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Claim of nobility[edit]


For over 100 years in various media and, recently, at Wikipedia, it has been claimed that the Paus family are noble. Explaining that this claim exists and what it is based on, but excluding several arguments and aspects that contradict it, this claim is often presented in a very subtile way, for example like this:

Nobility [...] In the second half of the 19th century, family members started claiming noble status, although official nobility had at that point been abolished in Norway, and is considered noble in some literature. [...] Christopher de Paus [...] was recognised as noble at the Papal Court [...] (Article text per 27 July 2013.)

This and similar tendentiously mixed fragments of information are used to communicate 'the Paus family are de facto noble'. The last sentence says in fact that the Pope (who, by the way, is not the fons honorum in Norway) recognised the claim.

The claim has become so established, i.e. known to many people in Norway, that it oughts to be argued agianst, especially when the claim is presented indirectly or directly in this article.


I will shortly explain why the Paus family cannot be recognised as noble. I am the author of 95 percent of the article Norwegian nobility and informed and competent on this matter. I also possess relevant literature, e.g. the 16th century legislation concerned.

The claim is based upon the family's patrilineal progenitor, Hans Olufsson, who had been granted ex officio a dignity equal to that of a Knight.

The first arguments against the claim are related to legislation:

* Hans Olufsson never belonged to the nobility per se. He had a clerical title and rank (Cannon) that in status and prestige corresponded with a title and rank (Knight) within the nobility.
* Until the late 16th century, noble titles were not hereditary. (Within families of the high nobility, the title of Knight would often pass on from father to son, but only indirectly, via the King, and not without the son first serving as a Squire before being dubbed.)
* A royal provision of 1591 stated that children of a nobleman who married a non-noble woman would not have noble status. This provision would effectively remove any noble status of the Paus family, as they did not marry noblewomen.

There are also some historical factors that contradict noble status:

* The Paus family after 1570 have not been involved in the nobility and has not been present at the Royal Court in Copenhagen or in the direct service of the King.
* Until 1660/1671, noble status had to be continuously maintained.

It is possible that the family had some sort of noble status in the generations before Hans Olufsson. Because Hans was a Cannon, it is not unlikely that he were of the lower nobility. However, the 1591 provision has removed any noble status that the family possibly had.


When any indirect or direct claim of nobility is made—this includes subtile claims like the one cited above,—one has to include contradicting facts.

It is intolerable that information supporting the claim may remain in the article whilst contradicting information is deliberately excluded. Are there any suggestions how to solve this neutrality problem? — Breadbasket 17:00, 27 July 2013 (UTC)

Noone is claiming that this family "is noble". After all, Norway doesn't have an official nobility today. The claim of nobility was made in the late 19th century and without presenting proof, as the article already notes very clearly, and also well after the Nobility Law was passed, as also noted. The claim itself is only marginally notable and merits a short mention because it was repeated in some early 20th century literature such the 1933 book by Hallvard Trætteberg, and as a pretext to the formal ennoblement of a family member by the Holy See some decades later. Your additions in this area were, as two users pointed out, not supported by reliable sources and only based on your own opinion. It's not like only families "present at the Royal Court in Copenhagen" are noble, that's a very Dano-centric position. This family in particular had a member who was ennobled by the Holy See, that's the main thing that needs to be said in a discussion of nobility. We are not here to make our personal judgements on over 100 years old claims of nobility, we only report the opinions held by published sources. To be sure, such claims including this one, and including those of families such as Anker and Munthe-Morgenstierne, had no legal basis; it's the subsequent formal ennoblement that matters. If you want to include any other views or information on this question, you have to provide sources. I don't really understand what you object to, as the article says that the family was "not (...) part of the nobility in Norway" from the 17th century, that the rank in the 16th century was not hereditary, that were no proofs of the 19th century claim and that "official nobility had at that point been abolished in Norway" (these general historical issues are also discussed in greater detail in appropriate articles). Msbmt (talk) 17:36, 27 July 2013 (UTC)
It is a little strange to see the importance given in the article to the dubious descent from the canon and to the rather curious modern nobility of Christopher Tostrup Paus. I suggest the eye catching illustrations of the The royal chapel, St Mary's Church, and of the pope, to be omitted from the article. I also recommend to be more careful when mentioning the 1661-seal figure, and even turning it to a heraldic shield with tinctures.I further recommend not to use the family name Paus on persons of the 17th Century who not used that name themselves. The modern Norwegian Paus family is an important and interesting family with prominent members, so I don't think it is informative or necessary to give Christopher Tostrup Paus such a great importance in the article - even mentioning his papal nobility two times. There are some other Norwegians who claimed nobility in the late 19th and first half of the 20th Century, but that is not taken so very seriously in modern encyclopedias or by Norwegian genealogists to day. Hans Cappelen (talk) 18:09, 27 July 2013 (UTC)
As the material is already addressed in other sections, I removed the separate discussion. On a general note, Wikipedia articles are based on published sources, and the article is based on genelogical literature, the corresponding article in Store norske leksikon and literature in local history. The same literature also use the family name, as it is documented in use starting with the two brothers born 1587/90 as explained in more detail in the article. Msbmt (talk) 18:27, 27 July 2013 (UTC)
In fairness, what I said in my revert was that it reads like OR and synthesis. The organization ("Legislation", "Historical factors", "Conclusion") suggests that, as does the very language (there's no "according to X" or anything like it), and the fact that not a single source is cited in that argument leads me to that conclusion. Drmies (talk) 17:48, 27 July 2013 (UTC)