Encyclopedia of Early Modern History Online

Get access

Aristocracy
(1,714 words)

1. Definition

The term aristocracy (literally “rule of the best”), which originated in Ancient Greek political theory, has had three meanings since the Late Middle Ages: (1) from Aristotelian theory of forms of government, it denoted legitimate and just rule (Authority) in pursuit of the common good by a minority considered outstanding through a claim to virtue - this was in contrast to monarchy and democracy and, at least in self-presentation, to ol…

Cite this page
Weber, Wolfgang E.J., “Aristocracy”, in: Encyclopedia of Early Modern History Online, Editors of the English edition: Graeme Dunphy, Andrew Gow. Original German Edition: Enzyklopädie der Neuzeit. Im Auftrag des Kulturwissenschaftlichen Instituts (Essen) und in Verbindung mit den Fachherausgebern herausgegeben von Friedrich Jaeger. Copyright © J.B. Metzlersche Verlagsbuchhandlung und Carl Ernst Poeschel Verlag GmbH 2005–2012. Consulted online on 23 March 2019 <http://dx.doi.org/10.1163/2352-0272_emho_COM_030965>
First published online: 2015
First print edition: 20160321



▲   Back to top   ▲