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of priests, were caste-like divisions of the people may well
be doubted. The small importance of the priests afterwards,
together with the absence of priestly incorporations, and,
indeed, of any foundation for castes whatever, make such an
early form of society in the Athenian state improbable. The
institution of the Druids was a similar division in the direc-
tion of caste.
Another common origin of a nobility is conquest, .whether
of one cognate tribe by another, or of a foreign people by a
conquering soldiery. With a conquest comes assignation
of lands, the old tenants being retained on the soil as laborers,
or allowed to keep a part of their property. All the con-
quests by Germanic tribes in Roman Europe brought acqui-
sitions of lands, at least to the leaders, and but for this the
feudal system could not have arisen. Among the Franks at
the time of their settlements in Gaul, no nobility can be
traced, unless the king's companions, the antnistiones, can be
called such. But in process of time a feudal nobility arose
in France, through gifts of land and local governments, which
was one of the most splendid in Europe.
The position of such landholders, with the tradition in
families of the primitive occupation of their martial ancestors,
the sports of hunting, and the ennui of a life on their estates,
keep up the martial feeling, and so long as they are true to
their origin, and a field is open, they preserve their power*
An illustrious birth is another source of aristocracy—that
is, a birth which is to be traced back to heroic ancestors, or
is mythically connected with the earliest fables of the race.
This, indeed, of itself, without the possession of land or of
other sources of supply, will avail nothing; but the respect
paid to historic ancestry enables a family, even when driven
into exile, to stand on a level with the foremost, and to use
the means for securing a permanent position. It is remark-
able in the early traditions of Attica how illustrious exiles
were welcomed there, and even rose to fill the kingly office.
In modern Europe, especially in Austria, numbers of foreign-
ers have occupied important places among the nobility on