THE MODERN ARISTOCRACY
Aristocracy Runs Deep When It Comes to Bloodlines
The term aristocrat refers to a person enjoying an elevated social status due to either financial wealth or by sharing a bloodline with those possessing nobility titles. In fact, bloodlines have played a role in recognizing nobility for quite some time, as evidenced by the phrase blue blood.
The Spanish Origins of Blue Blood
While the English phrase was first recorded in 1834, the term was originally derived from the Spanish saying sangre azul. This described Spanish high nobility who directly descended from the Visigoths, ancient Germanic tribes that settled primarily in Western Europe. In those days, many hours spent working outdoors led the lower classes to become deeply tanned. Conversely, pale skin denoted the leisurely life of a noble, and as a result the faint markings of blue veins could be seen just below the surface of noble skin.
Medieval Battles Solidified Nobility
This was a prominent issue in Spain in particular, due to invading Northern African warriors known as the Moors. The Moors were responsible for dismantling the Visigothic kingdom, which led to years of strife. The ninth century brought a proper Spanish army, which engaged in battle with Moorish combatants for over five hundred years. When a Spanish nobleman experienced victory in battle, he would hold up his sword to display his arm. This was a signal that the nobleman was of high-birth, due to the blue veins visible just under his skin.