They are all noblemen, who have gone wrong."
The nobility. The military elite in the Middle Ages and the perceived elite afterwards.
Whether or not they have a sovereign whom they are subordinate to, these characters definitely have commoners who are subordinate to them. Their position is hereditary, often legally enforced, although occasionally simply socially accepted to the same effect. Usually, the longer the family and its heritage have been known the better. In some periods and countries, it can carry the taint of being not quite noble yet if only one's parents were ennobled. Thus, nobles are often quite proud of the length of their lineage, which makes them the natural foil of the Self-Made Man. For the same reason young aristocrats are often quite powerless in the hands of The Patriarch who rules the family, making the threat of Passed-Over Inheritance quite powerful.
While there are often gradations in rank between them, the common trait of aristocrats is that, unlike the monarch, they are surrounded by their equals and if there is no monarch some form of power-sharing will be in effect with plenty of intrigue. Prone to Moral Myopia, Blue Bloods often regard only their class as important, which often leads to Aristocrats Are Evil. Insults between aristocrats result in Throwing Down the Gauntlet, or the Glove Slap, and a Duel to the Death, but an insult from a commoner results in the aristocrat's servants thrashing him, and an insult to a commoner hardly counts anyway. (As a consequence, they are prone to underestimating the Powder Keg Crowd and setting it off.)
Their effectiveness is frequently inversely related to their civilization. Dark Ages nobility often features Authority Equals Asskicking, and the Middle Ages nobility will feature the Knight in Shining Armor and The Tourney, but a highly refined and civilized culture will feature an inordinate number of Upper Class Twits (though an Officer and a Gentleman is also possible) if not indeed decadent courtiers.
Normal feature of the Standard Royal Court and Deadly Decadent Court. Endemic in Historical Fiction, High Fantasy, and Feudal Future. Oddly enough, often characters who have been Made a Slave have former nobility as their Back Story. The Officer and a Gentleman is also often a Blue Blood, particularly if the noble code emphasizes the duties and responsibilities that come with noble birth. Even in peacetime, they may regard readiness for war a duty; hence, The Tourney. As with Royalty, the Ermine Cape Effect can apply, so many should be expected to wear extremely fancy clothes if possible. If culturally foreign from their subjects, can be a Foreign Ruling Class. Related character tropes are the Evil Chancellor, Gentleman Snarker, Regent for Life, Royal Brat, Upper-Class Twit, Proper Lady, Silk Hiding Steel, and Grande Dame.
Since the duty of the nobility in the Middle Ages was warfare, the sons of the nobility traditionally chose a military career. Even today sons of old noble families are over-represented in most military academies around the world. The word cadet for an officer trainee stems from French, meaning "younger": the eldest son inherited the manor and estate, and the younger sons went to military academies;note for a prime example of this, both Napoleon and The Duke of Wellington were younger sons of minor nobles (Napoleon was a second son, Wellington a third son). Tragically, since in the past the military education was begun at a very early age (7 to 11 years old), the nobility has also produced a lot of Kid Samurai, but also a lot of Child Soldiers. Today the old noble families are very likely to produce an Officer and a Gentleman.
The phrase ("blue blood") is a literal translation of the Spanish sangre azul. The idea, originating in medieval times, was that common folk would have to work outside all day, and would thus develop tans. The wealthy, on the other hand, could spend all day inside, which would keep their skin pale (as they were fair-skinned Europeans). This would make their wrist veins with 'blue' blood easily visible, hence the term. It's also been suggested that the term is race-based, since the pale-skinned European Spanish wanted to distinguish themselves from the darker-skinned "Moors". Yet another idea on the term's origin, which is erroneous but included here due to the likelihood of the reader encountering it in the context of nobility, is that crustaceans such as lobster literally have blue bloodnote and have always been very expensive. Thus, being able to afford these blue-blooded creatures would require considerable wealth, which usually meant noble station.note Another explanation could be that lobsters are heavily armoured — as would a Knight in Shining Armor be.
Super Trope of Impoverished Patrician, Knight in Shining Armor, Remittance Man, Noble Fugitive, Aristocrats Are Evil and Officer and a Gentleman. Compare Idle Rich, Old Money, Gentleman Snarker, and the upper echelons of the Fantastic Caste System (as well as real ones, like the traditional castes of India).
Not to be confused with royals, people who just hold knighthoods, Black Blood, Alien Blood, "Bluebeard", the freeform vulgar joke "The Aristocrats", nor the Disney film The Aristocats. Or Angels from Neon Genesis Evangelion and Mulians from RahXephon, both of which have "blue" as a blood type. Further not to be confused with the television series Blue Bloods, although the title is an amusing play on words. EVEN FURTHER not to be confused with octopus blood, or the blood of horseshoe crabs!
- The Nobles in Wolf's Rain. They may not have a monarch, but they do have ridiculously overpowered technology to compensate.
- We see a huge variety of these in Berserk, from King to Viscount. More often than not, they don't do too well or last too long, mostly if they get in Griffith's way.
- Class struggles (of the Star-Crossed Lovers variety) are fairly important in The Familiar of Zero, in which the nobility is largely (but not entirely) defined by being able to use magic.
- The Armstrong Family from Fullmetal Alchemist have estates all over the nation, a legacy running back centuries and have entire families that have been in their service for generations. They're also a pack of Boisterous Bruisers and are, with one exception, all amazingly friendly. NOW WITNESS THE ARISTOCRATIC REFINEMENT THAT HAS BEEN PASSED DOWN THE ARMSTRONG LINE FOR GENERATIONS!!!
- Austria from Axis Powers Hetalia. Liechtenstein also has shades of this in part due to being a Principality, not to mention being named after her ruling royals.
- Randoll from Future GPX Cyber Formula, as he is himself a Marquis. He's also a very skilled racer, but he can be a Royal Brat when at his worst.
- Black Butler has this all over the place, both bad (Such as Alois Trancy in the anime and Baron Kelvin in the manga) and good (well, to a point) examples, such as Elizabeth Middleford and, of course, Ciel Phantomhive himself.
Sieglinde: "What colour is your blood?!"Ciel: "It's red."
- Lampshaded by Sieglinde while trying to convince Ciel to make Sebastian let up on her 'proper lady' training and he refuses.
- All over the place in Mobile Suit Gundam Wing and are, with exceptions *coughRelenacough*, the antagonists.
- Mobile Suit Gundam F 91 also had an aristocratic family (the Ronahs) as the antagonists. This is at the heart of the Ronahs' belief system: that certain people are simply better than others, and it is the rightful place of the aristocracy to rule over the commoners. Though one does wonder what this says about them that their patriarch purchased their noble title, rather than inheriting it.
- The central protagonists and antagonists of Maiden Rose are all aristocrats from varying countries. Taki is the shinka of the Emperor and from the first of the Eight Branch Families, Katsuragi is from the second of the Eight Branch Families, Theodora is a Eurotean princess, and Klaus' family is nobility before the Western Alliance conquers their country.
- In the infamous Hentai La Blue Girl, we have an example that is both literal and figurative. The protagonist, Miko, is the daughter of King Seikima and Queen Maria, and next in line for the throne. Because she is half-demon, when she uses her powers, her blood is literally blue. (However, she blushes red, like anyone with normal-colored blood would.)
- Both played straight and referenced in Kaze to Ki no Uta. At one point Serge, in his Inner Monologue, remarks that he imagined Gilbert's blood would be blue. Interestingly, although many of the characters in KazeKi are blue bloods, Gilbert is not really one of them, so it's not entirely clear what exactly Serge (who is himself a Viscount) was alluding to here.
- The Celestial Dragon World Nobles of One Piece are the Aristocrats Are Evil version of this quite heavily, having been given absolute freedom to do whatever they please to everyone beneath them (who is EVERYONE, even in this world where Asskicking Equals Authority is the norm), they abuse this freedom to the hilt. One decides on a whim to take a random guy's fiancee to be his own concubine, then shoots the guy when he protests.
- The Dressrosa arc explains the Celestial Dragons a bit. The World Government was originally founded by twenty kingdoms, whose royal families were then invited to live in Mariejois, the capital of the WG. 19 of the royal houses were soon replaced by other, lesser nobles, such as the Riku family replacing the Donquixote family in Dressrosa. The only family who refused was the Nefertari family of Alabasta, who actually count more as The Beautiful Elite than Aristocrats Are Evil. Yes, this means that Vivi and Cobra are technically World Nobles.
- There is only one exception to their nigh-unlimited freedom: no World Noble can ever permanently leave Mariejois and completely abandon their life as a Celestial Dragon, lest they be dubbed as "traitors". Which is why Donquixote Doflamingo was unable to rejoin the World Nobles after his father took his family out of Mariejois to live a normal life — much to his ire.
- Code Geass possesses a good number of nobles. Most of them are Britannian, but we get to see a few former Japanese families and the Chinese elites at times.
- In the Wild Fang series, Mikhail is both rich and very well connected.
- The Nobles from Vampire Hunter D are a truly different breed from commoners, and have followed entirely different cultural conventions for thousands of years. Despite of their decline they command technology and magic far beyond what is available for ordinary people, and some have managed to cling to their lands and status despite of being universally reviled and feared thanks to this. Oh, and they are all vampires, of course.
- Used literally in Seiketsu no Hagurama. The Gadgeteer Genius prince is one of a group of people with blue blood at war with the red-blooded people. Part of the manga involves him discovering his machines being used to eradicate the remaining red-blooded refugees by his father.
- Soul Society is split into commoners and nobility. Commoners are humans who died in the living world then entered Soul Society and live in an assigned district of the Rukongai. Nobles, on the other hand are those souls actually born in Soul Society. They tend to live in Seireitei and are significantly more likely to display officer-level shinigami power than commoners. There's also a major/minor nobility distinction, with older, more gifted families commanding greater authority. In the past, it used to be unheard of for the shinigami ranks to be made up of anything but nobility. Since Yamamoto reorganised the shinigami academy, however, more Shinigami have Rukongai origins and commoners have even occasionally made captain. There's still a stigma to common origins, however, and for at least one shinigami (Renji) the noble-versus-commoner issue was something he took personally.
- The Quincy clan has a de facto nobility based on a "pure blood" vs. "mixed blood" distinction. Pure blood families like the Ishidas have mixed blood families as foot soldiers and servants, and traditionally the two do not intermarry.
- Little Prince Cedie has its titular character for being the grandson of the Earl of Dorincourt.
- Attack on Titan has the Royal Government of Humanity, who live behind Wall Sina far removed from the threat of the Titans. Later revelations imply that the members are the most direct descendants of Ymir Fritz, the Progenitor Titan power wielder, and thus are the only ones capable of using the Coordinate Titan power to its full extent. Zeke Yeager, the Shifter behind the Beast Titan, is also the son of a Royal Family member and because of it he is shown to possess exclusive abilities, like turning other Eldians into Titans and controlling them.
- The old Earl of Squanderfield in William Hogarth's Marriage A-la-Mode is fiercely proud of his aristocratic heritage (he has coronets put on everything from his chairs to his crutches to his dogs!), and points to his family tree literally growing out of William the Conqueror as he makes the case to a Nouveau Riche alderman that he should engage his daughter to the Earl's son.
- In the Child Ballad Young Beichan, some variants note his high birth before recounting his imprisonment.
- In the Child Ballad "The Lord of Lorn and the False Steward", the young lord of Lorn, reduced to working in stables, laments the fall to a horse.
- In the Child Ballad "The Famous Flower of Serving Men", the heroine was a lady before her husband was murdered and she resorted to Sweet Polly Oliver and a Fallen-on-Hard-Times Job.
My father was as brave a lord
As ever Europe did afford;
My mother was a lady bright,
My husband was a valiant knight.
And I my self a lady gay,
Bedeckt with gorgious rich array;
The bravest lady in the land
Had not more pleasures to command.
- Kal-El, aka Clark Kent aka Superman is a scion of the House of El, a noble family of scientists who in most continuities had much wealth, power, and influence over all of Krypton. Of course, it didn't stop all of Krypton from disbelieving Jor-El's prediction that Krypton would nuke itself. By extension, Clark's cousin Kara and son Jon are also a part of this family, and Superman's clone Conner Kent was made an honorary member of the family by Superman. All three of them wear the Superman S, which is generally explained as being the House of El's family crest. Of course, given Krypton's destruction, all members of Superman's family live like normal everyday people on Earth.
- Bruce Wayne, aka Batman, as well. Unlike Supes, he lives like it. His family is basically responsible for building Gotham City. In fact, Bob Kane chose the name "Wayne" after an American Revolutionary soldier, Anthony Wayne (some writers suggest Bruce is an actual descendent), making him the closest to nobility you can get in the States.
- Thomas Elliot (Hush) and Oswald Cobblepot's (Penguin) families once occupied a similar place in Gotham's social elite until they became Impoverished Patricians.
- Archie Comics' Sonic the Hedgehog: Amy Rose was born into a noble house, but her parents renounced their wealth to instead focus on helping the poor.
- In Belle-Belle, the heroine is a nobleman's daughter. When the king orders every family of noble blood to fight for him or pay a high tax, she opts for Sweet Polly Oliver to deliver them. (So did her sisters. They couldn't pull it off.)
- In Tattercoats, she is the granddaughter of a great nobleman.
- In Catskin, the heroine is the daughter of a gentleman, and marries a young lord.
- Blood and Honor: Purebloods can trace their descent from the high priests of the ancient Sith race, and Sanguis is no exception. Her storied heritage is brought up occasionally and she has a family estate, complete with servants, on the Imperial homeworld of Dromund Kaas. Several other Sith encountered over the course of the story mention being familiar with her house.
- Child of the Storm has Harry as a prime example, much to his discomfort. Aside from the Potter bloodline, there's also the fact that his dad was a mortally incarnated Thor, meaning that he doesn't just have Royal Blood, but Divine Parentage, descending from the House of Odin. There's even a faint suspicion that there's some fragmentary relationship to the House of El. While he likes the family, Harry mostly finds the rest of it excruciatingly embarrassing.
- Red Fire, Red Planet:
- The main Klingon Defense Force protagonist averts this, given he's not even a Klingon. Brokosh is a Lethean mercenary and didn't find out that Ba'woV, daughter of N'Gara, of the House of Chel'toK was a noblewoman until after they'd started dating. However, Chel'toK, while still a Great House, is pretty minor: Their only holding of note is a nearly depleted section of asteroid belt, and while they do have a House Fleet, it consists of two Birds-of-Prey and an ancient D7 battlecruiser.
- General K'Bor, son of QulDun, of the House of J'mpok plays it straight. He's one of the "old guard" Klingons and the uncle of J'mpok, the current chancellor.
- Morgaiah t'Thavrau is confirmed to be of noble birth in "Flaihhsam s'Spahkh". She's the grand-niece of a Romulan senator, which in the Roman-style Hereditary Republic that makes up the Romulan Star Empire makes her a member of a noble house's cadet branch.
- Corpse Bride features Lord and Lady Everglot, whose enormous manor indicates that their family once had wealth to go with their title, but the mostly empty rooms and the safe full of cobwebs indicate that they are now, to quote Lord Everglot in the couple's introductory song, "land-rich, bankrupt aristocracy without a penny to their name". Their heritage prompts them to look down on the Nouveau Riche Van Dorts, as William is a Self-Made Man who earned his fortune rather than inheriting it (and has yet to learn manners to go with his money), but engaging Victoria to Victor Van Dort is the Everglots' surest path back to financial stability, while Victor will get a title that allows his parents to socialise with society's elite, and so the Everglots try to swallow their pride.
- A major plot point of the movie Penelope is that the title character's curse can only be broken when a blue-blood declares he loves her. She ends up breaking the curse by stating that she loves herself the way she is, curse and all. Both heartwarming and amusing, as you find out that the man she loves and who presented himself as a blue-blood was actually lying, and when she begs him to just say he loves her and that he doesn't have to talk to her after that, he sadly responds that he can't, but not for the reasons she thinks (i.e. he finds her ugly due to the curse giving her a pig's nose, which actually isn't that bad)).
- Rather daringly, Letters from Iwo Jima portrayed the aristocratic Japanese commanders Tadamichi Kuribayashi and Baron Takeichi Nishi as deeply sympathetic characters.
- Appears to be literally true in Stardust, when Lamia slits Primus's throat, his blood is clearly dark blue.
- The head vampire from Blade II has literal blue blood, even though he is not a pureblood vampire, the true aristocracy of the vampire race.
- While James Bond is hinted as being this in the films (such as in On Her Majesty's Secret Service), Skyfall reveals that he's the son of Scottish nobility, owning a large if rather dilapidated estate.
- In Robin Hood (1991), Sir Robert/Robin is a Saxon noble, the Earl of Huntingdon, while Baron Daguerre and Sir Miles are Norman nobles.
- The Music Room: Roy, a product of the hereditary Bengal aristocracy. Near the end of the movie he cites "Blood! The blood in my veins!" as the reason why he is still perceived as an aristocrat despite being an Impoverished Patrician while Mahim is still a Nouveau Riche grasper.
- The Vor in Lois McMaster Bujold's Vorkosigan Saga, though they themselves claim they are a military caste, and not an aristocracy (which is exactly what aristocracy was in the Middle Ages). Most other people treat them like aristocrats.
- Lord Boscastle in the Strangers And Brothers series is a REAL aristocrat, who can dismiss a mere Tudor parvenu with "I simply don't KNOW him." But he is all the more ready to befriend the likes of Roy Calvert; the gap between people he Knows and those he doesn't is so cavernous that it renders all other distinctions insignificant.
- In Avram Davidson's "The Case of the Mother-in-Law of Pearl", Prince von Vlox, in his behavior and his references to the family's history (e.g., calling Paracelsus "Theo"), displays "an arrogance that transcended mere snobbery."
- Frank Herbert's Dune
- The novel appears to indicate that nobles are somehow better than regular folk. The Bene Gesserit are only shown caring about noble bloodlines in their quest to create a perfect being.
- Most likely the noble bloodlines are "noble" because they've been subjected to the generations of manipulation by the Bene Gesserit, while the commoners don't have as well kept records of their genetic history, making them less useful for their plans.
- The prequel novels also reveal that the Atreides were not originally nobility (Vorian Atreides being a created in a lab by his cymek father and marrying a barmaid) and do not show when they were first granted the title.
- The novel appears to indicate that nobles are somehow better than regular folk. The Bene Gesserit are only shown caring about noble bloodlines in their quest to create a perfect being.
- Randall Garrett's Lord Darcy stories
- In Poul Anderson's Technic History, the earlier phase of the Terran Empire (depicted in The People of the Wind) has a society where nobles are expected to justify their position by working for God and Empire. By the era of Dominic Flandry, hereditary idle aristocrats dominate, and it is noted that it is harder to become a knight than a peer.
- Warhammer 40,000 often features them.
- Dan Abnett's Gaunt's Ghosts novel use it repeatedly.
- In First & Only and Ghostmaker, the Jantine Patricians and Volpone Bluebloods are quite scornful of the Ghosts.
- In Necropolis, the hive's constitution is carefully written to divvy up power between the nobles so that there is no sovereign. And where, when the Ghosts are investigating their assigned and wretched quarters, they consider that the Volpone Bluebloods probably have nicer rooms.
- In Sabbat Martyr they confront officials who don't let them use their flamer, because they are not of high enough birth.
- There is a semi-sensible reason behind that last one though. On the planet in question, water is expecially scarce. Setting everything on fire may get out of hand. Of course, this being a full blown war...
- Sandy Mitchell's Scourge the Heretic features such a stratified noble society that even an Inquisitor's agent does not realize how rude he has to be; a local explains that politeness will be interpreted as low status.
- In Dan Abnett's Horus Rising, the Luna Wolves are scorned by various other Space Marines as base-born.
- In William King's Space Wolf novel Grey Hunters, Trainor explains that he is an officer because he was born in one of the high clans. (He found fighting Chaos forces rather a shock after such conflicts as his planets had had before.)
- In Mike Lee's Horus Heresy novel Fallen Angels, the representatives of the rebels are almost all nobles who have lost power and wealth because of the Imperium's control of their planet.
- In Matt Farrer's "After Desh'ea" (in Tales of the Heresy), the "high-riders" which Angron holds in (justified) contempt, the targets of his Gladiator Revolt
- In Ben Counter's Soul Drinkers novel Chapter War, Lord Sovelin Falken. At one point, he throws his weight around, pointing out that the governor is his great-aunt — but that's because he has vital information, and he has to use anything he can to get it through.
- Dan Abnett's Gaunt's Ghosts novel use it repeatedly.
- Susan Dexter's The Wind-Witch revolves about a widowed noblewoman's efforts to work her husband's estate for A Year and a Day — which will give her a claim to the land.
- Jane Austen's works. Unlike the Regency Romance, while all of her characters are blue-bloods, only a handful have titles. Baronets, mostly, although Darcy is related to an earl who does not appear in the work.
- A notable example as Darcy's name is clearly ripped off from the D'Arcy family, a genuine family of earls who, in the real world, had run out of male heirs about a century earlier; and his first name, Fitzwilliam, suggests strongly that his uncle is the Earl Fitzwilliam, a hugely famous and powerful man at the time. So much for No Celebrities Were Harmed...
- Also interesting, particularly in Sense and Sensibility and Pride and Prejudice, is the tension (Truth in Television at the time) between the blue-blooded gentry who had somehow had their traditional incomes diverted away from them by being unable to inherit, or by their becoming worthless, and the rising commoner merchants (like Mrs. Bennet's family) who were often richer than them, but traditionally unacceptable as members of the blue-blooded clique.
- In Northanger Abbey, the narrator, explaining why Catherine had not fallen in love before seventeen, lists several reasons. One is that there was no lord in the neighborhood, or even a baronet.
- In Love and Freindship, the narrator's mother's father was a Scotch Peer and her husband was the son of a baronet. Parodied with her cousins Gustavus and Philander, whose fathers were probably a corset-maker and a bricklayer, but insist that as their mothers never married them, it doesn't count.
- Edgar Rice Burroughs's heroes and heroines are Blue Bloods when not actually of Royal Blood — though this does cover upper-class Americans as well as titled characters, and the characters (and readers) may not be aware of it. Villains and other characters may also have it.
Nor do I understand, sir, what objections you may have to meI am of a very old and noble family.
- In The Monster Men, von Horn cites it.
- Charles Dickens's A Tale of Two Cities.
It took four men, all four ablaze with gorgeous decoration, and the Chief of them unable to exist with fewer than two gold watches in his pocket, emulative of the noble and chaste fashion set by Monseigneur, to conduct the happy chocolate to Monseigneur's lips. One lacquey carried the chocolate-pot into the sacred presence; a second, milled and frothed the chocolate with the little instrument he bore for that function; a third, presented the favoured napkin; a fourth (he of the two gold watches), poured the chocolate out. It was impossible for Monseigneur to dispense with one of these attendants on the chocolate and hold his high place under the admiring Heavens. Deep would have been the blot upon his escutcheon if his chocolate had been ignobly waited on by only three men; he must have died of two.
- Baroness Orczy's The Scarlet Pimpernel
It was to be seen every day, for those aristos were such fools! They were traitors to the people of course, all of them, men, women, and children, who happened to be descendants of the great men who since the Crusades had made the glory of France: her old NOBLESSE. Their ancestors had oppressed the people, had crushed them under the scarlet heels of their dainty buckled shoes, and now the people had become the rulers of France and crushed their former masters—not beneath their heel, for they went shoeless mostly in these days—but a more effectual weight, the knife of the guillotine.
- In G. K. Chesterton's The Return of Don Quixote, various noblemen are signficant characters; the hero Michael Herne falls in love with the Honourable Rosamund Severne. At the climax, he reveals that her family really are Smiths, with no claim to the title, though it breaks his heart. Later, he learns that she has changed her name to "Miss Smith" — and promptly goes in search of her.
- His play Magic takes place at a Duke's house.
- In the Father Brown story "The Mistake of the Machine", the story turns on an assumption that Lord Falconroy must come from an old family; in fact, he holds a newly created title and has — a rather interesting past.
- Caroline Stevermer and Patricia C. Wrede's Sorcery & Cecelia, set in an alternate Regency England where there is a Royal Society of Wizards.
- Patricia C. Wrede's Mairelon the Magician and The Magician's Ward — also set in an alternate Regency England, although the main character comes from a much lower social stratum.
- Terry Pratchett's Discworld. Particularly in Feet of Clay, where the Dragon King of Arms meticulously traces noble lines and deplores how he must produce coats-of-arms for the low-born, and in the Tiffany Aching books, where the baron's son Roland, after a stint as a Royal Brat, is the only boy that Tiffany can talk to because all the rest are afraid to talk to a witch.
- Ellen Kusher's Swordspoint and The Privilege of the Sword.
- Sharpe meets a few. Among the more notable, obviously, is the Duke of Wellington, Sharpe's commander.
- Others range from Peter D'Alembord — a classic Cultured Warrior and first-class infantry officer — to the Prince of Orange, whose incompetence as a commander is such that Sharpe personally shoots him half-way through a battle in order to reduce the slaughter.
- In the Spaceforce novels, the powerful Taysan Empire is ruled by an absolute monarch with the backup of Imperial and Noble Castes. And one of the series' main characters, Jez, is a rare surviving member of the nobility of her homeworld, who governed the planet before her whole species was overthrown in a genocidal civil war.
- Various families in Patricia A. McKillip's The Bell at Sealey Head. Because Raven Sproule is courting Gwyneth Blair, a merchant's daughter, Gwyneth rather suspects the Sproules are Impoverished Patricians.
- In Kerry Greenwood's The Castlemaine Murders, the Honourable Miss Phryne Fisher's sister Eliza plays the disdainful Upper-Class Twit trope straight in the early part of the book—only to subvert the trope after Eliza finally tells Phryne why she was sent to Australia (she was acting out because of how unhappy she was).
- Most of the main characters in George R.R. Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire are members of the nobility. The details vary: we have members of very old and powerful houses such as Starks and Lannisters, petty knights and barely-even nobles like the Cleganes, personally ennobled commoners like Davos Seaworth and everything in between.
- M. K. Wren's The Phoenix Legacy, set in a Feudal Future.
- Lady Muriel Orme in Lewis Carroll's Sylvie and Bruno.
- In The Edge, the hereditary aristocracy are actually called bluebloods to distinguish them from the nobility, the bluebloods who have already earned their titles.
- Purebloods fulfill this role in the Harry Potter series. Although the wizarding world lacks royalty or titles, most pureblood families enjoy a disproportionate amount of wealth, power, and influence. Most also have an aristocratic disdain for not-so-pure-blooded wizards and especially for muggles.
- Virtually all of the major and minor characters in the Deryni works are in this class. The better ones treat members of the lowers orders (such as Revan in the Legends of Camber and Heirs of Camber and Morgan's pagan swordsmith Ferris from the story "Trial") quite well. The rest, well, see Aristocrats Are Evil.
- In Robert E. Howard's Conan the Barbarian story "The Devil in Iron", Octavia's Back Story.
Octavia sprang up, her white fists clenched, her eyes blazing and her figure quivering with outraged anger.
"You would force me to play the trollop with this barbarian?" she exclaimed. "I will not! I am no market-block slut to smirk and ogle at a steppes robber. I am the daughter of a Nemedian lord—"
"You were of the Nemedian nobility before my riders carried you off," returned Jehungir cynically. "Now you are merely a slave who will do as she is bid."
- Livia in "The Vale of Lost Women"
- In Darkness Visible the narrator is Lord Henry Lewis, the 6th Earl of Gloucester.
- In Lord Dunsany's The King of Elfland's Daughter, the lord and his son.
- In Stephen Hunt's The Court of the Air and The Rise of the Iron Moon, Quartershift nobility were massacred by the authorities in the Back Story.
- In Scaramouche, there are several nobles, most notably Marquis de La Tour d'Azyr and the Comtesse de Plougastel.
- Pops up a lot in Jeeves and Wooster, since Bertie and most of his friends are Upper Class Twits. Notably, Aunt Agatha's dread of any blight on the family name forces Bertie to go to New York to prevent his cousin's marrying into vaudeville, besides putting him through any number of attempts to settle him down with a nice girl from a noble family and turn him into a useful member of society. Both of which things he avoids like the plague.
- In Gene Stratton-Porter's Freckles, Angel is a blue-blooded American with "ancestors reaching back to Plymouth Rock, and across the sea for generations before that." Freckles himself turns out to be the grandson of a nobleman. Though it gets less play, McLean was the son of a prosperous Scottish shipbuilder, though he made himself in the lumber trade.
- In Gene Stratton-Porter's Michael O'Halloran, Minturn, having gotten control of his sons after his wife made them into Royal Brats, knows it will be a long slog, but has hopes because they are "handsome little chaps with fine bodies and good ancestry".
- Hugh, Viscount Trimingham, in The Go-Between. He is intelligent and likeable, though disfigured by a war wound, and takes his responsibilities to his tenants seriously. Much good it does him.
- In Poul Anderson's Time Patrol story "Delenda Est", Deidre — she has an estate she can bring Everard and Van Sarawak to when making their imprisonment less onerous.
- In one of the oldest surviving Robin Hood tales, Robin carefully inquires of the sorrowful knight whether he was a newly created one, finding out he is of Blue Blood before he helps him. Robin himself is a yeoman then and for centuries after, but in the Elizabethan to Victorian times, he became, often, a disinherited earl. Maid Marian, likewise for centuries a shepherdess, also became a frequent noblewoman then. In the 20th century, Robin went back to yeoman, for a Rags to Riches rise, but Marian still is often noble.
- Pretty much all the protagonists in Tales of the Branion Realm — the ones that aren't are either royalty or end up raised to the nobility.
- Several characters in The Sea Hawk.
- Like so much else in The Wheel of Time, just about every shade of this trope is present in one nation or another. Amongst the main characters, Moiraine, Elayne, Faile, Talmanes, Rand of house Mantear by virtue of his mother, Tigraine, the former daughter-heir, and eventually even Mat, Prince of Ravens and Perrin Goldeneyes, Lord of the Two Rivers as Steward for the Dragon Reborn.
- There are examples of true badasses such as the Queens of Andor, many of whom lead troops both historically and contemporaneously. In the Last Battle, Elayne even gets an assist with a sword, despite having the One Power.
- There are also examples of worthless, scheming layabouts, such as Tairens and Cairhenians.
- In Dorothy Gilman's The Clairvoyant Countess Madame Karitska is technically a countess. Given that she was a small child when her family escaped the Russian Revolution, it doesn't mean much to her.
- In Poul Anderson's "Time Lag", Elva's husband is the Freeholder, which position has both the authority and duty to pass judgment. Elva can represent him partly because her own family holds a similar position. At the end, she learns her son holds the position , having survived the attack.
- In Andre Norton's Catseye, Tikil is a luxury port, catering to the wealthy high-born who vacation there. Kyger's animal shop is one such store.
- In Victoria Forester's The Girl Who Could Fly, Conrad's parents gave him "good breeding" and regarded it as more than enough — he could not expect any attention from them after getting that.
- In Honor Harrington, the Star Kingdom of Manticore has a noble class that was mostly descended from the first wave of colonists. However, they also create new peerages for exceptionally distinguished commoners, such as the protagonist herself.
- Most Manticoran nobles (including the royal family) are driven by a strong sense of noblesse oblige, and recognize that an inherited title doesn't make them automatically better that commoners; those that don'tnote tend to dive headlong into Aristocrats Are Evil territory.
- An interesting case with the titular character, who holds noble titles in two star nations. She is first granted the title of Steadholder Harrington on the planet Grayson for helping to protect it from Masadan Church Militants. Since she's a Manticoran citizen, the Queen chooses to grant her the "equivalent" title of Countess Harrington (although without any holdings). After Honor is captured and presumed dead for several years, the Manticoran title passes to her first cousin Devon, while her Grayson title is given to her baby sister Faith. When Honor returns alive, her Grayson title is returned, but the Queen chooses not to deprive Devon of his Earldom (despite the fact that he never wanted the title in the first place) and instead grants Honor the higher title of Duchess, with holdings this time. Also, for reference, the Grayson title of Steadholder can actually be considered higher than even a Manticoran Duke, since the Grayson society is much more feudal than Manticoran.
- The Legislaturalists in the (pre-Committee) People's Republic of Haven are also, effectively, this. The PRH government is so corrupt and entrenched that high-ranking military titles are only given to members of Legislaturalist families. Of course, they are the first to go when the Committee of Public Safety takes over.
- In Stephanie Burgis's Kat, Incorrigible series, the Guardians. And all of Society of course. Kat and her family are on the lower margins of acceptable.
- In Bess Streeter Aldrich's A Lantern in her Hand, the (dead) father had been an aristocrat who married beneath himself in Ireland.
- Kindling Ashes: Corran is the youngest son of the noble Dunesdale family. This causes problems in his relationship with Tilda because his dad doesn't want him marrying a commoner.
- Journey to Chaos:
- As the heir to the Noble Heleti family, one of the Four Pillars of Ataidar, Nolien's blood is very blue indeed. He turns up his nose at the bad table manners in the guild mess hall and is the only one following a chivalric code instead of one more grungy and mercenary.
- Siron is the scion of Esrah, another Pillar, and strives to be a Knight in Shining Armor because that is his duty as a noble. At his best he is dashingly and at worst he is frigidly polite.
- Norej Darwoss is the son of a minor baron and thus considers himself better than his fellow humans and especially beastfolk. His older brother and his father are likewise.
- In Kevin J. Anderson's Blindfold, the colony of Atlas is ruled by a number of feudal rulers (with no central authority), who are descended from the officers of the original colony ship. Several additional ships have arrived since then, but that did nothing to affect the feudal social structure, as the arrivals simply assimilated into the commoners.
- In the Eddie LaCrosse series, Eddie is officially Baron Edward LaCrosse of Arentia, and an old friend of the king, but he lives in self-imposed exile after a monumental mistake. He's certainly not living a noble lifestyle, but he doesn't quite fit the normal pattern of an Impoverished Patrician, because it's deliberate and he doesn't really regret it—but at the same time, he's not a Defector from Decadence, since it wasn't decadence that led him to leave. (And King Phil is a nice guy anyway.) Most of the time, his background is irrelevant enough that it never comes up.
- In The Shattered Kingdoms, bloodline is highly important to Norlander culture. Being told that her family does not in fact have the (patrilineal) ancestry they thought, and that their posting to the Shadar was actually just the Emperor's way of exiling them while letting them save face, has a significant impact on Frea, the main villain of the first book. She was hoping her results would be sufficiently impressive that she would be summoned to the heart of the empire and given power, but due to her "impure" blood, that won't happen no matter how well she does. This motivates her to switch plans from a triumphant return to an invasion/coup.
- The Kharkanas Trilogy: In contrast to the main series, The Malazan Book of the Fallen, where there was much focus on the lower ranks of society and barely any nobility, the prequel deals mostly with the noble families of the Tiste, with most point of view characters being from one or another noble house.
- In Ryuunosuke Akiyama's A Terribly Dangerous Coat, Kapori i Luran, and his father, Kapori i Imaro, appear to belong to the most important family in Rukimara City.
- Maria Mercedes de Dio de Alva in Victoria is descended from one of the oldest, most respected noble bloodlines of Spain. After being rescued from pirates, she becomes hero John Rumford's live-in maid.
- The Village Tales novels feature the Duke of Taunton and his family and extended family, most of them titled; and his Heterosexual Life-Partner HH the Nawab of Hubli; and a fair few others. Dukes, marquesses, viscounts, earls, Scots Lords of Parliament, barons, Scots lairds, Senators of the College of Justice, baronets, knights, courtesy titles—including a Scots "Master"; post-nominals everywhere; even a Nawab. And Professor Lacy may have been given a mere Life Peerage, but she's a Lacy all the same. And with all that, the real heroes are all working-class, all the same.
- Deus Ex: Icarus Effect: Lucius describes himself as a "scion of blue bloods from the old country" in the book's prologue.
- The Wicked Years:
- Elphaba and Nessarose's mother was a blue blood, but she ended up living in poverty after marrying a preacher (admittedly, she had thought Frex would end up wealthy than he did).
- Glinda is this but, as Madame Morrible points out, not to the degree that Glinda likes to flaunt. Glinda only has "good blood" on one side of her family, and it's not considered particularly high-ranking at that. Glinda's middle-range but pretends she's more blue blood than she actually is. In the end, however, it doesn't matter as Glinda ends up queen of Oz in-all-but name by the end of the first book.
- Downton Abbey provides a huge variety of examples from the British peerage; Earls (Lord Grantham himself), Marquesses (Shrimpie Flintshire), Dukes and Duchesses (the Duke of Crowborough and the Duchess of Yeovil), Baronets (Sir John Bullock), Viscounts (Anthony Foyle), Esquires (Matthew Crawley) and even King George V in the 2013 Christmas Special.
- In the Doctor Who serial The Masque Of Mandragora, the Duke and his uncle the Count. There are also a fair number in the Feudal Future serials.
- The Doctor himself is implied to be high-born or even aristocratic. Indeed, in the EU he comes from one of the oldest Houses on Gallifrey.
- The Tenth Doctor special "Planet of the Dead" has the thrill-seeking cat burglar Lady Christina de Souza as guest companion.
- Game of Thrones:
- The majority of characters are some form of nobility, from ancient and powerful houses like the Starks and Lannisters to recently promoted ones like the Seaworths and Cleganes.
- Despite initially appearing as a commoner, Talisa Maegyr is actually of noble birth from Volantis.
- Star Trek:
- More subtly, but Commander Spock from Star Trek: The Original Series. Not only is his father a very respected diplomat, but his extended family owns a great deal of land and includes T'Pau, one of the most influential people on Vulcan.
- Worf comes from an ancient, extremely high-profile family that automatically places him at the centre of rather a lot of Klingon intrigue (and enable no end of episode plots). Most of the other named Klingons in the series are also aristocrats.
- Pointedly averted with Star Trek: Deep Space Nine's General Martok. He was actually born a commoner and clawed his way Up Through the Ranks by methods dear to the Klingon heart (and this was despite being blacklisted by Kor for his low birth). Presumably his noble rank is by marriage (or merit) rather then birth.
- Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt: The rich Vorhees family is one of America's oldest families, with roots straight from the first Dutch settlers.
- Alfred, Lord Tennyson's "Lady Clara Vere de Vere"
Trust me, Clara Vere de Vere,
From yon blue heavens above us bent
The gardener Adam and his wife
Smile at the claims of long descent.
Howe'er it be, it seems to me,
'Tis only noble to be good.
Kind hearts are more than coronets,
And simple faith than Norman blood.
- Bretonnian Knights in Warhammer.
- Warhammer 40,000: Despite the reamarkable simplicity of ork social structures (the stronger you are, the bigger you get, the more orks you lead), they have nobility of a sort: nobs, the biggest, baddest orks short of the warboss himself (the name is a loanword from nobility, but they pronounce it as "knob").
- Wolsung Steam Pulp Fantasy assumes that all player characters are Blue Blood.
- Anima: Beyond Fantasy allows to choose as one advantage to be Blue Blood (and this in turn gives stuff such as money, gear, and the possibility of purchasing rare equipment.)
- The noble Houses of Changeling: The Dreaming. There's a streak of heritage involved, but ultimately the Houses rule changeling society because they've established themselves as rulers, by fair means and foul (which is not to say they haven't been seriously challenged at various times). PCs can be nobles by buying dots in the Title background; however, it only grants social status, and actually holding land requires a separate background.
- Spoofed in Finian's Rainbow:
Finian: Don't you realize, lad, Sharon is from quality stock? Why, her whole family tree for generations back consists of nothin' but ancestors.
Woody: We've been descendin' a long time too.
Finian: Ah, but how long? Sharon's grandparents go back to the dawn of history. Blue-blooded amebas they were, with a dauntless ambition. Up they came through the paleozoic slime — from ameba to tadpole, from tadpole to daffodil, from daffodil to dromedary, and from dromedary to McLonergan. That's the background Sharon comes from — so get along with your luggage, lad, you haven't a chance.
- In Oscar Wilde's The Importance of Being Earnest, Lady Augusta Bracknell has a very acute sense of who is a blue blood and who isn't. She refuses to let her daughter Gwendolyn marry Jack Worthing when she discovers that he was adopted by his upper-crust guardian, who found him as a baby in a handbag at the train station.
- In Of Thee I Sing, President Wintergreen gets the United States into international difficulties with France when its ambassador discovers that Diana Devereaux (who was to have been the President's wife if he hadn't met Mary Turner) is the illegitimate daughter of the illegitimate son of the illegitimate nephew of Napoleon.
- In Gilbert and Sullivan's The Pirates of Penzance, the pirates, having surrendered, are treated leniently because they are of Blue Blood.
- Pooh-Bah in The Mikado:
I am, in point of fact, a particularly haughty and exclusive person, of pre-Adamite ancestral descent. You will understand this when I tell you that I can trace my ancestry back to a protoplasmal atomic globule. Consequently, my family pride is something inconceivable. I can't help it. I was born sneering. But I struggle hard to overcome this defect. I mortify my pride continually. When all the great officers of state resigned in a body, because they were too proud to serve under an ex-tailor, did I not unhesitantly accept all their posts at once?
- This is also a plot point in H.M.S. Pinafore.
- This trope is invoked and parodied throughout Iolanthe, where the self-confessedly mostly brainless yet immensely wealthy, powerful, and refined members of the House of Peers find their marriage proposals to the beautiful commoner Phyllis scorned, and their legislative powers subverted by supernatural fairies.
- Pooh-Bah in The Mikado:
- There are two prominent examples in the Soul Series — Lady Isabella "Ivy" Valentine is the daughter of the Earl and Countess Valentine, and her stages nearly always feature her enormous family house. The other example is Frenchman Raphael Sorel, whose title is not specified, but he is noted to be a noble.
- Mystics in Sa Ga Frontier both in the aristocratic sense and the literal sense.
- If the lord in Fire Emblem doesn't have Royal Blood, they'll be nobility. Examples include Sigurd, Roy, Eliwood, Hector, Lyn, and eventually even Ike.
- Archadia of Final Fantasy XII is very based around hierarchy. Besides the noble houses, which can mix this with Royal Blood, there's also the Gentry, who tend to look down on commoners. There's also an intermediate class, which tend to behave fairly close to trope too.
- Dragon Age: Origins has got a hierarchical system of nobility loosely based on that of England, with Teyrns (Dukes), Arls (Earls), and Banns (Barons) in that order of status. Dwarves have also their own caste system, where the members of upmost caste are either ridiculously rich or belong to a noble family. (And then there's Paragons, but let's not go there...)
- Interestingly enough, the Banns are technically just a noble(wo)man who has a number of freeholds sworn to it. The peasants are free to chose whoever they want to be their Bann and can change allegiance whenever they want, which can lead to age long feuds between family's of Banns, ex-Banns and aspiring Banns. Most people just goes with the same lord as their parents did, as his castle and soldiers are usually the closest, any threatens of what said soldiers might do if their Lord don't get enough votes are left unsaid.
- The icon for the Human Noble origin is a drop of blue blood with a crown over it, since they are the younger child of a Teyrn.
- In Star Wars: The Old Republic, Alderaan is in a terrible mess due to the untimely death of the Queen and her heir, plunging the planet into a free-for-all civil war among about a half-dozen houses of these. The main issue is that the rather crazy head of House Ulgo has usurped the crown, declared the planet's independence, and started destroying the other noble houses. Seeing as about half the surviving houses support the Republic (including House Organa), whereas the Empire is backing their rivals House Thul (who started as merchants and earned their lands and titles), the planet becomes a miniature version of the whole galactic war.
- The Sith Warrior is stated to be the scion of a prestigious family of Sith. The fact that they come from a high class background is why Vemrin, their rival on Korriban and a former slave who had to climb his way to the top, hates them.
- In contrast, the Sith Inquisitor is a former slave and their rival, Ffon, is from a prestigious family and receives preferential treatment. However, the Inquisitor is also the last descendant of Lord Kallig, once a powerful Sith lord with his own well-known lineage.
- Referred to by name in Nosferatu: The Wrath of Malachi. Apparently the ritual sacrifices have to be aristocrats.
- In The Elder Scrolls, this is Subverted by the Imga, a minor race of intelligent "ape men" native to the forests of Valenwood. Every Imga bears some kind of noble title (Baron, Duke, Earl, etc.) which they use when addressing their idols, the Altmer (High Elves). Subverted, however, as there are no land-owning Imga.
- Bully: The Preppy social circle all come from old money. They're the last social circle the main character can take over.
- In The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel, Jusis and Laura have noble blood in them (though Jusis only has half of it when he reveals that his dad slept with a commoner woman). Rean in comparison is adopted though it turns out that his dad was a commoner who was elevated into a noble by the emperor. Said dad is also on a crusade to get rid of the nobility system in the empire.
- Girl Genius has a wide variety of nobles who are mostly Sparks and cannot stop fighting to save their lives. Literally. The first thing Baron Wulfenbach does upon rising to power is subdue them all, mostly by getting them to spend their time fruitlessly scheming against him. The first thing that happens when he's incapacitated is they all resume warring against each other. Notably, "Baron" is also a noble title — one of the lowest.
- The Order of the Stick: Particularly those of Azure City, where giving a title to two war heroes garners objections.
- Later, Vaarsuvius elects to simply murder a villain with this background, instead of bothering to denounce him publicly. It's a pretty effective solution.
- The Zahard family and the 10 supporting families in Tower of God. They are indeed special, since only they are by birth able to wield Shinsoo immediately, as their families have special ties to the power-granting Guardians.
- No Rest for the Wicked
- In Homestuck, the Trolls have a caste system based around the color of their blood. While the trolls with blue blood aren't quite at the top, they seem to be the only ones who care very much about where anyone ranks, and as such they lord over those in lower castes and demand those in higher castes lord over them.
- However, it's unclear if all members of the blue-blooded castes do this, or if it's just Equius and his, er, strange tastes.
- Additionally, Snowman has blue blood, and is formerly known as the Black Queen.
- Impure Blood: O-on the honor of my family line, then, as far back as it can be traced!
- In Doc Rat, Flopsy Jagermond is make rabbit nobility.
- In Dragon Mango, Bleu Berry is descended from noble families of both humans and Dragon-Slayers.
- Emily in The Senkari is descended from a long line of aristocrats. Just how Blue Blooded she really is becomes apparent when her home is visited
- The Marroks of Bad Moon Rising claim to be descended from the same-named Arthurian Knight. Most of them actually CAN trace their lineage back to European royalty, though just as many of them are the descendants of petty tyrants and minor warlords who styled themselves as king as of anyone that might be recognized as a king by modern historical records.
- Open Blue features several nobles as ship officers or flag officers.
- The Critic's sister was once set up to attend a debutante ball with a young gentleman who, due to generations of inbreeding, was mildly retarded and possessed of literal blue blood. This has actually happened, as in the case of the "Blue Fugates".
- My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic has a Prince called Prince Blueblood. Rarity is smitten with him, but in the season finale for season 1 she actually meets him and finds he is a Royal Brat.
- By contrast, Twilight Sparkle and her brother, Shining Armor, earned their way into the top tier of Equestrian nobility with Twilight being the personal protege of Princess Celestia and Shining being Captain of the Royal Guard, the Prince Consort of Princess Cadence and Co-Governor of the Crystal Empire. By the end of season 3, Twilight becomes an Alicorn Princess.
- In ThunderCats (2011), Tygra, Happily Adopted member of the Thunderian royal family, is given all aristocratic privileges, and is even the beneficiary of King Claudus' Parental Favoritism, but is not in line for the throne due to a lack of Royal Blood.
- The nobility in the Real Life is usually divided into untitled nobility (i.e. noblemen whose status implies servant status to either a superior noble or to state), including gentlemen, esquires, knights and baronets, and titled nobility, also known as "peerage", i.e. land-owning nobility. Those would be barons, earls, viscounts, marquesses, counts and princes. The highest ranks of the nobility, such as Dukes, Grand Princes and Grand Dukes, would imply Royal Blood instead of just Blue Blood.
- In the Middle Ages, nobility implied exemption from taxes — and the duty to serve as a soldier. That is due to the Feudal system. There were no standing armies, but the soldiers (knights and men-at-arms) were expected to train on their own and acquire their own armour and weapons. Exemption from taxes implied that the nobleman would spend all his income on weapons, gear and practising martial skills. Usually the core of the feudal army would be supplemented either by mercenaries or conscripted commoners (arriere-ban).
- Depending on the country, the nobility would consist of 1% (France) up to 20% (Hungary) of the populace. The greater the likelihood of the state being involved in warfare, the more noblemen there would also be.
- Even today, the British nobility/gentry is heavily involved in the military, particularly the Royal Navy, leading to the old joke about Army vs. Navy rugby matches: "Why are the Army jerseys red? So the blood doesn't show. Why are the Navy jerseys blue? Same reason."
- The United States, being a republic founded on Enlightenment values of formal equality before the law and born from a settler society with fluid social boundaries and a hearty disdain for old ways, nevertheless has developed some distinctive aristocratic groups. They are generally regionally defined; for example:
- The most famous type of blue blood is the Boston Brahmin, a loose association of wealthy old Protestant (mostly Calvinist) families around New England, with roots in the earliest English settlers; the Cabots and the Lowells are among the most famous. Many people mistake the Kennedys as Boston Brahmins, but they are comparatively Nouveau Riche and Catholic to boot.
- Another noted group are the First Families of Virginia, who similarly descended from that colony's original settlers. Unlike the Boston Brahmins, these families are historically Episcopalian.
- In the late 19th century, the Georgia-born New York socialite Ward McAllister declared that there were only 400 fashionable people in the city. While his list was suspect (being unusually heavy with relatively recent arrivals and Confederate sympathizers), the families of the "the Four Hundred" are generally recognized today as some of the most elite families in New York. Particularly prominent set are a number of Dutch families, most of whom trace their ancestries back to the 17th century; the most recognizable of these are probably the Vanderbilts (who were poor farmers on Staten Island until the early 19th century, when family patriarch Cornelius founded his steamboat empire) and the Roosevelts, who had been prominent in New York politics from the 1690s onward.