“The king does not administer, he does not govern; he reigns. [...] To reign is a very elevated thing, a very difficult thing for certain princes to comprehend, but that English kings understand perfectly. An English king is the first gentleman of his kingdom. He is, to the highest degree, everything that a highborn Englishman can hope to be: he hunts, he likes horses, he is curious about the Continent and visits it when he is prince of Wales...”
—Adolphe Thiers, Du gouvernement par les chambres,
in le National, 4 February 1830.
“In the 18th century [in France], all parish affairs were managed by a certain number of functionaries that were no longer agents of the seigneurie, nor were they chosen by the lord. Some were chosen by the province's intendant, others by the peasants themselves. [...] The lord, in truth, was no more than a denizen separated and isolated from all the others by his immunities and privileges; his condition was different, not so his power. The lord is but a first denizen, as intendants took care to write in letters addressed to their subordinates. [...]
When the nobility possesses not only privileges but also powers, when it governs and administers, its particular rights can be at the same time greater and less perceived. In feudal times, the nobility was looked at more or less as government is looked at today: the burdens it imposed were borne in light of the assurances it gave. Nobles had burdensome privileges, they possessed onerous rights, but they also assured public order, rendered justice, executed the law, came to the aid of the weak, managed common affairs. As the nobility ceases to do these things, the weight of its privileges seems heavier and their very existence ceases to be understood. [...]
Feudality remained the biggest of all our civil institutions once it ceased to be a political institution. So reduced, it excited even greater hate, and it can truthfully be said that by destroying one part of medieval institutions, what remained was rendered even more odious.”