In the annals of ancient Sicily, the illustrious nobility shines with inestimable splendor. An elite class whose noble lineage has its roots as far back as the eleventh century AD. This aristocratic class, which has permeated the entire history of the island, has its origins in a distant past and has resisted the passage of time and the succession of regimes.
The Norman Influence and the Magnificent Feudal System
The history of the Sicilian aristocracy is very intricate. Sicilian aristocracy prospered under the influence of the Romans, under the Byzantines and the Saracens. But it was in 1061, with the arrival of the great Normans led by the incomparable leadership of Roger I of Altavilla, that the glorious path of the aristocracy began. The entire island was divided into an intricate system of agrarian communities, known as fiefdoms, dominated by the Normans and their valiant knights.
The Noble Styx of Noble Titles
In that memorable context, the brave Norman knights, as a sign of loyalty and martial virtue, received the gift of fertile lands and government responsibilities. Thus were born the baronies and noble titles which would later become tangible symbols of nobility in the centuries to come.
Over the course of the eras, these various aristocratic names transformed, changing from lords and knights to counts, barons, princes, dukes and marquises. This social stratification also reflected the influence of external cultures on the heart of the island.
The Renowned Change in Titles and Awards
With the transition to the eighteenth century, the descendants of very noble lineages were invested with titles of absolute prestige such as princes, dukes and marquises, despite their origins being established in barons and lords. This metamorphosis of titles and honors profoundly shaped the Sicilian nobility and its role in the island’s society and culture.
The Irreplaceable Lure of Noble Titles
The labels of count, lord and knight, having their roots in the glories of the aristocracy, have played a prominent role in the history of Sicily. These titles, embedded in the social and political system of the island, are testimony to the strong influence and profound meaning that the Sicilian nobility has held over the centuries.