof typically being hereditary.In France, nobles were exempt from paying the taille, the major direct tax.Peasants were not only bound to the nobility by dues and services, but the exercise of their rights was often also subject to the jurisdiction of courts and police from whose authority the actions of nobles were entirely or partially exempt.Various republics, including former Iron Curtain countries, Greece, Mexico, and Austria have expressly abolished the conferral and use of titles of nobility for their citizens.This is distinct from countries which have not abolished the right to inherit titles, but which do not grant legal recognition or protection to them, such as Germany and Italy, although Germany recognizes their use as part of the legal surname.

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