The French word pairie is the equivalent of the English word peerage, in the sense of an individual title carrying the rank of pair ("peer" in English). (French pair derives from the Latin par "equal". The pairie designates the members of an exclusive body of noblemen and prelates, considered to be the highest social order -not taking into account the reigning dynasty- and even in a sense the 'equals' (though subjects and vassals) of the Monarch as he is seen as their primus inter pares. Peerages attached to fiefs were transmissible or inheritable with the fief. Such fiefs are often designated as pairie-duché for a duchy (the fief of a duke) or as pairie-comté for a county (the fiefs of a count).
The main uses of the word are in reference to:
- The peerage of France (see this article) in the Middle Ages and the Ancien Régime. Although abolished in 1789 during the French Revolution, it reappeared after the Revolution. In 1830, hereditary peerage was abolished, but life-time peerage continued to exist until it was definitively abolished in 1848. (Note: the French peerage differed greatly from the British peerage, because the vast majority of French nobles of ranks from Baron to Duke were not Peers.)
- The peerage imported into the Holy Land during the Crusades. In the kingdom of Jerusalem, the only crusader state ranking as equal in title to such kingdoms as France (where most of its knights originated from) and England, there also was a peerage on the French model, using the French language.