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Some dork on the internet that likes ponies and flower symbolism way too much.

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Equestrian Nobles Aren't a Thing: An Overdue Schedule Update Disguised as Headcanon Dump · 5:38am Mar 3rd, 2018

They just aren't. At all.

Not to say Equestria doesn't have nobility* at all, it's just that they aren't an established Thing. They're not a class. You need an actual population of nobility for that, and as of now, there are only seven of them: the four Princesses, Shining Armor, Flurry Heart, and Blueblood. All (except maybe Flurry) have titles and an official status.

But the others? The beautiful elite in their shining towers, mile-wide yachts, and century-old mints? The ponies who can open doors by way of their good name alone?

Those, my friends, are who we call the thoroughbreds.

And the nice thing about thoroughbreds is it only means you come from prestige and excellent societal breeding, current wealth or social status are not applicable. Most of them are Old Money, but not all. If you stretched, one could argue the Apples qualify by way of having an old and strong bloodline.
Thus, our own young Silver Spoon is and always will be a thoroughbred. If her children and grandchildren marry very poorly, the great-great-grandchildren may not be. That said, the Silvers are so damn old and notable that anyone marrying in tends to get boosted to honorary thoroughbred status by proxy. It's not unlike how Pitch Perfect qualifies as Old Money, despite originally being second-generation New Money.

...And wow, do I really wish I'd come up with the term BEFORE I got to the last few chapters of The Silver Standard.

Sad as it is to admit--and it took a good month of denial and procrastination to admit it--the story is ending. The last three* chapters have already been drafted, with the first of them in progress and should be up in a week or so.

It's harder to tell where your ending is with an episodic slice-of-life character study, as opposed to a plot-driven adventure story. But our main conflict has wrapped up, the major character arcs have completed, so that's as good a way to tell as any.

That said, I'm not yet done with these characters or this universe. There's a bumpercrop of stories on the backburner ready to go, just as soon as I can like... decide which one to actually write. (Though the two parallel Silver-chills-with-Blueblood*** while Diamond-hangs-with-Starlight stories are gunning for first-place.)

Thinking about those makes me feel better about the heavy sads I've been feeling about the story finally coming to a close. I'm going to miss having a big overarching project, especially when that project's been in the making since 2010. (...I oughta blog that story sometime.)

So, yeah. New chapter coming, last three updates should be fairly close to each other, and Equestrian nobles aren't a thing. Good night, drive safe, seatbelts save lives, etc.

PS: You look great tonight, Dear Reader--did you do something with your hair?

*And let's be real here: when "nobles" are used in fic, nine times out of ten, they don't have titles or jobs or responsibilities either. There's no real point or meaning in them being nobility, it's just a vague go-to term for "shallow rich jerks I don't have to develop". Validity of the term aside, the word "nobles" causes a Pavlovian eye-twitch in me now.

**more like one chapter that got split in two, plus epilogue because I wanted a clean 30 chapter count and all three major "acts" split even

***Is it mainly an excuse to expand on this thoroughbred concept? ...Probably.

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Comments ( 16 )

People write about this for years but nobody cares. Beside the point that nobles in general often serve as shallow and convenient antagonists, lots of people also have some strange ideas that if princesses exist then every single damn thing from middle ages also supposed to exist in abundance. Hell, at one point some user argued with me that every single inhabitant of Canterlot are nobles.

If anything, Canterlot (and Equestria) has gentry. For Canterlot specifically, I could believe the majority of their upper and maybe upper-middle class is gentry in some way.
Speaking of the place not operating medievally though, I've noticed that Equestria seems to operate with some sort of city-state system. All the towns and major cities are given the same clout as an autonomous country, with dignitaries representing them, as seen in the Equestria games, Celestia's duties, and the summit, and those range from politician-looking types to fancy elite to ponies that look like ordinary folks. I assume they're politicians of some kind, like the state representatives in the states, but who the heck knows.

Ooh, yeah, thoroughbreds is a wonderfully fitting term! And it fits into the way Equestria is sort of a high-fantasy USA with immortal princesses in charge: there's no de jure nobility, but a de facto one based on prestige, lineage and Old Money, with lots of blurry lines and uncertain definitions.

Also, I really want to see Silver and Blueblood interact, now!


Hell, at one point some user argued with me thatevery single inhabitantof Canterlot are nobles.

You know, that could actually work, if it was an entirely vestigial nobility.

"Well, it's not that every single inhabitant of Canterlot is a noble. For starters, if you're a unicorn, you must have voted in a Parliamentary election, been a candidate for the alderpony of the ward you live in (winning the election is not necessary), be a member of the Royal Guard or Equestrian Reserves, or know at least one third-level spell and thus qualify as a mage.

"For non-unicorns, there are also residence requirements -- you must live at least six months of the year in Canterlot -- and property requirements, meaning you either own your place of residence (condo apartments qualify), or are a landowner (summer cabins and family farms qualify), or have one thousand bits of free cash (the rules have not taken inflation into account; that was a lot of money four centuries ago!).

"All in all, this means that ninety-six percent of adult unicorns, and eighty-three percent of adult pegasi and Earth ponies living in Canterlot qualify as nobles."

Oliver suggested that Equestria started as some sort of pseudo-state that Celestia and Luna (who's, according to Journal of Two Sisters, at first invited as protectors, not as rulers) created for the sake of it and that has a population consisted of Sisters and their servants. Pony nations become vassals and contributors to this new "state" while still maintaining their own tax systems, ruling family and all things that independent countries have. But as times fly pony nations start to integrate and at some point, "Equestria" from a loose confederation of different independent states become a federation where federation subjects still maintaining a high level of independence.

Oh, find it.


Beside the point that nobles in general often serve as shallow and convenient antagonists

This. You can easily identify this process when a story derisively calls out "The Nobles" but never puts any effort into making them more than an indistinct mob. Since, as we all know from history, noble families never struggled for influence among one another, being too busy opposing anything New and Good for the sake of being petty on principle.

I wrote extensively about that. Hardly anybody seems to care. Those who do, hang out in the Pony Canon Research Society. :pinkiesmile:

I must say, picking the term ‘thoroughbred’ to denote the upper crust of society is an excellent idea, which I will, given an opportunity, steal and otherwise promote. :pinkiehappy:

Friggin' thank you. I am terribly weary of reading stories that start banging on about nobles and nobility without any explanation when FiM's vaguely nineteenth century setting is well past the rigid social strata of feudalism, sitting royals aside.

Sad to hear that the story's nearly done, but it's good to tie things off properly and let them conclude where they should. :pinkiesmile:

Given my "everything that can happen does, just not in the same timeline" attitude towards world building, I'll make a note to myself that this is true some of the time. In most other cases, I suspect that carefully worded royal decrees and democratically elected officials took most of the nobility's power and responsibility out from under them, but not the titles and any money they might have managed to hang onto. Hence why Twilight ascending wouldn't cause any real issues for Mayor Mare; they already had a framework in place for how to separate administrative work and the rarely worn crown.

My own headcanon dump aside, entirely logical approach to the matter. I especially like the two-way class mobility, and the built-in horse pun is icing on the cake. As for Silver Standard ending, I can't say I'm surprised. We barely ever see Diamond and Silver after "Crusaders of the Lost Mark." Still, while I'm looking forward to the rest of the journey, seeing it end will be bittersweet.

Twentieth, if not twenty first.

I really dig it and am totally fuckin swiping it.

Herring-bellied herring belles, like Cadance or Fleur-de-lis.

Fish-guts, as Granny Smith used to call them, back when she was an Angry Young Mare and had never known sorrow. She stopped using the term when her own foals were born because the thought of them learning angry names for ponies they'd never met just didn't set right with her.

Speaking of nobility, modern readers and writers tend to assume that "noble families" go on forever, unless some calamity stops them. But I read somewhere--I think in A Distant Mirror--that someone had surveyed a century's worth of records in France or England and found that most noble families survived for far less than a hundred years. It was rare to find a name in legal titles and court documents at the end of the period that could also be found at its beginning.

It seems to me a major reason for this was the medieval insistence that a family could only continue through viable male heirs. Eventually the luck of genetics would lead to some guy rolling snake-eyes (no children, or all girls) and that was the end of the line.

But then Equestria has gender equality (as well as lower child mortality and general peace and plenty). So centuries-old noble families could be more likely.

Well, in general, I think that nobles as "ponies who hold a meaningless fancy title and have a shitton of money and connections" most likely still exist in some way but nobles as a "privilege class with lots of rights that commoner don't have" definitely isn't.

I’ve always thought of the “nobility” as ponies that can trace their lines to noble families back when they were actually a thing (such as from the unicorn kingdom), or otherwise have “old money.” They aren’t actually land-holding barons or earls or the like, any longer.

I could see “nobility” actually being a term used incorrectly by the average pony to describe members of Parliment (or whatever secondary governing body one’s headcanon may include) and any families that have been rich for a while.

PS: You look great tonight, Dear Reader--did you do something with your hair?

I assure you it always looks this good/bad.

I rather like that framing. It fits with the "Canterlot Elite" system of informal prestige, without suggesting Celestia has let a formal system that gives her problems fester for a millennium.

I'm already hyped to read about Blueblood and Spoony.

4808911 Christopher Stasheff's protagonist in his sci-fi fantasy series The Warlock of Gramarye came from an asteroid colony called Maxima, where every single person was a noble. It had started as a colony in a feudalist state, but since all noble titles at the time were adjucated by earth, and earth was willing to give out a patent of nobility to anyone who applied and sent in the fee, every single family that settled there became at least a Count.

4808926 What you're describing sounds a lot like the US, without the acceleration to the process provided by the Civil War.


In most other cases, I suspect that carefully worded royal decrees and democratically elected officials took most of the nobility's power and responsibility out from under them, but not the titles and any money they might have managed to hang onto.

So Downton Abbey basically? Sounds about right.


Christopher Stasheff's protagonist in his sci-fi fantasy seriesThe Warlock of Gramaryecame from an asteroid colony called Maxima, where every single person was a noble

I remember a small independent island nation in one of Russian fantasy series (can't remember it's name at the moment) where all of inhabitants are nobles. Basically at some point in the past one of their king come to conclusion that ruling over mere commoners kinda beneath him so he make everyone a noble. Which lead to such funny things lika a ancient and noble family of woodcutters and fishermans :).

Why yes, I actually did change my hair. A minor celebrity that I like is coming into work tomorrow and I'm gussing myself up as much as possible in case we cross paths :heart:

I really like all your headcanons and this story, like I've said countless times before, is simply beautiful. I envy your writing skills and can't wait(but yet still dread) the end of this wonderful story.

I'm feeling the sads! The Silver Standard is the best fanfic I've ever read! Well, if you've got more stories set in the universe planned, I'll look forward to those. Three years! 250,000ish words! Excellent run!

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