Dérogeance ("derogation (of nobility)") was grievance for persons who did acts deemed unworthy of the noble status. A consequence of dérogeance was loss of the privileges of nobility (but not full revocation of nobility). In particular the person was no longer free of taxation.
Dérogeance included engagement in certain professions and occupations considered to be "lowly". In particular, it prevented the nobility from engaging in commerce and retail trade. Many ancient cultures restricted their noble classes from commercial activity, although this was less true of the Roman Empire.
As the economies of Europe evolved in the latter 17th century and the 18th century, the strictures of dérogeance increasingly came under criticism as being not only an obstacle to the prosperity of the nobility but contrary to the overall interests of the state. In particular, the 1756 book La noblesse commerçante by the Abbé Gabriel François Coyer, first published anonymously in London and then translated into German by Johann Heinrich Gottlob Justi, proved influential. Spain abolished restrictions on the commercial activities of noblemen in 1770 and other western European countries took similar steps.
- William Doyle, Aristocracy and its Enemies in the Age of Revolution (Oxford University Press, 2009), ISBN 978-0191609718, pp. 17-18, 51. Excerpts available at Google Books.
- "The Thracians, Scythians, Persians, Egyptians, Lydians, Lacedaemonians, Athenians, Thebans, and Romans were all believed to have expelled from the nobility anyone who engaged in commerce. . . . Tiraqueau traced the origins of dérogeance back to Noah and Adam; Gilles-André La Roque saw its beginning in heaven." Davis Bitton, The French Nobility in Crisis: 1560-1640 (Stanford University Press, 1969), ISBN 978-0804706841, p. 142 n.27. Excerpts available at Google Books.
- Catharina Lis, Hugo Soly, Worthy Efforts: Attitudes to Work and Workers in Pre-Industrial Europe (Brill Publishers, 2012), ISBN 978-9004231436, pp. 96, 250-253. Excerpts available at Google Books.
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