By William Pherrel

It is simply amazing what I have discovered in the last few days ever since I first began my research on the purchasing of noble titles. It seems that there are quite a few sources to procure so-called noble titles in Britain (See my post on Aug. 19, 2008), but it is apparently possible in other European countries as well.

Let’s have a brief look at France. The legal status of nobility was abolished in 1789 and has since then never been reinstated. Titles in the sense of hereditary marks of honor were re-established in 1808, abolished in 1848, restored in 1852 and remain as such to this day.

It must be noted here, that these are mere titles to be considered as a part of the legal name and offer no privileges or ranking within the nobility, as is often the case in Great Britain. The French Revolution (1789–1799) had completely done away with nobility and titles, whereas a legal system of titles was later reinstated in 1808 by Napoleon Bonaparte I, albeit, without any particular privileges attached – again to be abolished by decree in 1848 to be in turn annulled in 1852 after Napoleon III restored the Empire. The following governments have to date not passed any changing laws on the subject of titles and have left the French courts to determine for themselves how to resolve problems evolving out of title claims and the hereditary passing on of titles.

According to the Constitution of 1958, all citizens are equal, thereby nullifying the concept of nobility once and for all. The establishment of the French Republic in 1875 left the title bearers in a state of pendency requiring a series of court cases to determine their legal status. This has in the meantime, been well established, where the president of France has ceased to grant or confirm any form of titles. The state however, continues to authenticate them, the courts protect them and criminal courts can prosecute their abuse.

As in the case of German noble titles (as mentioned in my earlier blog), the titles remain merely an integral part of the family name but are, for various reasons not equally inheritable. The original granting or creation of the title determines the rules of inheritance (possible only through the male family line, for example) and serve only as an accessory to complement the identity of family members.

Consequently, the only way to acquire a title legitimately is to inherit it in accordance to these rules. It cannot however, be earned or purchased and consequently used as a legitimately recognized title.