What is in a Noble House's Name?

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  1. #1
    Member Rojack79's Avatar
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    What is in a Noble House's Name?

    Upon a closer inspection of the time period in which I've set my work I came across a slew of Noble House names. Now my big question is this, is it ok for a character to have one of these names and they still be able to travel and adventure like a normal citizen? Or will there connection to nobility cause issues?

    My own personal thinking on the matter is that if there are just enough distant relatives for the name to be slightly more common than usual then having a character with that last name will only be a slight issue. It might even prove to be a boon seeing as no one would want to cross him or her for fear of a swift retaliation from the family.

    And i went and forgot to put the little list of names I found. Here they are for those who are curious. I do plan on adding to this list as I search for more Nobility to add to the story.

    House of Valois,

    House of Bourbon,

    House of Orleans,

    House of Capet,
    This might not be my best work but that just means there's room to improve.

  2. #2
    Member Bardling's Avatar
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    Nobility often traveled, but usually with huge (relatively) entourages. There was a custom in England for young noble men to travel through Europe after they reached their majority (about 21, I believe). Women did not travel quite as often, but if you look at history at lot of noble women traveled with their husbands, fathers, and brothers. They even traveled alone, on occasion, with the proper chaperones.
    They wouldn't be treated as a normal citizen, though. Then again, other than traveling merchants and gypsies, most people just did not travel. Even sailors stayed close to their ships, rarely getting farther than the nearest bars or whorehouses.

    A noble alone, will raise eyebrows and may not be believed regarding his family. Which could be an interesting problem. Vagrants (generally anyone that wasn't local, wasn't obviously rich (with the servants that implies) wasn't a recognized merchant and didn't have reason to be in the area) were often imprisoned and/or squeezed for money by local authorities.

  3. #3
    Member Rojack79's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bardling View Post
    Nobility often traveled, but usually with huge (relatively) entourages. There was a custom in England for young noble men to travel through Europe after they reached their majority (about 21, I believe). Women did not travel quite as often, but if you look at history at lot of noble women traveled with their husbands, fathers, and brothers. They even traveled alone, on occasion, with the proper chaperones.
    They wouldn't be treated as a normal citizen, though. Then again, other than traveling merchants and gypsies, most people just did not travel. Even sailors stayed close to their ships, rarely getting farther than the nearest bars or whorehouses.

    A noble alone, will raise eyebrows and may not be believed regarding his family. Which could be an interesting problem. Vagrants (generally anyone that wasn't local, wasn't obviously rich (with the servants that implies) wasn't a recognized merchant and didn't have reason to be in the area) were often imprisoned and/or squeezed for money by local authorities.
    Hmmm learn something new everyday. Thanks. I will definitely take this into account when I write my characters. Even if they aren't really nobles in status the people who share there family tree could still be heckled like you said. This will be a fun story to write. Can't wait to see how all of this comes together.
    This might not be my best work but that just means there's room to improve.

  4. #4
    Important noblemen who wanted to travel and adventure without attracting attention could do so incognito, i.e., under an assumed name, only bringing along a small retinue of trusted servants and companions, sometimes even posing as commoners. This would be the likeliest option for your character if you want him to be part of a prominent royal house like the ones on the list. A distant relative of a prominent house would go under the name of one of their cadet branches rather than that of the main house.

    Members of the lesser nobility were generally much more free to travel and adventure on their own than prominent aristocrats, having the means to travel yet lacking the status that would require much pomp to affirm, or any significant estates to rule over that would otherwise consume much of their time. Indeed, many lesser noblemen oftentimes had little more than a family coat of arms to their names, being worse off than many commoners. Noblemen were traditionally forbidden from manual labour or direct involvement in commerce, being expected to make a living by collecting dues from their serfs and tenants, and by spoils of war. Impoverished nobles who did not own any estates would have to travel and seek adventure by necessity, seeking out employment in the armies of foreign kings if none was forthcoming in their homeland, and hoping to distinguish themselves enough to be granted a fief. Some, usually the younger sons who could not hope for an inheritance and did not have to carry on the family name, would join the clergy and make a career in the Church or the monastic knightly orders. Others embarked on foreign adventures, such as the Crusades, or the later conquest of the Americas in hopes of finding their fortunes abroad. Still others joined the ranks of professional mercenaries, and the most desperate ones just became brigands.

    Prominent nobles might do some travelling and adventuring in their youth, but would typically spend most of their later lives at home or the royal court, having large fiefs to administer and stately duties to perform. Since the lesser nobility was traditionally a professional military class, which by definition involved considerable travel and adventure, I find that your character could most likely be a small-time knight or squire without much else besides noble ancestry to his name. His likely reason for adventuring could be searching for a suitable liege to pledge his services to in hopes of being rewarded with a fief.

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    Member Rojack79's Avatar
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    All of this is great. Sadly I've made the decision to scrap this story but all of this research and advice will really come in handy for the new project I have planned.
    This might not be my best work but that just means there's room to improve.

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