October 5, 2011; Source: Wall Street Journal | In Mel Brooks’ “History of the World Part I,” the biggest problem that the Count de Monet had was to make sure he wasn’t called “Count the Money”.  Nowadays, in France, the nobility is facing hard times beyond pronouncing titles and surnames.  And if a demographic is facing hard times, it needs a nonprofit association.

In France, Count Dominique de Causans says, “it is not easy to be a noble in modern France.”  He and others in the Association for the Mutual Assistance of the French Nobility are trying to help their peers who aren’t doing so well now that the king has been deposed–the last Roi des Français, Louis-Philippe I, ruled until 1848, and no nobles have been created since 1870, the end of Napoleon III’s rule as emperor–and the function of the nobility has waned in a nation that is a republic. 

According to the Wall Street Journal, the ANF “helps down-and-out
nobles rediscover some of the glory. It takes legal action against 
commoners trying to claim noble names, pays the school fees of
promising young nobles and offers an informal meeting service to
single nobles.”  Over the years, lines of nobility have disappeared 
and scions of the noble families have had to do things like get a job. 
The ANF started sometime in the 1930s when a group of nobles
waiting for a train discovered that porter with their luggage was
himself a noble.  Still, ANF members seem to bristle at the idea of
the declasse notion of holding a job, particularly a laboring job.  One
marquis at a recent ANF function described his efforts to convince
some nobles who were selling vegetables at a markt that they
needed assistance from the ANF. 

Apparently, the French nobles association has counterparts in other countries with lines of nobility whose members are having a tough time adjusting to the modern world which doesn’t think being a marquis, count, or earl is all that special.—Rick Cohen