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Ritter

 
 
Reply Sun 20 May, 2012 06:13 pm
Ritter is apparently a title, similar to knight given by a king or emperor. I am studying someone who lived in the latter half of the nineteenth century in Austria whose father had that title. He apparently inherited it. Would that have made him nobility even before his father died? If it in fact did make him nobility, was it a meaningful title? He spend much of his life very poor, which makes me wonder whether the title mattered. Would it have been way against the norms for him to marry a poor woman? Just not sure what to make of this title. Thanks
 
roger
 
  1  
Reply Sun 20 May, 2012 07:30 pm
@jdickstein,
In most parts of the continent, the title of knight was not hereditary. I don't suppose it would have been rare to marry into the merchant society, or even a poor woman.
Lustig Andrei
 
  3  
Reply Sun 20 May, 2012 07:47 pm
@roger,
Well, now, not so fast. The title of knight might not have been hereditary inasmuch as one had to earn one's spurs by going through the whole apprenticehsip thing of first being a squire, etc. etc. But the pool of recruits for future knighthood certainly came from the same blood-lines, so that a knight would most likely be the son of a knight. Furthermore, most knights were not landless. (Some were and had to attach themselves to generous masters but that was the exception, not the rule.) And the title to the estate, that was hereditary. To a large extent it depends on what century you' re talking about. Later on landed knights were given other titles by the King to set them apart from the run-of-the-mill men in rusty armour. That's how your earls and other titles of nobility came into being.

And, yes, Ritter means "rider" in German, hence = knight.
jdickstein
 
  1  
Reply Mon 21 May, 2012 01:40 pm
@Lustig Andrei,
Thanks for the info. I have read from a few sources that in this case, which is Leopold von Sacher-Masoch, in Austria, he inherited the title of Ritter from his father. But that's about all he seemed to inherit. So it seems here was a knight, who was actually famous world-wide, but poor for much of his latter life. But it also seems the title did set him apart. His first wife was impressed by it. But the title seemed to offer him no advantage whatsoever. Am I correct in seeing it that way?
Lustig Andrei
 
  1  
Reply Mon 21 May, 2012 01:45 pm
@jdickstein,
jdickstein wrote:
But the title seemed to offer him no advantage whatsoever. Am I correct in seeing it that way?


Yeah,that's pretty much it. He could legitimately claim to be of minor German nobility but that rank would have conferred no material benefits at all. Wouldn't pay for his lunch nor get him an audience with the Chancellor.
0 Replies
 
joefromchicago
 
  1  
Reply Mon 21 May, 2012 02:36 pm
Ritter was a hereditary title derived from the imperial knights (Reichsritter) of the Holy Roman Empire, who held land directly from the emperor and originally owed military service in exchange. The title is usually translated as "baron" in English, although that's not an exact match (there were barons in Germany and Austria as well). Captain von Trapp, for instance -- best known as the father in The Sound of Music -- was a Ritter. When the Holy Roman Empire was dissolved in 1804, I believe the Austrian emperor maintained the right to bestow the title Ritter on his subjects, but I'm not sure if he ever exercised it.

To be a Ritter in the nineteenth century, then, meant that the bearer of the title was of the lower nobility and frequently a member of a very old family, which leant the title the sort of prestige that some newer noble creations lacked.
0 Replies
 
ossobuco
 
  1  
Reply Mon 21 May, 2012 02:43 pm
I think of it as a good candy bar -

http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss?url=search-alias%3Dgrocery&field-keywords=ritter+sport+candy+bars
0 Replies
 
joefromchicago
 
  1  
Reply Mon 21 May, 2012 05:46 pm
@jdickstein,
Let me go back and address some of your specific questions:

jdickstein wrote:
Ritter is apparently a title, similar to knight given by a king or emperor. I am studying someone who lived in the latter half of the nineteenth century in Austria whose father had that title. He apparently inherited it. Would that have made him nobility even before his father died?

Yes. He wouldn't have had the title until his father died, but he was a member of the nobility as soon as he was born.

jdickstein wrote:
If it in fact did make him nobility, was it a meaningful title?

Well, it's as meaningful as any title of nobility, I suppose.

jdickstein wrote:
He spend much of his life very poor, which makes me wonder whether the title mattered. Would it have been way against the norms for him to marry a poor woman?

Unusual but not unheard of. The destitute nobleman was something of a stock comic character since the Renaissance (since you're cinematically inclined, you can see examples in Billy Wilder's One, Two, Three and in The Third Man). Usually, they tried to marry up rather than down, but love follows no rules.
Lustig Andrei
 
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Reply Mon 21 May, 2012 05:51 pm
@joefromchicago,
The not-too-well-to-do nobleman was a stock comic character in Shakespeare's day also. Viz. Sir Toby Belch and Sir Andrew Aguecheek in Twelvth Night.
0 Replies
 
 

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