The lives of fallen GDL noblemen

The noble estate enjoyed the most important position in the social hierarchy of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania. The nobility, however, was far from homogenous. It consisted of aristocrats, (the magnates), as well as of middling and petty nobles who owned little or no land at all respectively. The importance and financial might of noble families and even particular individuals was constantly fluctuating. Many families went through a process of ascent and subsequent slide down or even oblivion. A considerable number of the noblemen were utterly poor. They sometimes could hardly afford their daily meals yet they still enjoyed all the privileges of the estate. Some of them – mostly vagabonds – would eventually cross the line and lose their symbols of the nobility. They would live on accidental income, sometimes illegal, and would very often end up in prisons or on the scaffold. Surviving interrogation documents reveal the paths that led them into the world of crime. What kind of life was it?

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