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The privileges associated with nobility may constitute substantial advantages over or relative to non-nobles, or may be largely honorary (e.g., precedence), and vary by country and era.
Some countries have had non-hereditary nobility, such as the Empire of Brazil.
Nobles were expected to live "nobly", that is, from the proceeds of these possessions.
Work involving manual labour or subordination to those of lower rank (with specific exceptions, such as in military or ecclesiastic service) was either forbidden (as derogation from noble status) or frowned upon socially.
In modern usage, "nobility" is applied to the highest social class in pre-modern societies, excepting the ruling dynasty.
In the feudal system (in Europe and elsewhere), the nobility were generally those who held a fief, often land or office, under vassalage, i.e., in exchange for allegiance and various, mainly military, services to a suzerain, who might be a higher-ranking nobleman or a monarch.